"Dear, you forgot to take your phone."
Naoko said as she was ready to go out with her family.
Kenichi was always taking his phone with him in case something happens at work, and she was surprised that he forgot it now.
"I didn't forget Naoko, I decided to leave it at home so no one would bother me while I am on my little vacation. At least for this time around."
Hearing this, Naoko smiled.
Yes, it was a truly special day for the Natsukis household.
Soon enough they all were at the car.
"So where are we going?"
Subaru asked quietly.
He wasn't sure if he truly wanted to go there to have fun. With this sudden return, a choice, in which he becomes less and less sure with each passing second and there's also that stress for pressing him.
His parents were right here, at his arm's length. He can hug them, he can tell them how happy he is being able to meet them again, being able to talk with em.
And what now? He will just leave them be? Just leave them?! After all they have done for him? After all their support and understanding?! Just throw everything away like an ungrateful asshole he is!
And for what? For more deaths? For more suffering? For yet again being left behind by everyone, but this time even more than all previous returns. He'll get back almost at the start, or something like that, right? Which sucks and sucks a lot. Everyone would forget him. Yet again, he would be the only one that is aware of everything.
'I guess that's the price for being able to redo things, isn't it? I have such disgusting, but mighty power in my possession, yet all I'm doing is bitching and complaining about how bad it is to use. Many others would gladly trade their very soul for this blessed curse. Or is it cursed blessing? If someone else would have it - how he would use it? Would he die as much as me? Would he suffer as much? Would they try to save anyone they can on their path? I would. I would. I need to. Even if I need to start from the very beginning, I would. I WOULD! If I don't - everyone will die! Just like in those nightmares. Witch cult, Elsa, white whale, clown simp with his dumb plans... And all that left would falter in the Priestella. Shaula would be stuck in the tower for all eternity and my Beako will be still waiting for *them*. I can't. Whatever I'll choose someone will suffer. But I need to. Wait. What does mean whatever i choose? I need to return. I don't have a right to live a good safe life here.' - Subaru was lost in thought and didn't hear his parents.
"Finally you here with us. Is everything all right? You spaced out and was trembling. We tried to call you or shake your shoulder, but you didn't answer us."
'Shit. Here we are again, Natsuki Subaru, you made your parents worry about you yet again.' - Subaru thought while putting up a smile.
"Ah, sorry, I was just thinking of... of what to do. You know, I really want to go to the Ferris wheel, or to the scary cave. They are still here?"
Kenichi blinked in confusion.
"Why yes, only a month passed, so they are obviously there."
Subaru opened his mouth wide. Then suddenly calmed down.
"Ah, right I forgot. It's been only a month on Earth, huh."
Natsukis parents looked at each other. They too already forgot about the fact that their son was in this other world for more than half a year already.
Meanwhile, Subaru was looking at the moving scenery in the window of the car. He noticed that they already were quite far from home.
"So, Subaru, you only told us about your adventures, but not much about people around you."
"Uh-huh... People around me..."
Subaru remembered those who was dear to him. His friends. His...
"Cough-cough... sorry. About people around me, you say. Well where I should start? I guess I can try to talk more in detail about Emilia-tan faction first."
Naoko smiled and looked right into Subaru's eyes.
She asked, emphasizing at tan part.
Subaru's face instantly became red. Being all worried and under stress, he mentioned her name as just Emilia previously. But now, when he was somewhat relaxed, his usual nickname for Emilia slipped out. At the very least, he didn't say EMT - which would be reaaaly awkward to explain to his parents. To any other people? Sure, but to his own parents it felt embarrassing.
Subaru sighed and decided to talk. He probably shouldn't hide it. He already hid most of the bad stuff, why would he need to hide a good one too?
"Ah, um, yea... I... I like her. I really... No, I love her."
For some reasons, words didn't come out as easily. He almost forced them out of his throat, fighting with his own embarrassment.
"Oh, my boy grow up so much! He already found a girl he likes!"
