Dive into the Night
Leon opened his eyes and stared at the wall of his room, as he laid in bed he recalled Kaz’s closing statements after they defeated the octopus Nightmare.
“Considering the time we met up, we are all likely to suffer from overexposure in one way or another. Thus, I would advise resting for the day once you wake up. I will contact everyone and we can figure out our next steps then.”
Leon felt his entire body aching, as if every movement required twice as much effort to perform. Surprisingly, Leon felt less pain throughout his body compared to his last instance of overexposure, despite an increase in his time overexposed to the Dream. He reached over and grabbed his phone. Turning it on, he saw that it was already 1PM. He groaned and turned back over in his bed. After several moments, Leon turned on his phone and ordered some food delivered to his house.
Leon laid on his bed as he listened to music through his earphones, his phone was sitting just beside him. Takeout containers were neatly piled on his desk. Looking out his window, Leon saw that the sun had already disappeared below the horizon. As he continued to listen to his music, Leon heard a notification sound from his phone. He picked up his phone and noticed a new text message from Kaz. Leon began to type a response.
Kaz: [I do hope you experienced a swift recovery from the overexposure.]
Leon: [Even if I did, not like I ended up doing anything productive today.]
Kaz: [Haha, well perhaps it may be good to rest tonight as well, just as a precaution. I have spoken to the others, but will you be busy tomorrow night?]
Leon: [Kaz, first off it’s summer.]
[Second, you know about my school situation. When am I ever busy?”]
[But to answer your question, I am free. What’s up?]
Kaz: [I am planning a dinner for everyone, a celebration for all that we have accomplished fighting together for the past couple days. I am still finalizing the details, but I wanted to let everyone know beforehand.]
Leon: [Yeah, that sounds great. I’m good for any time.]
Kaz: [That is good to hear. I will give you an update tomorrow.]
Closing the conversation, Leon saw that the time was already 9PM.
“Might be good to get some actual sleep for once.”
Leon got up from his bed and grabbed the takeout containers before walking to his kitchen. He threw out the containers, washed his face in the washroom, and began to turn off all the lights in his house. After turning off the final light in his room, Leon climbed onto his bed and fell asleep.
Having finished his lunch, Leon walked out to his garage. He noticed that the sky had grown somewhat overcast, he remembered the weather forecast earlier mentioning rain later in the week. The garage was neatly organized, with most of the space taken up by boxes of old items. A corner of the garage contained a shelf with a variety of training weapons. The weapons ranged from nunchakus to wooden training swords, and even tonfas. Leon picked out a large bo staff, its length resembled his spear in the Dream. Taking it outside of the garage, Leon began to replicate the same attacks he used in the Dream. He performed every attack perfectly, as Leon was able to smoothly transition from swings into guards at a moment’s notice. He also practiced both one-handed and two-handed spear techniques.
“I didn’t think I could pull any of those off.”
Even in reality, Leon thought that his body felt lighter than normal. He continued to train with the bo staff.
After returning inside, Leon took a shower and a short break before he sat down at his desk and checked his phone. There was a new message from Kaz.
Kaz: [I have made reservations at the Memento Steakhouse for 6PM. If you wish to drink, I shall handle your transportation.]
Leon sent a reply as he walked over to his closet to look for clothes.
As Leon stepped out of the car, he could already see a huge lineup outside of the Memento Steakhouse. Tonight, Leon was dressed more formally than normal. His attire consisted of a dress shirt, pants, and shoes; all without his usual earphones or shoulder bag. After he waved goodbye to the driver, Leon walked over to the host and showed him Kaz’s reservation number. The host then led Leon through the packed restaurant. Arriving at Kaz’s table, Leon noticed that everyone was dressed differently today. Kaz and Touma were both wearing dress shirts like Leon, whereas Saya was wearing a light-blue summer dress. Hayate’s outfit was the most distinct, as he wore a haori adorned with his family crest over a casual outfit. Kaz looked up at Leon and back to Touma as Leon sat down at the table.
“Well, perhaps one of us should go back and change?” Kaz chuckled.
“It's alright, just for tonight, us three are the same person.” Leon joked in response.
“Ah, May’s here!” Saya said as she pointed forward.
Leon turned around to see May arrive at the table, wearing a white blouse and dress pants.
“You sure seem to wear pants a lot.” Leon said as he looked at May.
“I just like having pocket space,” May said as she took her phone out of her pocket. “Hmm? Did you want to see me wearing something else?”
“Wha- no, no, I was just…” Leon stammered.
“Just joking,” May responded as she sat down.
Leon noticed that May glanced over at him as she was sitting down, a slight smug smile briefly appeared on her face.
After they placed their orders for food, the group began to speak on various topics; none of which pertained to the Dream. They spoke of current events, the uncertain future, and mistakes from the past. As the food and drinks finally arrived, Kaz stood up with a glass and proposed a toast.
