Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path
"Excuse me~! Is Mr. Gin Sakato around? We have a delivery for you!"
A male voice shouted from beyond the walls of the house.
It is the last day of October and the snow has once again fallen early in the ninth hour. The heaters and television are turned on. The household have had their breakfast, but Yuna quickly came back to their room doing work early in the day.
"Huh… I don't remember having a delivery today.
Just a sec, Rin. I'll check it out.
Upon opening the door, there stood a deliveryman with snow piling up on his layers and cap. Behind him, on the street parked the delivery truck he is driving.
"Are you Mr. Gin Sakato?"
"Yes… that's me."
"We have a package for you. Please just sign the forms and there will be no payment needed."
I read through the receipt. It had my full name and exact address. I doubt that this is just some mistake to the delivery. Then I looked through the address where it came from.
"Did someone send me something from Aikiya?"
"Yes, sir. It's still on the truck so I will just take it out."
"Ah, I'll help you out.
Rin~? Can you prepare tea for deliveryman-san?"
"I'm already making it," she voiced out from the kitchen.
Making our way to the back of the truck, there is a sealed square cardboard box that stands between a thigh of mine as its height or higher. Simply put, it's thicker than a big TV box, but square.
"That looks heavy."
"I appreciate the help," the deliveryman broke into cold sweat… in winter.
Having it carried on both sides, the struggling man found himself at ease on his arms, although the box indeed holds a weight.
He has someone carrying it on the other side with meta-human physicality after all.
It was placed inside the house without fail as Rin silently peeked from the jamb of the doorway to the living room.
She went out after dropping the box safely and served the tea.
"Please have some tea. It's cold outside."
"Ahh, thank you very much."
With the teacup being empty, the deliveryman departed.
"So… what could this be?"
"All I know is that this might be furniture having said that it came from Aikiya.
Red and white, not blue and yellow."
"A table, perhaps?"
Without further ado, Rin grabbed a knife and swiftly cut through the massive amount of tape wrapped on the box.
Opening the box, it revealed what it seems to be a wooden base with detached wooden table legs. Beside those is an electric heater and…
Seeing everything that is inside the box, Gin took a stopwatch and ran after the time started. Some of the couches started to disappear and reappear, along with the coffee table while Rin just stood watching the living room getting reorganized with flourishing speed.
Having made enough space, Gin stopped and so did the stopwatch.
"Not a sweat dropped."
"Gee, you're simply amazing, Potato. Like you didn't even get sick."
"Hehe… This is a kotatsu after all. I'm sure that even Haku will like being underneath the table."
"Oh, there's also a letter inside the box."
"How did I not see that."
"It says… 'Go feast yourselves with this kotatsu as an after-sickness gift. This is a limited edition from Aikiya w/c was imported from the North. I hope you like it for all the eternity of winter in Orio!'
"Ooohhhh… I really have to thank him for this soon. That's so nice of him.
Well? Should we assemble this?"
"Yes, yes…!" Rin's eyes sparkled.
Putting together the kotatsu didn't last very long. But with all the excitement inside us, assembling it felt like an eternity.
~ ~ ~
What ought to be a normal cold day had become a comfortable morning under a warmed comforter blanket. It was a feeling that removed the stress and relaxes one's body through the blissful experience.
Although, we started to melt due to extreme coziness.
But Haku has been under the table already. Who knows if he's asleep or what. My cat sure likes warm places.
Seriously, though, don't let your cat go in such a confined place, with a heater, at that.
I stood up from the kotatsu, as if out of my will and came upstairs to knock on Rin and her sister's room.
"Hey there, Sis. You should come and do your work downstairs.
We have a kotatsu~" I said with a tone on my voice.
After a bit of silence with nothing happening, my senses told me that I need to move.
"Okay… I better be quick…!"
Yuna knew that Gin was still in front of the door while she silently picks her things to put downstairs. Her true intention was not truly perceived, but Gin sensed a feeling of urgency.
