Cat's Hour ~猫の時間~
“Terushima-senpai, please take a break.”
“I don’t need it.”
“Tsuki-senpai, say something!”
After what happened earlier, we quickly shifted to work mode. Both Mashiro-senpai and I are searching the documents here in student council office.
The rest are looking on their belongings in hopes of searching for anything related to Kurokawa-senpai. Photos from their middle school, presents from him, autographs, anything will do.
Beggars can’t be choosers.
Right at this moment, Yami still hasn’t regained consciousness and Irosaki-sensei is taking care of him. The reason is related to Kurokawa-senpai’s contract.
I learned the wish Kurokawa-senpai made to god gave him a living body but because his contract was nearly terminated, and there’s still the recognition loss phenomenon at work, he was greatly affected by it as a wandering spirit.
That’s not true… Kurokawa-senpai is alive. I refuse to believe that he’s just a spirit. He’s definitely real. And we have to prove it.
As for the bell that Mom gave me, I found out that it was a token to make a wish to the god where the others also made their wish.
When the desire of the heart reached a certain desperation, the bell will take you to the god.
That means when it glows earlier… I was desperate to wish for Kurokawa-senpai’s life.
Sure, I can see myself doing that, but when I think about it, the reason why Kurokawa-senpai stopped me was related to the consequences of making a wish– the parties directly related will forget.
If by any chance I made the wish, everyone will forget about me and I will be bound to a contract by then. I may still have to work on the student council, but we will have a complete reset. It was complicated.
Another thing that bothers me is the reason why Mom gave me that bell. At that time, she said that a cat gave this to her as a symbol of promise… she also made a wish to god.
But if she lives normally after the contract, even had a family and a daughter, does that mean that the life is not the price for failing the mission? Or did Mom finished the mission?
Wait, I need to focus!
Our top priority right now is Kurokawa-senpai! We have to bring him back as soon as possible!
“Back off for now, Aoi. Those two don’t have any plan of stopping.”
“Mikejima-senpai is right. Don’t worry about those two.”
“Don’t make a fuss right now, that idiot can’t do anything so I took over. Look at this.”
The glasses Toujo-kun is the one present here right now. He came back from library and what he took with him was a red book.
My eyes widened when he opened it on a certain page.
“Kurokawa-senpai’s entry disappeared. Just like with his signed documents and photos, his existence was wiped clean.”
Even that entry was gone!
We have been searching for hours already but everything disappeared. It was as if there was a filter in our eyes that made it impossible for us to find something.
“Damn it!” Mashiro-senpai thrashed the top of his desk in an outrage.
The documents flew like feathers in a still air. And everything soon fell on the floor, scattered.
“Haha. Are you kidding me?! Is this how it will end?! You can’t do this to us!” Mashiro-senpai hysterically laughed, but it wasn’t because of satisfaction, it was out of disbelief.
I clenched my fist in frustration. No words of consolation can make our situation any better, everyone of us is on the edge as well.
Mashiro-senpai covered his face with his hand, but even then, I could see it.
“Haah… this is… unfair…”
A drop of tear escaped from his eye. His voice broke and even if the silence reigned at that moment, all of us heard an agonizing scream deep in our hearts.
This is… really unfair.
My sight caught a glimpse of a photo lying on the floor. It must’ve flew when Mashiro-senpai scattered the papers.
I picked it up and stared at it.
It was a graduation ceremony from middle school. Mashiro-senpai was holding a diploma, there was also someone beside him holding their diploma. And the others posing for the camera.
This was taken when the third years graduated from middle school.
That person is also there, but for some reasons, my mind can’t process it clearly.
A loud thud snapped me back to reality. I searched for the source of sound and saw Haibara-kun on his knees with a blank face and tears streaming on his face.
Eh? Is he okay?
“Haibara-kun! Are you okay?!” I hurriedly ran over to him out of worry.
“Oi! Aoi! What’s going on with you?!” Mikejima-kun also asked.
