Chapter 34:

I let it out.

Light of my darkest eve

“Good morning, my little berserker. You’ve been asleep for a good while.”

As I awake, I’m assaulted by a headache worse than any I’ve had in a long while. A familiar voice speaks to me from my left.

“You’re lucky there were so many witnesses to that spectacle, Taro. You left Akihiko in one hell of a sorry state.”

Akihiko? Witnesses? What? What the hell happened?

“I don’t… my memory is fuzzy. And thinking hurts. Where am I?”
“One of the beds in the on-campus medical facilities. It’s been some sixteen hours since your little freak-out.”
“You don’t remember at all?”

I try to think back but my memory is completely scrambled. I remember leaving the computer room with Yosuke…

“Akihiko… I think I remember seeing Akihiko…”
“Oh, you did more than see him, man. He’s still at the hospital now.”
“Hospital? What the happened?”

“You turned his face into bloodied and broken mess, dude. Look at your hands.”

Doing as she says, I realise my hands are covered in bandages. I had paid it little attention until now because I was preoccupied with the pain in my head, but my hands are hurting their fair bit too.

I turned Akihiko’s face into a bloody mess? Does that man…

“Did I…”
“It was like when I found you slamming your head into that wall. Seemed like there wasn’t an ounce of thought left in your head, just a single minded drive to beat the fucker to death there and then. It was pretty metal, but it wasn’t nice seeing you lose control like that. It’s lucky the bastard’s alive.”

I did it again. For fucks sake, I did it again. I thought the meds would prevent it, but I fucking did it again. I lost control. I almost killed someone.

I’m dangerous. I’m too dangerous. I’m a menace. I can only cause suffering.

I can’t fucking believe it happened again.

“So, what the hell was all that? Psychotic episode?”
“It’s… something that’s happened once before.”
“Well what causes it?”
“Stress, I think. High stress. It makes psychosis much worse, and sometimes I end up just unable to think straight at all. It’s only happened this bad once before. I would guess it was my PTSD that caused it this time.”

Yes, once before. That one day. That awful, awful day. The day my last chance for normalcy was ripped away from me, along with the lives of those four.

Anything that reminds me of that day can act as a trigger. This one must have been particularly bad.

“Can you… remind me of everything that happened? I remember nothing past leaving with Yosuke and Akane.”

“Figured that’d be the case. Guess I kicked you a little too hard. My bad.”

Hanji kicked me? The fuck happened to make her resort to violence? Especially against me?

“When I saw you and Yosuke in the hallway, Hiko had his arm slung around you again, and you looked like you’d just seen death. Anyone’d think he’d just murdered a man in front of you. I told him to knock it off, but he switched targets to me and started getting all handsy and threatening me. I was gonna defend myself, but you seemed to just snap. Tackled him to the floor and started beating the living daylights out of him. Muttering to yourself the whole time. None of what you were saying really made any sense, but you just kept wailing on him like a boxer working the bag. Yosuke tried to drag you away but you didn’t budge an inch. Eventually I had to put you out to pasture so you didn’t kill the ugly fuck. Guess I went a little too hard though, considering how long you’ve been out.”

As she speaks, memories start to reformulate in my head. I remember first seeing Akihiko… him slinging his arm around me… Hanji‘s voice… what happened then?

“What… what did he say? Just before I snapped?”

“Hmm… I think he was threatening Akina. That was when you went berskerer mode.”

It clicks into place. I remember it. He brought up Akina, and I just stopped thinking altogether. I guess I remembered how distraught Hanji was talking about her, so the anger overwhelmed me. Between the stress, the anger and the flashback to that day, I lost all sense of what I was doing.

“I told you I don’t need a knight in blood soaked armour you dork.”
Hanji playfully flicks me in the head, which sends a ripple of pain that I’m unable to hide.
“Shit, my B. Head still hurting?”

“Hurting is a word. Feels like it’s gonna explode.”

I concussed myself before with my suicide attempt, so Hanji’s kick must have done more damage than it normally would. Still, at least the pain took my mind off my episode for a second.

They’re gonna lock me up for good this time. I’m too dangerous. Even on medication, I’m a hazard. I almost killed someone again. They can’t let me get away with it again.

“You’re welcome, by the way.”
“I stuck my neck out for you, told ‘em it was all self defence and you weren’t to blame. Everyone else went along with it too. You got off lucky, bro.”
“You… stuck your neck out for me?”

“Course I did. You were tryna protect me, right? Wouldn’t feel right to throw you under the bus for that. Plus I always repay my debts.”

Right. Debts. Everything is transactional to Hanji. I kick myself for believing it could have been more than that. But still….

“You said I’ve been here for 16 hours, right? Why’re you here? It’s unlike you to care about someone else like this.”
“Had to be the first one there when you woke up. Got shit to talk to you about.”
“Such as?”

“Shut it, I’m getting to it.”

She seems unusually worked up. Hanji being Hanji, it’s unusual to see her get agitated like this. She normally treats even the most serious topics with a completely cavalier attitude.

“I guess… something you said has been repeating in my mind for a little while. About not needing to be fixed. About it being ok to just be broken together.”
“Ah- right. What about it?”
“I’m gettin’ there man, just stop interrupting.”
“Sorry. I’ll shut it.”
“Thank you. What I was gonna say is… well… those words actually helped me think a bit. I’ve been obsessed for a while over trying to learn to be normal. To feel everything everyone else feels, like love or attachment. But I don’t think that’s what I really want. It’s not who I am. And then I got to thinking… about you.”
“Stop interrupting, dammit.”


Her raising her voice hurts my head a little. I guess I should just hear her out instead of interjecting.

“Anyway. My feelings towards you have been… strange. Not too dissimilar to what I normally feel, but more intense, and more random. I like making you happy because I enjoy your company when you’re happy. I hate seeing you upset because you’re no fun when you’re upset. I don’t like it when you get hurt because you don’t act like your normal self when you’re in pain. All my feelings for you are completely selfish. All for my own self-gratification. But they’re so strong, so much stronger than I’m used to. I always want what’s best for you, because it’s also what’s best for me. Which… in my own broken little way… I guess it means I love you.”

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