Yuna wants to race even knowing that he can't win against Gin!
She heard the sound of stomping from outside, and thus, she ran with her things. Having gone down from the stairs, Gin is already letting himself absorbed in the table.
"T-That's some huuuuge kotatsu we have here. How did this end up in Orio anyway?!"
She is indeed right, if effort is truly exerted, eight people can fit.
"Don't sweat the small details, Sis."
She went inside the futon and after a blank pause, she slowly melted and swiped away her paper works and rested her head on the wooden table.
"I don't wanna work anymore… This is so comfy…"
"Hey, you're pretty much neglecting your work."
"You know, Sis. Why don't you invite your boyfriend here? It's not everyday that you see a kotatsu in this country, and I think it's about time you introduce him to us."
"Uwhaa… How come you're much more curious than Ringo? And don't pressure me to that, li'l bro. He also has work."
"I see… I guess I should go back to work soon."
"Well, yeah. You're a sous chef. I guess it's hard on Hiroomi for maintaining the resto."
"And I owe Jean a lot too. I'll surely give him my thanks when we meet at school again."
"Speaking of school, Potato. The second semester will finally have the irregular students (us two) do practical assessments in CA."
"Thank goodness we're finally having those. I'm so itching to do that now.
And I even have so many things to catch up since I was pretty much an off-the-grid student."
"Well, I think you'll just be fine."
After a few, someone came knocking on my house again.
Just as I opened the door, Anna came flying towards me with a hug.
"Niiiiiiii…! Waaaaaaahhhhhhh…! I'm so glad you're alive! Waaaaahhhh…!"
"O-Oi! Nice way to greet your brother after seeing me.
Well, it really is been a while since I last saw… you… Chain… Sumeragi…"
"Anna, what the fluff happened to your hair?"
"And what the fluff also happened to your hair?!"
She sat down in the kotatsu not minding the open mouths of Rin, Sis and even Haku from the shock of seeing her.
For the entire time that I am alive, I've seen her hair to be way past down her shoulders in a half-up hairdo. So I have been asking myself for five minutes as to what happened to my younger sister's hair. It is now the length around her chin, but it looked shorter since approximately two inches of it to the ends puffed out and curved in a bit.
And what's up with the short cowlick?!
"You know… I should be more worried about you since you're a worrywart…"
I sure did not make any sense from that.
"…but please don't tell me you got depressed because of me and did badly in school."
"I-I was depressed…! But it wasn't like that at all! I'm not as emotional as you."
"I see. Then you shouldn't have cried when you came back to the house a year ago, and you also bawled when I opened the door just earlier."
"Are you implying that I'm also emotional, Potato?"
I got scared for a second.
"Nee-chan…! I was just teasing Nii but why did you take it differently?!"
Because it's true…?" we both answered.
A natural airhead couple…!!
▪ ▪ ▪
Even with the kotatsu being finally present, the days still passed by, although not as fast. Before the end of the remaining days of the break, I took Rin out to various places on a date as an overall show of gratitude to her. I'm happy seeing that she had fun.
But it is now Sunday. Not only is this the last day of the break and my absence, today is also the time where Rin will come back to their house.
I had my last breakfast with her and soon she packed all her things out of the room they used.
"Don't be sad, Potato. We're just neighbors."
"Eh… I don't think I can do that."
"Well, I don't think I forgot anything."
"I'll send you back, then. It's snowing again outside."
With that, they went out of the house to walk just by a few steps. Finally reaching the front door of Rin's house, Gin decided to do the knocking, but hesitated at first.
He hasn't been able to talk to her parents even after the things and revelations that have been said. Mustering up the courage and steeling himself as he is aware that faces of sadness will grow on the couple’s faces, he finally knocked.
The door opened after a few seconds with Shuu and Sumi in front of them. It was the first time seeing the silver haired man. Of course, the sense of guilt is inevitable and their faces hinted fright.
