So, this is a bit different from what I usually post. There is a booklet that comes with the limited edition Collar x Malice Unlimited. This is a short story based off of the ‘tragic ending’ in the original game. So of course, spoilers if you have not finished the first game. Third is Mineo! His ending was definitely sad and similar to Yanagi’s. However, this story is most definitely… bittersweet?
[A Cruel Lie]
“Don’t lose your way, Mineo-san.”
“Don’t be like me…”
“Hey, Enomoto! Hey long are you gonna stay asleep!?”
Along with a dull sound, I see a flash from the back of my head. I blinked a few times before jumping up in shock, unaware of what had just happened.
“Oh, you’re finally awake. It’s time to go on patrol.”
“R-Right—wait, if you’re gonna wake me up can’t you just do it normally!? Why’d you have to hit me!?”
Besides that, when I look at the clock I see that it’s still my break. I’m not even slacking off during work hours, so this doesn’t seem very fair. As I stared back at Satake-san with a unsatisfied look on my face, he gave me a tranquil look for some reason.
“I think you should be thanking me instead. It looked like you were having a nightmare.”
“Really…? Did I say something while I was asleep?”
“Yeah, things like “don’t go” or “please wait”.”
“Ah, that’s embarrassing. Thanks for waking me up.”
“It’s that obedient way about you that makes you hard to dislike, you know?”
Thinking about the fact Satake-san was concerned about me and thanking him, he makes a surprised look.
“Well, being bright and cheerful is my motto! It’s my one and only good points after all!”
“One and only, you say. You’re quick to recover though. In fact, it seems like you’re putting up a front. You better not be pretending.”
“Yeah, don’t worry. I’m fine.”
Satake-san watches me with eyes like that of a father who is surprisingly worried. When I decided to go back to the police, he pushed my back and even accompanied me to drink all night when my girlfriend left.
“Alright, let’s go preserve the safety of Shinjuku! Let’s go on patrol!”
“…Sheesh, don’t get carried away.”
As I saluted him in an exaggerated manner, Satake-san gave a relieved smile.
The X-Day incident was caused by the criminal organization known as Adonis. It was December of last year where the incident came to an end, although it couldn’t be said all perpetrators were caught. A year had passed and the season had come to an end in the blink of an eye.
“Damn, it’s cold!”
As I finished work and headed home, I shouted out involuntarily. It always seems to get cold around this time of year. As I felt my hands and feet grow numb, I remember how bad last year was.
(After hitting 20 years old, years just go by in the blink of an eye.)
It’s been more than a year since I was a student but it just like it’s only been a day. The seasons transition surprisingly fast as I continue to repeat the same pattern of daily life. I work, eat, then sleep. Along with waiting for each season to come, I also felt impatient as ‘that day’ would approach.
(It’s been a year since I’ve seen her last.)
At face value it was sad, although it’s been about a year since I broke up with my former lover Hoshino Ichika. During that time, I was encouraged by the people around me, scolded, lost all motivation, and hit rock bottom. But, I got over it earlier than I thought I would.
That’s when I took lesson in learning that no matter how painful it may be or if you don’t come to terms with it, nothing will change unless you face it up front.
(The one who taught me that was Ichika. I can’t repeat the same thing over again.)
That’s why I decided to set a goal, so I wouldn’t lose my way. And that was to wait a year. I immediately returned to the police and I did my daily work frantically. Within this past year, rather than live in shame, I gained confidence. After organizing my thoughts, I decided I would go see her. Although it was during this time I decided this, I’m not sure if it’ll end well. Even if I meet her with incomplete feelings I can’t give her the answer she’s looking for. I feel that’s why it may just end up as mutual wound licking.
“Hm? It’s rare for Yanagi-senpai to call me.”
I took out the vibrating phone in my pocket and hit the call button. Last year I was in Yanagi-senpai’s care, but now we’ve rarely seen each other since I returned to the place and got my own place to live. The degree of our relationship is through email every few months.
“Yanagi-senpai? Did something happen?”
“No, it’s nothing serious but… I was just thinking it’s almost been a year.”
A bit surprised by that answer, I blurted out.
“Yanagi-senpai, do you have no faith in me at all? Don’t worry, I don’t intend to run away anymore.”
