A/N: Someone seemed bothered by the fact Kaito apologized to Meiko when Meiko "cheated" on him, and the only thing I have to say to that person is: I hope I never date someone like you. I am the kind of person who, when I love someone, will want to see them happy, and if they are happier with someone else, then I will make them go, even if they wish to stay out of guilt or obligation or whatnot. If they cheat on me, I will take it as it is my fault as I am not enough for them, and my Kaito is the same way.
On another note, I am so sorry I took so long to update this; rest assured, I haven't quite given up on this story yet. Please keep the reviews coming, they remind me that there are people out there who want this story finished! I am sorry I didn't respond to them, I will begin the PM-ing from this chapter's reviews onward!
To the anonymous reviewer Kirika, here is your cookie! I totally forgot I killed Luki already in this story and he's the elder brother... too many different Negitoro stories with different family backgrounds and stuff. Thanks for notifying me, I have changed her little brother's name to Megurine Luke.
"As always, you have one hour with your beloved, no more, no less."
These same words were repeated to every single living challenger as the exits faded away, leaving them trapped in a little box with the people they loved so desperately but could not protect well enough. How their hearts bled as they laid eyes upon the pathetic, emaciated shells that were their significant others, eyes haunted, skin sallow, the stench of fear and pain and starvation emanating from them…
"Luka!" the moment Miku had laid eyes on her beloved, she dragged her emaciated body over to her, clung on to her and wept, sobs wracking her fragile frame as she mourned the suffering everyone had to endure. "Luka, we have to do something… everyone is going to die…"
Attempting to swallow back the tears that burned at the corner of her eyes, Luka responded softly, disliking the cold tone she was using but realizing that it was necessary, "We're not heroes, Miku, and this world isn't as good as you believe."
She hated it, having to hurt her sweetheart, having to dampen the bright, innocent light that burned within her, but she had no choice. Reality would crush a naïve, optimistic girl like her without much effort, again and again, until all that emerged from the ashes was an unrecognizable, embittered soul.
"I will do everything I can to get us out alive, but that is all I can promise you, sweetie," her tone softened as she rubbed soothing circles into her beloved's back, wincing minutely as she felt the jarring edges of her shoulder blades beneath her palms.
Looking up with shining, childlike eyes, the turquoise haired girl said, "If everyone would do that… then we'll all make it out alive."
The strength of her beloved's optimism never ceased to amaze her, even in such dire, hopeless situations it burned with the intensity of a thousand suns. Unable to find any way to douse that formidable spirit, Luka sighed in defeat, "I hope so, babe, I really do."
Seeing the determined, slightly pained expression on her beloved's face, Luka decided that they had talked enough about their present circumstances, and some cheering up was in order. Leaning down to gently brush her lips against her girlfriend's, she sifted through all the idiotic memories they had shared back on Earth, seeking anything that would lift their spirits.
At last, instead of sobbing and promising a painfully short hour away, they spent their time laughing and exchanging embarrassing stories, sharing sweet, chaste kisses between anecdotes, clinging on to this little ray of light in their newfound world of darkness and despair. Delving into their shared memories, Luka remembered one of the particularly bright people in her life, her little brother, Megurine Luke, the little goofball who tried to cheer everyone up after Luki died even though he was too young to really understand. When Miku came out of nowhere and became a permanent fixture in Luka's life, Luke began calling her "nee-chan" too.
"Do you remember when Luke got his leg stuck in the toilet bowl?"
"I think everyone in the town does, he called the fire brigade."
"It took them so long to get him out, half the street was standing outside our bathroom."
"Poor Luke, he'll never live that down."
"Yeah, for weeks he was known as the 'toilet bowl guy', even by the girl he had a crush on. Fortunately, my little brother's got a good sense of humor."
"A wicked sense of humor, right; no way the kid can live without one. Remember the time he got his hair caught in the back of the hairdryer?"
"He was nearly bald for a month, how could I forget?"