As the married couple's head slowly lowered down, they were halted by Gin's arms wrapping around them.
"Uncle, Auntie… You don't have to say anything. There's no need to say sorry, alright?"
Even after hearing the relieving words, they burst out in tears and reciprocated the warm embrace to the cold weather.
~ ~ ~
"Well… I guess this is where we part ways as housemates, then?" I forced myself to say those words, even if they somehow sounded like a joke.
It took a while for the parents to calm down, but they successfully voiced out all the guilt and regrets that piled up over the years.
"I'll be coming back now. Take care, Rin. See you in a few."
"Pff… This isn't supposed to be a sad goodbye, you know?"
"Yep, I know. I live next door after all.
Not even losing sight of Gin, Rin then immediately ran as quickly and as carefully as she can to her room.
"I'll just drop my things in my room. Be right back!"
With her bag thrown wherever on the floor, she quickly opened the curtains and opens the window amidst of the freezing weather.
Having seen what's outside, she vigorously bent her head down as she heavily sighed.
"You're just too fast, Potato!" in the opposite window shows Gin with his right arm on the sill, having his chin rested on his hand.
"Ahahahaha. Welcome home, I guess?"
Having been involved with Akaji's case of his death, it became a reason for the former Class 4A's change. With that, they were saved from straying to a dark path.
For Rin to be cleared from being a Medical Child, I myself became a Child and had her life saved… even when I was not aware of it.
Sometimes, I ask myself.
Why is there a sacrifice involved just to have something be saved or benefited?
That has probably become a law in this twisted world. "I have a condition…" or "In exchange…" is the most common beginning of the mind games. You are being forced to decide with something that you don't even know if you will merit to or not.
Those stories that we thought are just fiction, are actually happening right in this world. Because if it did not, it will never appear. We are forced to make a choice. There are times where you save yourself, and you save others. But then we can also be deceived. In A and B, there is a C, perhaps there is even a D or E.
From the very start, I don't like… I hate that concept. But I finally found that my question is not entirely worded right. It can be a yes and no question, where it's not fixated to yes nor no.
There is something that we can gain even without something in exchange. That concept is just an illusion that can be swept by the wind. But sadly, it had become fortified.
I know, however, that this world is very difficult to change. A lone ant, should it conquer a house can lead to its demise. As much as it has been said so many times, the weak has no place in this cruel world.
What we exchange sometimes is unequal to what we want to be returned or obtained.
But thankfully, there is a very small place in this world where someone as weak as I am could fit in with all of my perceptions.
▪ ▪ ▪
I opened my eyes with the feeling of cold penetrating through my blanket. But there is a feeling that I haven't felt for so long. I was suddenly recalled to this experience that I wish I could have felt earlier than now.
My bed is continuously pulling me down and making my eyes close. Nothing like paralysis, but as much as I want to move or get up, I can't.
I then looked at the calendar hanged on the wall, focusing my gaze to a cell that was intentionally shaded as a whole, unable to see what the date is.
I then directed my sight to Haku, who just woke up from sleeping beside me, and shifted it to the clock.
It said 7:31am. Seeing that, I took Haku's paws and placed them on my face.
Monday, November 5. Today is the start of the second semester, and I'm already late for my comeback.
Oh, I forgot to yawn.
~ ~ ~
"Geez…! Of all the days you have to oversleep, why today?!"
"You know that it became a habit, Rin. Sorry."
Entering the school grounds, they ran through the awfully quiet pathways with their footsteps greatly amplified. Rin have been scolding Gin for the past ten minutes as they still try to race against time even knowing that it was too late, and that they have been late for twelve minutes.
But as soon as they reached their building and went upstairs, "You can go ahead, Rin. I really need to get something from somewhere. It won't take long, promise," Gin said, and diverged paths from Rin.
"What? You're going to fix your hair with this time we have?"