“I can’t remember…”
“What are you saying, Aoi?!”
“I… hic… I… I can’t remember how kaichou looks like… I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”
Mikejima-kun pulled the crying Haibara-kun into a tight hug and rubbed circles in his back to calm him down.
“It’s alright, Aoi. You will remember him again. Definitely.”
I bit my lower lip intensely.
It’s starting to get worse. Everyone’s memories will disappear as the time passes by.
We will soon breakdown like Mashiro-senpai and Haibara-kun if this continues. We have to do something quickly.
Think, Hikari, think!
I have to think of something!
If only we could boost everyone’s morale, if only we could do something to lift their spirits…
I glanced at the photo that I’m holding. That person’s face is vague. If only we could see it clearly…
Wait! I can whip up something!
I rushed to get some pencil and paper. I started scribbling on it without thinking too much.
If my hunch is right about those paintings, I could pull this off.
I was still a child back then, and it was impossible for me to know the places in this school since I never once set foot in this town before. However, the fact that I drew those things was unusual.
Heh. As if normal was common for me. What am I thinking?
There’s only one explanation about why Mom made me stop painting back then, and her anxious expression whenever she looked at the pieces.
I’ve been so close to supernatural even in my childhood. I just didn’t pay attention to it because a young child only think that what she sees is real.
I was oblivious.
“Haibara-kun, I’m not sure if this will help but please take it.”
I gave the drawing to Haibara-kun.
“Terushima! This is…” Mikejima-kun reacted when he saw the drawing as well.
“Who is that person?” Toujo-kun butted in.
“Hah?! What are you saying–“
I was about to snap at him when I noticed his curious expression. It doesn’t feel like he’s fooling around at all, this is the serious Toujo-kun we’re talking to right now. There’s no merit for him to joke around.
T-this can’t be! The first years are completely affected!
“Terushima… do you still remember that person’s name?” Mikejima-kun asked with a darkened expression.
“I can’t remember his name anymore. Ne, say something.”
Is this how it will end? I can’t accept it! There’s no way this will end up in vain!
“Terushima-san…” Mashiro-senpai called.
That’s right! If it was him, he will definitely say something! It was Mashiro-senpai! He knows him better than anyone!
I turned around to look at him in anticipation, but what I saw in his face was not something that I’m expecting…
His normally cold and calm demeanor fell apart as he combed his hair upwards, showing his confused face.
“What… what am I doing just now? Why am I crying…?”
“Not you too… Mashiro-senpai…”
“I feel like I was searching for something… but I can’t remember what it was… what’s going on?”
I fell on my knees as I clenched my chest tightly. That’s right… I also can’t remember him anymore…
Who was that person…?
What kind of person is he?
How does his voice sounds like?
The color of his hair… what is it?
When he looks at me, what kind of face is he making?
I could still remember… that person’s tears.
It was clear like jewels, it shines when the light touches those drops, but his face… I can’t remember it.
All those times… he was shedding tears endlessly.
Did I ever say his name before?
It was futile. I can’t remember anymore.
“This time, please don’t forget me, Hikari-san.”
That voice! Where did it came from?!
“Y-you can call me Yu— No, it’s okay…”
No, there’s more to that. But that ‘Yu’ syllable is enough. It just proves that he exists.
Where was it again? Where did we talk with each other? It was just yesterday, I should still remember at least that…
That’s right! In the forest!
I stood firmly out of nowhere. Everyone turned to look at me but I just remained quiet.
I took a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale.
Alright! Let’s search for a mirage!
However, I’m sure, he’s real.
I don’t have any basis for my assumptions. It’s just a statement that I could believe until I lost all hope.
All the evidences disappeared.
But… the truth is still out there.
“I can’t remember anything as well but I don’t want to believe that this is where it will end! I’ll search for it and regain my memories!” I shouted on top of my lungs. “I’m off!”
With a huff, I turned around and walked to the door.
