He ran without turning to look back.
He ran with all his might as if trying to kill himself, he ran and ran and ran.
His sister has probably died.
Yuuki knew from the start. He had a premonition ever since she first showed up at the café. Her scarlet kimono could only be seen as a shroud of death. His sister, Kirishima Haruko, always devoted, resolved for death, just like an incarnation of Sokuten Bukou, follows her brother’s words and actions to the T, and even if it were for her, she was someone who could pull the trigger.
Pick one or the other, by the time she approached, she should have already resolved herself.
However, Yuuki had something he had to do, the one and only thing he had to sacrifice anything to protect—no, enough excuses. He killed her.
Kirishima Yuuki has killed his sister.
Dammit dammit dammit.
What’s with this? What in the world is going on?
Why did things become like this? What went wrong? Where did I stray from the path?
While running, he cut out and threw away any hesitation or regret that surfaced.
He didn’t have the luxury of shouting. This isn’t a place to be crying and complaining. He didn’t have just one premonition. There was a worse premonition, a premonition that felt like having his ribs pulled out alive as it ran around within his mind.
The shaking earth, the explosions, the flashes of light. It had all stopped before he realized it.
He ran and ran and ran, ran until he forgot to even breathe.
He finally reached the hill the monastery was built on.
It was like a battlefield.
The field that was once covered in dried-up grass now didn’t even have a single blade of grass growing on it. There were smoldering flames everywhere, and the flat ground now had many holes, to the point where there were more holes than flat ground.
And of course, it should be mentioned as an obvious result. The already worn-down monastery had turned into ruins. There were no longer any stacked-up stones as it was all pulverized into rubble, and there was barely any foundation left.
The smell of ash and blood permeated his nose.
Various corpses were littered around the area.
Where’s Sekai? Chiyo?
Standing around was a waste of time, so he ran even more.
Reminiscent of an apocalypse, within the hell-like scenery, he continued to search without any rest.
By the cliff, at the end of the café. There was a person sitting down.
He approached the person.
As he approached, Yuuki’s legs dulled after he sprinted for so long, so his movement gradually transformed into a tired walk.
There were two people.
One of them was sitting down, accepting the sea breeze, while the other was laid on their lap.
The former wore a white dress, giving off a saddened yet loving smile. The latter had a body that barely retained its original shape, her expression, despite half of her being blown away, seemed very peaceful.
“…You are always like this, Chiyo.” While petting the hair that was covered in blood, Kanaruzawa Sekai spoke. “Competent, calm, and despite being a maid, you never listen to your master’s words. You always smile with a cool look. You’re always great at using logic in the face of something frustrating. Thanks to that, I’ve often had a hard time. I could never compete with you in a war of words after all.”
He couldn’t call out to them instantly.
No, he couldn’t even bring himself closer to them. Between him and her, there were a number of huge holes, but more than that, he couldn’t interrupt such a precious moment between the two of them, who have spent such a long time together.
“You were a complete disgrace to all maids, however… there wasn’t a person more worthy of being called an exemplar maid than you. You gave and sacrificed everything for me. If you were alone, you could have had many paths to live… Even if you wanted to carry through your sincerity to the end, you could have abandoned me and found another way to live.”
Sekai continued to speak alone.
Only Yuuki and the cold blowing breeze were listening to her voice.
“Thank you for your hard work. Relax and get some rest.” She said, before gently laying the corpse to rest. She then turned her gaze in Yuuki’s direction and smiled. “Welcome back, Yuuki.”
Zokuri. Yuuki felt a shiver run up his spine.
“I’ve made you wait quite a while. However, I’ve finally finished preparations.”
“…Yeah.” That was the only response that Yuuki could muster.
Sekai’s red eyes seemed as clear as a deep lake, as they harbored an intellectual light.
However, that in return made Yuuki unnecessarily anxious.
