YOU'VE NEVER BEEN
ANYONE'S TO K E E P.
not even your parents could keep you in line, sometimes. generally a wild-child by nature...but what would they really know, anyway? they're gone so often it almost seems like they're never even there at all. but you are grateful to them because, without granny, without your mom and dad, you'd be nowhere. and nowhere is not a place you want to be. you know that feeling, though, of being nowhere.
its why you'd sit on the beach, for hours on end, staring at the waves as they crashed along a sandy shore. why the birds overhead were nothing but white noise in your ears, seagulls baying over the methodical ebb and flow of the water. you could always hear people arguing in your head when you were younger and you didn't understand their voices, didn't know who they were. it kept you from interacting with people so often when you were a child; its hard to talk to others when you've got a voice in your head. so you sat at the beach, alone, with all those thoughts you wanted to contain.
so you know what its like to be nowhere; you've been there before.
and its because of that you cry in the park, alone. with granny working so hard as a nurse to feed you and keep you clothed, educated, happy, and your parents being 'free spirits'...you were alone. you do so hate being alone. when you're alone, you're lonely, and you're left with the voices that bicker like children over things you don't understand. garbled words that sound like radio static inside your head and drive you crazy from the inside out.
( IT'S ALL USELESS. )
but in being alone you meet koujaku and he was your hero. HUMANS WANT TO LEAVE
he's still your hero.
P R O O F OF THEIR EXISTENCE.
you've been asked before: why do humans live the way they do if they're only bound to die? the answer seems simple to you in that moment. it is because, as a whole, humans want to leave proof of their existence in the world. was that what you wanted to do? would you leave any kind of reminder that you were once here and you were once alive? fired from job after job, maybe that's your legacy. at least, until you find work at haibon and things seem to click into place.
you've made your mistakes and, in those mistakes, you've left your mark.
but you don't remember these mistakes and you've no idea the life you've been put on this planet to lead. there's no recollection of sei, of the life you shared, what you were born into; designer babies, indeed. and you've no idea that, inside you, you carry the power of SCRAP. it is in that power that you'll leave your mark, destruction in your wake. you can't remember the shitty things you've done, nothing before your stint in the hospital; only the pain and headaches that came after and virus and trip, being the dedicated friends that they were.
and who is 'sly blue'? you've never heard the name before, not until its spoken to you from across a rhyme playing field. the figure in the rabbit costume lets it drip from their tongue and it feels like venom on your skin. you've never played this game before, never wanted to. you've no recollection of what happens next, its like one white hot blur past the pain in your head.
your friends, so concerned as they were for your well-being when you were younger, say you've never played rhyme a day in your life. and life continues on. you work at haibon until going home...to find that stranger in the rabbit costume that challenged you to the rhyme battle.
( AAAAOBA. )
in your room you meet noiz, and he flusters you. WE'RE RUNNING AROUND
he still flusters you.
WITH W O L V E S.
you've never thought you were a bad person. you were a wild child, that much you knew and you understand that you've made bad choices. your headaches are proof of that, of the injuries you suffered but can't really remember. in some, self-detrimental way, you feel like you deserve them. as you hug ren to you, you think about the day you found him, and how much he's changed your life; how much he's done his job and helped you.
allmates are one of the best things in this world.
perfect happiness, what a joke. perfect happiness is only something that those in platinum jail can achieve and like toue would ever let anyone from the old residential districts in there. a place that overshadows everything below it, casts deep darkness on the buildings underneath. that stupid wall. you've heard that the island was rich and green once, but then toue moved in his big corporation and erected platinum jail--the name, to you, is funny, and ironic. stress-free, he boasts. what a joke.
when its time for bed you hear a song high above your head. on your veranda you meet that weird, white-haired kid in the gas-mask that saved you last time. he's singing 'the jellyfish song', something he made up himself, and his voice is lovely. its strangely comforting, after all you've been through. and how dumb you are, here's this stranger, singing on your roof, and you invite him to do it more.
but you don't really understand why he calls you 'master'.
