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Re: Power

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A familiar scene plays before our eyes as Subaru asks Rem to take his hand. Right now Subaru's in front of Rem trying to convince her to run away with him and leave everyone else behind, that there's nothing they can do to save their loved ones. Now let's take a couple of steps back to see we ended up here.

The otherworlder Natsuki Subaru has been suffering lately, I'm sorry I mean more than usual.

Ever since coming to this world, he's overcome strong obstacles such as the Bowel Hunter, the Mabeast invasion, and an angry demon maid. Now he's finally encountered something on a whole different level. The Witch-Cult.

Things were going bad for Subaru these days. Not only did break his promise to Emilia and embarrass her in front of many nobles, but he also fought against a royal knight and promptly had his ass handed to him. If that wasn't enough he got into an argument with Emilia where it led to him being abandoned by her in the end. Now last on this list he has to save everyone he holds dear from a cult of deranged monsters, also where he is outgunned in every possible way.

Immediately learning of the witch cult's impending attack Subaru and Rem get ready to head back to Mathers territory, but Rem knocks Subaru out and heads back alone first. Later Subaru wakes up and hurries to the mansion. This was the beginning of his new suffering.

Natsuki Subaru died a grand total of 20 times now. Time and time again Natsuki Subaru failed to save anyone and died for his troubles.

It wasn't the fact that he was dying that was the problem, after all, he's died many times before. No, what really broke him was everyone he wanted to protect died agonizingly while he was helpless to do anything.

He tried gathering help to combat the witch-cult from the other royal candidates, but he was rejected at every turn. They even went far as to humiliate him for a bonus. Why? Because they just didn't understand that this was no longer about the elections, it was about saving people from death and punishing those guilty of so many atrocities.

Then the icing on the cake, dying and having the save point move up to when he was rejected by all the royal candidates really drove the point home of what he needs to do. Give up.

That's why he did some soul searching and chose to run away. Why fight a losing battle when you can live somewhere else happily with someone who loves you. Natsuki Subaru has finally seen the light.

Now back to Rem and Subaru.

Rem doesn't take Subaru's hand and decides to show Subaru another path besides running away from adversity. For a while, it looks like she might convince him until she made a fatal mistake.

"It's easy to give up, but..." Rem spoke gently trying to ease Subaru's anxiety.

That's, when Rem said the wrong thing, under any other circumstance this, would not anger him so much, after all, Rem is just trying to encourage him, but Subaru had gone to great lengths to get help against the witch-cult and failed many times so this triggered him instead. Greatly.

Subaru slowly raised his head and stared Rem in the eye with a disturbed expression. His fists clenched.

"It's easy to give up?" He echoed her.

"Subaru-kun?"

"Don't give me that! There's nothing easy about giving up!" He screamed. "You think I'm just doing nothing, sitting on my ass, waiting for someone else to solve my problems and run away from everything when the going gets tuff?!"

Rem stands there in shock as Subaru begins a tirade. She's never seen Subaru angry before.

"I've been pushing myself to limit but every time I think I've grasped victory it ends up slipping through my hands!" He was not a man that gave up easily. He would try to work himself to the bone to get a happy ending. So why doesn't any else see his efforts? Did he really look so ignorant and incompetent that they wrote him off as slothful?

Rem tried to get his attention, but her words can't reach him. Why does he feel so empty?

The world was gray as if it lost all color. He felt nauseous, barely able to stand. Taking a step forward resulted in him swaying before falling to his knees. He tried mustering the power to stand but as if he lacked the energy to move. Natsuki Subaru's time had stopped.

Inside he wants to laugh of course he looks like he doing nothing because no one knows how many times he's died to overcome obstacles. He realized the truth no one would ever be able to understand him. Emilia the girl he showed loyalty to above all else left him. Even Rem the one who confessed her love doesn't understand him. 

Nothing has changed. He was all alone again.

"Why don't you understand?! I thought if someone could understand me it would be you!"

Putting a hand on his shoulder Rem tries to get his attention again. "Subaru-kun" She wants to ask what's wrong to take away his pain. Wondering who could have hurt him so badly. She doesn't like the way he looks right now. How he has given up.

"Please tell me what's wrong Subaru-kun. You can always trust me to help you no matter what." She asks to comfort him.

Subaru freezes as a memory of a previous loop comes to mind.

[Flashback]


Rem's body is hung in the air by the power of Betelgeuse's unseen hands.

Subaru was held down by groups of cultists unable to resist despite his struggle.

"Showing courage to fight an enemy even when outnumbered how magnificent!" He praises the blue demon in glee. He then turns to Subaru. "Someone like that has to have a lot of love.... right?" He shows his yellow teeth with a disgusting smile to Subaru making him panic in fear.

