Violet: No. 02189
I close my eyes to refuge myself in the darkness.
Not because I like it, or feel safe inside it, but because this darkness is at least familiar in comparison with the darkness of a random alleyway.
After all, I know that even if I scream no one will hear…
Even if I cry, no one will console me…
Even if I fall dead…
No one will mourn me.
I was all alone and had nothing to live for, but even so, I still wanted to live, I still thought I had to live, live by any means necessary.
I did all I needed to do to survive, things I didn’t think I’d be able to do.
Be it stealing from others, or taking another’s person life.
I did those unfathomable horrible things in order to survive.
Eventually, I reached the bottom of the well and no matter how many times I tried to climb it, I always slipped back to the bottom.
Unexpectedly, a hand grabbed me by the wrist and forcefully took me out of all of the darkness.
And that’s why… that’s why I can’t stand to see things going out like this without being able to do anything…
“Ren… Be sincere with me, okay?”
I can sense the tension in the ambient weighing heavily on my shoulders. I know something isn’t right.
“Ren… why didn’t you tell us that the Violet could track you?”
Ren’s face turns pale upon hearing those words from Kaori.
“I just… didn’t think about that”
“Is that really so, Ren?”
“Yeah, it is, but how did you know that?” – Ren hastily responds while averting Kaori’s gaze.
“The professor has taken samples of your blood when you were unconscious. In some of them, he detected a certain kind of technology that meant you could be tracked down; however, he was unsure if they could locate you all the way here or not”
Ren stares at the ceiling cover while putting his hands behind his head.
“Ren, I don’t know about the others, but I’m willing to believe in you! I just need a reason to believe you don’t have anything to do with the people from the surface anymore, a real one!”
Ren sighs and closes his eyes before answering:
“I think I’m starting to see the full picture now…”
“The reason why you were told to stay here was to keep an eye on me, wasn’t it?”
“The professor is also not being targeted by some random bandits, but by Violet, isn’t he?”
Kaede clutches her hands on her skirt while biting her lips.
“Your silence only tells me I’m spot on in my prediction”
Kaori remains silent while Ren continues talking.
“I don’t get what’s this all about, but…”
Ren regains his posture and puts his chin down while slowly opening his eyes and turning his gaze to Kaede.
“The truth is: I don’t have any way to prove my innocence”
“Hell, I can’t even 100% confirm I’m not being controlled by them in some way or not-”
Before completing his sentence, Ren is interrupted by a question made by Kaede:
“Ren, you know what our job is, don’t you?”
“To collect relics from the surface, right?”
Kaede takes a deep breath before continuing the explanation.
“Yeah, but that’s not all”
“This, for example, is the fruit of our endeavor on trying to recover the history that was lost when our ancestors decided to create this subterranean city”
Kaede makes a gesture with her hand indicating the game machine while giving the example.
“I don’t understand what this has to do with our conversation”
Kaede’s eyes appear shadowed by her hair and expression.
“It has everything to do!”
“Our ancestors had to flee from the surface, and as consequence, they had to leave behind most of their culture, as well as the land in which they were created. They left it all behind because ironically, that was the only way they could have preserved their culture, even if only a small part of it”
Kaede seems to get increasingly annoyed the more she speaks.
“Because of me, because of my choice to interact with you. I may have just ruined everything…”
“If the people from the surface discover this place… it would mean not only all our effort in trying to recover our culture was for nothing, but all our ancestor’s efforts were lost as well”
Kaede tightens the grip on her skirt even more, and with a pained look on her face as she tells Ren:
“I don’t want to believe you are a danger to this place, but after all the evidence the professor showed…”
“I don’t know what to do… I shouldn’t even be saying this to you, but-”
Ren looks back to Kaede, his eyes having an expression of resignation.
“I also don’t know what to say, or what I should do…”
In a glimpse, Ren’s face changes from that look of defeat to a fiery look of tenacity.
“I’ll not just fold, and let myself be taken down! Whether you, the professor, Violet, or Neo-Tokyo, I don’t care! I’ll fight anyone that sees me as their enemy!”
Kaede’s face pales and her eyes widen up as she hears Ren’s words.
A bip interrupts the brief silence created by Ren’s most recent sentence. Kaede gesticulates to Ren to be quiet while she answers her phone.
“Yeah, we’re with Ren”
"Bring him to you? Are you really sure?"
“Don’t worry, he can’t hear me right now”
While Kaede’s exchange with the professor continued, Ren was reminded of something he hasn’t thought about for a while: The shows and series he used to watch.
There was a certain concept that was foreign for him, as well as presumably, everyone from Violet. That concept was friendship.