But before I could go out, my foot hit the leg of a desk that caused me to crouch in pain.
DAMN IT! WHY NOW?!
After I made that great speech in front of everyone, my exit scene will be ruined by something like a table leg? Unacceptable!
I could feel tears forming in my eyes as my cheeks flushing red out of embarrassment.
He really won’t let anything pass as long as he could make fun of me!
“You’re lame, Terushima. Haha.” Mikejima-kun laughed.
“Shut up!” I rebutted and pushed myself to stand up.
However, the hit was actually not as weak as I expected, it freaking hurts! I don’t think I could walk like this anymore!
Toujo-kun held my hand to give me support.
He squatted down and turn his back on me. “Get on.”
“Just do it.”
He wants to carry me on his back?! I mean, I really need some help right now but he’s my kouhai! How could I do this to him?!
“Terushima-senpai, you still remember something, right? If you have something in mind, then we’ll go with that.”
Toujo-kun gave me a side glance, even with his glasses on, I could see his eyes that looks lost.
“Everyone is in a swamp of confusion right now, we felt like we lost something important to us but we can’t remember what it is. It feels frustrating as if we’re rob of our precious treasure right in front of our eyes.”
“Can you please become our light in this darkness?”
What’s with that poetic words? It feels out of place.
Still, Toujo-kun really knows how to convince people.
“I’m not sure but I talked to him in the forest last night. He could’ve left something. I want to check! And everyone, please come as well! The more people we have, the more easier it is for us to find something!”
“Stop whining! That person doesn’t want to be forgotten! He’s waiting for us! Does your friendship only amount to this?! Don’t joke with me!”
After I said that, all of them fell silent.
I was starting to get depressed when they didn’t respond for a while but they all nodded soon enough.
“You really like saying that kind of things, Terushima. But it’s not bad…”
What was that supposed to mean?! This damn calico!
“That was blind optimism, senpai… but I felt like something is wrong… I’m in.”
There! Haibara-kun as well!
“This feels like we’re proving if miracles are real.”
That was an out of context analogy… but it’s okay. That was just like Mashiro-senpai at all.
It was like we’re chasing something blindly.
Everyone’s determination fired up.
These group of friends have different personalities. Sometimes, they are clashing with each other. But that just shows how close they are and I want to see that until it lasts for years to come.
And that person… will be in the center.
This is the student council that he made and treasured.
It was the time to return the favor.
“Where is that place, Terushima-senpai?”
“Just go deeper! We’re getting closer!”
Can you sweat even if you’re soak in rain?
It was a foolish question, but all of us would definitely be soak in the mixture of sweat and rain if it was possible.
Toujo-kun is carrying me on his back so I’m exhausted as the others, but still, my heartbeat is racing in anxiety as time passes by.
It was nighttime now and the rain didn’t stop even for a moment. To be honest, it just became stronger as if preventing us to go to that place. The wind also blows harshly that causes branches of trees to fall.
My eyes widened when I saw a branch falling from above.
Eek! It’s coming to me!
I closed my eyes tightly out of fear.
“Are you okay, Terushima-san?”
I slowly opened my eyes and look at Mashiro-senpai who asked that.
“Mashiro-senpai… you’re bleeding…”
Blood trails from his forehead up to his cheeks, staining his white hair and fair skin with the tint of red.
“Ah… I think so.”
“What’s with that response?! You’re bleeding in your head, senpai!”
“It doesn’t matter. We have to keep going.”
Senpai… he injured himself when he deflected that tree branch from me…
What was it this time?
“Sorry… I tripped. Please go on without me.”
“What are you saying, Aoi?! Here, take my hand.”
“But… I twisted my ankle.”
Haibara-kun also fell down.
This is bad.
Three out of five are in bad condition. The weather is against us. Who knows what will happen if we go further? Are we unable to do it?
A figure of a floating girl showed up. She has a bothered expression on her face.
It’s Hanako-san! What is she doing here?
“Quick! This way!”