on mizuki's behalf, you venture out to try and find what's happened to his gang. your search is put to a stop, not by virus and trip's appearance, which you find strange in itself--how are they always around?--but by noiz's. he's an infuriating little brat, to be sure. (you can still feel the brush of noiz's lips at your own and you hate it.) what is everyone's preoccupation with rhyme? you ask yourself. or rather, what is noiz's? as always, stepping in as your great protector, is koujaku at your side. the last time these two fought, granny chastised you all. this time, when they fight, you don't do much at all for a while.
you find a strange duality in them. noiz, who represents all those that play rhyme. and koujaku, like all the ribsters; so against that 'fantasy' world. you are neither here, nor there. their fighting is...amusing, in many ways. until things actually get physical, then its not funny anymore, and its serious. what children, honestly.
( ARE YOU AWAKE? )
noiz and koujaku, these idiots you could learn to like. UNDERNEATH IT ALL
you could learn to love.
WE'RE JUST SAVAGES.
you're not sure what to think of mink. he's left a nasty taste in your mouth, both by knocking you out and kidnapping you. idly, you wonder what everyone's fascination with you is; its never been this bad before. you've always seemed to entrance people with your voice--they want to meet you and they don't even know you, they become desperate and needy for it. you suffer bruises at the hand of mink's men, but it doesn't break you. mink tells you about your special "voice", tells you that he'll help you find your kidnapped granny.
you have no reason to trust him but, maybe stupidly, you do anyway.
pulling yourself into someone's consciousness for the first time is frightening. you're not sure what's happening, but mizuki in the real world is crazed, he's upset, and in emotional distress, you follow him into his mind. there, you meet the real mizuki, who explains to you that he's afraid. honestly, you don't blame him. there's so much to be afraid of. joining morphine to be a double-agent, to save dry juice, he has been double-crossed and his members turned into mindless puppets. your heart aches for him, it does. that's nothing new with you. but there's a tick in the back of your head, a sort of switch that starts with the sting of a headache, and suddenly, you're gone entirely. back to that nothingness you've come to hate.
you don't remember what happens next, just like every other time before. so you've no idea that you've met toue on the rhyme field, that he's encouraged you to 'find your true self' and embrace it. you hate the lingering through in your head. destroy. what does it mean? everything is confusing and you feel strange, but its something you keep to yourself; you're glad mizuki and dry juice are alright (though currently comatose), but it all feels wrong. everything is just wrong. why is this happening?
( YOU HAD A NICE REST. )
when granny tells you about SCRAP, it makes your insides burn. I WANNA SEE YOU
they're still burning.
BE B R A V E.
the power to enter people's consciousnesses. granny helped develop you. she's been your mother all along, hasn't she? and it hurts, everything hurts. you are filled with a strange sense of determination, however, to right the wrongs that have been done. but, who are you, really? what is the meaning of your own existence? you were created...for what? as a tool? there has to be an end to this, you have to be able to fix this. so you head to platinum jail, accepting the invitation you've received.
what a stupid decision.
koujaku finds you there, reprimands you for going on your own. he has some nerve, but the concern settles heavy in your heart. he's always been that way, even if you didn't always hang out as children. you've known him since you were little, he's been there for you for so long. your great protector, self-imposed of course, because you've never asked. there's things about him that rub you the wrong way; that lady-killer attitude of his. that sly smile, the way he carries himself. it seems so fake to you, but even still, he's always been there when you needed him. it feels...good to have him there.
the club you enter is entrancing. its something strange that rushes through you and puts you into a daze. koujaku sees someone he must know, rushes off, and you can't catch him before you're passing out. you wake up in the room of the very same man koujaku had been chasing down. you meet ryuuho and he says he knows you're different. whatever that means, in the long run. and he wants to tattoo you, to watch the flowers bloom on your skin, and you have no idea what he means. not until koujaku finds you, intervenes, stops whatever torment this artist may have in store for you.
you hate to admit how relieved you are to see him.
