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Equanimity

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The skies were blue, with an uncertainty lingering in the air, and a boy, 15 years of age, laid in the grass with doubts and fear.  The wind brushed his hair comfortingly as he merely sighed, wondering when things would heal.  It felt like a lot to take in, even if the day spoke of nothing with the weather, clear skies with a few clouds lingering.  However, in his head, things were cloudy, even stormy, with now settling emotions of the past weeks finally coming to him, as if he was able to focus on them.  There was many things to take in, but the most important thing he needed to tackle was coming to terms with losing his dear friend.

“...Yuujin…”

The boy raised his hand up to the sky, as if he could reach for something.  What was he supposed to feel?  Joy?  Happiness?  Sure, he celebrated saving the world and having a good time with everyone, but now left alone to focus on his own future, even determined, he couldn’t help but take this time to try to cope.  The boy’s voice was weak, shakened with doubt things would get better, at least for him.  He had friends to turn to, but one friend in particular wasn’t there.  He couldn’t help but feel like there was something missing for him.  The name rung through his head over and over, as if he was trying to crack the code behind it.

 

Yuujin… Yuujin… Yuujin…

Yuujin… Yuujin…

Yuujin…

 

Memories merely flooding in, the boy remembering the time he spent with Yuujin.  Yuujin’s short red hair, Yuujin’s tall exterior, yet skinny, his green eyes filled with confidence, his reassuring voice that warmed a room akin to a fireplace, his soft skin…  Yuujin.  That’s been the only thing on his mind for hours now today.  Why couldn’t he grow.  Why couldn’t he stand up.  Was it merely a matter of finally face with the truth that he couldn’t take the steps forward to push himself to stand on his own?  Was his death in just vain?  There’s only so much that the boy can intake and from learning the truth of his friend, being betrayed, coming to believe his friend is still alive, and his friend sacrificing himself so the boy wouldn’t have to believe he was his friend’s killer.  Yuujin merely would be upset with him, wouldn’t he?  Yet, with this much darkness inside the boy, the skies up above were clearly a sign.

“Haru…?”

A voice rang out as he was lost in thought.  Did someone call his name?  It felt so far away.  Yet, familiar.  It had to be someone that he knew.  Maybe he should look around.  Take his eyes off the sky for a moment.  A break from all these thoughts would do him some good.  Laying in the grassy field for only a moment more, he lifted his head and used his arms to push up, sitting upright now as he shook his head, a bit tired and dazed still.  He cocked his head to the right from the voice and saw a chip laying on the ground next to him, hovering a bit and swirling in circles.  He recognized a figure, holographic, on top of the chip.  Almost cat-like in their face…, dinosaur-like?, the figure, with a red helmet on their head, floated in front of the boy’s face.  There was a face of annoyance on the creature’s face, huffing.  The boy knew that the creature merely wanted attention and was tired of laying around all day, also wanting the give the boy something to help him.  The creature’s eyes betrayed his behavior after all.

“HAAAARUUUUUUUUU!!!! I’m booooored!”  The creature shouted, grumpy in tone.  “Can’t we go elsewhere, with gatchmonka?”  Haru, looking at the creature, smiled in response.  This was Gatchmon after all, his buddy appmon.  Haru felt fond feelings about Gatchmon and the two often felt connected in someway.

“Of course, Gatchmon!  I needed to go elsewhere anyways… Thanks.”  Haru’s tone was sincere, but forced cheerfulness.  He merely still felt pained and grabbed his right arm, thinking about Yuujin.  It hurt to remember but he wanted to become stronger somehow.  How could he grow accustomed to a life without Yuujin?  

 

There’s… no way…  

 

His breath shortened a bit as he bit his lip and turned his eyes from Gatchmon, trying to hold back his tears.  His buddy was there for him, but for him to truly grow, he needed to find a way to grow on his own.  How though?  How could he merely accept his dear friend’s death so easily!  It’s not fair!

It’s not fair at all!

 

He let out a scream.  It wasn’t even from him, but merely in a reaction to his own thoughts.  He just stopped and looked out to the horizon, crying a bit.  His buddy started to speak up, the face of the creature now lost on what to say.  Haru’s eyes reflected pain after all and Haru said nothing at all all day to Gatchmon.

“Haru…” The tone merely was defeated and concern.  “M-Maybe a gatchmonka would help?”  The buddy tried to interject, but always trying to reassure other wasn’t easy when their mind is merely unreadable.  It felt like minutes, maybe even half an hour before he spoke up. “H-How about we head to the hideout!  The others might be there!”  However, the boy, green hair shimmering in the sunlight, shook his head.  His eyes shifted along the horizon as if he saw something and took a step forward.