'Oh god, please no! Not like this'
Naoko smirked, seeing how her son was embarrassed by her actions.
"Oh, Subaru, I'm just teasing you. So how is she?"
Well, he started it. So he needs to finish it.
"She is beautiful. She has long silver hair, sparkling in the moonlight, she has big amethyst colored eyes, that can reflect all the beauty of the night sky within them. She has a cute face and long ears. Ah yes, she is a half-elf."
Kenichi said from his seat.
But Subaru wasn't going to stop right away.
"But most importantly, she has a kind, passionate heart. She is caring, strong-willed, purposeful, love interacting with children. She is pretty smart too, although pretty oblivious in some... matters."
"Huh. You indeed had fallen for her, aren't you, Subaru?"
Kenichi said in a joyous tone, almost as if praising Subaru.
"Oblivious? She doesn't notice your feelings?"
On the contrary, Naoko's voice sounded concerned.
"It's not like that. I mean it was at the start, but now it's much better. Well. She had a very strict... father. And because of it she didn't know of many things."
"Many things?" Naoko was confused.
"How do I put it? Oh, right. Let's just say that she thought that girl becomes pregnant after a kiss."
Naoko was surprised by this kind of answer.
"Ha ha, you got a jackpot, aren't you? Such pure girl. I'm almost jealous. Almost, because I already have my cute Naoko."
Subaru felt embarrassed talking about this topic. But at the same time he felt happy. If someone asked him to describe his feelings - he wouldn't be able to. At one instance, hearing his parents opinions filled his heart with so much joy that he barely managed to hold tears from appearing.
"Putting aside your love interest, is there any other remarkable friends or acquaintances?"
Naoko continued to ask him.
Subaru's face was bright with pure, genuine smile on it.
"There's this Otto guy that everyone likes to tease, but he is a really reliable friend. Really smart and helped everyone numerous times. I am proud of having a friend like him, you know. He is our minister of Internal affairs. Ah, before it, he was a merchant who bought an oil at the wrong moment and wasn't able to find someone he can sell it too..."
Subaru was talking and talking, while his parents kept listening. Sometimes they commented on Subaru's description of people.
Both, Naoko and Kenichi were happy that Subaru managed to find so many great friends. So many good people who can oversee their son in their absence.
Said a man wearing a simple shirt and a pair of old jeans and black shoes.
"What is it now, I suppose?"
Asked a seemingly annoyed little girl wearing a red dress and pink shoes. And she indeed was annoyed. She didn't like using a bus at all.
"It seems that they aren't home. And Kenichi didn't pick up a phone. I called him eleven times already."
Beatrice more or less knew what this phone supposed to be, thanks to Subaru's explanations. At least she knew it yet, as she protected memories about Subaru and forced other less important ones to fade into the conversion.
"But what is strange about it, in fact?"
So she was confused.
Subaru told her that sometimes a person might not be able to pick up the phone to answer if it got broken, or if its battery is dead.
Just like she would be in mere hours... She wasn't sure if she could last more than a few days, and that made her impatient. The fear of forgetting him and dying without him around terrified her to the point that she started to shake sometimes.
Seeing this, Sakuma only shook his head. From his observations the girl was under huge stress. And in such state they need to find the boy or at least the family to help her mental state.
"Kenichi always answers the call. Even in the middle of a night. The current situation is very unusual."
He explained. Sakuma wasn't sure of what happened. Perhaps Kenichi's phone got broken? Or maybe it somehow related to his son supposedly appearing again after a whole month of unsuccessful searches?
Beatrice didn't like that information. Last thing she needed is to worry about her contractor's family's safety. But perhaps Subaru is with them? She can try to locate them again, but even as trivial as this task is, she still would lose precious energy. But does she have other choice? Sakuma-san turned out to be unreliable on that matter.
She sighed and inspected her link with Subaru. As she found the right direction, she started to walk along with it in hope of reaching her contractor in time.