"No! Stop Betelgeuse!" Subaru struggles more frantically to save the woman who loves him. "Please don't do this!" He begs the bishop.

"Ah, I'm deeply touched by the way you call my name with such emotion." He commands the invisible force holding the maid's limps body to increase in strength, "but I wonder how beautifully will you cry when her body is torn apart? HAHAHAHAHA!" Betelgeuse's manic laughter filled the cave.

Subaru tries to lift his head only for him to be slammed back into the ground. "REM! NO STOP PLEASE!" He begs, begs, and begs some more but his pleas fall on deaf ears as Betelguese adds more power making her cry out in pain. He could hear the twisting and turning of bones creak under the strain. 

"Su... Baru-kun... I... L-" Her words were tragically cut short by Betelguese tearing her in half, bathing Subaru in her blood and organs.

"The reason she who was precious to you died a painful death was that you did nothing!" Betelgeuse admonished the broken boy.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Subaru screamed in despair.

"I see, Natsuki Subaru you are truly slothful! Hahahahahahahahaha!" His deranged cackle haunting Subaru ears.


[Flashback End]

Subaru surprised Rem when he stood up in shock all of a sudden. Reliving the memory made him take a few unsteady steps back away from her.

"No No No! I can't go back there!" Tears flowed down from his eyes as his face show anguish and fear.

"Subaru-kun" Rem's worry reached a new level upon looking at Subaru. "What could make Subaru-kun look so haunted?" She tries to get close but he flinches as if her mere touch would burn him.

"No more. I can't do this anymore!" Subaru screams before running off.

"Subaru-kun wait!" He ignores Rem and continues to run.

Subaru doesn't stop when enters the street he keeps his feet moving with no destination in mind. It didn't matter if he bumped into someone he would not stop running. Unaware of two individuals were watching him and Rem the whole time. specifically a masked man and a woman wearing a hood.

The masked man watches Subaru head into the slums with a smile on his face. Everything was going just as planned.

"It's time to begin the plan." He speaks to his partner. "We'll have to make sure that demon doesn't interfere."

"Of course." The hooded woman replies as both disappear within the crowd.


[Subaru]

Subaru's legs bring him to an abandoned church in the slums. He enters and closes the door behind him.

 "My head hurts... I need to sit down.... yeah I just need a little rest." Thought Subaru. He's someone who works out daily but it felt like he ran a mile.

Subaru sits on a nearby pew bench and puts his head in his hands. Several thoughts going through his mind. The main one being what he was going to do now.

"I should take a dragon carriage to Kararagi." He needed to leave. Faraway from this death trap of a royal selection. "It might be tough for a few months but if I sell my phone for 20 holy coins it should be enough to manage with." He knows where he going, he has the money, but he was still hesitating.

"Do I really want to abandon everyone? To abandon Rem?" He remembers the first time he met Emilia. All the fun times he had with the mansion residents and the Irlam villagers. The loops where Rem sacrificed her life for his. The good and bad memories flash through his mind.

He shakes his head to banish the memories. "No, she already made her choice, I'm on my own now." His original plan was to leave with Rem, but she chose to stay. He'll have to start over again by himself.

"There no helping it I tried to save everyone." He begged, pleaded, threw away his pride for help. In return he received scorn. The candidates, knights, Emilia, and finally Rem. He was rejected by all of them. There was no reason to stay where he was not wanted. All his paths lead to giving up.

A failure like him could never be a hero. As time moved Subaru's thoughts became more negative. All he had to do is run away, run away and never look back.

"I tried so hard... yet in the end, I failed to reach the finish line." He said depressingly.

"It was for you, wasn't it?"

[—?!] 

Subaru abruptly stood trying to find the source of the voice. Was he finally hallucinating from all his deaths?  He knew this voice. How could ever forget it?

He tries to ignore it but then another voice catches his attention.

"You adamantly believe that your rantings are true. That is nothing short of madness, Natsuki Subaru."

Crusch the woman who knew he was telling the truth, but condemned him and innocent people to their deaths.

"Like you're any better. You were willing to let Emilia die so there would be less competition." He snarls in hatred.

"What you just displayed was neither loyalty nor devotion. It's something more filthy, like a dog's dependence or a pig's greed. You a lazy pig who knows only how to want! A pig's greed is the ugliest thing there is!"

Priscilla who judged arrogantly from her throne.

"What does she know?! I always tried to save Emilia!" It was true it had to be or why else would die for her.

"Image is everything Natsuki-san.  Unfortunately for you, your image is just a joke.  My opinion of ya isn't gonna change, either. "

Anastasia the fox that dried of information like some fool and leaving him alone.

"What do you know about me?!" He yells. They never died. So what gives them the right to look down on him.

"You called it here, let Lia die, and now, you die yourself... You really are useless."

