Ex-Chapter: Hinoe & Misuto
"Misuto." A gentle voice calls my name.
"What? I'm trying to concentrate here." I keep my eyes shut.
Spiritual energy flows around me, like a gentle breeze. Want is focused and driven forward, the reasoning for my will to mold the world.
"You shouldn't force your will like that." A metal ring; the sound of cloth on metal, the sound of the silver bangle Hinoe always wears against her long sleeves. "Slowly, gently." Her voice mirrors her words. "That is how you should try to manipulate spiritual energy."
"If it goes where I want it, what's the difference?"
The two of us are sat at in Hinoe's room; the round table in between. A lesson on the usage of spiritual energy and spiritual ability is underway.
It's already past noon. A real shame. In a few hours, I'll have to go back to the facility. Still, the lesson continues.
I can feel the orange sunlight from the window behind her, even the cool patch where her shadow blocks it out.
"Misuto." Her voice is patient, kind. "Spiritual energy has the power to determine one's fate. The feelings you use to create and shape it are important, you know?"
"Fate…" I snort, and open my eyes. "Wasn't it you, Hinoe, who told me the future wasn't set?"
She nods; white teardrop shaped earrings sway. "Fate, in the sense of a destined future, is not a natural occurrence. However, a person's fate is not something like that."
Raising an eyebrow, I cross my legs and arms. "Then what is it?" The chair creaks as I lean back; balancing it on its back legs.
"It's dangerous to do that, Misuto." I sigh, and she smiles as I stop rocking the chair. "Fate is just the force that predetermines events in the future."
"Hey, did you just lose your memory or something?" My elbow props my head up as I lean over the table. "Didn't you just say that there was no such thing as a set future?"
"There is no such thing, but that doesn't mean the future is completely unchained." Her fingers reach for the globe between us, and turns it slowly until Japan points in my direction.
"For example, let's say you are here." A white finger slides down over the North Pole, then Russia, before stopping above Japan. "If you wanted to go here in the next moment…" Another finger taps the opposite side. "it would be impossible, wouldn't it?"
"What're you getting at?"
"That the future is both undetermined, and restrained at the same time, I think." She chuckles. "Although, I might not have explained it very well."
"It's overly simplified, that's what." I snort, and pull out a cola flavored chewing gum. "If I could use something like the kefitzat haderech recorded in the Talmund, then I could around the whole world, not just to the opposite side of it." Tossing it in the air, I catch it. The gum disappears in my palm, and I open up the other. A cola flavored chewing gum sits there.
"Very good." Hinoe claps gently. "But, that is also an effect of fate."
I cross my arms again and narrow my eyes.
"In order to gain that ability; you'd have to first find the method, learn how to use it, then prepare for its use. Those actions themselves begin to determine the future you can take."
"So, what? You saying that the past determines the future?"
"In a way." She nods. "Fate is merely the name for the force that determines events in the future. If things go on from previous events, unchanged and uninterrupted, then things are progressing along the path set by fate."
"Sounds like Karma from Buddhism."
"I was thinking more of Newtonian mechanics, but both have the same concept of past actions having effects on current ones, so I guess we're both right." She tilts her head. The jade necklace she wears glints as orange sunlight halos her from behind.
"So… what's that got to do with spiritual energy?" I turn away, cheeks slightly warm.
She chuckles slightly before continuing. "Spiritual energy is generated by the act of living, but do you know what it means to live?"
"Isn't that just the three great lusts; eat, sleep, and screw?"
"Misuto." She frowns slightly, barely even creasing her brow. The slightest turning down of her eyebrows, and the loss of her smile, are all she uses to show her unhappiness.
She smiles again. "Although that saying is popular in Japan, its prevalence decreases rapidly outside of it. After all, the importance of the number three in the Japanese mindset is from the Imperial Regalia of Japan."
"You mean those three fake treasures held by the government?"
"They're said to be the originals, and it isn't a good habit to denounce from ignorance, Misuto."
I snort. Well, telling the Bambinos that one of their precious national treasures was fake or never existed would cause one hell of a shit storm, even if most of these bastards celebrated Christmas and Obon in the same year.
"So, what does it mean to be alive then? If it isn't the basic instincts of survival, then what is it? Do we need to go higher up the hierarchy?"