"Nope. Nothing like that."
"Hahh… Just make it quick, then!" she frustratingly said.
~ ~ ~
By that time, homeroom has already started by Mato-sen.
"Now that that's topic is done, let's move on. Gin and Ringo are apparently coming back from their horrendously long absence, but they're still not here.
Nagi, any news from those two?"
"Not a word, Mato-sen. We're also in the dark. No one knows what's going on at this point."
"I see… Oh, and one thing, Gin may have lo-"
"Sorry, we're so late…!!" Rin strongly slid the back door of the classroom open, making a startling noise that made some of the students flinch.
"Ringo, you say 'we're' but you're just by yourself. Take your seat, anyway," a blank, unimpressed face surfaced on Mato-sen. "Where is Gi-"
"Someone left the door open~ This is why we shouldn't have hurried too much, Rin.
Anyway, we're very sorry for our tardiness," Gin bowed upon entering the room.
But just after he raised his head, the whole class's and the teacher's head turned with their eyes slowly widening.
There stood at the doorway is a student with a silver hair tied to the back, leaving the front, right side of his hair connected to the usual fringe, while the left side brushed back to where the hair was tied. He also has a mug on his hands.
"Umm… who are you?" the teacher questioned after breaking the deafening silence.
"Eh. I guess my head makes so much difference. It can't be helped."
"G-G-Gin…?!" all at the same time, Nagi, Shiro, and Ginji stood up with their jaws rolling down to the floor.
While Mato-sen froze as his glasses slowly slanted an fell down. "N-Nah. That couldn't be Gin. It's not a law in this school that dyeing your hair is prohibited, but there's just no way that that guy will have the guts to go gung-ho on his hair," he explained flawlessly.
"Uhh… Mato-sen. Just so you know, this is natural," Gin replied.
"Huh? I find that hard to believe. I haven't heard a person grow biologically with a natural silver hair, you know?" Upon taking a closer look, he leaned forward with his weight directing to his arms and squinted heavily.
"Oh, hey. You look a lot like Gin."
"Mato-sen, hello? Can we go back to reality now? Granted, my hair makes so much difference, but I am Gin Kurogane Sakato coming back from his cwap long absence," still stood at the doorway, he then took a sip on a mug brimming with hot coffee.
Satisfactory truth as it have become, Mato-sen's body weakened as he shivers from the sudden uprising of his emotions.
"W-Wait, Gin… you know me… like, right now…?"
At that point where their teacher blurted those words out, the other students can't avoid thinking that the situation has gotten weird, excluding the fact that they were also surprised by Gin's appearance.
"Wait, where did you hear that from, Mato-sen?!" Gin exclaimed as he made his way to his desk. "But, yes. Thankfully, it wasn't that bad, and it's not like it's 'rare' for me anyways."
The students have internally and literally scratched their heads while they listen to the conversation of the two which they can't find where the context is.
"Hahh… Have your seat for the time being. We'll talk about this later," Mato-sen placed his hand on his face due to the sudden stress that was pushed in his mind. "And Ringo."
"H-Hai?!" having been called suddenly, Rin flinched out of surprise.
"You'll also come discuss what happened in your absence. I will be exempting Gin, but you'll have to write a letter of apology in behalf of him too," he frighteningly glared.
"A-About our absence… I suppose?"
"Of course, NOT. I'll have you explain how I didn't know of that.
Congratulations, by the way."
Once again, Nagi, Shiro and Ginji acted differently from the class; turning their heads towards the seatmates, glaring as if saying "busted."
"Ahahaha… So he already knows, huh…?" again, their thoughts synchronized.
~ ~ ~
As if a short summary was not enough, the explanations alone took an equivalent of two class periods to complete a narrative of what exactly happened in the whole month.
Of course, not everything was said. The existence of Exiles involving Gin hasn't yet been told to anyone outside of Gin's most trusted others. But the explanations were delivered well and carefully, nonetheless. Having heard everything that has been said, it seems that Mato was unable to stomach all of what was fed to him. And so, he needed a rest to vent off some stress.
