Hi everyone! Sorry for the MASSIVE delay the past months have been CRAZY where I am. Sorry, I really couldn't bring this out as soon as I hoped. I was also pretty busy with my other fanfic on ao3 (shameless plug: again, it's an undertale fanfic called Monstertale by VanillaHoneyMarchMallow. If you're into undertale, I guess you can check it out! Hehe), so I had to put this aside while I wasn't too inspired. Even if it's a summarized version, I didn't want to complete it carelessly.
Anyway, this is it friends the official end! Although I have a little bonus thing coming up which you'll learn more about at the end of this, I do hope you somehow enjoy this despite it all! I'm always thankful for all of you who have read and stuck around this long. It's been a heckuva ride and I'm grateful to each and every one who left a fave, follow, and review! It makes the heart of the writer soar. And to my silent readers, thank you too! I sincerely hope I do something of worth to your days!
Alright, let's get a move on! Advanced Merry Christmas hehe
Chiba spent most of his night shopping for Christmas presents, until he came upon an unlikely pair – lo and behold, there was Nakamura with the girl most of his presents were for.
They were together inside a clothes shop, with Rinka being the one to coerce Rio into different styles that might as well make her look as smart on the outside as she surprisingly is on the inside, he overheard. He thought it was strange, to see such a familiar sight, but with the blonde on the receiving end of such teases – her smile lopsided, trying to feign coolness despite looking ready to punch her. Rinka appeared ignorant, but he knew – in her eyes were the most immature middle school taunts of 'what are you gonna do about it?' How charming.
They noticed him before he could say hello. When she got to turn, Chiba finally got to see how...free Rio had become. Of all the burdens that eclipsed her glowing character. He could see the spot of sunshine in her now.
When Rinka went to his side, exchanging more sassy quips and side comments with the blonde, she was the one who said they should be parting ways. Rio agreed and told them she had a lot of errands to run anyway. Chiba had to ask,
"Cramming your Christmas shopping?"
"Hah. So even you see right through everyone, don't you?" Rio crossed her arms, turning her head with a 'hmph!' "You two are just the same."
She opened her eyes, glanced at them from the side, saying gently, "I'll be sure to give them to you by the first day of school. In the clubroom."
She turned her heel and made her way, waving away as she yelled, "Absence means penalty roll for all of you!"
With that, and a tiny skip in her step, she was gone where the Christmas lights were brightest. Rinka couldn't help her smile – how very fitting for this fairytale-like creature.
"I take it the sensible talking-to went extra well," Chiba said as they were making their way.
Rinka shrugged. "I just said what needed to be said and what was on my mind. It took nothing at all for me. It's all her." She smiled. "Icarus may yet fly high enough not to melt this time."
"I see." Chiba stared at the Christmas decors lined on every building and every lamppost, and a bright Christmas tree from far away, in the center of their town that was so high it reached the heavens. The stars were as joyous as the crowds that were ever moving and the warm light from each building. Japan didn't celebrate Christmas like other countries did, but the feeling he had right now made him think this must be what the people of those countries feel during this time. Like miracles could happen. And one might have just did.
He smiled. "By the way,"
"I love you."
"HAH?!" Rinka felt like she'd been thrown into a kettle and it was her screech it sounded with. That came out of nowhere.
Stock-still where she was when he said that, Chiba had gone ahead of her. "H-hey! Don't shock me like that!"
"Just saying." He shrugged and kept walking.
Oh the nerve. "Tch. Imbecile."
She jogged to catch up, and hit him on the arm once she did. Though he hissed and rubbed his injury, she continued to say,
"I already knew that."
Months may have passed, but he still knew this well – that he was an absolute failure.
So much for 'I want to protect that smile.' So much for 'I trust Karma-kun.' So much for anything and everything he ever vowed to himself he'd do for her. So much for all they shared because he could never give her the same as what she could give him.
There's no way he could forgive himself for being so stupid about the whole thing. His feelings got in the way of acting in the most sound and logical way possible. He was always regarded as the greatest in making the smartest decisions. Detaching himself to be the most sane man in the room but why couldn't he do it for her? It was his inability to bring her pain that gave her more pain.
Isura-senpai was spot on. He did find it. His most precious thing. And he wanted her to smile and be the cause of it if he could, but he was clueless as a toddler on how to deal with a Manami that couldn't see him beyond her darkness. He just wasn't enough. She might have said he was precious too, but who are they fooling when in front of the facts?
That's why he no longer wants anything to do with her. He never wants to feel this way again, or end up being the cause of her pain instead of the opposite – because the longer he's with her, he's sure now, it will be him who will cause her pain next.
