//Day 1 | Location: Nameless Forest - Lakeside
Tsubasa didn’t say anything else in return, only responding with a hug.
It was brief, but not at all spontaneous, and for a moment, Shun was enveloped in a warmth so much different compared to the heat of the fire or the Sun. What was a funeral for? What were tears for? To show that someone was loved. To show the grieving that others shared in their pain.
And as she separated from Shun, as they walked back to the others, she managed a smile towards Ayana too. The klutz was as clumsy with her words as she was with her feet, but the essence of it was all that Tsubasa wanted to say as well.
None of it was their fault. No one could blame anyone for being crushed by everything that happened. And so, if they were able to keep living, keep acting, past all this?
They were enough.
Breaking past the clearing, the three of them could see just how organized things had become. While Masato, Duncan, and Asahi struggled still to figure out a solution to healing the two most injured people amongst them, Daisuke and Ayano formed an unlikely pair as they organized the remaining students. Most of them looked glad for the distraction, in truth.
Kumi and Masami worked the fire, after having chased Kogen and Akito away from it. Both the boys stormed off in their own direction, the eyepatch-wearing Awakened muttering something about patrolling the perimeter before he strode off down the same path that Shun had moments ago. The Ito twins, after Sohei managed to work out whatever his whole deal with Rin was, busied themselves with trying to catch fish. Naturally athletic as they were, they managed to corner a couple, before Kunio’s cat-like reflexes ended with him practically slapping the fish out of the water, into the sharpened blade of Hana. Rin, on the other hand, utilized her newfound abilities as best as she could, drawing lines of cutting force that turned trees into firewood with such ease that it almost looked as if she was cheating. Even Ayano had been coaxed into helping out by her boyfriend, despite her professed exhaustion. Alongside Mayumi, whose pale face was already sunburnt and ashen (from the actual ash, not from trauma and despair), they gathered large rocks to line the growing fire with.
The lake was truly a bountiful place.
It almost made one think, for a moment, that they were back at the camping trip they had two years ago, where their teachers forced survival skills on them, only to then give up partway through and just have them make curry at the outdoors stove instead.
The fish crinkled, fats sizzling. They had no salt, and there was no clear idea whether or not it was even ‘tasty’, but Kumi didn’t look all too disgusted when she bit the tender meat. Then, she turned, spying the way the three new arrivals looked at her.
“No work, no food,” she said, in a way almost matronly. “If you’re rested up, then go help out, please.”
No matter what Maki wanted to shoot back in response, Asahi’s sheer helplessness gave her pause. It wasn’t really the right time to muck it up with an old friend of hers, after all. She grunted something indistinct and sat down instead, as if to say that if there was anything she could offer, she would.
Broken bones, after all, didn’t exhaust someone the same way that internal bleeding did. Outside of being a bit hungry and a lot thirsty, she had plenty in the tank to give.
Haruko raised her own hands up, stepping up onto the tips of her toes to smooth out the furrowed brow of her boyfriend. “It’s understandable,” she said. There wasn’t any sense of forgiveness in her tone, but she wasn’t the one to give it either. “But you’re not the sorta guy to just avoid talking about this after, right? Make Sasuke and Yuki better, Duncan. Then work things out with Shun, alright?” Her arms, so much thinner than his, wrapped around it, and then she was off, looking for anything she could help with.
Her body was still able, after all. And the atmosphere was too heavy for her to withstand, in the end.
All that was left now was Duncan, Asahi, and Masato, to do what they could.
On the brink of exhaustion, Asahi’s Cable emerged from the tips of his fingers once more, the pink-hued spidersilk so fragile that it looked as if it would be shredded by a light breeze. But, it held, a testament to his desperation, and it connected, slipping beneath the skin of his fellow Awakened, and…
They felt it.
It was a vice that seized their hearts, a panic that rushed into them unabated. Terror and grief. A crystal-cold understanding that Sasuke could be the next friend, the next classmate, the next loved one they had to bury. In an instant, the root of Asahi’s fears was crystallized, and that root turned into a jagged edge that tore right into Duncan and Masato’s skulls. This was what he felt. This was what he was feeling. This was what he will feel.
Agony and torment, reaching out even through layers upon layers upon layers of exhaustion and numbness. Flickers of memories, memories not their own, relayed like a broken projector through their half-blind vision, but alongside those memories, came a kernel of knowledge.
An important memory, a personal oath, a code or creed, made manifest with one’s soul. It was something that had been formed by instinct, by the Awakened in times of crisis. But…now? With their unformed Spirit, with intention and clarity…
Couldn’t they force their Minds to formulate the perfect solution here?
The threads snapped.
Their vision returned in full.
And though the bitterness and intimacy of the experience must have shaken them…they were no longer just groping in the dark now.