Dive into the Night
After finishing his lunch, Leon slowly made his way back over to his PC. His entire body still felt slow and sluggish, but at the very least he could move. As Leon booted up his PC, he thought back to all the events that transpired in the past few days. The Dream and the people he now fought alongside, why did he agree to any of this? Was it just to satisfy this desire for adventure that his friends seemingly no longer shared?
“I really don’t know,” Leon thought out loud.
Opening his browser, Leon looked through his emails again. There was another email from his parents, more images from their vacation.
“Still no class updates, just how incompetent are these people?” Leon sighed. “Still nothing from Kaz either.”
However, Leon did notice an automatic response from the Ryusei Group’s website. He opened several more tabs as he continued to browse.
“All the news sites are just recycling the same garbage day after day. Like I get it, the world’s in a bad place. You people don’t have anything positive to report?” Leon switched over to another tab. “No new releases for games either.”
Leon closed most of his tabs, only keeping Shinigami Sensei’s podcast open. He started his drawing program and opened his drawing project from several days ago. Leon began playing the podcast before he continued on his project.
“Alright, what do you have for me today, Sensei?”
After the usual intro music, Shinigami Sensei began to speak.
“Everything that lives will end one day. If life is the mother to all living things, then perhaps all things will return to the father at the end. With that, I welcome you to my podcast, my children,” said Shinigami Sensei in his usual smooth low voice. “On this day, I would like to speak of a most human of instinct: desire.”
Leon began basic shading and detail edits on his project as he listened to Shinigami Sensei’s podcast. As he continued to draw, his mind was mainly focused on the podcast.
“Of course there are many sides to such a topic. The feeling of desire can certainly connect with feelings of ambitions or act as a drive. I believe some listeners may ask themselves “is it selfish of me to pursue my personal desires over a more logical choice?”, and for that I can assure that there is no clear answer. The difficulty of such choices are compounded with humanity’s relationship with time. All that remains of your past is memories, while the future continues to be uncertain.”
As Leon continued to draw, he eventually lost track of time. As he finished his project, he realized several hours had already gone by.
“… our topic has taken up much of our time today. Perhaps if there is more interest, we shall speak of it another time. For now, I will leave you children with this: follow the path of your desires; regardless of how selfish you may seem. Your time in this realm never stops counting down, so make sure the choice you make is one you will not come to regret. I thank you all for listening in.”
As Shinigami Sensei’s outro played, Leon leaned back in his chair and stared up.
“I … don’t regret this, do I?”
Leon saved his art project before he posted it on an art website, he closed the tab with Shinigami Sensei’s podcast and opened his email again. There was one new result. It was simply addressed as the “Ryusei Group”, but the subject was “Leon Chen”. Leon opened the mail.
“Hello Leon, I thank you for reaching out to me. Will you be available tomorrow? I wish to meet with you in person so that we may discuss our plans further. Should you be busy, please do inform me any additional dates that will fit your schedule. I will also attach my phone number if it is more convenient for you to contact. Signed Kaz,” Leon read.
Leon saw that Kaz had indeed attached a phone number and a return email address at the bottom of the message. Leon clicked reply and began to pen his response.
“Hey Kaz, tomorrow is fine. I’ll send you a text from my phone since I look at that more often. Just let me know what place and time.”
Leon sent the email before he took out his phone and texted a message to the number in the email. He put down his phone and looked at the time again.
“I think I’ll just order some food tonight.”
After he placed an order online, Leon’s phone buzzed as he was getting up. He unlocked the phone and read the new message.
Kaz: [Hello Leon, I am glad to hear that you will be able to meet tomorrow. I am arranging to meet with everyone at 10 AM tomorrow so that we may discuss over some morning drinks. There is a café downtown that is owned by the Ryusei Group, I believe its name was Café 39.]
Leon: [Yeah I’ve been there a couple of times, plan sounds good to me.]
[I live just outside of the city so I’ll just make sure to leave the house an hour early.]
Kaz: [Excellent, I look forward to meeting you tomorrow.]
There was a slight pause before Kaz sent another message.
Kaz: [Ah, that does remind me, how did your body fare to the Dream overexposure?]
Leon: [Well, my whole body felt like it was underwater when I first woke up.]
[Although it’s a bit better now.]
Kaz: [That is good to hear. Perhaps you may want to consider skipping the Dream tonight. It is always good to consider a break. Those spirits also did not mention any signs of another large Nightmare appearance, so it may be wise for you to have some rest.]
Leon: [Uh, yeah sure.]
[I’ll just give you a text when I arrive tomorrow.]
Kaz: [Very well, we shall continue our conversation then.]
After falling asleep, Leon found himself facing the door to the Dream again. The door silently called to him, an uncanny feeling that he should continue back into the Dream.
“So what was the plan here, I just turn and walk away?”
Leon turned away from the door and began to walk, after a couple of steps he heard an unknown voice call out to him.