“No more time to explain! That black cat will become an evil spirit if you can’t bring him back!”
“Huh…? Don’t tell me… Argh! Why did it affected you now?! But seeing that you’re here means that you still have something that remains, hurry! It’s this way!”
Without saying anything more, we followed Hanako-san.
Despite the harsh journey to find the place, with rain, mud, and scratches all over our bodies, we arrived on a place that I remembered where I talked to that person yesterday.
I decided to get off Toujo-kun’s back to not get in everyone’s way.
“Let’s start searching!” Mashiro-senpai ordered.
It was hard moving around with the horrible weather, we still searched all over the place.
“Hanako-san, what are we going to do now?”
“For now, search for something related to that person. Please move quickly, he’s losing himself already. This unusual state of weather is because of him.”
“What… does that mean?”
“In order to become an evil spirit, it’s either they are holding a grudge or they committed a grave sin when they are living. However, he neither committed any sin nor holding a grudge. With a spirit like that, he should’ve passed on already, the longer he stays here, his soul will start to break beyond recovery and he won’t be able to reincarnate anymore.”
I can’t understand anything…
But that sounds bad. No, it’s definitely bad.
“Why are you helping us, Hanako-san?”
She jolted when I asked her that.
She’s definitely suspicious. She turned me down yesterday and now, she showed up here and giving us aid.
“Well, who knows? I’m just bored out of my mind so I’m helping.”
She definitely knows something.
But I’ll let it pass for now.
“You don’t look like you believe me. That’s fine. In the first place, you shouldn’t trust a supernatural entity. I warned you before not to get too close to them, right?” She sharply glanced at me. “No matter how many times you live, you keep making the same mistakes. I can’t stop it from happening. This might be my punishment.”
Out of nowhere, a strong wind blows in all directions. We were all sent flying into separate ways.
I could remember myself hitting a tree when I was thrown back by the air. My body clashed with an intense impact as if I could feel everything around me turned blurry.
It was so fast.
I saw everyone on the same state. Mashiro-senpai and Haibara-kun passed out, Mikejima-kun was sent flying higher up and got stuck on the branches of the trees, full of injuries, Toujo-kun’s glasses broke and he went out of commission as well.
I was also about to lose consciousness, I saw a stone slab standing in solitude. No one noticed it earlier but I somehow managed to perceive it in my current state.
“Sorry… it’s my fault… everything…”
‘No! You’re wrong!’
I have to tell him that!
Ah… no good, I’m losing my consciousness.
“Hime-chan! Don’t! You can’t pass out here!”
Hanako-san desperately called for me. She tried to touch me but her transparent hands just passed through me.
With my half-closed eyes, I stared at her blankly.
I can’t move. I know that I have to go to that person but my body won’t listen to me. This is pathetic…
Sorry… I can’t remember you anymore.
In the state of being half-awake, I saw a vision…
Everything is white.
I can’t see anything else.
Am I dead?
All of a sudden, I hear voices. It was that of a child.
“What do you want to become in the future?”
A bright voice asked.
Eh? Is it talking to me?
“Stop it. In the future… I’m not there anymore. Please cut it out.”
Another voice of a child responded. This time it was a gloomy voice. However, I also noticed that they sounded the same.
Is it a conversation between them?
“Mou! Don’t say something depressing! Hora! Just say something and I’ll grant it!”
Silence reigned for a moment. The gloomy voice didn’t respond. Just when I thought that it was over, a weak voice responded.
“Then… I want to become a hero. They are strong, they have bright smiles and they are loved by everyone… I want to become something like that.”
“Hime-chan! Get ahold of yourself!”
Hanako-san’s voice snapped me back in reality.
How could I have forgotten?
I slowly forced myself to stand up. My face twisted in anguish when I felt the immense pain on my feet.
I grabbed a stick that I could use as a cane and dragged myself towards his direction.
“Hanako-san, step back for now.” I seriously said to her.
The ghost stopped following me.