“I don’t think that but… you’re a bit hard to read.”
“Hard to read?”
“What do you plan to do when you see Hoshino?”
Showing I understood what he said, I gave him silence in return. He knows the circumstances between me and Ichika separating. After asking whether or not I should go after her, I also told him I’d go meet her in a year.
During that time, a confession was being drawn out from an X-Day incident criminal, Tomoki Ogata. He aimed a knife at me and Ichika fired at him to stop him. As a result, the bullet shot through Ogata’s vital point and he died. Regretting her actions, Ichika resigned from the police force and returned home.
Yanagi-senpai wants to know if I intended to reconcile after I hit rock bottom and she left without keeping in contact.
“I guess I shouldn’t be so carefree about it. It’s possible she may be with someone else. After taking that much time to think about it I’d just give up.”
“…No, that’s not what I mean. You still haven’t forgiven Hoshino, right?”
Rather than my own prediction, I’m surprised he could read my mind like that. But, I guess it make sense. He’s the kind of guy who’s sensitive to someone’s pain and is able to understand it.
“I’m no match for you, senpai.”
“Don’t worry! It’s not like I’m going there to fight. I just want to express my feelings.”
It’s just like Yanagi-senpai said. I was just waiting to gain more confidence and to gain a better understanding of my own heart. That’s why my mind still hasn’t changed from a year ago.
I still can’t forgive Ichika.
I looked around with new feelings as I landed in Niigata station where Ichika’s parents home was. I thought about just coming without warning, but it would’ve been pointless if she wasn’t there. At first when I contacted her she told me, “I can’t see you.” but after asking several times she surprisingly agreed to it. I told her I didn’t need to be picked up but I’m supposed to wait around and meet at the station.
(She just emailed me so she should be here already.)
When I look at the cars lined up at the rotary, I suddenly hear a honk of a horn and turn around. There, I saw Ichika waving her hand at me from the driver’s seat.
“Did you get lost?”
“Nope, as you can see, I stayed in front of the station so I wouldn’t.”
“Ah, I suppose you’re right.”
To be honest, at first I thought my feelings would get the better of me and I wouldn’t be able to speak with her properly. Yet the both of us were completely normal and it was somewhat awkward. When I got into the passenger’s seat, Ichika started the car and said we’d make it there in around 20 minutes or so.
“It feels kinda strange sitting here with you driving.”
I wouldn’t be able to get here without a car. Anyways, it’s been a while. It’s good to see you’re doing well.
“Yeah… you too…”
“Sorry you had to come all the way here, Enomoto-san. I know you’re busy with work and all.”
Who am I talking to right now? Suddenly this question comes to mind. I should know her tone of voice and how she sounds and yet… it’s different.
Apart from having promised a future together, we didn’t keep in touch for a year so you could say that we “broke up.” Both me and Ichika understood that. That’s why it makes sense to return to calling each other by our last names. Perhaps our relationship just reset as if we’d just met a year ago.
“I’ll make us tea so please sit.”
…Thanks. Oh, here. It’s nothing special, but for the tea.”
“Ah, dorayaki. Thank you.”
While holding an awkward conversation, I sat down on the sofa as she insisted. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room to immerse in the fact this is the home where Ichika grew up. Soon after, Ichika put the tea and sweets on the table and sat on the sofa to face me.
A subtle silence filled the room. I intended to prepare what I wanted to say, but I find myself lacking the courage to do so.
“You wouldn’t have come all the way here unless you had something the tell me, right?”
In the end, it was Ichika who urged me to speak. It isn’t easy for people to just change. As I made sure to not look pitiful, I corrected my posture.
Within this past year, I thought desperately about how I could persuade Ichika. But while thinking all alone this past year, I realized the one thing I should say.
“There is something I need to tell you.”
“A year ago, the day you left the police and returned home, I told you this…”
“‘In regards to Ogata, you did nothing wrong. You were only trying to protect me.’
“That’s what I said back then. But… that was actually a lie. To be honest, I didn’t think that. I… In truth, I couldn’t believe for a second you killed Ogata. You could almost say I was angry. “
Ichika kept silent and listened. But it looked as her eyes were looking in a far off distance.