Manami had been running in circles for five minutes. Out of breath, puffs of white air coming in a rapid rhythm, her eyes did not stop their desperate search. No snow shall dare fog her glasses enough to stop them. But she would continue to go nowhere if she kept going this way.
What if...what if he really meant what he said though?
That he didn't want to have anything to do with her? Did he feel more free without her? There were too many things she just didn't understand. She never did understand how to read between the lines. Seemed that hasn't changed and maybe it never will. But she had her questions, and would not stop without answers, but how shall she get them?
Her feet skidded to a halt. The corner of her eyes caught the tall bright Christmas tree at the center of town.
Next to it, there was a hill, with a bench at its highest peak for couples to view it. It was empty at the moment.
Manami's eyes widened.
To get answers, one must be willing to experiment and the answer will arrive for you.
She swallowed, and had no idea what she was really thinking, but she ran.
She ran and ran, until she made it up those stairs, the only one treading up amid all the couples going down. The stares did nothing to slow her down, nobody's opinions will be enough to stop her, because there's only one that matters.
Manami's hands tightly held onto the railings when she finally made it to the top. He lungs were heaving, her chest burning and tight, and even under the snow she was sweating. But no, she can't waste another minute. Can't let him go any farther.
She took one deep breath, her whole body even curling back with it to take in all the cold air, she screamed,
Even as the crowds went still, even with all the eyes on her, even with the music seeming to drown amid her voice, she kept screaming his name. She screamed louder than she had the night before the cultural festival. Louder than what she felt her lungs could give. Louder than anyone who knew her would have been capable of thinking as possible. Because Okuda Manami was never one to stick out. Never one to make a mess and never one to make trouble. But she had to keep her resolve and remember – that Okuda Manami is dead. Right now, she felt more alive. She didn't care if this broke her voice for weeks. Didn't care about the police who would come to reprimand her for making such a ruckus – she only cared about screaming even louder. She needed to be. She needed it to reach him.
And far down walking by the gigantic tree itself, it did.
Karma had become still as a stone at the first sound of her voice. And she kept blaring out his name.
People were looking towards the cliffside where a small girl with braids was using a voice that sounded like it would tear her up.
Whispers and confused remarks could be heard in spirals around him.
"What is that girl doing?"
"What's she saying? Kara-kun?"
"Yikes, someone should get the police."
Some of them even laughed. "How embarrassing, don't you think?"
But they hardly mattered. Karma hadn't been thinking at all when he ended up at the bottom of that hill. His legs moved on their own as they strode up fast as superhuman.
And when he got there, the screams were even more deafening. Her small body was shaking from the force of all her yells. Karma gritted his teeth.
She choked slightly when he took her by the scarf around her neck and took her away.
When he dragged her away far enough from everyone, he roughly let her go. She stumbled, but kept her ground. She got him where she wanted. Right in front of her.
He was indignant when he asked her what the hell she was thinking by doing that, but seemed she was also on edge – and matched his anger with her own.
"I want to know what you are thinking!" she yelled. "To...to stay away from you…to just forget about it all and continue living without having anything to do with you anymore…There's no way…"
She stomped her foot. "No way I'd ever want that!"
Catching Karma off-guard, she stepped forward and continued yelling. "I…I want to stay with you! I'll stay by you! I always will! I want to be with you! That's not going to change!"
Karma knew he couldn't run anymore. There was no lie that came to mind that he could use and take the consequences. So he looked away, saying in a low voice,
"You still say that…even when I wasn't able to save you from falling apart…even when I wasn't able to keep you happy…in the end…I wasn't able to do anything to keep you from suffering. I didn't do anything for you. Why would you consider someone like that to hold dear? Just shows you're still naïve – maybe you'll finally learn without me."
The emotional glaze in her eyes flickered away when she blinked. All that was left was confusion. "Happiness?" she muttered. "You've…only ever thought about my happiness? Why…Why would you think about me that much? What have I done to you…that made you think of me that way?"
Karma shoved his hands into his pockets, and turned his back. "I said it before, right? You're not the only one who has people important to them. Why can't you understand that? Enough already. You'll get over it."
"Don't say that!" she cried.
He clenched his fists, trying not to lose control. "You still don't get it?"
"You're the one who doesn't understand anything!"
"Tch…" Karma finally turned, and yelled back. "Stop being so stubborn!"
"You're the one being stubborn!"
"You don't…you don't know a thing at all!" she nearly sobbed.
Manami gasped. Lifting her chin, she had never seen Karma look so unguarded.
"I always thought I knew enough about you to treat you well…to make sure you're safe and happy. To ensure your smiling face all the time…but even I had to be stupid enough to believe a hopeless kid like me could actually do that. Do you get it now?"