“Mmmm… I’m sorry, Gatchmon, but no… I need to be alone still, with the exception of you, of course.”  Haru’s voice rang with an uncertain confidence.  As much as Haru wanted his friends to support him, this was something he needed to do on his own.  It’s not as if no one would understand, but the peace Haru seeks is one obtained on his own.  Moving his body left an ache ringing through his heart and he began to walk forward.  Gatchmon, not far behind, grumbled a bit to not let the mood settled in the dark.

“Well, the nearest convenience store is 3 blocks away in the direction I’m assuming we’re talking!”  Gatchmon, while not the best at reading the mood, was able to read his buddy’s mind at least.  “We’re headed back home, right?”

“Mmmmm…”  He put his hands behind his back and interlocked his fingers as he didn’t stop walking forward, keeping his eyes up so he doesn’t get accidently hit by a car or ran into by a stranger.  There was a lot of motion around the city, everyone moving to their own pace.  It felt like yesterday he was walking with Yuujin…  Those long talk as he just lost track of time going place to place, always accompanied by his friend’s smile.  A smile that did nothing but kept the day as warm as if it was the sun illuminating on his skin.  “...yeah.”

 

---

 

There was a quick pause as the buddy floated by Haru, Haru looking to the side as he say a flash of red and green blur.  However, it was just the traffic lights and immediately disappointment overwhelmed him.  Gatchmon floated to the side to catch Haru’s attention, point at the convenience store nearby.  Haru gave his buddy a smile and goes into the shop, looking around for snacks.  Obviously, he was getting gatchmonka, a cookie candy with a chocolatey center, for the appmon, but Gatchmon, in the corner of his ear, mentioned about searching how to properly deal with sadness and usually eating helped.  His stomach didn’t really feel hungry, but he didn’t wanna make his buddy sad too, so he thanked the appmon and grabbed a small thing of strawberry pocky and an oolong tea to pair with it, paid for it, and was back on course for to their destination.  

There was a moment Haru paused through their walk as Gatchmon attempted to distract his buddy from the funk he was in.  While walking, they came across a house.  Often, it was one that Haru stopped by, but never once stepped foot in.  For a mere second, but one he felt like was an eternity, he thought he saw something.  Colors filled a window to the right of the main door. With red, yellow, and green painting the scene, Haru’s eyes merely blinked before connecting with what he thought could have been a person.  A shadow that was still for a moment before Gatchmon shouted, not seeing what he saw.

“Haru, what are you doing?  This isn’t your house!”  Haru just blinked and looked away for a second, dazed a bit.  The shadow of colors were gone and the curtain shut.  Shaking his head and turning back on path, he left the house in question, Haru keeping as pocky stick in his mouth as he merely let a sigh out.  While walking, Haru’s eyes merely watched the sky with Gatchmon by his side.  A fading blue into a twinge orange up above the moving city.

“Hey, Gatchmon?”

“Hm?  What’s the matter, Haru?”  Gatchmon spoke with a soft tone, brimming with positivity.  One that seemed forced but for his buddy’s sake.

“I… I think I just saw Yuujin.  Just now.”  Haru’s tone was completely numb.  It wasn’t one out of shock, pain, or surprise, but one of him trying to cope still.  His hands were shaking a bit, betraying the tone.  “He looked sad.”  Gatchmon was merely baffled.

“But… wasn’t he deleted as result of Leviathan’s choices?”

“And sacrificed himself so I… wouldn’t kill him…”  Haru’s voice trembled a bit but held back as the pair kept pushing forward.  There was a lot left unspoken on the way for those last three words unfortunately set the mood for the remaining walk.  It wasn’t easy to follow that heavy statement and as they kept walking, the rest of the journey felt as if it was a blue, streets countering with a yellow sky, with the blue lingering behind, the sun mid way between up above in the sky and setting.  The clouds almost seemed like they were on fire from the position of sun’s light, leaving Haru thinking once again, Gatchmon merely humming out a small tune to keep the rest of the distance not left in complete silence.

 

---

 

Time sat still in Haru’s room as he curled up, holding his pillow tightly.  There was a glimmer of the sun’s light sparkling onto Haru’s face as the warmth grazed his skin.  It was an uncomfortable silence that filled the negative space, almost where it hurt.  The green haired boy merely stared blankly at the appli drive in his hand for a second.  It’d be silly.  Yuujin apprealizing?  That couldn’t happen.  He died.  In Haru’s arms.  Yet…  There was eye contact there.  How was he supposed to explain the fact he saw Yuujin… If it was even him...  A dream?  Hallucination?  ...Was it real?