"Abraham Harold Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, was it? I'm glad you remembered that lecture."
"It was a cathartic crock of bull." A smirk crosses my face. "What does an old fart who lived a happy carefree life know about the needs of humanity?"
"Do you not like the idea of self-actualization, Misuto?"
"It's wrong." Shrugging, I lean back in the chair again. "If every person has a desire to realize their full potential, then why do people commit suicide or develop self-destructive habits?" A chuckle escapes me. "In a way, it's the same as calling anyone who doesn't have any motivation non-human."
"I wouldn't go that far, even if it isn't all encompassing in its description." She folds her hands in her lap. "Regardless, living is actually a lot simpler than fulfilling one's own wants or needs."
A nod and a smile reply. "All living things have spiritual energy, even those which do not sleep, eat, or reproduce in a sexual manner."
"Yeah, you've told me that before." Shrugging, I return to leaning on the table again. "Don't tell me that living is simply the act of living?"
"No." Her head shakes from side to side. "The question is, sadly, not that simple." She chuckles again, probably at my expression. Hinoe's always been like that, kind and cheerful, no matter what I do or say. "Inanimate objects like stones and water can also hold spiritual energy, even if they aren't alive."
"I know that." My hand starts tossing the gum that it held up in the air, over and over again. "You told me that back when you were teaching me about Reigu."
Her left hand reaches forward, catching the gum. Gentle fingers put it back in my palm, and close my fingers around it. The silver bangle around her wrist, peeks out from the folds of her sleeve. I look up at her and she smiles at me.
Familiar. This feeling… it's like the first time we met.
"Living is the ability to change fate." Hinoe breaks the silence as she pulls away from me. "If things go along as the past decrees, then humans and living creatures would be no different from natural occurrences, such as a rock-slide or the tides. However, by changing their progression, by controlling the path they wish to go, all living things change fate to some degree." Her fingers spin the globe, playfully. "The future may not be free, but it isn't set." She smiles. "As long as people make an effort, do something, or feel emotions. Then, they have spiritual energy. They have the power to go against the fate."
"Then I must have a lot of spiritual energy." I lean back in the chair, toss the gum one last time, and put it in my pocket. "I've been resisting fate my entire life."
My entire life… Yeah, that's right. Ever since grandfather broke away from the Maltuva and started the Yagoura, my life's been hell. Bastard killed his own son and daughter, my parents, with his stupid sense of justice. After he died, and they took the easy way out, I've been fighting fate. The fate of being killed by these fucking Bambinos. Setting fire to that paparazzi vulture's coat was only the first step.
"Misuto." Hinoe calls, and I look up. She pauses for a moment, then stands up. "A person's fate is unique, a path tread only by them." She walks around the table, and kneels down to my eye level beside me. "One person's resistance could be another person's compliance. If you progress along the path from the past, even if you fight the entire world, it could be the same as waking up and going to work every day."
The afternoon sun lights up her face from the side; one in grey, the other in orange. Warm light pools over her shoulder, and down her breast. A hand reaches for me, and places itself on my shoulder. Gently, it squeezes, as if saying, "Do you understand?"
"Hmph." I turn away. "It doesn't matter either way. If spiritual energy has the ability to change fate, then I'll drag my future by the hair where I want it."
Hinoe's smiles sadly.
We've had talks like this before. Over and over again, she says the same thing a little differently.
She doesn't understand. Hinoe is too gentle; gentle enough to accept a person like me from the bottom of her heart.
Something soft presses against the back of my head, and Hinoe's arms wrap around my shoulders.
"I hope…" Her breath tickles the top of my head, as she speaks. "that things end happily ever after."
My tongue clicks.
"Hey! Lemme go!" Shaking her off, I turn and glare at her.
She smiles at me. A simple gentle smile, bathed in afternoon sun.
"Shall we go to the next lesson?"
"…If you want."
She sits down in front of me again, and pulls out a couple Buddhist scrolls.
"What is it?" She smiles at me from behind the scroll. "Have you memorized the mantra?"
"Nah, not yet." Putting it down, I kick back in the chair again. "I just wanted to have a break, that's all."