“What do you think?” She shyly grabbed the sleeves of her dress. “Everything’s been a bit outside of expectations, but is it alright if I ask you for your thoughts?”
It was probably something that Chiyo had prepared.
Due to fresh blood, the dress was dyed red in various places.
“…Yeah.” Yuuki nodded. He swallowed while feeling sticky sweat covered his brow. “It’s pretty. Really. It’s truly beautiful.”
Originally, it would have been quite the ominous outfit—but it was too beautiful.
Beautiful; pitiful; fleeting, as if she could be blown away; and yet, there seemed to be strength enough to root her to the ground. Her pale almost transparent skin and lustrous silver hair, shining like a diamond after a jeweler has poured their heart and soul into it.
She was beautiful.
There are no grounds for objection. No matter the type of person, no matter the preferences they held, anyone would say that she’s beautiful.
To the point where she felt like she was outside of this world.
“I see. Thank you.” Then, she stared straight at Yuuki’s face. “You know everything, right? From the looks of it. All of it.”
No words came out of Yuuki’s mouth.
“You have accompanied me to this point despite understanding everything. You’re an unexpectedly sharp man. Fufu, I guess it’s rude to say that it’s unexpected.”
“That’s right. I am the opposite of this world. My role within this world, it has been thrown away due to my selfishness. This mess is a result of that.”
“However, it was fun. This was the most enjoyable time I’ve had in my life. I got on a bike, got on a boat, and even a train. We went to hot countries and cold countries as well. We saw various types of scenery, at various types of food—You, Yuuki, were always there with me.”
“…No.” Yuuki spoke. His voice was strained as if he was squeezing out his words. “It’s still not enough, Kanaruzawa. I’ve said this many times already. There’s still a lot of other things I would like for you to do. There are a multitude of different things I want you to enjoy. I came to this point for that reason and I’ve already decided that I’ll do anything for that.”
“Yeah. I know. I’m truly grateful.”
“There’s no need for thanks. That can be saved till later. There’s still more to it after all. There are still things we need to do past this.”
“Yeah. You’re right.”
“If that’s the case.” Yuuki was desperate. He felt as if he was clinging onto a single thread, that he would do anything to keep her on this side.
“Why don’t we try returning to the start, what do you think?” He even said something that should never have been mentioned, “Quit this journey and stop running. Return to that mansion and once again restart your duty, something like that. No well, who am I to say that, I really shouldn’t be saying that. But maybe, that option also exists?”
“Sorry. I can’t do that.” However, Sekai immediately shook her head, “Once I have given up my role, I have lost the ability to function in that capacity. I have become unable to control the violent flow of negative energy. Returning to that mansion and resuming my role is something that I am unable to do.”
“The current me is only an existence that causes harm to this world. The negative energy that has built up within me is now being released into the world, turning into an existence that causes many disasters around the world. Terrible nuisances that will make your typhoons and earthquakes look cute in comparison.”
“I’m the enemy of this world. I can never, ever stand on that side again. Never, no matter what I do.”
What’s with this?
Yuuki questioned himself in despair.
He looked around the area to confirm the situation.
Kanaruzawa Sekai was standing on top of the cliff. Directly below the dizzying sheer cliff, was a rocky stretch with crashing waves caused by the gray sea.
“…What is all of this?” Yuuki’s voice was strained. “None of that matters. I didn’t know anything. I thought I understood how you’ve lived up until now. To have your journey end at a point like this is impossible. Do you get it? I can’t allow that to happen. That’s certain. No matter what.”
The distance between him and her was about 10 meters.
Within those 10 meters, there were a number of craters. It’s probably the remnants of a fierce battle. Smoke rose up from the holes, and red burn marks like lava were located in various places, limiting Yuuki’s movements.
Even if he were to squeeze out all the energy left in his legs, it would take at least one second to close that distance.
That one second would be deadly.
“I’ll bring you to a lot of different places. Let you see a lot of different things, experience a lot of different things. Through that, you can smile, enjoy it, and be happy. That’s my job. For what did you dress up all nice like this? It’s not to give up, right? Right?”
