Chapter 11 – Faltering Heart
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“Big Brother, you’re leaving again?”

Hugging her stuffed bear and blanket, gifts from her dear brother, Sayaka stared at the distance. She had been half-asleep, but the sound of the door opening, a sound she had been hearing night after night, woke her up as usual.

She blinked to scan the room before seeing her brother near the doorway. Senri Uehara stood there, his coat put on halfway before being stopped by the voice of his sister. Feeling a wave of self-consciousness after he failed to escape once again, he calmly walked to the bed.

“Don’t you worry, Sayaka. I won’t be going too far tonight.”

He knelt down before brushing his hand over his sister’s long, silky hair.

“But you’re going to come back too late again,” the girl pouted, her face giving a childish expression that’s more suited for a child than a fourteen year old girl. “What have you been doing the past few days?”

Senri hesitated, looking out their room. His eyes seemed to follow the raindrops that smacked the windows.

“It’s hard to explain, but let’s just say that I’m talking with a benefactor about our future… this world’s future, to be more specific. Ever since we ran away from home, we have spent months getting by, but we can’t keep living like this, simply getting by and moving from place to place, with no destination in sight.”

“We don’t need that, Brother! Why don’t we just spend our happy days together? Brother, your love is all I need.”

“Sayaka, I appreciate that. But in the end, there are things far greater than ourselves. Remember what I said the other day?”

The girl nodded, albeit hesitantly.

“We’ll be the strongest team eventually. You and me, helping the less fortunate and saving them,” chuckled Senri. “And I’m making these trips with a partner to sure it happens.”

She turned her eyes away.

“But for now, I want you to take things slowly, Sayaka. Don’t think of any of that for now.”

“Actually…” he said after an abrupt pause. “When the time comes, I want you to find your own path. In the distant tomorrow, I might have to leave your side. When that time comes, always remember to move forward. Never sacrifice the goodness in your heart for a selfish desire, even if it’s for my sake.”

“You’re making me even more worried saying things like that!” she whined. “I won’t allow it! Please don’t go!”

She sprang up and clutched her brother’s coat tightly.

In spite of this outburst, her brother’s expression remained steadfast. Not even an eyebrow furrowed nor did his lips move. He stayed still, letting his sister let her feelings out.

“Why are you telling me this?!”  Tears welled up in Sayaka’s eyes. “Why are you talking as if you’ll be leaving me behind? I don’t care if you come home late tonight. Just make sure to not leave me alone!”

“What are you talking about? Of course, I’ll be back. First off, I can’t saddle you with the rent.”

The boy had a sheepish grin as he said those words in a joking manner. It did not take too long for him to shift gears and look at his sister with introspective eyes.

“The path I’m following for our, for humanity’s sakes, could be one with challenges ahead. Far greater than what we’ve been through. We do not know what fate has in store for us.”

“Big Brother…”

“Please rest, Sayaka. I promise I’ll be back by tomorrow morning, so sleep tight and rest up, okay? We still got a great day ahead of us tomorrow. Say, how about I take you to your favorite dessert café if you’re a good girl?”

Sayaka hesitantly let go of his coat before burying herself in her plushie and blanket.

“It’s a promise, okay?”

“Yes, a promise. Take care of yourself while I’m out, Sayaka. When you wake up, you’ll have your dear brother beside you with a smile on his face.”

Those were the last words that Senri said before he went on his way. The door closed with a slow, creaking sound, leaving Sayaka alone as thunder clapped in the distance.

Minutes that seemed like hours passed.

His words continued clawing at her, keeping her awake. Elsewhere, something was tugging at her, like a gut instinct. It could be the weather tonight, or it could be the overall mood in which her brother spoke today.

He was definitely hiding something from her, and she swore to find the truth behind his brother’s nightly leaves.

Why does he keep talking like he’s uncertain of the future? Like he’s willingly putting himself in danger for the sake of others. Like he’s attempting something excessive reckless.

He’s already got a penchant for that, but that’s going too far.

Unable to sleep, Sayaka got out of the bed and walked towards the door.

In her mind, she made the decision, one which could be the point of no return. Her brother might hate her for that, but…

She took her outdoor clothes that were hanging on a chair and approached the room’s door. She then carefully twisted the cold metal handle of the door and took a deep breath.

It turned out to be a night she wouldn’t ever forget in her life. The night her life changed forever.



The sword crashed with a sickening thud.

Kazuki did not even close his eyes. He watched as the blade went down, moving at the last moment before it hit the floor. Then, specks of tears dropped onto his face. One by one, the rain of tears intensified, and he continued staring at her while the water rolled down his cheeks.

“Why? Why do you keep coming back?!” Uehara’s voice trembled. In between sobs, she continued with a raspy voice. “Why won’t you just leave me alone?! Even after everything I did. Just get out of my sight and let me sink deeper into this abyss that I walked into!”

Kazuki did not respond, opting to instead allow her to set her emotions loose.

“Had it not been for me, had it not been for him always looking out for me like that… he… he… would have still been here! He would have still been alive, working hard and trying to create the world where everyone’s happy.”