"Alright, you have been studying for a long time." She leans back in her chair as well.
A quiet moment, only the occasional bird or car sound outside.
"This sort of feels like the times I went to visit you." She chuckles suddenly.
"You mean at the facility?"
"You used to sit like that in front of me."
"Yeah…" I nod. "But there's no glass between us now."
"No security guards either."
"Yeah, that too."
"You used to be a lot rougher back then."
I turn away.
"I was quite surprised by some of the language you used." She laughs, and I can feel my cheeks heat up.
"Give it a rest. I said I was sorry ages ago."
"It's alright, I was never angry about that." A reassuring smile turns my way. "You really treasured that moment, didn't you?"
"What makes you think that?" I start tossing the gum up and down again.
"You still have the gum I gave you back then."
I shove the piece of chewing gum back into my pocket.
"It's not the same one, just the same brand." That was true. The original was chewed up and spat out a long time ago. "Besides, I don't really like sweet things."
She hides her laugh with her hand.
"You did slap it out of my hand when I gave it to you."
"Yeah. Then you picked it up, and put it back in my hand."
"And closed your fingers around it, was it?"
"Yeah… it was."
I turn away again, and she laughs at me. If it were anyone else, I would have smashed their jaw. Hinoe is different. If it's for her, I can be laughed at.
"Christ, you must be rubbing off on me." I mutter as I look around the room.
"I don't think so." She folds her hands in her lap again. "You just needed time to go back to who you were."
I grimace at that.
"What, weak and pathetic?"
"No… I meant…"
"I'm not returning to that."
I glare at the wall, and she stops talking.
"Weakness is a sin." The white wall becomes a screen.
A screen replaying past memories.
The cameras. The flashes. The constant changing of houses.
The mob of reporters and journalists and their endless questions.
Faces of all sorts, sizes, and genders. Fat ones, handsome ones, pretty ones… all of them baying and squealing like a horde of hungry pigs before a trough.
The old hags and bitchy wives living next door whispering at each other. Their beady eyes pointed at us like a bunch of old vultures, hungry for gossip.
The creaking ropes as mom and dad swayed over a puddle of piss; the stool they had been standing on knocked to the side.
"If you're weak, the best you can do is shut up and die."
Yeah… just like my parents.
They died because they were weak.
They let those Bambino fucks get to them.
Even if they came from a household with spiritual abilities, they let the powerless, mundane, and mass-produced kill them.
I won't be like that. I'll show those ignorant fucks the natural order of things.
"Misuto." Hinoe calls me again, and the wall is just a white wall. Her hand rests on my arm. The sound of creaking wood sounds from my hand. I've been gripping the table so hard it's about to break.
"Sorry." I let go, pulling away from her hand.
She doesn't say anything. There's nothing left to say. She already knows what happened. Hell, she's probably seen what I've seen through my own eyes.
She can't say anything to change what happened. She can't make me change my mind.
Even so, she accepts me. Even if she can't change me, she stays with me. No matter what I say or what I do, Hinoe is always there for me.
There is no person in the world like her, and there will never be a person like her.
"It's time." She stands up.
I look up at the clock, and nod. It's time for me to go back; back to the correction facility. Any longer and it'll cause trouble for Hinoe. She's the one who has responsibility over me at the moment.
I could kill all the guards, the other inmates, even the police if they sent them after me. However, the world is filled with more than enough people to replace them. It doesn't matter if I kill ten or twenty. It probably wouldn't matter if I killed a hundred.
I could probably get away with it, but Hinoe couldn't. No, she wouldn't. She accepts me, but that doesn't mean she supports me. If I kill, then I either need to kill enough people so Hinoe won't be threatened, or separate myself from Hinoe until I have killed enough people for us to be together. That's the only way this will work. So, until I can do that, I'll have to play along with the Bambinos' rules.
We leave the house, and Hinoe looks up. I feel a familiar presence at the same time.
"Welcome home, Ayumi-chan."
A girl with two pigtails runs up to Hinoe, followed by a guy with bleached hair. I pop the gum I had into my mouth, and our eyes meet.
I snort, and make a bubble with the chewing gum. It swells towards his face, and he frowns; brow wrinkles and eyes narrow.
