Chapter 22:

I’ll be careful.

Light of my darkest eve

Sunday. No college today. So naturally, it’s noon and I haven’t gotten up yet.

Now that the stress of a new environment has started to fade, my ‘hallucinations’ have been a lot more manageable, pretty much being kept at bay by the meds. But while they’re all well and good for the positive symptoms, neither antipsychotics nor SSRIs really do much about the negative symptoms of whatever’s wrong with me (which is not schizophrenia as I’m not delusional).

So, in that vein, having no obligations for the day means I don’t really have the volition to do anything. No lectures, no clubs, no… Hanji.

Aww, is poor Taro boy mopey because his psycho girlfriend has better things to do?”
“He got too used to the attention. Now he’s deprived of it and it’s killing him.”
“I wish he was killing him instead.”

“She’ll probably do it for him soon enough.”

I guess even drugs and lower stress levels never really get rid of these four. But I don’t really care enough to listen to them right now. Laying face down on my pillow, the only things I can think about are how bored and hungry I am. But I also really don’t have the motivation to get up and walk to the accommodation’s cafeteria, and I don’t have much food left in the kitchen.

The boredom starting to take hold even more than before, I roll over and grab my phone from my bedside table.

12:13. I should really get up, but I’ll scroll social media for a while since I’m still half asleep.

Unfunny memes, cherry picked moments from people’s lives, bitching and whining about the newest pointless outrage bait… I see the internet is exactly the same today as it is normally.

My stomach growling reminds me that I need to think about eating at some point. But it’s fine, it’s only been, what, 10, maybe 15 minutes?




Finally sitting down to eat my first meal of the day at almost 2pm, I finally realise just how hungry I really am. So hungry, in fact, that my stomach feels like it’s shrunk, and eating is causing me pain. Looking down at the gyudon bowl in front of me, I find myself wondering if I’ll even manage half of it. Being hungry really kills my appetite.

“May I?”

A voice comes from my right, and the distinctive white hair immediately tells me it came from Saki.

“Hmm? Ah, yeah, sure, go ahead.”

She takes a seat next to me, a rather large bowl of ramen in her hands. For lunch that’s one hell of a meal, but who am I to judge?

“So, Hanji’s been dragging you around on dates recently, right?”
“Ah- yeah, I guess. Although dragging isn’t really the right word, I didn’t take much convincing.”
“I see. Do you think you know what you’re getting yourself into?”

I can’t say I was expecting this. I’ve only spoken to Saki briefly a handful of times, so to have her approach me out of the blue warning me about her own friend seems odd.

“It’s not like there’s anything serious about it. We’re not together or anything, we’ve just been hanging out together quite a bit recently.”
“Yeah, that’s how it always starts. And yet, you’re probably already catching feelings for her, aren’t you?”

“N-no.” God dammit, why am I hesitating to say that?
“You don’t have to hide it from me. After all, who wouldn’t fall for her? She’s hot, she’s charming, and she makes you feel safe. Any normal person would be head over heels for her.”

Stop putting my feelings into words, you ass, if you do that I’ll have to actually confront them. But I can’t exactly deny what she’s saying. Even if it’s superficial, Hanji’s personality can be very charming when she wants to be, even if she is… abrasive. And as for her body and her looks… I don’t want to objectify her or anything, but if I were to create what I consider to be the perfect woman, it’d probably look damn near the same as Hanji. Her face, her build, her curves… fuck’s sake, snap out of it, me. I’m not falling for her.

“W-well, I do see what you mean, but I think I’ll be okay. I know she doesn’t really have the ability to care about people outside of how much use they are to her, I’m not dumb enough to let myself fall for someone who could never feel the same way. I just enjoy her company, is all. It won’t get any more serious than that.”
“…could never feel the same way, huh?”

Saki stares off into space as she repeats my words. I’m unsure as to whether she’s depressed or just deep in thought.

“It might be true, what you say. Hanji may really be incapable of love. I wonder just how many feelings she’ll trample by trying to prove that wrong?” Saki’s face is hard to read. But whatever she’s feeling, it’s certainly not joy.
“I thought you two were close? Why the distaste?”

“You’re misunderstanding the situation. I love Hanji, I really do. Well, as much as someone like me can love, anyway. She’s the best friend I’ve ever had, and she’s made my time here a lot more enjoyable than it would have been without her. Not to mention that fine ass that I always want to take a bite out of. But she navigates through life with a battering ram, simply slamming every obstacle out of her way, be it object or person. I just wanted to give you fair warning: you would be far from the first to fall for that girl, and it’s never ended well for others in the past.”

She looks distant as she says this, like it’s a topic that’s genuinely difficult for her to talk about.

“I appreciate the warning, but I don’t think there’ll be any trouble. Still, it’s surprising to hear you concerned about this. No offence, but aren’t narcissists normally only concerned with problems that directly affect them?”

“None taken. And this does affect me. As one of Hanji’s inner circle, everything she does that could change perception of her also changes the perception of me. She already had a bit of a heartbreaker reputation, and Yosuke and Akane already seem pretty attached to you. Not only would it make her rep worse if she accidentally hurt you or something, it’d probably also cause a rift in our group, which is something I can’t afford.” She pauses, sighs, and then continues in a much smaller voice. “Besides, this is a problem that’s… pretty personal to me.”

She starts eating her ramen again, but judging by how slow and dejected she seems while doing it, it’s probably just an excuse to stop talking.

Yosuke said that Hanji had tried hooking up with both Makoto and Saki before, and Hanji herself said that she always breaks things off when her partner starts to actually develop feelings for her…

Was Saki in love with Hanji at some point? She said this is a problem that’s ’pretty personal’ to her… so was she one of the people that got too close and got burned? That would explain a lot of what she just said.

One of her closest friends? I knew Hanji didn’t really care about people getting hurt as collateral damage in her pursuit of pleasure, but I assumed she’d at least draw the line at one of her own inner circle.

Is that what’s actually happening between her and me? She’s dragging me along to see if she can get what she wants out of me, only to cast me aside if it doesn’t work?

Even if Saki and Hanji stayed friends after the fact, it’s clear that Saki’s still hurting from whatever happened between the two of them.

Do I really want to risk that?

Do I want to risk losing her?

I… don’t know what to do.

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