“That world your brother wanted... That’s really why you helped Euphoria, is it? You felt like you needed to succeed him. Deep inside, you were shouldering his responsibility, and that’s what led you to Izaya.”

He moved his head a bit, staring into the sword impaled on the ground inches away from his face.

“But don’t think I didn’t notice that you missed me on purpose.”

He stared a hole into Uehara, who responded with a vulnerable expression.

“You could have gotten rid of me at that point and gotten the life you wanted. But you couldn’t get it in you to kill me. Perhaps it’s because I reminded you of your brother, but perhaps…”

“I couldn’t kill you,” she replied, because she knew it in her heart. No matter how much she tried to deny it, she had grown to love him. And the same went for Amagi, Ms. Sadohara, Kimura, Fuyusato Academy, and the life he and Ms. Sadohara introduced her to.

Deep inside, she still believed in the ideal of goodness and perseverance. The will to not run away and face all the challenges head-on. The same kind of ideal her brother also embodied, now directed at herself.

“I couldn’t do it,” she admitted, and with that, her sword disappeared.

She got up, distancing herself from the fallen Kazuki before looking at the ceiling.

“Then why did you do it?” asked Kazuki. “Why did you abandon everything for the sake of your brother?”

“Because it hurts. It hurts so much. Everything feels so hollow without him. I loved all the time I spent with you, but a hole in my heart remained.”

Her tearful eyes stared back at her classmate’s eyes.

“Is it so bad that I want him back? Do you know what it is like to lose someone? To watch the person you love, and who loved you the most, die in front of you, never to be seen again? All because of your carelessness?” Her eyes moved away from Kazuki, filled with a tempest of emotions. An incomprehensible mess that reflected rage, pain, and sadness. “What do you even know?”

“Hikari’s comatose.”

As if she was struck from behind, Uehara’s eyes widened. “Hi-hikari?”

“Because of the Magna Arbiter, she’s tethering on the boundary of life and death.”

“Then why? Why won’t you accept Izaya’s dream world where Hikari will be fine? Why did we have to fight? You could have said the thing a while ago, and—”

“Because it’s fake!” Kazuki snapped. “The world that Izaya wanted to bring forth, it’s nothing but an illusion. Lies that only serve to shelter us from reality. Do you think your brother would love his ideals to be brought to life this way?!”

Uehara reeled back, stunned beyond words.

Suddenly, those words from over three years ago came ringing back in her mind.

Never sacrifice the goodness in your heart for a selfish desire, even if it’s for my sake.

Her feet shook, and she took another look at Kazuki. Seeing an image of her brother transposed on him, Uehara shook her head.

“No, Big Brother! Didn’t you make all those promises to me?”

Kazuki looked on. In his silence, his gaze was all that it required to get his point across.

“That is what you would have wanted. We’re going to be the ultimate team and save humanity from suffering, right? Right?” she talked to herself, her teary eyes wide and unstable.

However, her feet shook. With one last gasp, she slowly fell to her knees.

“Stop being so self-centered and short-sighted, Uehara. If you thought you’re the only one bearing that kind of pain, stop and think of the grief you’ve caused all of us. Ms. Sadohara, Amagi, Kimura, especially Sana.”

“I-I didn’t know…”

Her body finally crashed, shouting out those words.

But before she can raise her head again, Kazuki began walking away.

“W-wait, Arata!” she stretched out her hands, but all she was left with was his back facing her.

“Don’t expect forgiveness so easily.”

Kazuki tried his hardest to ignore the cries for help. He did not have it in his heart to forgive her yet. How can he do so after everything she had done? If she just stayed with everyone back at the science expo, if she decided to not chase after her brother’s shadow… none of this mess would have happened.

Perhaps they could have gotten a helping hand with Sana’s issue. He would not have seen a side of Amagi that he did not want to see. They would not be in this situation, with Izaya being so close to victory.

He continued to trudge forward, unaware of most of his surroundings until the shadow of a person ran past him.


He stopped momentarily, turning back to see that Amagi had gotten back up and was running towards the fallen Uehara.

Of course, Amagi heard it all. Throughout the conversation, he had almost forgotten her presence.

“Are you hurt?” he asked, stopping her in her tracks. What he got for a response was the girl shaking her head.

“I just can’t let it end like this. Arata, you’re better than that.”

“… After everything she did, Amagi?”

‘Just let her be,’ he mouthed, but he still found himself unable to say those words to Amagi. Instead, he shrugged and did not wait for a response before making his next statement.

“I’ll head up a bit,” he said, pointing to the slope that seemed to head further up. “Give me some time to let everything sink in, too.”

Amagi never called out to him. But that’s to be expected, especially when she’s preoccupied with Uehara.

The two had been friends for months and shared a strong bond in a lot of ways. As schoolmates. As allies in the fight against Nullities. He never expected Amagi to have the coldness that he exhibited, at least not for real.

You’re too kind, Amagi.

He scaled the slope and found himself back at the main passages of the underground bunker. At this point, he needed some time to himself, a chance to gather his thoughts while heading towards where Euphoria were.