While squeezing out his voice, Yuuki could feel his vision gradually turn dark.
A distance of 10 meters?
Lava within those craters?
What nonsense is he spouting? Even if it was 10 kilometers or the opening of a volcano were to open up in front of him, none of that matters. If it were the edges of the universe, he would even jump straight into the depths of a black hole or whatever. He could do anything for Kanaruzawa Sekai.
However, that’s not what this is.
It wasn’t what Sekai said, but he had a sharp mind.
Yuuki already understands the fundamentals of the current situation.
He painfully feels that none of this is logical.
With his hands, which he has gripped to the point of bleeding, he would never reach the person he holds dear.
(Goddammit. Are you kidding me…!)
He scolded himself after becoming dispirited, before shouting within himself.
He can’t allow for this type of conclusion. The girl that has put her life on the line in order to protect this world, is now being rejected by the world itself and must disappear.
The person who created that reason was none other than Kirishima Yuuki.
He couldn’t accept it.
Not even if he died.
That’s what he thought. He wished this to the point of insanity.
Despite that, why, why did his legs not move?
Why won’t words intended to stop her come out of his mouth?
It was as if he thought this was their initial destiny—and that he knew of their destiny from the start—in other words, he did all of this while knowing the ending from the start—as if ridiculing the pointless struggles that have been made. As Yuuki’s body was suddenly returned to his own will, letting him witness the moment where the future falls into the abyss.
“Can I,” Sekai called out to distressed Yuuki. “Request one thing from you?”
“Anything.” Yuuki responded without hesitation, “Say anything. I’ll listen to anything. That’s the only thing I can do after all. I’ll even put my life on the line for it. That’s the only thing—”
“Call me by my name.” She said.
“That’s right, by my name. My first name. You’ve never called me in that way before, right?”
“Is that… so?”
“That’s right. Honestly, I was always a little dissatisfied about that. I mean, we’re married, right? It’s not right to treat each other as strangers.” She pouted, and then spoke with an exaggeratedly arrogant tone, “Will you call me in that way? By my name?”
“Of course, Sekai.” Yuuki nodded. “I’ll call you that however many times you want. From now on and forever. I’ll make sure to never make you think I’m treating you like a stranger. I’ll call your name as many times as you want, Sekai. That’s why—”
“That’s a nice sound.” She faced the sky, and gently closed her eyes as if enjoying the reverberance from the sound. “In truth, you’re the first person to ever call me by my name. You are also the first person that I’ve allowed to do that. I’ve finally, at the very end, be able to meet someone like that. There’s nothing that gives me more happiness than that.”
From her closed eyes, a single tear dropped and ran down her cheek.
Still, the face of the girl who single-handedly supported this world was colored in joy.
“Thank you, Yuuki. Thank you for fulfilling your promise.”
Just like you’ve promised, I’ve become happy.
—Leaving just those words, she vanished.
She fell headfirst. Towards the bottom of the cliff. Into the gray sea.
With a terribly dull sound, she disappeared into the waves.
Wavering and without any energy, Yuuki continued to walk towards the spot where his beloved person was just standing.
Just below the spot ten meters away, bloomed a flower of red.
A large deep red flower.
The moment beautiful things scatter is when they truly bloom like flowers—that stupid thought suddenly surfaced within his mind, and it stayed there, without ever disappearing.
“…What is this?”
He fell down to his knees. His butt hit the ground. His head dropped as if he was trying to bury his face into the ground.
“Really, what is all of this?” He muttered.
His eyes couldn’t focus on the imagery in front of him.
His head began to ring as if he had taken some hard drug of some sort, everything began to sway.
“Is there really an ending like this? Isn’t this weird? Are you kidding me?”
He did his best. He did the best he could have done. He was even able to see a bunch of smiles. This time, he was able to buy time until now.