you never thought you'd live to see the day where koujaku loses himself in his anger. it astonishes you, to know that he killed his own mother, and he's made mistakes, but he's human just like anyone else. before you can stop it, his tattoos (that you've never seen before), flare up to life and spread, and he seems to lose any semblance of the koujaku you knew. you can't let him do this to himself. whatever his issues may be, you have to fix it. you owe him that much. using SCRAP, you enter his consciousness and learn the truth. your heart aches.
its not his fault. its really not. you can see it and it seems like only koujaku can't. it wasn't his fault he was the child of a yakuza member, its not his fault his father demanded his back be tattooed, and its not his fault that the pain and agony from this treatment brought him to his wits end. it was a mistake, and no, he can't take it back, but he can let go of it. what hits you hardest, most painfully, is that he wanted to kill himself after all was said and done. and he didn't...because of you. because he wanted to see you again. it stings. it wells so heavy and hot in your stomach, your chest, your head even, that it nearly brings you to tears--he saved himself for you. you were that important to him.
for you, he absolves himself of his guilt. he lets it go, he doesn't let it get to him. you know he's stronger than all this and you tell him as such. he has to be brave for this, he has to accept the mistakes he's made and move on. he could do it for you, couldn't he? with your power, you destroy that part of him that still clings to the horror of his past, and its like he's set free. is this what your SCRAP is best for? it has to be. maybe you're built to help, not hinder.
( YOU'VE STRUCK LUCKY. )
koujaku is important to you. YOU'RE HUMAN
you love him.
AFTER A L L.
funny, how you can go from drama like you found in the club in platinum jail, to calmly looking for ren amongst the shadows of your lodging. you've always been that way. fluctuating between one extreme and another. when you find your beloved allmate, its in noiz's arms, and he's...messing with him. ren is the one thing that no one can ever take from you, the best thing in your life right now, and anger flares up in you. but then again, you've always had that temper, haven't you? you grab ren from him, wrenching your all mate from his hands and the tools he's working with and, in the process, he gets hurt.
from sixty to zero in half a second, you feel guilty.
he's an annoying kid with so little boundaries and as his senior, isn't your job to help him? you're not really a good role-model for anyone, though. you bandage him up, ask him if it hurts, and he just stares at you with that blank expression as always, says 'no'. he's so strange to you, you don't think you'll ever really figure him out. maybe you don't want to. maybe its more fun this way? whatever the reason, he's gotten an invitation here and you find this out right as another download of that strange game 'silent oath' pings into your coil. (you downloaded it by accident, a game that comes in multiple parts. it seems to be leading you somewhere, you feel.)
it makes you feel even more guilty to know that he was helping you after all; removing a worm from ren's system. you apologize to him the next morning, he brushes you off. it makes you feel worse. he claims he did it because it was a whim, that maybe the only reason you beat him in that rhyme game was because of ren. he asks you why you're so nice. suspects you're in it because of ulterior motives. it hurts, you don't admit it right then, mostly because noiz heads off to get something to eat, leaving you gaping at the absolutely passive way he goes about everything. you just want to know if you're important to him; in even the tiniest way, but you'll never get that.
you follow and you are ambushed. again. morphine, again, and this time, things get too personal for you. noiz chases after a masked man and you follow suit, but he's...well, you're not sure what's wrong with him; you suspect he's being brainwashed. for the third time in a few days, you enter someone's mind with SCRAP. its good, you tell yourself, its going to help. it has to help, it helped koujaku, didn't it?
what you learn hurts you in the same way learning of koujaku's past hurt you.
its not fair, honestly, its not. koujaku, noiz, they're good people, you know they are. you've done so many shitty things and, yet, you're relatively unharmed, aren't you? you grew up with granny, you've fucked up, sure, but things weren't so bad for you. and here is noiz, regarded as a burden by his parents because he just couldn't feel properly. and worst of all, he couldn't feel pain; it sounded like something to be thankful for rather than upset. what parent would want their child to hurt? the real noiz explains it to you, goes on about how he was locked up, grew up alone and hurt.
you do what any friend would; you promise you'll always be there for him. you can teach him about the things he doesn't understand, teach him how to feel pain, if he really wants to, you'll have the rhyme battle he wants. you don't say it because you should, you say it because you want it. he's annoying, he's a hassle, sure, but he's human, and he deserves this from you. and just like koujaku, you destroy that part of him that holds him back, and when you're brought back, he can feel that pain he's always wanted to feel. maybe you are important to him, after all.
