Muraco had used his Ability to merge with the shadows near Adam’s house. Being nighttime, he had a lot more freedom to move around so that Adam couldn’t track his location easily.
Eventually, Muraco grew frustrated. Not at the duty he was assigned, but at the fact that he was not helping a friend who clearly needed it. With that, Muraco sprang out of the darkness on top of the roof. Adam didn’t seem to be startled at the sudden appearance of the white rabbit.
“I’m getting annoyed with that painful look on your face, so I decided to come out and talk to you.” Muraco hopped over next to Adam and sat down. “So—what’s on your mind?”
“Just… thinking about myself… the world… how confusing it all is. Really want to go in my room and just sleep it all away. But I can’t do that, can I?”
“You should get some rest—it’s getting pretty late. I get what you mean though… and you’re right. You can’t.” Muraco scratched his ear while contemplating what to say next.
“I’m sorry how I acted back there… I don’t know where I got the idea that could all of a sudden do shit like that just cause of my Ability. I… wanted to help. And I let my anger get the best of me…” Adam sighed. “They’re probably mad at me, aren’t they?”
“Not at all,” Muraco responded. “They were worried about you. Myself included. Why I came here to check on you.”
“I guess… that’s like them. Very accepting of someone like me…” Adam chuckled softly.
“…I could hear you and that Phobos thing talking to each other.” Muraco blurted out.
“Huh? You could? Weren’t you unconscious?”
“I was… Guess it was some kind of weird link? I could hear you through that thing…” Muraco paused. “You’re certainly… quite the intriguing guy.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Something naturally evil, born from all the stuff that happened to me… and yet you wanted to steer it on a proper path? What kind of out-of-the-box thinking is that?”
“I just think one’s origins shouldn’t dictate their path in life. Let them choose what they want based on what they experience. If they then decide to choose the wrong path, well…” Adam hesitated. “Should you try to save someone if they willingly go that route? I’d like to not care at that point, but…”
Muraco started to laugh. “As a hero myself, I’ve gotta say… you have the heart of one as well. It seems to be a trend to think that about you among your friends. Even Lucy considers you one.”
Adam did not respond.
“Honestly? I think that you—”
“A hero?” Adam asked abruptly.
Adam glared at Muraco with fury in his eyes.
“A hero doesn’t try to kill himself!”
“Huh…?” Muraco’s eyes widened. After a moment, he shook his head. “Geez… You’ve been through some stuff, haven’t you?”
“Sorry…” Adam sighed. “I just… don’t get why people always call me that… Why is that a thing!?”
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” Muraco smirked. “Now, from one hero to another, want me to give you some advice?”
“Advice on what…?”
“About how to deal with everything that’s been happening.” Muraco cleared his throat. “For starters, the World Mirror. Understanding that is a key component to all of this. You seem to have been discovering all kinds of new tricks recently, haven’t you?”
“I suppose I have been… It’s getting difficult to keep track of the things I can do now.”
“And I’m sure that’s not the end of what it can do. So! How about this?” Muraco hopped in front of Adam. “Let’s start naming your techniques! You don’t really call them anything, do you? As a hero, you gotta give your stuff cool names!”
“Is that really necessary…?” Adam asked with doubt on his face. “And wait—aside from naming your Abilities, do you even name your attacks?”
“Of course! I haven’t had to bust out any signature moves yet! I’ve got a lot in store!”
“Right…” Adam pondered. “Well, I guess labeling each thing something could help me out…”
“Glad you’re listening. You’re a smart human.” Muraco nodded.
“Am I…? I’m not so sure.”
“Listen! I promised to help Charlotte with her problems. You promised to help both of us… so I’ll help you as well, with whatever happens! As long as you continue to be by our side! Deal?” Muraco held out his tiny paw.
“I…” Adam hesitated for a moment. “I… still can’t believe I’m actually talking to a rabbit. This world might just be too crazy to understand in the end… However, Charlotte did point out that we both like to wing things. I always have… But having someone else like that on my side could help…” He chuckled, grabbing Muraco’s paw. “I suppose it’s a deal.”
“Excellent! I look forward to you being my sidekick!”
“I think it’s going to be the other around.”
“What!? Wait—we still have to finish that fight, remember? Whoever loses shall become the sidekick!”
“I’m not fighting you right now. We have to be careful at the moment, anyway.”
“That’s true…” Muraco moaned. “It would have been a good opportunity for you to name your attacks!”
“Don’t worry—I’ll think it over.” Adam chuckled. He decided to reach into his right pocket for his phone, yet realized that his phone had not been on his person for quite some time. “Damn, that’s rare.”
“I usually keep my phone on me… It’s still in the house I believe. Unless—” Adam now checked the left pocket. “Well, no phone, but—” He pulled out the blood-stained letter and the god drive that Jerry had given him. “I’ve kept these…”
“What the!? Why is that think all bloody!?”
“I had it with me when I first met Charlotte and awakened my Ability. My body got incredibly injured, and it happened to get like this. The contents inside are still okay, luckily.”
“What’s inside?” Muraco asked curiously.
“I’m not sure—I have yet to read it. Pam gave it to me and told me when I’m feeling really low that I should look at it.”
“So, tonight isn’t considered really low for you?”
“I’ve been wondering what ‘really low’ would even mean for me. I… probably should have read it a few times by now.”
“Well, whenever you think is the appropriate time. And what’s that thing?” Muraco pointed to the god drive.