I…  I want it to be true… but… He’d have to go back.  Yet, could he?   ...my head hurts.

He sat up after that thought, looking outside to where the sun was about to drop into the horizon.  There was a question in his head however.  The room was too quiet, after all.

“Gatchmon?”  His voice rang throughout the area.  However, there was no response.  He let Gatchmon apprealize and go to his loft while he rest, dissociating for a bit in all reality.  Not feeling well rested, but still a bit better, he headed to the kitchen, stopping right outside the dining room door to hear two familiar voices talking.  

“...so you can search anything?”

“That’s my speciality as the search appmon!”

“Could you find out what’s the recipe for creme brulee? I’ve been wanting to try to make it one time.  Haru mentioned he liked it so I wanted to give him a special treat!”

“Yes ma’am-”

That moment, Haru walked in, seeing the appmon and his mom in the dining room talking, suddenly turning their heads to Haru.  His mom, with the same green hair and cowlick as him, spoke up with a small angry voice, but concerned.

“Haru Shinkai, how dare you not tell me what you’ve been doing for the past year!”  She walked over to him and just hugged him without hesitation, as if it was the last time she’ll see him. Haru feeling her worry for him, unsure how to respond exactly, just returned the hug with a loose grip, looking away.  She changed her voice to a softer tone, more casual in voice, and let go of Haru, putting her hands on his shoulders.  “I’m glad you had someone to watch over you as you handled these… appmon? I think that’s what Gatchmon called them.”

“Mmm.  That’s it, mom. ...I’m sorry I kept you in the dark.”

“I understand.  You just wanted to keep your dear mom safe.  I understand that… sometimes I can be a bit embarrassing to ask for advice or can’t always connect with you, but Haru, I’ll always be your mom.”  Haru just grabbed his mom and began returning the same squeeze, the woman holding her child lightly as Gatchmon jumped down as patted Haru on the back.  “Haru… I’m sorry about Yuujin.  I know you must be torn up… I can’t imagine what you’re going through but do know, I’ll do everything in my power to help make everything easier.”
“M-Mom…?  How did you..”

“After Gatchmon told me what happened over the journey, a mother can put two and two together.”  She merely smiled as Haru loosened his grip and took a step back, taking a breath to calm himself.

“Haru… Is that what…?” Gatchmon chimed in, concerned as well, two important people surrounding Haru with unconditional love and support.  Haru’s breathing was short but kept a pace as he nodded.

“Y-Yeah… I… I haven’t had really anytime since to come to terms… and now… I…”

“...take your time, sweetie.  I promise, you don’t have force yourself to immediately jump hurdles too high.  Take it at your own pace.”

“I know, Mom… but I… I need to work towards overcoming it anyways.  If not now… when?”  Haru merely clenched his fist and bit his lip, determined.  He wanted to push himself past this.  He needed to take the first step to grow and he just couldn’t find the right footing for it.  Gatchmon looked as if he hit a jackpot and smirked at Haru.

“It says here, one way to overcome loss is to celebrate life.  ‘Through the grieving process, you should be able to come to terms to accept your loved one’s loss.  From there, you should take time to remember even if you wake up without them in your life, the pain does lessen every day and life will go on.’ and another mentions ‘to help ease the pain of a loss, you should express your feelings, through creative or tangible means,’ but none of them say specifically how to cope!”  Haru smiles softly, and through Gatchmon’s search, although wasn’t the most helpful, he obtained an idea, one that’ll help him come to terms.

“Mom, I’ll be out!” He began to run out as she merely ran after him asking where’s he going.  “School!  I’ll be back in two hours top!”  Holding his Applidrive in his hand, Gatchmon converted to a chip again and floated next to Haru as the boy ran out his house in a full speed.  The sun just now poking into the horizon, the orange glow of the slowly setting sun hit the boy with that familiar touch, one he was going to face once more.

 

---

 

Haru, panting and out of breath, stumbled onto the school’s rooftop without anyone noticing, holding his legs to calm down before apprealizing Gatchmon.  The sun was three-quarters down at this point, the last glimpse of the sun shining on the rooftop, the orange color of the sky making Haru feel at home here, he slowly walked up to the fence and held the bars in front of him, remembering that day.  His teeth was dug into his lip as his hands brushed the metal in front of him, loosening the hold, looking out onto the vast city.  Gatchmon was in awe of the sight, as it was really to behold.  The entire city was viewable, everything happening and everyone moving.  The wind blew through the buddy’s hair as he looked to the side, seeing a still image of Yuujin, recreated from that day.