Leon quickly turned around and looked at the door, but there was no discernible difference. He turned back around and continued walking into the darkness. Eventually Leon stopped moving, he was completely surrounded by the pitch black darkness. He closed his eyes as he felt his body falling back for a moment.
When Leon opened his eyes, he was staring at his room’s ceiling. The slight chirping of birds outside of his window was drowned out by the sound of Leon’s alarm going off beside him. He reached over and stopped the alarm, at the same time he realized that his body’s movement had returned to normal.
Arriving at Café 39, Leon noticed that there was no one parked in front of the café save for a single sports car. When he met Kelvin at the café, it was practically operating at full capacity. In comparison, the café today looked like an abandoned building. After Leon parked his car in front of the café, he walked over and saw a sign at the front of the building.
[CLOSED FOR PRIVATE EVENT]
After entering, Leon was greeted by a waiter at the front of the café.
“Hello sir, may I please get your name?” the waiter asked.
“Ah, Mr. Leon, we have been expecting you. Please follow me to your table.”
The waiter directed him towards a table at the back of the café. As he followed the waiter, Leon noticed three people already sitting at the table. A boy and a girl were dressed in light summer-casual attire, while the third was dressed in a business casual outfit. As Leon looked closer he recognized the three as Hayate, Saya, and Kaz respectively. Kaz greeted Leon as he sat down.
“Welcome Leon, it is a pleasure to meet you outside of the Dream. We are now waiting for May and Touma to arrive, “said Kaz as he shook Leon’s hand.
“Seems like everyone so far really do look the same in real life as they did in the Dream!” Saya added.
“I can’t believe you reserved the whole café just for this meeting,” said Leon.
“You really have no idea who Kaz is, do ya?” Hayate scoffed.
“No, I normally don’t keep up to date with random conglomerates.”
“It’s okay, I was being a bit unintentionally vague myself,” said Kaz.
Kaz turned back to Leon.
“Allow me to introduce myself properly. My full name is Kazuya Ryusei, my father is Hirotaka Ryusei.”
Leon remembered back to last night, when he was reading about the Ryusei group. Hirotaka Ryusei… I remember that was part of it. Wait.
Leon’s eyes widened with realization as he looked at Kaz.
“Wait, so that means…” Leon began to ask.
“Yes, I am the future heir to my father’s conglomerate. The Ryusei Group is a family business that spans several generations, although it will be a long time before I am worthy of leading the company.”
“Wow, so should I start calling you Mr. Ryusei?” Leon joked.
“Please, Kaz is fine. We are fighting as equals in the Dream after all. I would not want you to see me any differently just because of my family name.”
A blacked out SUV pulled up in front of the café as Kaz was talking, a tall man in a suit and sunglasses stepped out and walked over to the rear passenger door facing the café. He opened the door and bowed his head as a girl in light summer attire stepped out of the car. From her hairstyle and hair colour, Leon could already tell it was May. The group watched as she conversed with the tall man, unable to hear the conversation. The tall man appeared to be offering suggestions while May tried to shoo him away. He bowed several times before getting back in the SUV, the SUV drove off after May entered the café. As she arrived at the table she looked at Leon and Kaz.
“Do you two always dress like this?” May asked in her deadpan voice.
“I like these types of clothes, they’re comfortable,” said Leon
“I concur,” added Kaz.
Looking up from behind Kaz and Leon, Saya waved at May.
“May! I like your clothes today! Why do you always look so good every time we meet? Saya asked enthusiastically.
May shrugged and sat down.
“I picked the first things I had in my closet.”
Leon raised an eyebrow at May.
“You say that, but you asked about our choices for clothing,” Leon asked.
May took a quick glance at Leon.
“T-shirt, long pants, … bag. Same outfit,” said May as she pointed at Leon. “You’re just missing your jacket.”
Leon did not respond as he knew May was right, as he turned away in silence he noticed a slight smug smile appear on her face. As Kaz placed an order with the waiter, another person entered the café. A shorter boy who wore a similar outfit to Kaz, with the additions of a tie and a navy-blue suit jacket slung on his arm. He had his grey-silver hair partially swept up.
“That must be Touma, then,” said Leon.
Touma walked over to the group.
“You look like you just finished adding ‘I object’ after every sentence in a courtroom,” said May as Touma reached the table.
“Don’t test me, woman,” Touma replied angrily. “I had to deal with far too many idiots for how early in the morning it was, the last thing I need is you stabbing me with your words.”
“Touma,” said Kaz. “If you were going to be busy this morning you should have let me know. I would have modified the meeting time to accommodate you.”
Touma sighed and ruffled his hair with his hand, sweeping it back down.
“It’s alright. I didn’t want to be a bother either, besides I made it didn’t I?” said Touma.
“You are right, what is most important is that you are here. I already asked for an espresso for you, is that alright?” Kaz asked.
“Yes, yes. That’s perfectly fine. Thank you.”
As Touma sat down at the table, Kaz turned to address the whole group.
“With everyone here, let us discuss what we have learned so far and our plan for the next night in the Dream.”