"Wait, where are you going to?"
"I'm going to find Subaru. I can track him down, in fact."
Sakuma was stunned. Track Subaru down? And how she want to do so?
"But... how? You know where he is?"
Sakuma decided to ask, in hope that the girl would clear his confusion. If she knew where Subaru is, then why would she need his help? Or perhaps she remembered something? She wasn't toying with him, wasn't she? He had taken a day off, which he usually didn't use anyway. But if it was for nothing...
At the same time, Beatrice considered what she can say.
Subaru said that there were no magic in his worlds. Which turned out to not be true after all, it is here, it is just that it's really weak in comparison to what Beatrice what used to. The main problem was in the fact that people of this world supposedly didn't believe in magic. And that lefts her with quite little options of explaining such ability as to track Subaru through their connection.
"He is Betty's Subaru after all. I can manually check and feel where he is, but it isn't good for my health, I suppose."
Not good in condition such as she was in at the moment.
Yet again Sakuma was confused. The girl can feel where he is through will? What kind of nonsense is this? Did she expect him to believe?
He looked at her, trying to find any sign of her lying, but found none.
And he was sure that child can't be such a good liar at such age. But that would mean that she believes in what she says.
"Fine. It's my day off anyway... Fine I will believe you for now. Let's get to my house. If we are going to search through the city, it would be much easier to do so with a car."
The time passed by quite fast. Subaru and his parents were having fun at the park. Or more like parks. They visited quite many places by that point. Unexpectedly, to Subaru it was simply - a lot of fun. Just talking with parents about his friends and normal everyday things made it so much better. And he also enjoyed attractions. He thought that they won't excite him after all his adventures, but he was wrong. Those controllable little things were too, little adventures in a way. Maybe not as exiting as fighting the giant vale or being in any other life or death situation, but also it wasn't as dangerous. It was peaceful. No one gonna get hurt at the such moment of peace. For now.
"Right... For now..."
Being here, almost at the top of the Ferris wheel he was able to see the landscape of whole park and a bit of the city too.
The city in which he was born bathed in the rays of the setting sun.
That beautiful scenery that unfolded before his eyes. Is he really gonna simply throw it away?
"That's bad... If it goes any longer, I... I'm not sure that I would be able to keep my determination... Am I... Really needed in that different world?"
That was a stupid question and Subaru knew it. He wasn't needed. World itself wouldn't care less if he would not appear in it.
But people that are dear to him will meet ungrateful, heartbreaking end and he knew it. And his return at the very least provide him an option to save those he would be able to. But what if he will return to the very start? Without all memories they shared... Can he still consider them the same people he left in that damn tower?
Suddenly Subaru chuckled.
Yes. Of course. Even if that's not the case, he would indeed consider them, all of their versions from various loops - the same people. If not for that mindset he would lost his humanity and all kindness within him long ago. What... Should he do? He can't just forget about people he met in Lugunica...
"Kenichi... I do not want for him to leave us."
Naoko was hugging herself while sitting on one of the park benches. She looked sad and nervous. Quite different from the time she when Subaru was near.
Her husband, Kenichi, was standing near her with a small smile on his face.
They both were following one of the cabins of Ferris wheel with their eyes.
"I know, Naoko. I too, want him to stay with us for longer. It will make us happier. But what about Subaru? Would it make him happier too?"
Naoko sighed. And a small smile appeared on her face.
"I know, I know... He almost beamed when he was talking about his friends and... girls. Which, by the way, probably your fault."
With her last words, Naoko took Kenichi by surprise.
"Eh?! Wait wait wait, what are you talking about?"
Naoko let out a short laugh.
"About your womanizer genes of course!"
"Quit it, quit it! That is all in the past! Uh and all of it is a lie! I never was like that!"
Suddenly Naoko burst into laughter.
Seeing that, Kenichi felt warm. He was so glad to see his Naoko laughing again like that.
"Say, Kenichi. Our son will be alright in that other world?"