“But who am I to criticize someone for a single mistake? Even so… I couldn’t forgive you. That was your own sense, wasn’t it? You trampled on my feelings of wanting to try and save Ogata. Not that you broke your own sense of justice, but you couldn’t bear to break mine. So you quit the police.”
“…Yes, you’re right.”
“Your regret and suffering wasn’t out of the ordinary. And yet, I lied to you, saying “you did nothing wrong.” Bad things are bad, but as long as you forgive each other and communicate properly, you can continue on in any shape or form. But… I was the one who truly trampled over your feelings. And for that… I’m really sorry.”
After throwing it all out at once, I deeply lowered my head. I did it for a while but there was no response. As I raised my head to get a glance, my eyes met Ichika’s with a surprised look on her face.
In spite of this, while Ichika stood there with her mouth hung open, I let out a idiotic sound in return.
“Um… so you came all this way to say that?”
“Y-Yeah. That’s right…”
I realized she was seriously wondering and I continued to incline my head. Did what I say not get across?
“Why are you apologizing? As for lying… you did it so you wouldn’t hurt me, right?”
“I didn’t want to lose you.”
“That’s why I suppressed any words or lies that you make take offense to. I couldn’t accept what you did. I just said what seemed right in the moment. I’m the worst, aren’t I?”
“I know I’m only troubling you with apologies, but I wanted to face you head on.”
In the past, I couldn’t face the investigation of the X-Day case. I was afraid to take responsibility for what I did and didn’t want to admit how helpless I was. As I continued to run away from Fuji-senpai, it was Ichika who woke me up.
“You confronted me head on and got me back on my feet without giving up. Now it’s my turn.”
I stare straight at Ichika and prepare to speak. If you continue to live being afraid of being hurt or hurting someone, you can’t move forward.
“What you did wasn’t something a police officer should be proud of. As a criminal he should be judged under the law, there’s no reason to take a life. It’s true police officers are permitted to fire under imminent circumstances, but…. in that situation there were other ways.”
Her eyes were opened wide. I realized I was saying awful things, but I couldn’t just continue to lie.
“Even I have committed a sin I couldn’t stop. So let’s make amends together, Ichika.”
“If the police aren’t fine with it, then it’s fine if you can just live as an ordinary woman. There’s no need to sacrifice yourself as a being with no sense justice. But if you’re still suffering from the guilt… why not save someone else and make amends?”
Ichika covers her face with trembling hands.
I stood up while watching big tears spill out through the gaps of her fingers.
“I… I could never accept what I did….”
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry…”
“Ogata-san… had a daughter…”
“I could never tell her I did the right thing… And yet, I know I was still trying to forgive myself for what I’ve done.”
I didn’t think about how she lived with this after quitting the police. Based on my thoughts so far, I feel slightly regretful for this year gap between us. However, precisely because of that gap, I think my words finally reached Ichika.
“I was trying to depend on those words you said to me.”
“That’s why it’s my fault. I took refuge in those words.”
“But, I can’t be by your si—”
“It’s okay, Ichika. You don’t have to say anymore. I understand.”
I pull her arms and to forcifully pull her up. She was teary-eyed but opened them in surprise. Regardless, I strongly got a hold of her body.
You have to continue live without looking away. If you don’t, your heart will stay at a standstill. Even though you can’t take back what you did, you can still make someone else happy.”
“That’s why, please start with making me happy.”
“I can’t be happy if you’re not next to me. Every day this past year I’ve been thinking about you and going back to the way things used to be. But we don’t have to go back. It doesn’t have to be like it was before. So please be by my side and look my way, even if it’s just for a little while. And hopefully someday… you can forgive me for lying. And some day I will forgive you for everything.”
“Is it okay for me to be by your side?”
“I won’t forgive you if you aren’t.”
I don’t want to ignore her will, even if it seems like a threat, you could say she’s walking a painful road for my happiness. I wouldn’t do that to the woman I love. Even so, I…
“If you want to atone for what you did to Ogata and me… If you regret hurting me… Then please live with me.”
I want us to live together. If it were the old me, it would almost seem like an embarrassing proposal. But we held each other without making a sound.
But as long we were happy, I didn’t need anything else.