Chapter 20:

The Price of Perseverance, Part 2


When he appeared in Amanda’s apartment, she was sitting in front of her desk, likely doing her homework. After a few moments of his arrival, she suddenly vanished.
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And then she was behind him, grabbing his head in a way that she could easily snap his neck.Bookmark here

That is, until she noticed who she was holding.Bookmark here

“Yukio?”Bookmark here

She let go of him, and walked back a few paces.Bookmark here

“What are you… I mean what-”Bookmark here

“What?” Yukio almost shouted. Then he lowered his voice, and said, “I should be dead, right? Then what am I doing here, in your house?”Bookmark here

“Look, I can explain, I-”Bookmark here

“Save your words,” Yukio stopped her, “I’m not going to believe a single one of them anymore. Not after you left me like that in Kegmar. Or should I say Kanuna?”Bookmark here

Her concerned expression instantly changed.Bookmark here

“How did you know that?” There wasn’t the slightest bit of emotion left in her voice.Bookmark here

He was surprised by her sudden transformation, but it didn’t take him long to compose himself.Bookmark here

“What, you think I couldn’t get out of that building? Couldn’t ask around? Oh, wait, I was supposed to be DEAD! Am I right?”Bookmark here

He was enraged, there was no question. But he didn’t forget that his encounter with Sugi needs to be a secret.Bookmark here

Amanda kept staring at him for some time. Then, letting out a deep sigh, she said, “Okay, look. Tell me what happened to you. I know you’re angry, and confused, but if you don’t tell me what-”Bookmark here

“Angry? You think?” Yukio knew about her true nature now, yet couldn’t accept her nonchalance, “What would you feel when a giant snake-man suddenly starts attacking you, and you have no powers and no help? Huh? How would you feel if you somehow managed to use your powers to save yourself just at the nick of the time? And then when you learn that the whole ‘Expedition’ was a lie, and the person you trusted the most is just chilling at her home, how would you feel?”Bookmark here

Amanda was silent.Bookmark here

“What happened? Tell me, Amy-chan, how am I supposed to feel?!”Bookmark here

Still no response.Bookmark here

Yukio was taking deep breaths. He wasn’t sure how long he could control himself before his rage became a murderous fury.Bookmark here

“Amanda, just for once, tell me the truth.”Bookmark here

She looked up at him, noticing the change of tone.Bookmark here

“You wanted to kill me, didn’t you?”Bookmark here

“It’s not like that-”Bookmark here

“DON’T LIE!” Yukio screamed, forcing her to shut up.Bookmark here

“Ever since we met,” he was rubbing his eyes, trying to keep the tears at bay, “You’ve only wanted to kill me, right? That was your ‘Expedition’. I was just a nuisance, someone you needed to get rid of. Tell me, who asked you? Kichiro-san? Tetsuya-san? Who do you answer to?”Bookmark here

“Yukio…” Amanda tried to touch him, but he grabbed her arm before that.Bookmark here

“What, still trying to kill me? Well, you should, since your ‘Expedition’ wasn’t successful. You know what, do it. I don’t care anymore. All my life, all I’ve experienced is people leaving me. Maybe it’s finally my turn to leave.”Bookmark here

She wasn’t responding anymore. Yukio suddenly grabbed her neck and thrashed her hard to the wall behind her.Bookmark here

“What happened? Can’t kill me? Maybe I should kill YOU!”Bookmark here

Despite being pinned to the wall, Amanda was still. She didn’t even raise her hands, or showed any kind of reaction.Bookmark here

Her dead eyes kept watching him.Bookmark here

This was the moment when he should’ve snapped. He should’ve done something horrible; something that was a point of no return.Bookmark here

But… he just couldn’t bring himself to harm her.Bookmark here

After a while, when he let go of her, she said, “Yukio, I am sorry. I truly am. If you come with me, we can go to Taicho and talk. We can surely-”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

Amanda was taken aback. The sad, weary eyes were no longer there. His gaze was now conveying a different message. “Back off.”Bookmark here

For a minute, both of them were still.Bookmark here

And then Yukio disappeared.Bookmark here

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After he disappeared, Amanda kept standing motionlessly. Her palms were sweaty, and she was taking deep breaths. A few minutes later, she sat down at the bed, and picked up the phone.Bookmark here