Naoko asked with a distant tone, yet again looking at her son in the cabin of Ferris wheel.
Kenichi's smile slightly faded.
He knew. He saw that his son wasn't really okay. But if they take one of the most important things, that keep Subaru sane and active... They alone probably wouldn't be able to support him enough. They already failed in the past. Where is guarantee that they will not fail yet again?
He put up a smile.
"Yep. He would be fine no matter what. Did you forgot about all his friends that undoubtedly care for him? Or that he wouldn't even die? He would be safe. He would be fine. More than that, he would be able to pursue and accomplish his dreams."
Kenichi wasn't sure what he was saying. On one hand - that was his honest opinion. On the other - it sounds almost like a words of comfort for him and Naoko.
When did he started to think like that? Not as positive as before. Not as hopeful. Not as when he was younger. When Subaru disappeared? Or earlier? When Subaru stopped going outside? When his son stopped going to school? When his son started to become disillusioned with life?
Suddenly there was a loud grinding sound followed by screams.
"AAAAAAAAA! HELP US! HELP!"
Subaru was enjoying the scenery when that happened.
The whole Ferris wheel was shaking for a moment. Then there was a loud ear-piercing grinding sound, followed by scream.
Subaru tried to find a source of the scream.
And when he found one - he left his cabin right away, trying to reach two little girls in the cabin on the other side of the Ferris wheel.
Their cabin's condition didn't looked good.
One of the two fastenings of the Ferris wheel cabin was broken, which caused the cabin to squeak and sway on the remaining one.
And by the look of it it was slowly deforming too. If this continues for longer - cabin would fall with little girls within it.
Fortunately, the service staff stopped the wheel, preventing faster deformation of the cabin, and started to evacuate people from cabins that were close to the ground, as well as those people who were close to the base of the Ferris wheel.
Subaru climbed to the girl's cabin as fast as he could, but he clearly saw that it won't last long.
"Come here! C'mon! Faster, faster!"
He screamed to the girls.
One by one - he managed to pull both girls to the next cabin above, just in time before loud cracking sound happened and cabin fallen down, creating even louder sound.
Subaru, Still holding to the construction of the Ferris wheel, managed to climb into the girls cabin. Or more like he managed to fall into it head down trough the cabin's window.
He felt weak. Really weak. Stress, Adrenaline, surprise from unexpected situation, plus stress from the overall situation with a choice he forced to make and his inner conflict. All of it has taken a toll on him and left him without any strength making him pass out.
Slowly, he opened his eyes.
He was riding on someone's back.
It didn't take long for him to understand that it was his father's back.
"Ugh... Dad? What happened?"
Subaru asked, trying to remember how he ended up in that situation. Did he fall asleep?
"You do not remember, hero boy?"
Hero boy? Why his dad used such words...
"What was you thinking, young man?! Doing something so dangerous and... and... why would you do it?"
Subaru remembered. He saved two little girls around 10-12 age.
Why he did so? He didn't know. Does he really need a reason to save someone if he could? Let alone innocent children. What worst can happen? Him dyi...
"Uh oh... I'm sorry. I am really, really sorry mom. I wasn't really thinking back then, I just..."
"It isn't like she is scolding you, Subaru. We just were worried for you."
"Yes. We were worried you. I thought I will get a heart attack watching you risking yourself like that. Even if you aren't afraid of death, it doesn't mean you shouldn't value your life like that. And even if you value yourself so low, what about others? How they would feel?"
Subaru was silent.
He tried his best to hold his tears.
He knows about it. He just pretends that he don't care as much. That all of it would be left behind with each loop. That his deaths doesn't matter. That he shouldn't worry about stuff like that too much.
'Behold an unthinkable present' - a voice said in his head.
"Subaru? Are you okay?"
Seeing that he doesn't answer them - made his parents feel concerned.
Finally he managed to swallow his worry and sadness and became able to answer with a calm tone.