 

“Have you decided to what you wanted to do yet, as a career?”  Haru and a tall red-headed boy walked through the hallways, headed to the rooftop as the two were waiting for a signal, deciding to taking time to walk through the school halls, unexpectedly reflecting.  Haru’s entire presence felt peaceful, calm around the other boy.  The boy merely sighed.

“No idea.  I haven’t even given it any thought.”  The taller boy lifted his arms a bit, walking with them behind his head.  His eyes glanced to Haru, unsure. “What about you?”  Instantly, Haru paused for a moment, standing still, thinking to himself before speaking up.

“Me neither… I should probably study more.”  Haru said with a slight embarrassed tone, as if it wasn’t good enough.  The other boy merely laughed and walked over by the window at the end of the hallway, in front of the stairs.  The light shined brightly on him as the shadows hid Haru a bit, the two looking at each other.

“Same here.” he said, with a relaxed tone, but uncertain. “Maybe by this time next year, we’ll have decided on our futures?”  There was an empathic glance from Haru, thinking on it a bit.  Things change over a small period of time after all.

“I wonder how we’ll be then.”  This only made the boy look downcast for a moment, shifting his glance away to outside the window.  His eyes suddenly lit up where it was just a present handed to them.  

“Haru, the rooftop.”
“Huh?”  The boy instantly ran up before Haru could respond, the gogglehead running after him up the flights of steps before rushing out onto the roof, the bright blue sky over their heads.  The two look in awe of their surroundings, as if they entered a new world, only known to them and their appmon.

“Oh!  The rooftop!  Nice thinking, Yuujin!”  A space for only Haru and Yuujin to share together in this time together.  That’s absolutely all Haru wanted, for a moment he didn’t care if the world did end, he was with his precious friend.  Haru ran over to the bars of the rooftop with Yuujin to his right, gazing at the city above.  “What a great view~!”  A breeze brushed through their hair as Yuujin smiled and stared up a bit.

“The wind feels nice.”  His tone was a bit weak but his gaze was out to the city, eyeing it with doubts and worries and his tone, calm, hid a fear behind it.

“We won’t change… right?”  Yuujin’s eyes expressed worry as he looked to Haru, who looked a bit taken by confusion.  “What we were talking about before…  Next year’s summer… and the years after that… No matter what happens in the future, we won’t change.”  His voice sounded more confident, Haru’s gaze back able to show him comfort a bit and Yuujin’s trust in his friend was resounding through his words.  “That thought just came to mind.  We’ll always be the best of friends.  Right, Haru?”  Haru merely looked at Yuujin as the wind rushed through his hair, his eyes and smile glimmering in the sunlight.

“That’s right, Yuujin.  Nothing will change between us.”  The two shared eye contact a bit before they shared a laugh as well, the seriousness broken and the boys doing their signature handshake as they hold hands for a few seconds then turn back to the city.

 

Haru gripped the bars again, crying with his head down.  There was a point he held back all the tears he could but at the moment, remembering that memory, he couldn’t hold it back.  There wasn’t anyone around but Gatchmon, who watched him and just let Haru cry.  It lasted until the sun hit a peak where the dusk nearly settled, the last light peeking out before the sky illuminated with stars.  Taking a deep breath, Haru looked up, the rare sight of the stars poking out in the dark orange sky, the stars sparkling above him.  He was merely in awe.  Is this a sight anyone could ever see?  Haru took another deep breath and sighed out, for once in peace.  

“Haru, I know I’ve not done a lot for you today, but I’m always here for you.  I’m your buddy after all!”  Gatchmon gave the human a smirk as he laughed.  “H-hey!  I’m trying to comfort you!  Don’t laugh!”

“S-Sorry! It’s just… I do appreciate it, Gatchmon.  Your smile is just goofy sometimes.”
“I always smile like this!!!  But... I can’t be too mad if it made you smile.”  Haru picked up Gatchmon and held up the appmon as he turned back to the city, staring out.

“Right now… I need someone.  I... I’m feeling better, being here.”  Haru smiled out looking at the city, the lights turning on and the world shifting to a new period.  “And.. Yuujin… Wherever you may be, I hope you’re doing well.”  Haru smiled more, staring up at the stars, twinkling on him, with a shooting star passing by.

“Haru!  Shooting Star!  Make a wish!”  Haru didn’t second guess his wish.  He knew what he wanted and making that wish, he hoped it to come to someday.

Yuujin, wherever you may be, I hope you’re doing your absolute best and staying well… and if you ever come back, I hope we can see each other again.  I’ll be waiting, here.

 

A rush of wind brushed Haru’s hair as he looked towards the direction of where the wind blew.  Almost as a confirmation his wish was heard, Haru Shinkai discovered the solace in this place.  He finally discovered his equanimity.