But things went well with the coincidental save and rescue of Nana-sen. It was quite ironic that he talked frustratingly about only recently knowing about Gin and Ringo when he even had his own relationship.
However, there are things that are still not clearly said, not to anyone as Gin kept things to himself until now.
Thus, the impending opening of the rooftop of the new building has come to date, and they made the opportunity to discuss everything that happened together with Akira.
It was in the same day that they had to explain the circumstances twice. With that, the clock hit the seventeenth and a half hour.
"Phew… I swear my throat is about to give in. That's so much energy from just talking."
"Well, that was probably the first time I heard you talk that much in five years," Nagi retorts.
"But my word, does my dad already knew about Ringo being a potential to a Child?"
"Not even he knows it yet."
"Ugh… Just look, Ringo being a Medical Child candidate is surprising per se. And then Gin was a replacement to that? Just what degrees can coincidences exceed?" Shiro jested, as she was led to Nagi by pure coincidence, although not really under a direct influence of the phenomenon.
"Well, that's that and there are those too.
I have things that I haven't yet told anyone."
"Oh?" they all opened their ears.
"Let's see… I just said that I lost my memories last month, although temporary. And there's also the time earlier when I said that it wasn't 'rare' for me. That, I meant it seriously.
But then again, I hope you wouldn't be so surprised. Including just recently, I have lost my memories 73 times."
"73 times?!" all of them exclaimed surprisingly at the same time as they leaned forward to Gin.
He expected the outcome to be like that. What he can only do is scratch his cheek as he smiled dryly in front of the pressuring astonishment.
"What the… how did you even know that when you clearly lost your memories?" desperately pressing his temples with his thumb, Nagi sighed with anxiety boiling up on his chest.
"Well, to explain, what happened to me was rare, actually. The last time, the 72nd time was way over ten years when I left the labs. It's unusual that it took me more than a decade to recover my memories unlike when I lost them in the past, they came back after two days at least and all at once."
"Uguu… *sniff*" Rin turned around with her groans being heard.
"Umm… Rin-san. Are you crying?" Gin asked.
Shiro then asked why.
"I don't know…"
"You're weird!" Gin exclaimed.
"At least not as weird as you!" Rin angrily yelled out being accused by his lover, as it is in fact that Gin is outright weird.
But then she added, "Why didn't you tell me… Why didn't you tell me that you've suffered more than what I thought?! I could have helped you more…! I could have stayed by your side more…! The more I think of it, I just can't lightly take that you were hurt because of me! I can't accept that, Gin…! I don't want you to get hurt anymore…"
Seeing her in such distress, Gin can't help but pull her head towards his chest as she teared up clenching tightly to his uniform.
In Rin's perspective, it was inevitable for her to do that. All this time she was still hiding the guilt of being the reason for Gin's almost never ending agony.
She could have cheered up, knowing that Gin will say that they wouldn't have met if it wasn't for that, but even if that might be the case, it was still something that is unacceptable for her. But behind the sadness that she is showing lies bliss.
Gin is indeed different, perhaps due to his ignorance of human emotions, or perhaps not; he did not succumb to fear and anger, and did not leave Rin behind. His sense of forgiving is very childish and that, she knew and made her happy, even if it was just a fleeting moment.
"Now I'm starting to realize how much worse I've been when I was out of it. Calling someone a killer, shunning off anyone in sight every once in a while… even to you… I did so badly.
I don't even know how I'm still okay after breaking down so many times. I'm scared that I may never recover, and I don't want you, and you guys to break down because of me. I fear that."
The others have remained sat, silent with long faces.
"But still, I am alive.
If you just know how much I held back today and at that time in the late sunrise when I came back from the Void… I was so exhilarated.