"I am fine. And i am sorry. I didn't want you to worry so much. I didn't want to hurt you."
After a brief pause Subaru added.
"Can you put me on the ground? I want walk around here more. With my own legs. At least for now"
They walked in a silence for a bit.
Then, Kenichi decided to talk.
"Subaru. Do not think of yourself as of a burden. Don't you dare to think that all you do is bringing pain to us, Or make us suffer."
'As usual. They are simply too good for me' - Subaru thought.
"And don't you dare to say that you do not deserve our affection! You hear me? Subaru?"
But Subaru didn't have time to answer.
"So what do we have here? A cute chick, sadly a bit old, a dumb old man with glasses and a little brat. Chick and old man wearing quite a good stuff. Overall, people - you look like you all are rich. And that's unlucky for you because I'm the one who takes stuff from reach and donates it to the poor. Which is me and my pals, so get us your stuff morons and hurry up!"
Three thugs were standing behind them. The one who was talking - skinny and tall guy, was pointing a gun at their direction.
Kenichi was scared. He was so scared that something could happen to his son or his wife. But the problem was that they didn't have any money left on them. There was enough in home, but at the moment all they had was a 200 yen coin.
And they are too far from other people. If there's any around at that time of the evening. What they could do?
"We do not have anything. We spend all money toady because of a special occasion."
Kenichi calmly said.
"Ow really? Man, my luck indeed sucks ass. Fine, let us use the chick then, and you can go."
The man with a gun said.
Kenichi's hands balled into fists.
"That won't do."
"You motherfucker! You think you're in a position to choose?"
The man said, turning the gun's direction to Kenichi's head.
And then, just at that moment, something hit the hand that was holding the gun.
'A stone?' - Kenichi froze in thought, trying to understand what happened.
Right after it A figure dashed in, putting the man down. Kenichi, recovered from shock and dashed in too, trying to help Subaru, who was disarming the guy with a hidden knife which almost took Subaru by surprise. Soon two out of three were down, and the last one was getting up from the ground.
Voice of a woman was heard, then a gunshot.
Kenichi whispered helplessly, seeing how his wife falls down and how his son's trembling back.
Kenichi was too far to help.
The third guy had a gun hidden in his jacket. He tried to shoot Subaru from behind, but Naoko intervened. She saved Subaru's life.
"What the hell, man?! That's too much!"
One of the thugs screamed from the ground.
"Bitch got what she deserved. And she was a bit out of date anyway, heh."
The one who shoot said.
"Ha... ha-ha... ha-ha-ha... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You find it funny, right?"
Kenichi felt a cold sweat on his back after hearing his son's voice. It sounded so violent. So broken. So dangerous.
'It's all my fault. I rushed too much... I fucked up... It's my fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault. My fault.' - Subaru started to fall into despair. But suddenly a familiar sensation arose inside his torso. A familiar one indeed. It almost whispered into his ears.
Slothful. How Slothful of you, Natsuki Subaru.
"Slothful. Indeed, how slothful am I?"
He said, sitting on his knees with his face down.
All three attackers suddenly bulged their eyes and opened their mouths. Slowly but surely, they began to rise into the air, as if something was holding their necks.
Subaru raised his head and looked at the bandits with eyes crying bloody tears.
"What is, huff, happening here, huff, I suppose?"
So that was it. For now. Pacing is probably even more fucked up and forced than before, cuz there supposed to be much more text and even a bit more of events, more talks and such, but with how fucked up my own graphic right now - I'm not sure if I would be able to finish it soon enough. Hell, I planned to finish this fic at mid-June at most, but here we are, cuz life as always said fuck you to all of my plans. Well, almost to all.
Anyway - i decied to post at least this to show that I'm still alive and not gonna simply abandon this fic. Especially when it is almost finished. So to finish it as fast as I can, I decided to wrap it up a bit faster. Yeah... The next chapter (and most certainly the last one. And probably would be shorter too) will come out when the time comes. But I will try to make it happen earlier.