Chapter 17: One Step at a Time
As he sat in the front of the car that morning and stared out the window, Yukiteru's mind went back to the short meeting he'd had earlier.
It was 7:00 in the morning when Minerva had roused the two of them – him first, and then Yuno - from their sleep, telling them to go downstairs, finish breakfast quickly and then take a bath. When he asked, she'd reminded him that that detective from yesterday - Kurusu, if he recalled correctly - had requested a meeting with the both of them. "Though of course I'll be coming along," Minerva had added. "I told him it was non-negotiable. I wouldn't be much use as one of your guardians otherwise, now would I?"
And when Yukiteru pointed out that the meeting time hadn't been specified, his sister merely told him that the morning was the only time they could drop by the Police Department, given that they were all going on a family outing right afterward. According to Minerva, they'd called in the bomb squad to conduct a thorough search at Sakurami High School, the better to find Uryuu's bombs and then dispose of them as necessary.
"You kids won't be having classes for a while, right?" she'd asked them, right before leaving the house. "In that case, why don't we all go to the amusement park? My treat."
Thinking back, he thought the meeting itself was fairly uneventful. For the most part, the detective just repeated what he'd told them yesterday and then elaborated on it further. According to him, the idea was to find out exactly who else owned Future Diaries, then persuade them to stand down for the time being while they worked on tracking down that woman who'd explained the details of the Survival Game - who, in Kurusu's opinion, was most likely responsible for starting it as well.
"Like I said yesterday, I'd like to put a stop to this stupid Game before things go to hell. To do that, I'll need your help to figure out who the other Diary keepers are. We can call ourselves the Future Diary Alliance, or something like that."
As they'd yet to figure out the identities of the other Diary keepers - barring present company, of course – that was to be their first step. One by one, they'd try to ascertain the motives and intentions of the other keepers, and strike deals with those who were willing to listen. Hopefully that'll be most of them.
"And as for the rest," Kurusu went on, "We'll just have to neutralize them somehow. I'd like to avoid the rough stuff if possible, but..."
We'll cross that bridge when we get there, right? One step at a time.
Yukiteru glanced at the back. Yuno was with him on this outing, of course, as was that kid Rei – Lorenzo and his girlfriend had requested they take him along, and indeed, he and Minerva had been accompanied by Itachi in the Police Department's cafeteria while Yukiteru and Yuno were meeting with the chief. Seeing that the two were sleeping peacefully, he himself shut his eyes and rested his head against the window.
For now, why don't I just take this chance to relax?
Later that day, at the foodcourt...
"So, Rei, where to next?" Yuno asked the child seated right across her. "Me and Yukki picked the first few rides, so it's your turn!"
For her part, Yuno couldn't help but notice how quickly the morning seemed to sail right by. When they got here, she insisted that the very first attraction they tried out would be the roller coaster. Then they went to that horror house, and then that other roller coaster she could've sworn was trying to ape Space Mountain in Disneyland.
For that matter, as Yukiteru looked back at their morning activities, there was one thing he noticed. Come to think of it, she was clinging on me during all those rides...
"Rei-chan?" Yuno prompted again after several seconds. "Where d'you wanna go? Wait a minute," she added suddenly, "What are you staring at, anyway?"
That got Yukiteru's attention, she noticed. From what she could see, Rei had apparently been staring at Minerva, who at the moment was lined up at one of the food stalls, buying their lunch. And though he'd look at her whenever she called his attention, it didn't take long for him to space out again. If she didn't know better-
"Well, isn't this adorable?" Yukiteru cut in with a cheeky grin on his face. "Is it just me, or does someone have a crush?"
The younger boy didn't answer, though the way his whole face shone bright red told both teens all they needed to know; looking at him, Yukiteru in particular wondered if this was how he himself looked whenever his sisters were going on about Yuno. "But seriously, d'you have a thing for scary girls? Doesn't Minerva doesn't scare you, Rei? I mean, I'm her little brother and sometimes she still scares the hell out of me-"
"Language," said another voice admonishingly as Yukiteru felt a light smack on the top of his head. "Behave yourself, Yuki-kun, or you'll be sitting the next few rides out. Is that what you want?"