Haruko died. Chiyo died. Even Sekai ended up dying in the end.
There was nothing left. Everything has fallen through his hands.
He was once again unable to achieve anything.
“But, what else was I supposed to do…?”
Pakin, the sound of something breaking came out of his mouth. It was the sound of his back molars breaking from too much grinding.
At some point, bloody tears came spilling from the corners of his eyes, mixing with something red flowing from his lips, before finally creating a stain on the dry earth.
“I did whatever I could do, right? She did her best, and I did my best as well. And yet, why did it become like this? Why didn’t things end while things were still happy? Living normally, dying normally, then I would have been satisfied. I’m not wishing for anything luxurious, right? Despite all of that, why? Why, why, whywhywhywhywhywhydammitareyoukiddingwhydidthingsturnoutthiswaywhywhywhywhy—!” He screamed.
Screamed until it could be heard from every corner of the world.
He prayed from the bottom of his heart. That this world should disappear.
There’s no need for such a wicked world that was filled with such stupid things. There’s not a single reason for it to exist. It should all disappear, fade away without a trace, leaving not a single speck of dust. He prayed from the bottom heart that everything would disappear as if it never existed in the first place.
This world. It would be better if it disappeared.
He didn’t care about what would happen, everything should just end—!
“Is it alright for me to take that as your answer?”
He heard a voice.
He turned around, and at that moment, he understood everything.
“If that’s your answer, Yuuki-kun, then I’ll be able to end everything right here. Press the reset button, making everything that happened non-existent, and then make sure that nothing begins after that. That sort of ending. What do you want? Is that going to be your answer?”
Hair with a natural perm. Big and round eyes. A friendly smile. A recognizable face. An all too familiar uniform. A person that should never have been here.
A piece of his normal day that appeared within his abnormal experiences.
“Yes. This is Koiwai Kurumi. Long time no see, Yuuki-kun.” She smiled. It was a bright smile, that didn’t fit in with the gray sky and sea, harsh winds, and corpses littered all over the area.
“Why are you here? It would be stupid to ask that, right?”
“Yeah, that’s true. That does seem to be the case, at least to the current Yuuki-kun. It seems that the switch has already been flipped and you remember everything now.”
That’s exactly right.
The game he’s been dragged into. The countless repetitions resulted in despair.
All of those memories turned into a muddy stream as it was pushed into him, forcing Yuuki into dismay and calming him down.
“I guess this means that Koiwai-san is the judge this time around.”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Isn’t that a little unfair?”
“That’s why I said my standing was ambiguous, right?”
“That’s true. You might have said that.” Yuuki laughed to himself. He laughed and gathered his breath. He needed to think. To think about what he should do from now on, and his future course.
“Rather, I even supported you. In the end, it was still no good.” She bent over next to Yuuki and then furrowed her eyebrows. “Both Yuuki-kun and Kanaruzawa-san were accepted into the school. It seemed like things were pretty happy. It was a pattern that was super unusual. I kept thinking, what if things were to stay this way. But in the end, it all mattered for not.”
“Yeah. It didn’t matter.”
“Yuuki-kun was also pretty strong physically this time. You were able to match Chiyo-san after all. It really felt a bit inhuman to a point. I thought that maybe if things came down to it, you would end up playing a role. But in the end, you didn’t help out at all.”
“That was due to my lack of vigilance.”
“You’re just being humble. You did your best, Yuuki-kun. You really tried your best this time. You tried so hard, there wasn’t much more you could do. The results were even on the better side I believe. That’s why—” She stared at Yuuki. Then, she spoke with an expression that looked as if she was experiencing something painful, “That’s why, isn’t it about time to call it quits?”
“I mean, it was impossible from the start. There’s no point in continuing. Moreover, it’s kind of tough on me, to be honest. I’ve seen you be hurt a countless number of times.” She smiled lifelessly. And after smiling, she buried her face between both her knees.
