The classrooms were empty at sunset; an ambiance that coated the walls in a soft pink shade. With his bag over his shoulder and his phone in his hand, he flipped through message after message, going far back into their chat history out of anxiety.
“C’mon man, where are you…” He took a deep breath and shoved the phone back into the pocket of his jacket. It was six thirty, and Hibiki promised to meet him in the classroom at six. Daichi had been frequently checking his phone every three minutes in hopes the vibration function was lagging, and to make sure Hibiki had messaged him back. Yet, the last message Hibiki sent him was one confirming what time they’d meet up so they could walk home together. Daichi put his hand into his pocket again, and pulled up his phone. Still nothing. He bit his lower-lip and leaned against his desk leisurely.
“Geez, this is borderline pathetic…” He knew he checked his phone too many times for it to be healthy, but he could not help being paranoid. Not when they recently ended a worldwide calamity. His grip eased around the phone, and his eyes were half-lidded with weariness. As soon as his mind trailed to such uncomfortable memories, they began digging him deeper into his subconsciousness; taking him down a dark road he never wished to revisit.
Thinking about the past was much harder when he recalled Polaris’s words.
Shall mankind lose their way, a new ordeal will fall upon the earth.
“I wonder if it’s my fault. Because I signed you up to Nicea...” With his hand still on his phone, his mind and eyes trailed elsewhere, staring blankly at the blackboard on the wall; A color that reminded him of the void. “Probably not, but… things haven’t really been the same.” At times like these, he wondered if they should have killed Polaris. From the looks of it, the void swallowed everything except for a small portion of Tokyo. Had Daichi killed Polaris, they would have continued to live on the land that remained, with the supplies and people they had left. It was hardly enough to repopulate the earth, and it was unlikely for them to easily restock on useful resources. He doubted that there were survivors left were knowledgeable on how to rebuild a society. In summary, life would be a struggle day in and day out had they taken this route, and there was no guarantee of survival, even if they stood independent without a God towering over them. That was the only comfort he had when he realized Polaris was still alive.
They were equally as doomed with her as they were doomed without her. There was no way they could win against the Septentriones again. The first time, as much as Daichi wanted to boast about his plan, was a fluke. Their teamwork brought them victory, but it could have cost them their lives, his friend’s lives- Hibiki’s life.
“She wanted you.” Hibiki. Polaris specifically went after him. “Everyone thought it was because you were the leader, the strongest one of us,” He tried not to smile, because it was not a fun thought, but he had a feeling the reason Polaris targeted Hibiki was different. “-I think it’s because she knew I’d be lost without you.” It was a way for her to strip him of hope- to take something precious from him.
Hibiki was his weakness, and if anyone wanted to harm him, that was a good place to start. He could not keep going without him. The fact he never gave up was thanks to Hibiki’s encouragement along the way, helping him reach his calm when he was struggling. Hibiki was one of his most important reasons to keep fighting.
His cheeks were burning.
“Ugh, what am I saying… I don’t know anymore…” All he knew was that he almost lost Hibiki, all because he signed up for some stupid site he thought was nothing more than a joke- a hoax.
It was six fifty.
Hibiki, where are you...
Daichi wondered if karma was more than a man-made concept, and whether he had done something to deserve what he got during the apocalypse, or whether karma was taking it out on him right now by making Hibiki late for their meetup. It was not that he lost an arm or a leg during their fight with God; if anything, he was far more fortunate than the people that lost their lives, but he still suffered at the hands of others in ways he considered traumatizing. Having to fight for survival alone was traumatizing. Man grew so accustomed to tools that it became virtually impossible to put up a decent line of defense. When those tools stopped working, they became helpless, and after what people put him through during that apocalyptic state, it was hard to believe in the fate of humanity.
Kidnapped and mistreated. It was so easy to lose hope and give Polaris permission to wipe the earth.
So easy to stop fighting.
Then, he remembered the person that remained his best friend throughout the years, and how one good person was all that he needed in his life. It was enough hope to find a reason to fight.
His nails scratched the back of his phone nervously, watching the minutes go by painfully slow. He wondered if something had happened. What could possibly have happened? They were both still in school. The facility was safe. The ordeal was over. It should have been safe. So why was Hibiki so late?
When you worry me like this, I really want to scold you...
The fabric near his shoulder felt warm, and he tensed up at the hand that squeezed him to grab his attention. When he turned his head, Hibiki was standing there, smiling.
But then you walk in looking like that, and I can’t say anything.
“Dude, Why!? Don’t scare me like that!”
Except that. For some reason, I say that a lot to you.
Hibiki clasped his hands together apologetically in the form of a prayer, as if he was praying to the cruel God that tried to kill them, but Daichi knew he was doing it in hopes he’d be forgiven for arriving late. His friend smiled despite his worries, smiled with rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes that made it hard for Daichi to look away. Judging by Hibiki’s breaths, it seemed he was running to get to him in time. Hibiki softly intertwined his fingers, and rested his hands over his lips, hoping to sway Daichi to feel some sympathy.
Why do you act like my forgiveness means the world to you?
“Sorry, my phone died… I came as fast as I could.” Daichi sighed, and grabbed the strap of his shoulder bag before turning his gaze away. It was not like he could hold a grudge against Hibiki. It took a ridiculous amount of effort to keep such anger bottled up inside that it sounded too much of a chore. The important thing was that Hibiki was alright. The world was not ending. There was no new ordeal. Everything was the way it should be.
“It’s fine. I don’t mind the wait, but try to stay in touch next time, okay?” He must have said something odd, because Hibiki was looking at him with unclear eyes; crisp blue overshadowed by a cloudy gray that made him appear a lot more despondent.
You just get me. How can I hide anything from you like this?
Hibiki’s arms softly wrapped around Daichi’s neck, pulling him into a gentle hug. It was like clockwork every time. At the smallest inconvenience, at the tiniest discomfort- Hibiki was right there to tell Daichi what Daichi had heard him say a thousand times by now; that he could tell him anything, that there was no shame in still being afraid, that his feelings were valid. A burden was lifted from his chest every time, because when Hibiki approached him like this, he felt so much less like a burden, and so much more like his equal.
Even when you’re just a few minutes late…
Daichi hugged back, and buried his face in the crook of Hibiki’s neck, nuzzling close and sinking into the warm and loving embrace of his best friend’s arms- too scared to let go.
I keep thinking she’s going to take you away again.
Ordeal or not, Polaris was not taking Hibiki away from him.
Not a chance.