I continued walking slowly. The pain felt nothing… I couldn’t even recognize what it was.
I can only think of one thing…
I want to see that person again.
You have always been like that, huh.
I didn’t see you as a strong person before, you were always weak, someone who would cry for the smallest things. However, those tears are the proof of your strength.
I only saw you smile brightly once, but that was a very charming smile. It was a calming smile that sets my heart at ease.
I’m only sure of one thing… you were loved by everyone. They treated you dearly, doesn’t want to get you hurt, and even made me a villain when I misspoke.
Isn’t that right?
At that time as well…
You were the one that saved me on that night. You swept me off my feet and carried me safely. The cat person that I saw that night where everything started…
It was you, wasn’t it?
All this time, you have always been our hero.
I’ve endured the harsh winds trying to stop me to go near the stone slab. When I was in front of it, I stabbed the soil with my cane to give me strength to keep my footing.
There’s nothing else in front of it except a few incense sticks that stopped burning in the middle.
I reached out for it and held it tightly.
I let go of the cane and clasped my two hands holding the incense sticks. I closed my eyes tightly and prayed from the bottom of my heart.
“PLEASE COME BACK TO US! YUUTO!!!”
As if the time stopped, the wind stopped blowing, the rain stopped midair, and when I opened my eyes…
That person stood in front of me.
He’s not soak in rain so I could clearly tell that it was tears streaming on his cheeks.
“Thank you… for not forgetting me…”
He smiled brightly despite the tears staining his face. The black smoke that once blinded us from seeing him started dissipating.
My eyes glistened as I saw him clearly right now. Tears started welling up on my eyes as I slowly reached out to touch him.
I was afraid…
What if I can’t touch him anymore?
I want to make sure that this is not a dream.
I launched myself to him and wrapped him into a hug.
It’s real… I can touch him.
“It’s alright… Yuuto is real. I could touch you. You’re not dead. You’re still alive and I could hear your heartbeat.” I tightened my hug. “Please don’t disappear on us again, Yuuto.”
“Sorry for making you worry…”
“Don’t apologize! I don’t want to hear that!”
He remained silent for a moment and then, he soon returned the hug.
“I… I don’t want to disappear… thank you for not forgetting me, Hikari-san. Thank you for holding the student council when I’m gone… but as I thought, I still want to remain as the student council president,” he said lightheartedly in between his sobs.
I let go of the hug and beamed at him.
“Un! Please stay with us! We still have a lot to work together!”
His eyes widened for a moment as his cheeks flushed red, he looks away from me and his cat ears popped up out of nowhere.
C-cute!! My heart!!
“Ano… can you call me by my name from now on?” he asked timidly with his cat ears drooping down.
Oh my god! He’s so cute!
“T-thank you… Hikari-san…”
Uwaaah! He’s so cute!
He smiled to me again.
My eyes widened but the corner of lips soon turned upwards, forming into a smile.
And with that, the time started flowing again.
The rain fell to us all of a sudden as if it was an ice-bucket challenge. But the good thing is, the skies cleared up that night.
As the moon shines gently to us who are soaking wet from a rain that did or didn’t happen, we just finally took a sigh of relief.
After a while, the others also started regaining their consciousness. When they do, all of their memories with Yuuto-senpai returned and they broke into tears altogether.
I stood there and watched them proudly. This scene is so lovely. I could watch this forever.
“Well, seems like I’m done here. Later~” Hanako-san waved goodbye to me.
“Thank you, Hanako-san.”
She lets out a small chuckle before disappearing in front of me, probably returning to her territory– the toilet.
I returned to watching the guys.
They have such great friendship, it doesn’t matter if Yuuto-senpai is just a spirit, he’s still a person that they hold dearly.
If only this could last for years to come…
Amidst that joyful atmosphere, it happened.
While Yuuto-senpai is talking to everyone, consoling them and smiling, his eyes suddenly lost its colors as he fell in the ground with a thud.