“…” Yuuki sat down cross-legged. “Koiwai-san.”
“…What is it?”
“Why don’t we talk for a bit? Only if there’s the time of course.”
“There’s not much time to talk, you know? My standing is a bit weird after all.”
“It’s fine. It’s not that kind of conversation.”
“Then, what is it?” Peeking sideways with her eyes, Kurumi asked.
Yuuki answered after carefully picking his words. “I want to give my thanks.”
Yuuki watched the gray-colored sky and sea.
No. It wasn’t even the sky and sea at this point. The gray thing that could be seen was in fact not the sky or the water. Nor was it anything that had a refractive index. It was just something inorganic with no sense of existence. The world was beginning to close, Yuuki sensed.
The end mark has already been tagged onto this “story”. Yuuki’s time to decide is approaching. Maybe this was all intended by Koiwai Kurumi, who held the role of being the judge—while thinking that, Yuuki continued to speak.
“Koiwai-san, you’ve always helped and supported me, right? It’s thanks for that.”
“…What do you mean?”
“I mean it in the literal sense. For instance, you invited me to become the class representative. There are also a lot of other things. You even helped me take care of the troublesome transfer student. And despite being targeted by my troublesome little sister, you continued to be my ally.”
“Yeah, well. That was. That wasn’t much.”
“That’s why I’m thanking you. I just wanted to say it while I still had the chance. There just wasn’t ever a timing, and so I was never able to say it.”
“Thanks for everything. I’m really grateful. Thank you for helping me out.”
“…Hmmmm.” While keeping her face buried into her knees, she scratched her head. “If I was going to be confessed to, it would have been better if it a different type of confession. You know, the romantic type.”
“No, well it’s fine. I can’t really hate you anyway, Yuuki-kun. Besides, I’m the one that’s always helped by you. It was me one-sidedly falling in love with you and then instantly getting rejected. This is quite rough in its own sense.”
“…You’re still thanking me?”
“Is that weird?”
“Well, it’s very Yuuki-like I would say.”
There, she raised her face and smiled. It was a bright type of smile as if she had taken a load off her shoulders.
“Now then. It seems that you come to an answer. It’s about time I get to work.” While giving a small curtsy, “By the way, for the game this time, if you’re up for it, you can still continue, you know?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“It means that even with Kanaruzawa-san dead, there can be a replacement. It’s a provision that can be put in place just in case. That’s why the Tsukumo organization didn’t chase her to bring her back, but rather they chased to kill her.”
“If that wasn’t the case, then it would’ve just been an impossible game. If she continued living like that, the negative energy would have overwhelmed her and it would’ve still been game over after all. If Kanaruzawa-san was the only person who could purify it, then it would have been game over if she was murdered. Didn’t you notice that, Yuuki-kun?”
Yuuki stayed silent and scratched his head.
It seemed as if he was willing to accept either option.
“Then, what are you going to do? Continue this game? Kanaruzawa-san technically still exists, you know? It would be a completely different person with no memories at all, but she will still be the same person. I think there is some worth in trying it out.”
“There isn’t any.” Yuuki declared while standing up. “Even if that were the case, in the end, she would be the one to carry everything alone. She would be the one to experience all of that fear and pain alone. That’s impossible. I would never be able to let her do that while knowing everything.”
“Roger that.” Kurumi saluted foolishly, before jumping into a bow, “The 350,065th repetition has unfortunately ended in an unsatisfactory conclusion. Everything that has happened to this point will now be rewritten. However, I don’t know what it will be rewritten into. I don’t have that sort of power, my role is in the end, to spin the roulette when the time comes.”
Time stopped. Space bent.
Everything was suspended, and at the same time fast-forwarded, or maybe it rewound.
Everything lost its meaning, or maybe acquired new ones
It was all rebuilt.
“Bye-bye, Yuuki-kun. Hurry up and end this nightmare.”
Leaving those words, the world transformed.
—And thus, the world was remade.