And as Yuno looked up to see Minerva – big sis! – holding a tray full of food, she found it all but impossible to hold in her laughter.
Someday, we'll go back here, Yukki. Just the two of us.
They got back to enjoying the attractions that afternoon, approximately an hour after they'd all finished their lunch. As Yuno had promised, they let Rei choose where to go this time around.
Though from what Yukiteru could see, it was clear that his preferences didn't exactly match up with hers.
It wasn't that surprising, he supposed; as a small child, Rei's preferences when it came to attractions at the amusement park would probably have been more in line with what kids his age were normally into. After lunch, they went to the bumper cars, during which time Rei seemed to go out of his way to single out both him and Yuno by bumping into them repeatedly. Following that was merry-go-round, which was probably one of the most uneventful and unexciting rides ever. In fact, Minerva seemed to have noticed Yuno's lack of interest right afterwards, as she suggested that the four of them split up.
"Have fun with your date, Yuno! I'll be sure to have fun with mine," she laughed, ignoring the clearly flustered look on the face of her 'date'. "Let's go then, shall we, Rei dear?"
Admittedly, thought Yukiteru, it was right after they split that their day got more interesting – for better or worse. The first thing they did was go to the arcade where Yuno beat him in three straight rounds of one of the older editions of Dance Dance Revolution, before dragging him straight to the crane games where she won no less than three plush dolls for her troubles. From what he saw, she'd managed to get what looked like a chubby white rabbit with a small, red gem on its forehead, plus a pink puff ball creature and then a certain yellow mouse with a lightning-shaped tail. I didn't even know she was into that sort of thing.
Then they went to a singing contest at the music hall, where Yuno joined in and placed third (which he personally thought was a travesty, considering how awful the first and second placers sounded in comparison), receiving two large boxes of chocolates for her prize. After that came the water slide, which stood out particularly vividly on Yukiteru's end thanks to a certain view that later had him like a deer in the headlights when he showered afterward. And by headlights, I mean...
If nothing else, I guess I'll be sleeping well tonight.
Seriously, though... Ginormous...
They opted for milkshakes at a nearby coffee shop after their turn on the water slide when it was all said and done, at which point the digital clock on Yukiteru's phone read 17:00. From what he recalled from his sister's instructions, they still had enough time one last attraction. After that, it would be time for them to meet Rei and Minerva back at the foodcourt for dinner, before going home for the day. All that was left was for them to decide which one.
"Hey, Yukki?" Yuno said in between sips of her drink, "What do you say we go for the planetarium?"
"The planetarium?" he repeated as he looked up from his phone, momentarily diverting his eyes from the playlist he was in the middle of rearranging. "How come...?"
"From what your sisters told me, you must like the stars a lot? They even said you got this fancy telescope stashed in your closet-"
"No thanks," Yukiteru's refusal cut her off. Then, seeing the puzzled look on her face, he decided to explain further. "It's like you said, Yuno, I've got a fancy telescope in the closet. Why on earth would we go to the planetarium when we could get a perfectly good view at home?"
"...Oh," Yuno trailed off, the look on her face one of clear disappointment. A few seconds later, however, she perked up again. "Okay then! In that case, why don't we...?"
"Yukki, c'mon, look!" Yuno gushed, awestruck, as she looked out the window of their cabin on the Ferris wheel. "This is awesome! I mean, we can see the whole of Sakurami from here!"
Yukiteru said nothing as he fiddled with the songs on his mobile phone, though he heard her through his earphones and smiled back all the same. In truth, his mind was set solely on uncovering the other Diary keepers – and more importantly, repaying John Bacchus for the last stunt he pulled, not to mention what he did during that fateful night. It wasn't just Piero or Yuno's parents, either. He killed a whole mess of people back there, too...