The life they shared but weeks ago felt to them now like years, the cruel reality of the Mind Games having settled heavily in their stomachs like big, fat rocks; a cold, unforgiving lump that they would someday have to digest, when the horror was not so raw. The true damage of the Games would only begin to reveal itself then; now, all the scars were physical and mostly insignificant.
For now, they would joke, they would not think too much of the tragedies and deaths they had experienced, they would let it settle in their bellies like a sticky layer of sediment, clinging to their very souls. When they emerged, victorious through the bloodshed, they would have to slowly wrap their heads around it, sociopathic or not, and it would undoubtedly change them. For better or for worse, no one could know beforehand.
In a similar stone box not far away, Sakine Meiko sobbed as she attempted to deflect her boyfriend's apologies, telling him that it was not his fault that Lily committed suicide, it was not his fault that they were going to die, it was not his selfish desire for happiness that caused them this suffering.
"I killed her, and I am going to kill you," she choked out through her tears, "No one else should have to bear the guilt of my mistakes, Kaito, not you, not her, not Kamui-san, not even these goddess-forsaken aliens."
"They made me realize that I will never love you wholly, Kaito, and that if our relationship had continued on Earth, it would not have brought either of us any good because Lily will always have a place in my heart, because I cannot give you what I should. It's my fault, Kaito, I should never have said 'yes' to you when I had not yet let go of her."
Before he could protest, she continued, determination burning in her brown eyes, "I will not die yet, Kaito. I promise you that."
I have not yet atoned for my sins. Those words, though unsaid, hung audibly in the air between the weeping young adults, though neither was sure what they were weeping for. Was it the futures that once stretched so endlessly, so brilliantly, before them? Or the futures that glittered before those whose deaths they feel they had caused, Masuda Lily and Kamui Gakupo? Or was it the suffering that they had to mindlessly endure for the sake of an emotionally barbaric, technologically-advanced species' entertainment? Or was it for all those who had passed through these tunnels, both past and future, for those who had to shed blood and tears in these heartless challenges?
Though most of Andromeda had counted her out of the fight, Meiko was still not going to drop out of the race. For Lily's sake, for Kaito's sake, and for her own, she would forge on despite the fear, the pain and the uncertainty until the hard lump of guilt in her chest dissolved. Then, she could die in peace, and hopefully see her beloved Lily again in the world beyond.
However, it was undeniable that the brunette warrior was faltering, the seeds of doubt and bitter regret tearing at her heart. Why does he have the right to be alive when Lily does not? She's gone, so why is he still here? It's not fair…
In yet another similar box, a floor beneath the previous two, a seething Megpoid Gumi attempted to control her rage as her emaciated, mentally unstable girlfriend wept into her arms, begging her to take her home, to stay with her always, to never go.
Oh, how Gumi wished she could fulfill her beloved's wishes and curl up with her forever, but she could not. This was not a world where she had the free will to do as her Rin desired, she was bound by the rules of the twisted game they had been brought here to play. When the hour passed, they had to go their separate ways, and fragile little Rin did not seem capable of taking the strain.
"I'm so sorry, Rinny, I can't stay," she whispered, brushing tender kisses into the blonde's clammy forehead, "I promise you, I'll do whatever I can to get you out of there, but you have to wait for me."
Rin had a fever, her skin was pale and her lips dry, her eyes hollowed and veined. It was obvious that she was not coping well; it hurt Gumi to see that. It seemed that, even if she won every challenge and eventually the Mind Games, which did not seem too easy at the moment with Akita Neru and Megurine Luka as competitors, Rin would not be able to make it.
She's going to die, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. She's already starting to go, my Rinny… the pain and rage that gripped the green haired girl nearly made her howl; how could anyone hurt such a cheerful, sweet little girl so badly? There was no redemption, death was inevitable, and Gumi drew on the strength she had seen Masuda Lily display to make a promise.