Fucking punk. Try and pop it again, if you have the balls.
A swell of spiritual energy builds up inside the bubble. A second bubble forms inside, and is aimed at his face. The moment he pops the first bubble is the moment he learns how painful peeling gum off skin and hair can be.
"Kishinuma-kun." Hinoe's sister calls him, and looks at him suspiciously.
"Relax, we're just saying hello."
I snort, and suck in both bubbles as well as the spiritual energy.
"Let's go, Hinoe."
I leave the two behind, and Hinoe apologizes to her sister before catching up.
"What? Nothing happened."
We walk towards the sun. I never thought I'd feel this warm again before I met Hinoe.
"Do you not like him?"
"That punk? I'm more surprised you're letting someone like him get close to your family."
A dime a dozen high school delinquent.
The same sort of gutter trash that bites the hands that feeds them, even if they don't have the strength to stand on their own. Well, I've got authority problems as well, so I can't say too much. Guess the difference between us is that I've got the power to resist, while the best they can do is backchat.
"He's not that bad a person."
"That's why I say you're too gentle, Hinoe."
Seriously, things aren't going to last like this forever. Shinozaki Ayumi is a Shinozaki. There's no changing that. Someday, she's going to be involved in the world me and Hinoe live in.
This isn't the time to be playing around. Danger is around every corner, evil under every face. Carefree assholes like that just piss me off.
I look up at the sky; the greying blue, orange sun, and similarly colored clouds.
If that high school brat's serious about Hinoe's sister, then he needs to get his shit together.
If you're weak, you can't protect anything. No matter how much you love them, it means nothing without power.
Well, whatever happens to Shinozaki Ayumi isn't my business. I just don't want Hinoe to be hurt. If something happens to Ayumi, Hinoe will be sad. I don't want to see her cry.
I close my eyes, and then look up to my side. Hinoe walks by me, looking at the sun with a small smile. The smile she always has. The smile she gave me when I first met her. The first smile I could trust in a long time.
Hinoe saved me from hell.
That cold, silent place I got sent to after my parents killed themselves and I lit up that reporter's jacket.
The padded room they locked me up in after I tried to cleanse the other brats. Solitary confinement for a being they couldn't control.
The place where I believed in nobody; locked up, bound in a straight jacket, and forgotten.
In that place, this one woman smiled at me, and told me it would be alright.
This world is full of shit. Evil creeps along every street, and hides at every corner.
But, this person is worth saving. The one person who believed in me.
Hinoe suddenly stops.
"What's wrong, Hinoe?"
She ignores me, and looks up at the sky instead.
"Are you sure?" She asks the sky.
"Hey, who're you talking to?"
She doesn't answer me. She is no longer smiling.
"I understand." She nods.
"Hey. Hinoe. Who are you-"
A hug. A warm embrace. Kneeling down, she wraps me in her arms, and pulls me to her chest.
An apology. Sudden. Abrupt. But… familiar.
She apologizes again, and a chill goes through me.
Where have I heard those words? When did I hear those words?
Something warms splashes onto my shoulder. Tears. Her tears. I hear a sniffle from beside my ear.
"… don't apologize… don't say you're sorry…"
Where have I said this before? When did I say this before?
"I'm sorry." Another tear hits my shoulder.
I'm repeating something. The exact same words.
I hug her back. Something is happening again, and I don't want it to happen.
Ah. I know what these words are.
They were some of the last I shared with Hinoe.
But… Then… What…
"I'm sorry, Misuto."
She pulls back.
Tears run down her cheeks. Her nose is running a little bit.
This is the second time I've seen this face, even though there shouldn't have been a first.
"I'm sorry I couldn't save you."
I don't understand. I don't understand. I don't understand.
"I'm sorry, Misuto."
She pushes me away and stands up. I look up at her, and see the rest of the world falling apart behind her.
Buildings fracture and crumble upwards into blackness. A void shatters the world like glass, and blows away the fragments. Even though that should excite me, I don't feel anything. Watching the unfair world; the society that killed my parents and sealed me away, break doesn't make me happy.
From above and below, from left and right, the world disappears.
"I'm sorry Misuto..." Hinoe whispers as the last of the scenery goes away.
"… but it's time to wake up."