Then again, it just feels like things are always revolving around me. That was selfish on my side. Anyway, I owe you all an apology for not telling you beforehand.
But these times… These moments won't happen frequently in the future. We'll all find our own paths at some point—what I'm saying is that we all have our own lives."
He leaned back to the cold railings and let Rin lie her head down on his crossed legs. He continued:
"Just like me, I'm fortunate enough to have a job I and I sure am having fun with. I also want me and Rin to be together onwards. I want to have a peaceful life.
And Rin also has her own path. We do not always have similar views. We see things differently. She has her own liking and I can't argue with that.
Nagi, you have Shiro; and vice versa. You two have your own lives. But of course, I will always wish you a better relationship.
As for Jean, I could say the same thing. You decided to pursue cooking as your career, and moreover, you decided to make the one you love to smile with it. I know that you'll do your best for Ai-san.
And then Akira, you've become an Exile. You have your family with you now. I'd say you're doing really great.
Some of you already have a clear sight of what you want. And you are acting on it. I actually never thought of it seriously, so I'm a little jealous."
After a long pause, Nagi let out a chuckle and stood up. He began to walk and shuffled Gin's hair as if patting it. Then he made his way out of the rooftop, with the other three following.
"We'll go on ahead.
And from now on, I will wish you for the best… Gin," he said with a flawless smile
But Gin, of all people did not get the entire meaning of what Nagi said, leaving it as a vague statement.
He understood that it has to do with what he just said about their own lives, but he at least felt that there was something more to it. Though, he just can't find what it is.
"Ahhh… That guy…" Nagi sighed as they walked on the halls.
"You suddenly came out weird just then," his significant other presumed.
It's nice to meet Gin."
"Uh, huh?" their eyebrows raised and their heads titled. Something so mysterious is mostly heard from Gin, but Nagi suddenly blurted out without the others getting what it mean.
~ ~ ~
The sun has begun to sink down to the horizon.
"I really wish that this would be the last."
"I think I have reached a closure to what has happened to me. It's probably time for me to stop thinking too much about my past. But I guess there are still things that I need to clear."
"What do you mean, Gin?"
"Something like serving justice to the other children. I want to formally ask the doctor to disclose the program in public."
"But will that mean that it will affect his reputation?"
"Probably. I think. Perhaps. But all that lawlessness came from them. No matter how much his reputation might be damaged, it's nothing compared to what the public's eyes will see with how corrupt this country have become. That's why I don't want to be involved in this world. It's just as the Exiles said…"
"'Mind your own businesses,' was it?"
"A bit immature, but it makes sense. We are not humans, right? Maybe not making myself involved in this world is an overstatement. I take that back.
But at this point, we’re no different to animals, aren’t we? Like, we are just people disguised as humans, living underground.”
“No, Gin. I don’t think that still fits.” Expressing her disagreement, she poked Gin’s cheek while still lied down. “Let’s just stick with the Exiles being former humans.”
“Ahaha. Alright.” He affirmed as he was unable to talk back.
The girl then slowly stood up and shook off the back of her skirt. She stood still, with the beaming orange light of the setting sun lighting her from her side. On the purple tinted shadow of near twilight, she offered her hand for Gin to stand up.
He vigorously bowed down on his crossed legs, and looked up again with a subtle smile and tightly grasped her hand.
Indeed, he stood on his feet, but even before Rin looked away, he lightly pulled her head towards his own, titled down to reach Rin’s.
“A better, happy future,” randomly, he said on a low sounding voice.
Thus, they left the rooftop.
On the other hand, Yuna dominated the kotatsu for almost the whole day.
You've finished 027!
Honestly, I wanted to do something special with this chapter considering the chapter number but it didn't really work out in the end. But that ends this ten or so chapters arc! The things that will come next will probably be within mini arcs with two to five chapters, or there may even be just plain old SoL stuff.
Thank you for reading!
028: Ten chapters later, and they are back visiting.
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