“While we may have only fought together for a short amount of time, I feel confident in calling each and every one of you my friend. A toast to our success in the Dream, and to a bright future.”
Leon turned off the lights in his bathroom after brushing his teeth, all the lights in his house save for his room were already turned off as well. Walking into his room, Leon turned off his PC and checked his phone before getting on his bed. There was a message from Kaz, sent after everyone had left the restaurant.
Kaz: [I will give everyone an update for our plans tomorrow, seeing as we may all be tired today. I hope everyone gets home safely.]
Leon turned off the lights in his room and got onto his bed. He tossed and turned for a bit, struggling to fall asleep. Leon thought about how much different his life was prior to last week. He had fought in a mysterious dream world and along the way encountered a new group of friends. Leon drifted off to sleep as he began to think about the still uncertain future.
As Leon entered the village in the Dream, he could already see someone in the distance. As he walked closer, Leon noticed it was May. She was crouched in front of one of the fox spirits and appeared to be playing with it.
“May?” Leon called out.
May froze and quickly stood up, summoning her arm blades.
“You didn’t see anything,” she said without turning around.
“Well you were crouched there and- “
May deployed her arm blades.
“Right. Point taken. What are you doing here anyways? I thought Kaz said we’ll discuss our plans tomorrow?” Leon asked.
May dematerialized her weapons and turned around.
“I could ask you the same.”
Leon thought for a second.
“I guess I was just bored,” he answered. “Despite the danger of the Nightmares, and the sheer lack of life here, something just keeps bringing me back here.”
“So, what’s your plan?” May asked after a short pause.
“Hmm, maybe I’ll go back to the tundra. The environment there made for some impressive vistas.”
“Alright,” May said as she walked over to Leon. “Lead the way.”
“I thought you were a bit busy here.”
May shot a quick glare at Leon, he shrugged and began walking over to the door.
After arriving at the tundra, Leon and May trekked through the somewhat bumpy terrain. As they walked, Leon looked around for an elevated area, eventually setting for a large hill in the distance. Reaching the top of the hill, Leon sat down and gazed across the tundra as May stood beside him.
“Is this really all you wanted to do today?” She asked.
Leon leaned back and looked up at the sky. The small number of clouds crawled forward at a snail’s pace.
“Sometimes it’s nice to just slow down and relax. Although I can tell you didn’t come with me just to ask me that. If it was just that, you could have easily asked it before I left and went back to playing with that fox spirit.”
May sighed and sat down beside Leon.
“You really are observant here, aren’t you?”
“It always seemed like you wanted to say something during yesterday’s dinner, but you never did. If you feel like talking, I’m all ears,” Leon said calmly.
May looked over at Leon.
“Why did you decide to join Kaz?” she asked.
“Well that was certainly out of nowhere,” Leon said as he turned his head to May.
“Well, you had the choice of declining his duel. Even after you lost he gave you another option to decline, yet you accepted.”
“Hmm, if I tell you, will you also tell me your own reason?” Leon asked in response.
“To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why I accepted either. I thought that I was perfectly fine exploring this Dream alone. But when I saw all of you, something deep in the back of my mind urged me to join,” Leon paused for a moment before he continued speaking. “When I was a kid, my old friends and I wanted to go on a journey; to explore a place like this. Perhaps that feeling was just my own childish desires.”
“I see,” May said quietly.
“Well it’s time for your end of the bargain, besides, why did you want to know anyway?” Leon said as he continued to watch the sky.
“I … just wanted something to compare my own reasoning with. Aside from taking a similar program to Kaz, my situation is also somewhat similar to his. One day, I will be the successor to my family’s organization, but I am still wholly unprepared. I joined him in order to learn the fundamentals of leadership. So far he has proven to be a good leader, but I do not know if I will be able to act as he does when my time comes.”
May leaned back and laid on the grass beside Leon.
“Apologies if it was not as exciting of a reason as you expect.”
“It’s fine,” said Leon. “Even if it's similar, I think it's good that you have your own reason to drive you forward. I think it’s good that you can differentiate yourself from Kaz, as you are both different people in different situations. Even with the future being so uncertain, I can admire the fact that you are already taking steps to plan for it. While I know the words of someone you just met a couple of days ago may not hold much meaning, I hope I was able to help in some way.”
“I’m surprised you have this much to say for someone who doesn’t even have a plan for his own future,” she said with a slight chuckle.
“Hey…” Leon said, somewhat irritated.
“But, it’s not something I dislike.”
Leon glanced over and saw that May had a smile on her face. The two of them stared at the sky together in silence. After a short while, May got up and dusted herself off.
“I suppose it was nice to get all that off my chest. Thanks for listening.”
May began to walk downhill back towards the tundra house, Leon sat up and turned around. May waved behind her as she continued walking.
“Don’t stay too long. Kaz will probably message us early tomorrow,” she said loudly as she continued to walk.
Leon waved before he turned back around as he stared across the empty tundra.