That sounded so corny, not only for Ren but for all the others that he talked with too, so much that he wondered: ‘Why would anyone make a series with such a concept if no one in real life seems to be able to grasp it?’.
Everyone always has a hidden agenda, a side they don’t want to show to anyone else. Any person who wanted a promotion, for example, would not hesitate to trample their coworkers or even partner in order to achieve that.
Despite having threatened Kaede just a few moments before, as well as she also threatened him, Ren could not stop making parallels between the work of fiction and Kaede’s words.
I’m once again witnessing something that reminds me of an act of friendship. Just like that one time the hero’s friend was captured by the villain but lied to protect their friend, even in face of mortal danger. Now I see Kaede lying to the professor apparently for my sake.
Of course, that could be nothing more than a ruse, an artifice planned to make me lower my guard and improve my perception of Kaede, however, after all of what she said to me, it wouldn’t make any sense to act like this right now.
Kaede ends the call and gently puts her phone back in her purse.
“I have just one more question for you”
“What gives you this conviction? What makes you want to live so bad that you would make the whole world your enemy if necessary?”
Ren looks profoundly at Kaede’s amber eyes and responds with utmost sincerity:
“I don’t know”
“I just have a feeling, an ever-present feeling of emptiness. I thought I’d get rid of it when I finally talked with a Blue, but that was not the case at all”
“So now, much like the time I fought you, I’m not sure what’s giving me this fortitude”
Kaede lowers her gaze and begins to leave her seat.
“I see, thanks for telling me that, and sorry for doubting you”
“Why are you leaving? Don’t we have a game to win right now?”
Kaede looks surprised at Ren and lets a laugh escape her mouth.
“Uh?” – Ren tilts his head while wondering why Kaede had such a reaction.
“Sorry, I got carried away. You’re right, let’s finish this”
“I just hope Mayu and Take didn’t just leave already”
After two more hours, the four leave the Arcade together and make their way back to the Shrine.
“Damn! Ren has some natural talent, I can’t believe he managed to get me after only one match!”
“Don’t be so modest Take, after my surprise element was gone, I basically had no chance against you in round three”
“No, you should accept his compliment Ren-kun. It’s really hard to play Valkern-on at such a high level, after only one match”
The lights of the dome begin to dim up, leaving most of the city with only the neon lights of the signs to be the ones lighting up the streets.
As they continue to move along by the sideway, Kaede once again gets curious upon seeing that Ren was looking amused at parents walking together with their children, and even more, at the sight of pregnant women.
This fact had caught her attention ever since he began working at the Shrine’s garden, but at the Arcade she was sure, something was up with that.
“Ren, I know this might sound strange to ask, but you know what a family is, don’t you?”
“Family? No, I don’t think I know that”
Suddenly, all of the party members stopped walking, not only surprised by what Ren just said but also at the realization that they never bothered to have a simple conversation addressing that in the two weeks Ren was with them.
“Oi, are you serious, Ren?” – Asks Take with a concerned inflection.
Ren nods back at him while continues walking normally.
Mayu catches up to his side and adds to Take’s and Kaede’s question:
“But what about your parents?”
Ren once again stops in his tracks and makes an annoyed face before answering:
“What’s the deal with all the strange questions you all are throwing at me now?”
“I don’t know that either”
Kaede completely froze up for quite a few seconds at the realization of a simple thing.
All this time he stayed with us, it wasn’t until this exact time I learned something so basic, so fundamental about Ren. The professor told us to be wary of him, so of course, I would do that, I myself was saved by him after all.
No, that’s not right. Ren also saved me, the circumstances are completely different but, even after our violent first meeting, he was never hostile to me. I should be the one who looked out to understand him better.
As the young man looks back, he undoes his annoyed expression to meet Kaede’s face.
“Let’s make a promise!”
“From now on, let’s share all our thoughts and all our experiences. What do you say?”
Ren scratches his head in confusion at the girl’s proposal.
“From where is this coming from? Look Kaede, if you’re feeling bad from suspecting me, I don’t really blame-”
“That’s not it! I’m just trying to amend things”
Kaede walks toward Ren and reaches out her arm to him.
“From now on I want to treat you as a friend”
“Aren’t you forgetting what you said to me back there?” – Asks the still confused Ren, while reluctantly reaching his arm to shake hands with Kaede.
“Let me rephrase, it then…”
“Even if you somehow become a threat to us. I want to see you as a friend and I expect the same thing from you from this moment forward”
Ren and Kaori both shake hands while Take and Mayu, look at them from a short distance.
“I’m happy you said that” – A smile could be seen drawn on Ren’s face.
“But let me correct you in one thing, Kaede”
The girl makes a bewildered expression at the expectation of Ren’s next words.
“I see you all as friends, ever since the beginning”