( WE JUST LIKE FUN,
AMUSING THINGS. )
noiz is important to you. ARE WE O U T OF
you love him.
THE WOODS YET.
everything that happens next seems like such a blur and flurry of colors and sounds. you've found your place in the world, of this you're sure. you're attacked by morphine members on your way back with noiz and clear shows up to save you both. you like clear, as strange as he is, and you must be important enough to him that he wants to continuously help you out. when someone tries to attack you, clear breaks them to pieces. it takes everything in you to stop clear from fully ruining him. it was a mistake, you should have let clear kill him. the gang member throws acid on clear and guilt floods you.
its your fault that clear is injured. can't you do anything right? any progress you've made is suddenly dwindling. at the very least, this mask is only that, and back at your lodging, clear removes his mask. to hear that his grandfather told him to never show his face because it wasn't 'normal'. its absurd and you could never hate him, no matter what. its never mattered what someone looked like, its always mattered whats inside. besides, he's nothing but perfectly normal. lovely, even. later, when he's cooking dinner, and you're watching tv, toue shows up, music plays, and your head feels as though it'll explode.
dye music, used to brainwash people. that's what he's going to do at the anniversary. he's going to brainwash people; it rushes so effortlessly, you feel ashamed for not realizing it before.
heading out to see oval tower, you're ambushed again, but its clear they're after. they look just like him and he's supposedly a failure. you honestly don't understand what goes on, it makes little sense to you, but clear is unable to attack them. a failsafe, maybe. they have to run and its then you learn why he calls you master. your voice sounds like toue's. it makes you sick. you're not like him. you're not. the alphas follow you, they mock clear and his desire to be human. is that such a terrible thing? clear feels very human to you. you are horrified when he stabs himself to, supposedly, remove whatever it was that kept him from fighting his brothers. you try to use SCRAP on him, but you pull back quickly, and you let clear use that same song he sang to you to soothe you to kill the alphas.
bile rises to your throat as he collapses into you, says your name, and goes offline.
thank god for noiz. he performs emergency procedures on clear to bring him back online while you worry so desperately for your friend. but even noiz can't fix him. the first real tragedy is the loss of clear and it is dwarfed only by the fact that so many people are going to be hurt when toue uses the anniversary even to brainwash people. clear would want you to miss him, you know, and you will. you'll mourn him properly when you've stopped a madman from destroying the world. you have no choice but to tell them about your SCRAP ability, and it feels disgusting to you, to finally say it.
you're a freak, that's what you are. you're a test tube baby with an ability too powerful for this world. and you should not exist. you've thought that before, though, haven't you? you can't let them get involved; this is your fight. you and SCRAP, you're going to have to put an end to this yourself. mink gives you the opportunity. so, with a plan and a way in, you break into oval tower with mink. you put ren in danger by using something to disable the security allmates, though ren has assured you he'll be fine. you don't really believe him.
when cornered, you resort to desperate measures. mink knows about that other half of you, the one that's been growing stronger ever since helping noiz. you hate it. its not you, is it? it can't be the real you. who is the real you? are you aoba? or are you sly blue? is there anyone out there that knows the truth? that sadistic cop finds you and mink, forces you two to take cover, and mink tries to hand you a gun. you refuse it. and he hurts you over and over until that other side of you takes over; you order your pursuers away. just like that, and they're gone. with this opportunity, you enter mink's subconscious.
just like the others, he has suffered. and just like them, you swear you'll help. he plans to kill himself after killing toue and it hurts. you agree, toue needs to have his judgment day, but not at mink's expense. you'll get toue, you know that you will, but killing himself won't bring back those he's lost. so you urge him to live. you are rejected by his consciousness and so it is up to you, the real you, to tell him he needs to live. he needs to live so he can see the good that he'll surely bring.