Lowering her voice to prevent the aliens from eavesdropping, she reassured, "I will not wait for these twisted Games to end before I come for you, baby. I will find you and I will take us both home again, I promise. I just need you to be strong and wait for me, okay?"
The strength, determination and love in her girlfriend's voice brought a brighter spark of hope back into her decaying mind, giving her the strength to nod. "I'll wait, Gumi, please come soon…"
The green haired girl nodded wordlessly, pulling her petite sweetheart closer. She knew that she could not keep the promise she had made, not entirely, there was no way she could sneak them both out of the arena. However, she fully intended to locate the dungeons and break Rin free, so that at the very least, they could die in each other's arms knowing that they had tried, instead of dying alone and afraid and wondering about "what-ifs".
That is the only choice we can make in these Games, when and how we die. Masuda Lily's suicide taught me as much.
She was only fourteen years old, but she had already resigned to death.
"Chiaki-nee!" with a cry of delight, Akiyama Chikane flung herself at her elder sister unsteadily, her negligible weight barely making her sister step back. There were so many words she wanted to say to her beloved, so many things she wanted to tell her, but all she needed to do was to meet her eyes to render them unnecessary.
Standing awkwardly to the side, the Game Master decided that it was alright not to tell them they had only an hour; it did not seem they would be able to hear him if he did anyway. Such a powerful love… he understood why it seemed disgusting to some, but incestuous relationships were illegal mostly because of the effect it would have on future offspring, as inbreeding did humans no good. For a same-sex pairing that could not produce children… he did not see as much wrong in it, though he knew many would argue.
Call this a false love, he silently dared as he faded away, he had not seen many loves stronger or purer than this in the past century he had worked here. Let all those who would call it nothing but lust stand here right at this moment, with the emotion between these sisters palpable, maybe it would change their minds.
Tragedy seemed to be good at doing that.
"Chikane…" Chiaki's voice caught as she looked her beloved sister over, a thousand knives piercing into her heart as she took in her emaciated body, hollowed cheeks and scraped, unhealthily pale skin. She swore to always protect her little sister, but was completely helpless, unable to do anything when push came to shove…
If only she were stronger, if only she had more power, if only she were not merely a weak human being in a land of powerful aliens… that way, her beloved Chikane would not have to suffer the way she had. All that pain, all that fear, if only she could have prevented her sister from feeling any of it!
I'm so sorry, Chikane, I couldn't protect you…
It's not your fault, you did what you could and I'm very grateful for it, Chiaki-nee.
That was typical Chikane; her elder sister could never mess up in her eyes. Even when she was threatened by bullies in school, didn't dare to tell a soul and was almost beaten to death in a shed behind the school by the time her sister found out, she still was grateful and refused to allow Chiaki to feel guilty over being late. To Chikane, Chiaki's best was always enough for her, no matter what anyone else thought or felt.
My best is not enough this time, Chikane… oh, goddess, how I wish it wasn't so…
You deserve much better than this, much better than dying in a foreign galaxy, much better than me. You deserve to find happiness –
I've found it, Chiaki-nee, I've found it by your side, so please don't say such things! I don't ever want to leave you; I don't care if that means we have to die here today!
That made Chiaki flinch, her eyes widening slightly as she took in the gravity of her girlfriend's words.
Would you really be alright with it… if we died right now?
If I get to die in your arms, yes.
There was not a shred of uncertainty in those beautiful eyes, boosting her resolve. She had promised that they would be able to die together, that she would be there to hold her lover as her breath left her body, and she would ensure it happened.
I love you, Chikane.
I love you too, Chiaki-nee.
Their lips met silently, tenderly, filled with the warm love and blazing passion they had for each other, that might be enough to pull them through this cruel competition. However, they knew winning would not help their relationship very much; it was frowned upon by too many. The blood that flowed in their veins was too similar, and that was why they could never be together. Walking back with the trophy from some strange alien game show would not change that; it might even get them thrown in a mental institution.