"Puck you never explained anything to me. If you're so strong why didn't you save everyone?!" He screams about the beast's negligence

The first voice makes itself known again.

"I can't understand if you don't tell me Subaru."

Emilia the woman I used to love.

"I can't understand if you don't tell me, either!" Why can't anyone ever explain things?

" You are irredeemably powerless. You aren't worthy to stand at her side. "

"Stop it." Subaru blocked his ears with his hands as a way to shut out the voices.

"You've done enough, Natsuki Subaru.  You know, I had hope for you. I thought maybe you, only you, wouldn't give me special treatment. That you'd look at me in the same way you look at everyone else."

"SHUT THE HELL UP!!" He can't take it anymore. Why does he have to be the only one judged?

"Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut the fuck up! I don't want to hear anything from you!" Subaru screamed in anger.

His rage was so intense that he had temporarily blacked out and when he regained his bearings he was standing in the middle of the destroyed room. The windows were shattered, the benches had holes, his hands were bleeding. He could stop panting from his eruption.

What was happen to him? His emotions were all over the place, one moment he was sad, the next his boiling mad. He needed to rest.

"Yeah, I need to... rest again.. then I'll get on... the first carriage out of the country..." He thought while heading to one of the undamaged benches.

His attempt at walking came out as wobbling. His vision was spinning. The world was spinning. Everything was spinning.

"I have.. to sit... down." He was tired. He wanted to recover his energy. He staggered forth, but it became too much and he collapsed.

Subaru fell to his knees in disgust, in hatred, in defeat. The weight of the world was too much for him. Why should he stand up, when he'll be knocked back down in the end? He couldn't bottle his feelings anymore. He broke down crying his heart out.

"Why? Why? Why did this happen?" His face was covered in tears. "Did I do something wrong? If so I'll apologize. Please tell me what I did to be sent to this fresh hell." He begged the world not expecting an answer.

Well, someone did answer him.

"You didn't do anything wrong. You're suffering because of other people's incompetence." A stern voice responded to Subaru.


[Rem]

Taking a turn down the alleyway Rem follows the witch's miasma know it will lead her to Subaru.

"What happened to Subaru-kun?" She whispered while taking another turn down the road. "Giving up doesn't suit him. Did the fight with Emilia-sama hurt him that much?" She knew he was depressed from being left alone, but she never thought it was this bad.

She continued to run right past the church Subaru was in going further down to a less populated area. "I need to talk to him before he does something he regrets." She thought.

Rem finally reaches the ruined part of the slums. She keeps an eye trying to find Subaru. "What happened? The smell disappeared all of a sudden." She tried smelling again, but it was as if all scents in the area were gone.

Rem was about to backtrack to the main road when heard the sound of someone clapping.

*Clap! Clap! Clap!*

"I didn't think you were so foolish to follow the bread crumbs I left you." Mocked a hooded woman coming out of an abandoned house.

Rem summons her Morningstar in response to the stranger's boast. Many scenarios filled her head. How did she replicate Subaru's smell? Was she an assassin sent by the other candidates or an enemy of Roswaal-sama?

"Is there a reason you wanted me alone?" Rem questioned the figure.

The woman doesn't seem worried about Rem's preparation to fight.

"No reason really I was just asked to keep you from interfering in my partner's plan with your boyfriend." She answers nonchalantly.

"Interfering-" Rem cuts herself when she realizes the boy the figure was talking about was Subaru. Rem sees red and launches her Morningstar at the lady in front of her.

The woman calmly dodges the angry attack before retaliating with a colorless ball of mana

"El Musa!" Shouted the woman.

"Huma!" Rem cried forming an ice barrier.

The colorless magic smashed right through Rem's barrier hitting square in the chest and flying into the wall behind her. The first exchange ended with the defeat of the maid.

Rem never felt pain like this, her body felt like it was losing strength. She tried to bring her horn out to heal, yet her attempt failed. The strange magic she was hit with not only damaged her badly but also prevented her from calling her horn.

"You should have summoned your horn the moment you met me. If you did this fight would have lasted longer." Scolded the woman while walking towards the incapacitated demon.

"What do you want with Subaru-kun?" Questioned Rem while failing to regain her strength. "How could she be strong enough to beat me in one hit?"

"Nothing serious we're just trying to save him?" She answers surprising Rem.


[Subaru]

Lifting his head Subaru comes face to face with the owner of the voice

The young man was wearing a black coat with black fur around the collar and a purple tracksuit. He also had a white mask with a large purple scar across his right eye and black feathers behind the mask.

"Who the hell is this guy." Subaru thought.

"It's not healthy to stay on the floor like that." Commented the man not paying attention to Subaru's questioning gaze.

Confused about the stranger's presence Subaru stands up and asks him a question. "Who are you?"

"My name is Alcor and I'm here to help you Natsuki Subaru." The newly named Alcor responds.