( SO WE THOUGHT WE MIGHT
AS WELL HAVE YOU. )
he has a lot to live for. YOU'LL NEVER BE
so do you.
A N Y O N E ' S.
he says you carry the scent of death. maybe that's for the best. will this all be your undoing? if it is...you can't say you'd complain. a young life, but a full one, and in the past few days you've done more good than you have in its entirety. your SCRAP power was meant for worse purposes, you can see that now, but it is what you've made of it and, with it, you've helped. you are a good person.
but sometimes, you don't feel like a good person.
there's something wrong with ren and you want to fix him, but you don't know how. maybe you can find the right parts to do that. you're separated from mink, outrunning guards, and you come face to face with a hologram of someone you've only heard about. sei. he's happy to finally meet you; you're not so sure you feel the same. you don't really understand what's going on, but that's really nothing new, is it? he admits that he was the one to send you 'silent oath'; your predictions were correct. it was meant to lead you, to help you find him. the invitation to come to platinum jail came from him as well. you're not really surprised. but, when he tells you he wants to you break him, you are. why? why any of this?
you don't get the chance to really find out.
morphine finds you, gets you back in their clutches, and everything goes downhill from there. for years you've thought nothing of virus and trip, you've believed them to be your friends. strange fans of yours, all the same, but that's never hurt anyone before. its a decidedly different vibe they give off now. maybe it should have surprised you, to learn that they are morphine. maybe it does, in some small way. they tricked you. were they ever your friends? it sounds hollow when they say they're still your fans.
all the good you'd done felt like it came crashing at your feet, learning that you used your SCRAP to destroy someone. one thing done with cruel intentions can so easily erase all the good that came after it. you used to fight in rhyme, that's where they found you first. your memories have never been your own to keep, but they certainly weren't theirs to take. they made you forget. they altered your memories because they wanted you to forget. their little secret. the thought of it disgusts you. as you sit there, racing through the knowledge they impart on you, fear overcomes. whatever strange pull you felt to sei when you saw his hologram burns, to know that he's your twin brother. both of you, designer babies. now that you finally know, you wished you didn't. does it change anything? does knowing your true history change anything? in that moment, it feels like it does.
its one punch, two, three, four, and they don't stop. like cartoon villains giving you the full expose, they make their minions deal with you. their voices reach your ears, and you hate the way they sound. they're insane. don't look away now! and its all you can do to keep yourself awake. trip's punch hurts worse than the others and he does not hold himself back. maybe it hurts more because you trusted them. how fucking stupid of you. you don't even remember how many times you've felt a kick to the back, a punch to the stomach, and your world is filling with black. you've never been one to give up a fight, but after all you've been through, it seems like the only thing you want to do. after a while, you don't struggle anymore. what good is it going to do?
the room you're in is so post-modern black and white chic it makes you sick. there's renewed energy there, if only a little, and you try and struggle your way free. people need you. (are you awake?) fingers on your cheek, a sweet voice to your left, and it makes you sick to your stomach. (looks like you've had a nice rest, aoba.) nausea. pure nausea. (you've struck lucky.) you don't know what they're saying as the burning warmth in your gut twists. it feels like broken ribs, it feels like torn open lungs, you can't catch your breath, you can't feel your fingers. (we just like fun, amusing things.) you're not a fun amusing thing. you're a person, you are no toy, you are alive. what do they mean? (we thought we might as well have you.) keep you. you're not a pet. they can't keep you, you won't let them.
when you come to again its not in their bed, its not with them by your side, its in the central hub of an area you don't recognize, some hovering over you, asking if you're alright. you don't even know. rather than be met with terror, you're met with confusion. you're met with a new world. open and free and terrifying. terminus is where you are, it feels a bit like home. but will it ever feel like home? the place where you have the people that love you most? the only solace is that trip and virus aren't here. and, if they are? they haven't found you yet. you'll keep it that way.
WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH, AOBA.
WE'LL TREASURE YOU FOR A
L I F E T I M E.
you hear their voices in your nightmares and they always say the same thing: we love you, we love you, we love you.
you don't believe them.