After a few taps, the phone displayed the name ‘Kichiro Sakue’.Bookmark here

She almost tapped the ‘call’ button, but stopped herself at the last moment. Then she grabbed the phone hard, and closed her eyes.Bookmark here

Several minutes passed.Bookmark here

In the end, she didn’t make the call. Dropping her phone on the bed, she got up. She had waited long enough. He was her responsibility. She needed to find him, and bring him back.Bookmark here

But before she could do anything, something dropped on her.Bookmark here

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Yukio was in Ebromia, sitting on a stone and observing the vast forest of Kelna. It was the same stone where he sat the last time he came here. Only the last time, he was nowhere near as angry as he was now.Bookmark here

His tears had dried up quite some time ago. All that was left there was a raging fire that could burn down the whole forest in front of him. He didn’t think there was a way to douse that fire. And even if there was, he wasn’t interested.Bookmark here

He wanted to let it burn for all eternity.Bookmark here

It was already decided that he won’t let them off easily. If his life had any meaning, it was in the destruction of Minus Plus.Bookmark here

There was no way he could forget their betrayal. Just like there was no way he could ever forget Maekawa Yuichi, and how he lost his chance of completely ending his life. But this time, he wouldn’t make the same mistake. This time, the strike would be so hard that it would turn bones into dust.Bookmark here

He will never, ever forgive them.Bookmark here

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He doesn’t know how long he was sitting on the stone, when someone called him.Bookmark here

“Hello.”Bookmark here

With alarm, Yukio quickly turned around.Bookmark here

It was a small boy, carrying a bunch of dry sticks. He had almost forgotten how the people of Kemirsh looked like.Bookmark here

“Hello,” the boy said again. He wasn’t speaking in his language; the ‘hello’ was in Japanese. So he recognized Yukio. Or at least realized that he wasn’t from their world.Bookmark here

Yukio was observing the boy, while thinking about the phrases he learned the last time he was here. The boy didn’t have the sort of clothes he had seen others wearing. A piece of dirty rag was tied at his waist, that’s it. He was unbelievably dirty, and all sorts of dirt and leaves were stuck on his long hair.Bookmark here

And yet he was smiling.Bookmark here

How old is he? Yukio wondered. Probably just 5 or 6…Bookmark here

The boy said something in his own tongue. Initially puzzled, Yukio gradually realized that his TD wasn’t equipped with the ability to translate their language yet. It was probably an old model.Bookmark here

Yukio remembered a few phrases.Bookmark here

“How do you do?” He said to the boy. The boy was beside himself, laughing and jumping with joy. Some of the sticks he was holding scattered to the ground. Yukio helped him pick them up.Bookmark here

Then they had a chat. Well, it was mostly the boy saying god knows what and laughing, and Yukio repeating the phrase that meant ‘okay’.Bookmark here

After a while, the boy seemed exhausted. The light was also fast disappearing. He should’ve been home by now, Yukio realized. His parents are probably worried.Bookmark here

After pointing towards the sky, he used his hands to show the shape of a ‘home’. The boy probably understood him, as he also said something and started picking up the fallen sticks.Bookmark here

He didn’t know how to say ‘bye’, so he just waved his hands at him. The boy looked puzzled for a few moments, then tried to copy Yukio, dropping most of the sticks.Bookmark here

After they gathered the sticks again, and Yukio tied them together with a rope the boy had, they finally bid each other farewell. This time with a nod.Bookmark here

Our situations cannot be compared, Yukio thought as the figure of the boy slowly got swallowed by the dark. But one thing I can learn from him is that no matter how bad, how hard your situation is, you have to keep living. Even if…Bookmark here

Yukio smiled after accidently searching his pocket, forgetting that he left his phone in the apartment this morning.Bookmark here

Even if it’s just for yourself.Bookmark here

He got up.Bookmark here

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After he reached the apartment, he wanted to lie down for a bit. He knew he was dirty, but at that point he couldn’t care less. He needed to rest. And after that, he needed to think about what he was going to do.Bookmark here

Should I go back to Kanuna? Or Should I stay here, live my life like nothing happened?Bookmark here

He knew that one of them wasn’t a viable option.Bookmark here

He sat on the chair in front of him. And before he knew it, there was a metal collar in his neck.Bookmark here

It was glowing in the semi-darkness.Bookmark here

A familiar voice whispered in his ears, “Knew you would come here. And by the way, do not try to Jump. Unless you want to die, that is.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.