"I have a lot of questions the first being why do you want to help some like me?" He had a bad reputation considering his fight with Julius. Let's not forget his relation to Emilia a half-elf. " I don't think you want to waste time on a scumbag like me." He finished negatively.

His negative remarks seemed to anger Alcor based on his clenched fists.

"The reason I'm helping you is that I don't want you to keep using Return by Death to solve other people's problems." Alcor's response shocks Subaru. How did this stranger know about his looping power?

Subaru was shaking in terror believing the shadowy hands would kill the man before him. He grabbed his heart thinking he would be punished. He waited for the familiar darkness to hurt him and to kill Alcor. He waited for a minute for pain that never came. Opening his eyes Subaru looks around wondering why wasn't he being punished.

"Don't worry that witch is being restrained by my boss so we'll be able to have a proper conversation," Alcor answers to alleviate Subaru's fear.

The witch can't hurt him. It was too good to be true. The past loop with Emilia showed the witch was not someone to be trifled with. For a random guy to retrain her made Subaru question how strong he was.

Gaining courage Subaru speaks, "Why would anyone want to help me? I've made reckless decisions that caused corpses to pile up." Subaru was about to continue his self-hate speech but was interrupted by Alcor.

"Subaru stop!" He knew Subaru's self-esteem was low during this point, but this had to stop. "None of this was your fault! It was those damn incompetent assholes that lead to all your failed loops!"

 "Who are you talking about Alcor?" Surprised by his anger Subaru asks for clarification because he never met anyone as incompetent as him.

"The people I'm talking about are none other than that traitorous camp you were a part of." He answers stupifying Subaru. "Scum like them do not deserve your loyalty Subaru."

"Traitors," he mutters this has to be a joke. Emilia was the first one to save him. Beatrice helped with the demon beasts. Roswaal gave him a new home. Rem, Ram, and Puck might have been killed but they were still his friends.

"I know you don't want to believe but it's the truth Subaru you were betrayed," Alcor said knowing Subaru would be in denial.

"You're lying!" Alcor had to be lying. He reassured himself that his friends did not betray his trust. That this guy was telling lies to hurt him. He was about to go on a rant just to be stopped by Alcor's killing intent.

"Let me tell you Subaru you have been betrayed a lot by your so-called friends it's not even funny. It's probably hard for you to accept that's why I'm going to explain how they betrayed you. I know about all your past loops Subaru so you'll be able to tell if I'm lying. Just give me a chance I do not say these things to hurt you rather I want you to stop blaming yourself for other people's mistakes." Alcor finishes in a sincere tone.

Subaru wants to ignore him, but this is the first time someone knew about his situation. The least he could do is keep an open mind. Subaru remembers all his past loops so he could tell if Alcor was lying to him.

"Fine, I'll be open-minded, so can you please explain how I was betrayed." Subaru relents to Alcor.

"Subaru I have information on not just your loops but about the secrets surrounding you so please listen," Alcor warns. "Let's begin with your stay at the mansion."

Author: I thought I should put another warning. This is not a bashing fanfiction!

"Beatrice could have healed you in the first loop preventing you from going through all that trauma with the Oni maids." Alcor drops a bomb at the beginning.

Surely he has to be joking Subaru thinks before he remembers Beatrice was able to tell he was cursed from a glance when was in his 5th loop. When he visited her library at night she could have healed him.

Subaru felt pained when the blonde spirit let him die. "B-but Beatrice..." He trails off when he realizes he can't defend her actions. If Beatrice had healed him in the first loop he wouldn't have to be killed by Ram and Ram. "If Alcor was right then the others have betrayed me too." He thinks in dread.

"Next would be that failure of a father. Subaru, Puck is a great spirit that can easily destroy a country. You've seen a glimpse of what he could do in his true form, so why didn't he end that archbishop earlier.

"Why didn't puck kill those witch cultists? It should have been easy from what I saw in one of my loops. Hell, he froze me to death with them." Subaru thought.

"It's simple, the contract with Emilia weakens him greatly. And don't try to defend him Subaru if he broke his contract with Emilia he could have killed those cultists anytime!" Alcor stops Subaru from interrupting. "Beatrice and Puck also knew about the witch-cult for years Subaru, but they never did anything."

"They knew for years?" Subaru repeats. "Why didn't they warn anybody?! I was tortured to death in one of my loops! What the fuck were those two thinking?!" He asks in anger. He didn't want to be bitter but after dying 20 times even the forgiving Subaru would be infuriated.

"They had the confidence to handle the problem." Alcor snorts while Subaru rolls his eyes they both know how that ended.

"Subaru the next thing I say is going to make you mad so please stay calm enough to listen," Alcor asks getting a nod in return. "Roswaal knows you've been looping Subaru."

To be continued...