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The World Ends

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“Mr. Composer, there appears to be a disruption in the fabric of Shibuya.” Neku gives his Conductor an unimpressed glance.

“Yeah, I know.”

“Should I do something about it?” She pushes up her glasses, back stock-straight as if ready for orders. She’s not fooling anyone. If she wanted to do something, she would have done it already, behind his back. He’s not known for being very attentive to the UG, and a lot of Reapers take advantage of that. It’s not like he cares, but it’s the thought that counts. He waves a dismissive hand.

“Leave it. I’ll handle it.” He hasn’t been to the city in a long time. It’s not like there was anything to miss there. He watches Konishi leave, making a mental note to watch her more closely, before standing and stretching his wings. They’re a mottled grey, feathers falling out at random. This shouldn’t take long.

He takes off, descending through the planes, seeking the source of the disruption. Souls pass by, sharp and definitive, each closed off from the other. It took him a long time to get them to look like that. The corner of his mouth twitches upward, proud of his work. Distracted, he doesn’t notice the disruption until it’s right in front of him. A blinding light, next to an unfathomable darkness. Two souls, blurred around the edges, overlapping as if they belong together. A feeling of unease makes itself known in his chest. He’s never seen souls like this. They don’t belong in his city.

He turns down his vibe, stationing himself behind the statue of that stupid dog. Peering halfheartedly around the side, he notices two people conversing. One has a mop of brown hair, and is chatting loudly to the other, bouncing around as if he’s high on caffeine. The other responds in a much more reserved manner, taking the time to glance around the area vigilantly, long silver hair blowing in the wind. Both of them have Player pins.

Despite the uncomfortable feeling in his chest, he’s instantly intrigued. Who are these people? They’re obviously not from Shibuya, from the way they dress to the way they talk. He hides away his wings and steps out into the open, refusing to give himself a moment to second guess himself.

The silver-haired one is instantly on guard, getting the attention of the shorter male. Seemingly unconsciously, he angles himself so that he’s between the brunette and Neku. Neku pulls his headphones off so that they rest on his shoulders.

“Hi, I’m Sora! Are you a Player too?” the brunette asks, peering at him from behind the other. Neku scrounges around in his pocket and pulls out his old Player pin, from that one fateful week. He flashes it at them. The taller of the two gives him a once-over.

“Where’s your Partner?” he asks. Neku almost scoffs.

“There’s no need for Partners here. It’s every man for himself.” Courtesy of me, he thinks.

“Sounds kinda lonely.” Sora nudges the other with his elbow. “C’mon, Riku, introduce yourself!” The silver-haired guy, Riku, still has a wary look in his eyes. Neku respects that.

“I’m Riku. And you are…?”

“Neku.” The uneasiness turns into a dull, throbbing pain. He doesn’t have much time left in the UG before his powers start weaken. “How’d you die?”

Riku doesn’t even blink. “Drowned.”

“Together,” Sora quickly adds as if that makes everything better, and it seems like to them, it does. Neku can’t understand. He refuses to understand.

“Why don’t we work together?” Sora is saying. “It’s always nice to meet new people.” Neku shakes his head violently and puts his headphones back on.

“People are just handicaps. You’ll only end up getting hurt that way,” he mutters. Sora looks like he’s ready to argue, but Riku slaps a gloved hand over his mouth.

“Don’t bother. We don’t have time for a fight, we have to figure out the curse on this statue.” Sora pouts but remains quiet. With one final look at the odd duo, Neku retreats to the Scramble, disappearing into the crowd. When he’s certain they’re out of view he brings out his wings and ascends once more, making his way back to the Composer’s chambers. The pain in his chest subsides, the strain from the UG healing. He glances at the Player pin in his palm and resolves to find out more about these strange people. Drowning, huh? There’s no way they accessed the Shibuya River, unless they somehow managed to get under several feet of concrete. They had to come from somewhere else.

Through his phone, he dismisses the Game Master for the week, some low-rank Reaper he can’t be bothered to remember the name of (he’s some sort of musician or something, Neku thinks). He’s going to take over the Game himself. Even though the first day is over… there’s still six more to explore. He wants to break the strangers’ beliefs. He wants to show them why his world is better, safer, less painful than the silly notions they seem to have about “friendship” and “trust”.

Six more days. He’ll get this done.