Even as a small part of him told him otherwise, he held hope that they'd be able to get at least half of the other Diary owners to hear them out. After all, regardless of the insanity they'd all been forced into against their will, he was sure that most of them didn't actually want to kill anyone. And though he'd since learned about the world not being split into good people and Templars, he wanted to believe that ideal about people generally having good intentions-
"Hey, Yukki?" Yuno asked suddenly, the smile on her face having been replaced with a look of worry. "Are you alright?"
"Hm? Of course I am! Why d'you ask?"
"You sure?" she questioned, unconvinced; clearly, she'd caught him brooding just now. "You don't look alright to me, Yukki..."
"What do you mean?"
"How come you passed on the planetarium earlier?" she persisted further. "Was it really just because of the telescope, or was there something else?"
At that point, Yukiteru decided to open up to her just a little. He explained how it was Piero who'd given him that telescope as a gift for his birthday, and how the two of them would go stargazing together with his adoptive sisters from time to time when he was younger. "It just wouldn't feel right without my uncle around," he finished, looking down at the cabin floor. "Especially considering I could've saved him that night. Him and your parents."
At the explanation, Yuno was at a loss for words.
"What about you, Yuno?" he asked in turn with a tired, yet hopeful smile on his face."Care to open up too?"
Still she said nothing. After a few moments, though, she leaned forward just a little to plant a kiss on his forehead, before slowly reverting to her previous position.
"Maybe next time," she answered, smiling, as she gazed warmly back at him.
It was at that moment, too, that Yukiteru zoned out, taking in the chorus of the song playing through his earphones:
You were just a dream that I once knew,I never thought I would be right for you...I just can't compare you withAnything in this world,You're all I need to be with, forevermore...
By the time they were on their way home, they were understandably tired; Rei in particular was asleep at the back of the car, his head resting on Yuno's lap. At the same time, they'd definitely enjoyed their day, and they had quite a few keepsakes to show for it as well. And as Minerva was driving, she and Yuno were chatting animatedly about anything and everything they could think of, while Yukiteru instead opted to lose himself in his music while trying to doze off.
And when they reached Yuno's house, she patted the sleeping child on the head as she got off the car and gave Minerva a goodbye hug. She then went to Yukiteru and left him a kiss on the cheek, before going back to the other woman and making a request of sorts:
"Oh yeah, Minerva, could Yukki come down for a bit? I was hoping he could help me carry those guys to my room," she explained, jerking her heard towards the trunk where they'd kept the plush dolls she'd won.
"Sure thing, Yuno. Just try not to take too long if possible."
The rose-haired girl wasted no time taking Yukiteru by the hand and leading him into the house. They went through the dimly lit hallway and up the stairs to her bedroom, where the two spent a short time arranging the dolls to her liking. And after the two of them said goodbye after finishing up, he made his way back down the stairs and through the hallway until he reached a certain door-
Hm. Wait, what's this?
Yukiteru opened it...
What the hell is this room...!?
Just then, he heard a very familiar voice beside him.
"Everything was perfect, Yukki..."
Sure enough, she was there when he turned. When he looked at her, though, what he saw wasn't the cheerful and happy Yuno that he'd gotten used to. Right now she was evidently distressed; not only could he see that her entire body was trembling and that her hands balled into fists, he also saw the tears that flowed steadily down her cheeks from her wide, golden eyes-
"Why did you...?"
And as soon as he heard those words, Yukiteru Amano was blinded by flash of brilliant white light.
I see... That's how it is...
The robed figure was outside the house as she sensed what was currently going on inside: distress and sorrow, and in ample measures no less. Clearly something had happened to arouse both of their emotions, and she had a funny feeling she knew what that something was.
Hard times are coming, for both of you. But worry not, my dear...
I will guide you...
Into the gray, if it comes to that...
A/N: For those of you who'd like to listen to the song featured here, kindly go to www . youtube watch ? v=1ZLd8gXJJRg