Leave victory to those who have the hope of happiness beyond it.
We don't need that, as long as we're together.
They had long been able to do that, finish each other's sentences, both physically and mentally. A sidelong glance, a gentle touch, a tender kiss… that was all they needed to understand one another, to hear the words the other longed to say.
Neither girl broke their lip lock as Chiaki silently felt for her bag, withdrawing a long, double-edged sword from its depths. Her hands trembled minutely as she positioned the blade, pressing the tip against her little sister's back, where her heart would be if she were to strike from the front.
I'm sorry; this is going to hurt…
It's alright, Chiaki-nee, I can take it.
I will be fast, I promise.
She gulped, her hesitation showing, and Chikane ran a gentle hand through her hair to reassure her, to tell her that it's okay, I want this too.
I love you so much, Chikane...
I love you more than you will ever know, Chiaki-nee.
Their kiss deepened as Chiaki's arms tensed, the trembling intensifying as she took a steadying breath, a single tear escaping down her cheek. Understanding, Chikane looped her arms around her sister's neck and deepened the kiss further, gently running her tongue along her elder sister's lips.
Sayonara, aishita hito.
Sayonara, aishita hito.
With that, Chiaki plunged the blade downward with all her strength, impaling her sister through the chest and then herself, the hilt of the sword resting against her sister's skin. Blood poured from their wounds and dripped from their connected lips as the light in their eyes instantly died, so quickly that they barely could register the pain.
Slumped upon each other, the two sisters looked at peace with their decision, scarlet pooling soundlessly beneath them. They had found a way to make these Games work for them, and like Masuda Lily before them, had made a decision to lose on their own terms.
Maybe they hadn't lost...
"I cannot believe this," Dredor mumbled as he ran through the day's footage, watching the Akiyama sisters' suicide for the thirteenth time, "We have never had anyone commit suicide in the past 193 Mind Games, and the 194th proves to be a gold mine of emotion and bravery! Firstly, Masuda, showing no remorse for the toy she doomed alongside her, and now the Akiyama sisters, for the sake of being able to die in each other's arms, still loving each other…"
"Maybe we should not have overlooked Asia for so long," Quint commented as he continued his work, examining the betting polls silently. Those who bet on Kurosawa or Sakine dying next had lost quite a lot of money thanks to this unexpected event; though some had speculated the Akiyama sisters would commit lovers' suicide, they had not really expected it to happen so early. After all, the younger Akiyama was such an optimist.
Laughing, Dredor clapped the younger alien on the back, the strength of the blow nearly knocking him over. Indeed, the Mind Games had overlooked the Asian continent for a very long time, they had last took competitors from there more than a century ago, and those Games had been equally short. However, instead of being full of drama and interesting twists like this one, with someone dying practically at every challenge and some perishing in the three to four day breaks between challenges, that round saw nearly half the competitors die in the first challenge and ended in the third without a victor, because the last two died together.
"The Asian tradition of arranged marriage made for extremely boring shows in the past, and I guess we forgot about the human capacity for change," Dredor concluded with a chuckle. The Europeans and Americans that they had been constantly taking for the past century or so had gotten predictable, the richer ones tended not to love each other as much as those who chose their partners, obviously, but sometimes a pair would shock them.
Sometimes, they would get very interesting master-servants pairs, usually same-sex, with the powerful butler or bodyguard and the rich heir or heiress, which got rarer and rarer as the century progressed and change occurred. Other than that, they were pretty typical, some playboys and playgirls, some strained relationships, and some burning with a fire strong enough to keep them alive.
While browsing through his archive-like memory of all the Mind Games he had worked on, Dredor fondly remembered one of his favorites, from the 100th Games, a European heiress with her pretty, dark haired Chinese servant. The servant, whose name was Xin Sui (心碎), was the competitor, and she breezed through the challenges with little fear, her only worry being her Lady's wellbeing. She was deceptively strong, the girl barely breached four feet in height, yet she could take out monsters three times her size with one hand behind her back.