Manami's vision began to blur – less from the snow fogging her glasses. But she was only more confused. "Who…Whoever said that…you had to? Karma-kun…why…why would you worry yourself over something like that? Why would you do this much?"
He was silent. Manami could no longer seeing him like this. Not today.
"Th-this…!" she sniffled. "This isn't how it's supposed to be!"
Because she was screaming again, and now that he's emotionally rattled, nothing was more irritating. "Quit it already!"
"Stop being so –!"
"You stop! Stop thinking you have all of this in your hands! Stop thinking that you have to carry my happiness with you because you don't! My happiness can only be made by my own hands! No one made you in charge of it! You don't have to go through all this pain for me! Seeing you go through this all alone...do you really think this is going to make me happy?!"
Struck by her words, Karma couldn't move. Manami clasped her hands together and pleaded, her tears falling.
"Didn't you know?! I've always wanted to be inside your heart! I wanted to mean something to you! But I didn't want it to be this way! There's no way I could ever want it to be this way!"
She wiped her tears, but they just kept going. "Today's…Today's your birthday right?! I wanted…I wanted to spend it with you! I wanted you to be happy! That's enough to make me happier than ever! I don't want this day to be about me! And then...you tell me I should stay away from you and be happy somewhere else on the day you deserve it most? There's…There's no way I can do that!"
Manami stepped towards him. Karma let her, because he couldn't move. Her words were all his mind could process.
"Not even I…can promise to make you happy all the time…you don't think I've thought of that before? Even if I can't promise that…I'll promise you one thing today."
His shoulders jumped when she took his face gently into her hands.
"I can't tell you that I won't stray away one day…or lose myself at some point…but I'll make one thing for sure. Today, on your special day, I'll stay by you whether you like it or not!"
And with his wide-eyed expression, Manami could see clearly with the Christmas lights all around them, the tears that dripped from his eyes.
She was overtaken by surprise – and it looked like he had, too. Both of them felt numb.
Karma pushed her hands away, turning his back.
Manami, still shocked as ever, watched him wipe his face with his sleeve.
"Look at what you've done…" he said with an almost hostile voice, but even Manami could tell how forced that was. Seemed he knew she could, so he followed it up with a forced laugh.
"Okay, fine. You got me…." He tried to hide a sniffle, keeping his back to her to prevent her from seeing his pitiful, embarrassed face. "Let's talk."
[Long story short because I haven't figured out how they get to the next point, but eventually they come to an understanding and reconcile on the bench looking over the Christmas tree. After Karma and Manami have another heart to heart, come out honestly with how they both handled the whole situation of her past, and coming to terms with their weaknesses an their relationship the past year, how it could have broken if they didn't become honest like today.
"You can't keep being strong, Karma-kun…" until, eventually,]
Karma had her filled to the brim with joy that evening, when he finally said her name. "Merry Christmas, Manami."
Though there was another wave of tears ready to flow from her eyes – from the joyous feeling of reaching him – her smile was gentle, as she said, "Happy birthday, Karma-kun…"
At that moment, I realized something
They shared a hug – forgiving one another and themselves.
"…I'm sorry," Karma said.
Is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with…
"No need…" Both of them pulled away. Manami smiled. "I love you."
Manami made a huge, loud gasp. "Hu-Hu-HUWAAAAAAAHHHHH!"
She jumped from her seat and dove behind the bench, cursing herself and hiding her reddening face.
Karma sat dumbly, his cheeks starting to get hot, as he took moments once more to let that manage to input as words in his head. If Korosensei could see him now, maybe he'd be bouncing off the walls laughing. But even Karma, wanted to be 100% sure, that he really heard that right.
So as Manami continued to spout gibberish and cover her face, regretting having ever said that just like that, he looked over her from the bench.
"Answer me honestly,"
Manami looked up. His face was directly above hers, their eyes aligned, and his were intense.
"Your words just now, how am I supposed to take them?"
Manami swallowed, but lost in his gaze, she feared nothing beyond them – captivated, inspired, and freed, just as she always felt with him. That is why, with little to no hesitation, she told him,
"…My feelings for you."
In the apartment as Inari had prepared the meal she would share with her little girl later, she found an old tape hidden in one of the old mover's boxes with the pretty plates.
There was a label on it 'For Manami'
Oh. She remembered this. She was a bitter soul when she first listened to it, but this was among the things that was passed to her along with Manami – it was a recording of Hanako singing to Manami while she was still in labor. She was speaking with Akihito about how singing to your baby would help them become smarter. He said there was no real basis for that, but he sang with her.
Maybe at the time she saw this as a worthless thing, but today, it brought tears to her eyes. She could understand love better now.
Well then, Inari thought. She looked over to the little wrapped box of karumeyaki crackers.
