How many times Junpei has seen Akane crying.
When we were little brats, no more than 12 years old. We used to go to the same elementary school, where we kept some rabbits – I liked them, I enjoyed looking after them with Kanny, but I knew she really loved them. We didn’t have many, just like four or five, but they were more than enough. I wanted to get closer to her, so this was the best idea to do it. We had to look after them one day, but we soon discovered they had been killed. Kanny cried a lot, even shouted a little. I stood there, angry, trying to come up with something to make her feel any better, so I decided to hugged her, hoping that it would mean something to her. I was angry and I felt horrible, because I could see clearly how bad Akane had been hurt.
When I gave her that doll. We found the rabbits’ killers – they pretended to kill a little kitten, though Akane and I got there on time. We stopped them, and while she ran with the kitty in her arms looking for a police man, I tried to face them. And I got beaten up, simply. I looked honestly horrible.
After that, we saw the sunset together, like really close. I took her hand, she was embarrassed, so was I, but it was nice. It was comfortable, if I were to say the truth; I felt at home when Akane was around. She told me she was leaving soon, so I decided to give her a little doll she called Jumpy. She cried a lot again, but I didn’t cry as much myself, because I had the hope that we would meet again. She was my dearest friend, so I was sure we would see each other again someday!
When we met again. I woke up in a ship, exactly, in a cabin, after having been kidnapped. I didn’t remember much, I had got home and somebody was already there with a mask gas, after that, everything got blurry. And I finally woke up here. After solving some puzzles, I could step outside, seeing a group of people, deciding to join them. Soon after, Akane appeared. It just took me a couple of seconds to recognize her, and the same happened to her. "Jumpy!”, she shouted, tripping over and falling over me. My heart skipped a beat. Then, a couple of things happened - we learnt that we were trapped there, we were 9 people and we had exactly 9 hours to get the fuck out of here by finding a door which had a 9 on it; then, the 9th man exploded. In front of us. Akane shouted, terrified, and started to cry. I hugged her while she continued weeping, hanging onto my shirt. I wanted this fucking nightmare to end, and I wanted that both of us would get out of here alive.
When I saved her. Lots of things happened afterwards. Throughout this crazy game we had to play, I learn about almost anyone and everything – their pasts, the relation they had with the previous Nonary Game and other stuff, and the most important thing – Akane was one of the masterminds of this game, along with her brother, Aoi; and this fucking Nonary Game was the only way we, no, I had to save her – in another timeline, she died in the first Nonary Game, so to prevent this, I had to enter the morphogenetic field. And I did. I saw through her eyes, as she had been doing all these time. We had to resolve a sudoku, a sudoku! She cried, hell she cried. But we made it, we won. She would leave with the rest of the children, and therefore, she would live.
When we miserably failed. We met again in the Mars mission test site, who would have said so? But we did, after a whole year. She didn’t even look me in the eye, but it was okay, I guess; after all, she didn’t care at all, didn’t she? We learnt about Radical 6 there, and the 9 of us had to prevent it from spreading. But we failed, some of us were killed, others were severely injured. She cried, as I knew she would, out of hopelessness. Once again, I stood there, asking myself where we went wrong, why we failed – and how easily mankind’s fate was condemned. It was our fault, I guess. She cried, and I really wondered why – for her or for the whole world? She disappeared again after that, so there wasn’t any point on bothering with it. She wasn’t the Akane I once knew. And I cried too when I accepted that truth. Akane Kurashiki was gone.
When Sigma, Phi and I saw that hologram. She got it planned before hand, it was obvious – she explained why all of this was made and its purpose, but it was not enough, not at all. She explained everything, and then, she truly talked especially for me. She asked me how I had been doing all these years, and she even apologized. She cried all the time, such a crybaby she was. She asked me if I still remember, and crying me too, I wondered how in the world I could forget her.
When we talked after she got out of K’s armor. A couple of things happened, but we still have some time to talk. I asked her how she had been doing, if she thought giving up her life for the rest of the world was the correct path to choose and I told her that I had been waiting for her those 45 years. She nodded, while some tears streamed down her face and she took my hand. “If I could, Junpei, I would have chosen you, I would always choose you”, she said. I could feel her warmth, trying to fight back my own tears, “but I had to do it, I had to save the world”. Before even letting me reply, she turned back. I looked down at my own hand. It was wet with Akane’s tears.
When Quark and me said goodbye. There weren’t any reason left for us to stay on Rizhome 9, so we would go back to Earth, back to our lives. We said goodbye to everyone, wishing them the best. Quark insisted on saying goodbye to Akane, so we did. She wasn’t surprised at all, she even expected us to leave. We didn’t say much, though, but I could see the hurt in her eyes – she saw Quark as our own son, she saw the family we couldn’t be. She cried a little when he hugged her, and then she looked at me. I saw the tears in her eyes, but I looked away. She wasn’t Akane, not anymore. There was no going back now.
In the infinite timelines she has lived. Loss of count. Maybe we’ll find one in which we can be happy, in which radical 6 is not released, in which she doesn’t disappear, in which there’s no more hurt or fear. One in which I will see her cry again, but now her tears will be from happiness. Just things as they should have always been. I won’t wish for that timeline to come, I’ll fight for it.