It's been four weeks since the Game ended. Three weeks since he reunited with most of his friends. Two weeks since he realized he could still partially see the UG. One week since the skies over Shibuya turned dark and foreboding.
And he still hasn't stopped waiting for Joshua.
It says a lot. After all, Joshua betrayed him, shot and killed him twice over. Regardless, he waits every day at the most famous symbol of loyalty in Japan for a boy who, despite everything, is still his partner. And he's in the habit of trusting his partners.
But something feels wrong. He's waiting and waiting, and there's no response. The Joshua he remembers would not have passed up an opportunity to tease him for being clingy, or at the very least imprint something suggestive into his mind. But there's nothing to indicate he's even there, let alone listening. The feeling creates a pocket of emptiness in his heart, a hollow space only filled with loneliness.
And not only that, Shibuya itself has changed. It's nothing as drastic as the Red Skull pin incident, but it's something. The streets feel tense, charged, like a cup of water filled to the brim and about to spill over. The air is thick, suffocating almost, as though something is pressing down from above and forcing pressure upon everything. It's uncomfortable and fills him with anxiety and dread.
Is everything okay? He asks empty space. Is Shibuya okay?
Are you okay?
There's a crumpled mass at the foot of the CAT mural, Neku subconsciously registers. He pauses, hand on the door handle to Cyco Records, and turns to glance at the wall. What he sees makes him stop in his tracks.
"Joshua?" He whispers.
It's definitely Joshua, the pale color palette and ash blonde hair unmistakable. What's shocking is the amount of blood on the ground, a pool of red already forming underneath him. He's curled up on his side, back to the mural, clothes rumpled and torn. Neku rushes over to him.
As he approaches, Joshua looks up, but his grey-violet eyes are blank and unfocused. He can't see me, Neku thinks in shock.
"If you're back for more, I suggest you turn around and go home." His voice is quiet and sounds nothing like the egotistical, haughty voice of Week 2. It's all so wrong.
Neku reaches out and when his hand touches Joshua's shoulder, he flinches away as though afraid. "Neku?"
"It's me," he confirms, and crouches down so he can see Joshua's wounds better. The blood is everywhere, staining Joshua's pale grey shirt, trickles of it peeking out from the bottom and sullying his pants as well. Upon closer inspection, it seems like most of it's coming from his back, dripping, as though his wings were torn from him. He's cradling his right arm, which is bent at an unusual angle, with his left, making sure not to disturb it more than necessary. Keeping his tone carefully neutral, Neku says, "What happened? Why are you here in the RG?"
"What, can't I come and visit my favorite proxy?" He says, a complete 180 from just a moment ago. His nonchalant attitude is fake and practiced. "And here I was thinking you wanted to see me again."
He makes a move to stand, legs wobbling. When Neku puts a hand on his lower back to help him up, he jolts and pulls away, almost falling over in the process. After regaining his balance, he blinks a couple of times, but his eyes still aren't quite focused. "Unfortunately, this trip is more business than pleasure. While you're here, would you be a dear and escort me to WildKat? I'm sure you still remember the way, and it makes me feel much safer to have such a strong, handsome young man with me." He bats his eyelashes, but the effect is negated by the fact that he's looking about two feet to the left of where Neku's actually standing.
"Do you think you can make it there?" A nod. "Josh, you can't even see. My apartment is closer," Neku says.
Joshua giggles, and then coughs, shivers wracking his frail body. "Although I appreciate your desire to spend more quality time with me, I have some rather... pressing issues to discuss with my Producer. I hope you don't mind."
"Okay. Alright," Neku says. "At least wear this, so you don't freak people out with all the blood." He takes off his hoodie. The sky is abnormally dark and the wind raises goosebumps on his arms, yet he hands it to Joshua without complaint. Joshua takes it and gives him a half hearted smirk.
"This is purple, isn't it. My, my, Neku," he pauses as he struggles to find a place for his broken arm, eventually settling for keeping it tucked against his stomach as he pulls his other arm through the sleeve. "I never expected you to be the type to get off on other people wearing your clothes."
"It's blue," Neku says. "And I'm not going to bother responding to the second half of that." He takes a step away and Joshua immediately reaches out for him.
"Wait, wait," he grabs Neku's hand and lets out a relieved sigh, the anxiety draining from his expression. "Okay. Lead the way."