And unlike the others, the girl worked alone, never accepting any sort of solace from her fellow competitors. She was sharp as a blade, hostile as a wet cat, as eager to fight as a provoked killer bee; the girl was a human porcupine. However, the moment she was given time with her Lady Melissa, she was a docile little kitten, gentle and obedient and concerned, an extremely adorable and sweet change to see.
It was a landslide victory for Xin Sui, everyone bet on her from the second challenge, and she never ever disappointed.
How tragic it is that, after they won and returned the sole survivors, Melissa's family married her off to a rich man whom she had no choice but to pretend to be happy with. One night, he found his wife and her servant together in bed, and had Xin Sui executed in a fit of jealous, bigoted rage. That night, the heartbroken heiress committed suicide, carrying within her the fool's unborn child.
Winning these Games did not guarantee happiness; the past had proof of that. These sisters picked up on it, choosing death for their happy ending before they suffered any more for a pointless cause.
"If only we knew what they said to each other," Quint sighed softly, pulling his superior from the haze of memory lane, "It would be so much more entertaining."
Agreeing, the elder alien ran long fingers through his hair as he sighed, "Well, it still makes for an interesting twist that will have people talking about it for years to come."
Nodding in honest agreement, the neon purple haired alien leaned back against his chair to examine one of the screens, displaying the conversation between Megurine Luka and Hatsune Miku.
"These two have started to see the light of hope," Dredor noticed the alien's gaze and smiled to himself, "They really believe that they will be getting out of here."
"Honestly, sir, I believe it too," Quint said. Their love had not shown even the slightest sign of faltering, and their hope still burned high despite the growing despair, only Akita and Yowane could stand up to that. The brutality of Kasane's attacks had caught up to her, the beatings her body had endured made it difficult for her to fight, and she feared she would be physically incapable of saving Yokune.
Nothing needed to be said about Sakine and Shion, winning was impossible for them, it was but a matter of time before Sakine's guilt was sated and she died, or she grew too weak to continue. Kurosawa and her unfaithful boyfriend Shiroi were also doomed, if not in the morning "fun" then in the next challenge. For Megpoid and Kagamine… the little blonde was already on death's door, and it seemed her lover had noticed it too.
Would there be another suicide?
Somehow, his superior managed to read his thoughts, musing aloud, "Indeed, it seems probable that Megpoid and Kagamine commit suicide, but you must remember what Megpoid said to her."
Expertly pushing a number of buttons on his console, the elder alien made the largest screen of the room display the reward between the duo earlier that day, endlessly repeating Megpoid Gumi's words, "I promise you, I'll do whatever I can to get you out of there, but you have to wait for me."
"She is probably still willing to try to win, though if she does not get rid of the competition soon; Kagamine is not going to make it. What she has is beyond our capacity to heal."
Ah, the drama and tension was so satisfyingly thick! The pain, the tears, the heartbreak and despair, how wondrous it was! To know that, even in victory, only despair awaited them… this would be a highly viewed episode, the suicide of the Akiyama sisters. Ah, humans, such pathetically weak creatures, if only they had as much strength as they did feelings, they would be amongst the strongest beings of the galaxy.
Unfortunately, weak and foolish as they are, human beings are but playthings for their more powerful and intelligent neighbors. Well, unfortunately for the humans, that is. The inhabitants of Andromeda have enjoyed every single one of the Mind Games thus far, and plan on enjoying them for centuries to come.
A/N: Once again, sorry for the long wait, though my constant apologies change nothing (seriously, my guilt doesn't even make me write faster, hah).
Please leave a review letting me know if I should continue this little story or not, and any comments you may have.
Thank you very much!
P.S "Sayonara, aishita hito" translates to something like "Goodbye, sweetheart" or "Goodbye, you whom I love".