Maybe she should just serve that as a part of Christmas dinner and give her this today instead.
Christmas was indeed a day of great beginnings for those other countries. Perhaps, she can take a thing or two from them.
So she wrapped the love of both her parents in her own, tidied it up with a lavender ribbon as pretty as Manami's, and spent the rest of the evening waiting for her with a mug of hot chocolate, as she looked above the joyous city through her apartment window. Normally she'd hate the cold air hitting her face, but tonight was special. Something told her there was a lot of love in the air, and she'd like a whiff of it.
"Can I tell you something honestly too, then?" He helped her up from behind the bench.
"Wh-what….is it?" She asked, shakily, now that they were standing in front of each other, his hands on her wrists. Her head was still spinning from all that transpired.
She yelped when he moved those hands to her own, pulling her against him. Then he leaned down, and just as quickly, kissed her cheek.
As Manami turned into a hot mess yet was above cloud 9, he said, "I love you too, Manami."
[Some stuff you should know: I always planned to have a sequel to this before, one about the established Karumana and the challenges that came with it. Which is why the next scene is a bit of a teaser to it hehe. Planned this initially to be separate from this entire arc so imagine it as the planned epilogue. The official end is the scene before this point.]
NEXT UP: Back to school. Back in business.
Now that all was well with the club and its members, they were all there again – fresh and blooming like the spring season they basked in that day. Rio seemed to be back to herself, with jokes a lot more tasteful than ever, Sugino and Yuzuki both seemed to exude with a certain confidence in their steps and in the balance of their shoulders, and it wasn't just Rinka and Chiba that seemed closer than ever, but even Karma and Manami.
Oh, and they all heard the news over the break. To which all of them just gave either a giddy or exasperated "Well, FINALLY!"
Isura Mai was most pleased – it made her want to give even more energy than she normally did as she gave them a warm welcome back to club activity.
And they were enthusiastic as ever with their own welcomes. With all this lighthearted, warm atmosphere, Mai was even more excited for the year to come.
"Oh yeah! I'd like to introduce someone new to you who'll be helping with your club!"
"Eh? Someone wants to apply?" Yuzuki asked.
"Not exactly apply, but now that I'll be more busy with president stuff, I'll need some extra hand, you know? So I'll leave you with an assistant of mine who's also my cousin." It wasn't obvious, but she had a slight grimace at those last four words.
"Alright, I don't see too much harm in it." Karma leaned back in his spot by the window. Manami smiled from next to him, arranging their books and fixing up their snacks. She handed him a juicebox. He smiled, took it with ease, and nodded. He helped arrange the rest.
Rio raised her eyebrow at them, and smirked. Ah, the joys of being her today, seeing the dream turn to reality.
She shook her head, if only to focus again. "So who is this person?"
"Oh, she attended this school back when you were first years though it was only for the first few weeks. She transferred because of her father's job, is all. But now she's attending again since she's now working on her own living expenses. Furthermore, she's waiting outside right now."
"Already? That was fast," Sugino said.
"No biggie. If things aren't done as fast as they could be, then I'd be an inefficient leader!" Mai went to the door and slid it open.
There was a girl that walked in. She had long, chocolate brown hair, fixed in a mini ponytail at the back of her head. She had those light brown eyes that seemed to sparkle.
At the sight of her, Manami dropped a book. Rinka was the first to notice that something was strange. "Mana –"
Mai cleared her throat, and all attentionw as hers again. "Well, without further ado, this is Mikami Erina-san of class 2-B. She'll be joining your club meetings as much as she can from now on so please welcome her accordingly."
"Nice to meet you. Like she said, I'm Mikami Erina." The girl bowed, and lifting her head, had the most doll-like smile they'd ever seen. "I look forward to spending the days with you. Please feel free to call me by my first name if you'd like."
Manami's eyes went nearly as wide as her spectacles.
"Mi…" she couldn't even form the word.
"Oh? Okuda-san, it's you." But she didn't even seem remotely surprised. Just really, really amused, and it got everyone suspicious already.
"Long time no see…"
Yup. There it is. The very end of this part 1 of the series...summarized. Boy we've come far despite everything. Let's give a round of applause!
Oh but wait!
I actually have a few part 2 scenes that I planned out, so this is what I was talking about earlier in the A/N, where I'm willing to put out a full summary chapter of the part two series! It's real short since it wasn't too planned, but yeah! If you wanna know the rest of what happens to our characters after this epilogue, let me know in a review including your possible thoughts, reactions, or anything you'd like to tell me or about the story!
I love you all and thank you so much for your undying support and for enjoying these little wonders I like to put out. Have a great day wherever you are ! Always loving,