“It’s a thing you can hook up to a computer. Jerry gave it to me in case there was a computer down in that basement that we needed to extract data from. That… was certainly not what was down there. I wonder if I should give this back…? W-Wait a minute…”
“Huh? What is it?”
“Data… Phantons can act like data… I wonder…? It’s a stretch, but…”
“What? Tell me!” Muraco was growing impatient.
“I want to stop by Twine. Think it’s too late to, or?”
“If it’s important, especially to our situation, I doubt the time matters. Wanna go?”
“Yeah… I think we should. I have a gut feeling about something. Let me go get my phone, and we will.”
Muraco grinned, raising his paw into the air. “All right! Mission time!”
“Well Brandon, looks like you won’t be the only boy here tonight, at least.” Emma commented on the sudden appearance of Roy and Roger at the station.
“Hey, I know you! You were that one annoying kid in my study hall that one time!” Brandon shouted at Roy.
“Brandon Shepherd, huh…?” Roy stared at Brandon ominously.
“Hey, come on guys! Let’s get along! No need for sudden hostility!” Roger begged.
“Fine!” Roy sighed. “I’ve been hanging out with this guy way too much recently… Anyway, after talking to Jerry, we figured we’d be safer here.”
“You guys don’t have to get involved in all of this… You’re allowed to walk away.” Emma suggested.
“Screw that! I’ll get revenge for the boss! Even if I don’t have one of those crazy Abilities!” Roy declared.
“That’s true, but…” Emma went silent.
“I can respect that!” Brandon yelled. “Just try not to get in the way!” He raised his fist in front of Roy.
In response, Roy slapped it away.
“Huh…? Was it because I called you annoying—”
“Scumbag. I won’t cause a scene, but just stay out of my way.”
Roger whined. “You are causing a scene!”
Emma walked up to Roy. “That still? I thought I—”
“He’ll be a scumbag until he proves otherwise.” Roy paused. “Even though she’s now my ex… I still believe her, and the other girls on the volleyball team…”
Brandon’s eyes widened in horror. Before he could attempt to say anything, Emma grabbed his shoulder and glared at Roy.
“And you’re still weak until you prove otherwise. And I’m not talking physical capabilities. You lack the will to believe in yourself.”
“Huh…? Emma, the hell are you talking about!?”
“What are any of you talking about!?” Roger asked in a panic.
“I was there. I know what happened. And that’s why I believe in Brandon—”
“Emma, it’s okay. You don’t have to stick up for me…” Brandon told her with his body shaking.
“Let people believe what they want to…” Brandon walked to the other side of the room and sat down at one of the desks, away from the others.
Faith and Winona were currently sitting on a desk near where the conversation took place. The two looked at Brandon in concern, remaining silent.
“Whatever.” Roy pulled out a chair next to the center desk and took a seat. “Roger, got any other cool games with ya?”
“I-I mean, we can see what’s on my phone…?” Roger sat next to him, showing him his cell phone.
Emma stared at Brandon, who had rested his head on the desk.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him like this… Does it still hurt him…? Have I been making a mistake with all the pervert jokes?” She shook her head.
“Once we get through all of this… I should begin to approach him differently. I don’t want to hurt him… Not after what he did for me back then…”
Pam sat at her desk, looking at nothing in particular. Her depression had currently taken over all of her senses.
“Ethan… Becca… What do I do…?” She held her head, which was radiating pain. “How do I go about telling them something like this… after keeping it a secret for so long…?”
“I was wondering what you did with that.” Jerry chuckled as Adam showed him the god drive.
“We didn’t need to use it under Minuet, but…” Adam paused for a moment. “All right, so this might be way out there, but I had a thought.”
“So…” Adam cleared his throat. “This thing is supposed to extract data the second it’s put into a computer, right?”
“Yeah, that’s how it should work.”
“Now—hear me out. Phantons can act like code, right? So what if—somehow—this thing can extract data right from the air?”
“Umm…” Jerry seriously contemplated Adam’s idea. “I actually… never thought of that. It would entirely depend on how the phantons work. They would have to be quite powerful for it to even pick up—”
“I had this with me when that Nexus thing showed up. It was certainly powerful enough. Do you think this thing could have caught something while I interacted with it?”
“I can definitely check… You’ve got me intrigued!” Jerry took the god drive from Adam and ran over to his laptop at the center table while laughing mischievously.
“That’s quite a thought, kid,” Thomas commented, walking over to Adam. “Although I doubt it would have caught anything, I could be wrong. Phantons can be quite mysterious.”
“That’s Rebecca’s son!” Travis cheered over near the computers. “Coming up with theories nobody else would have even considered!”
“She was like that, huh…?” Adam chuckled quietly. Charlotte had now walked up to him, leaning down to scratch Muraco’s ears.
“You feeling better now?” Charlotte asked him. Muraco jumped up into Charlotte’s arms—a huge grin on his face.
“We had a talk. He should be on the right track.”
“I’m sorry about how I acted earlier…” Adam mumbled.
“None of us blame you,” Charlotte responded. “It’s okay.”
Adam moved himself to an empty space in the room, stretching out his body. Lucy noticed his presence and ran up to him, hugging his leg.
“Oh, hey, Lucy. You’re not asleep yet? Isn’t it past your bedtime?”
“I sleep randomly now! I can’t control it!” She giggled. “But are you better now?”
“Yeah…” Adam looked down at her, patting her head. “I’m sorry… All of this is stressful enough for you.”
“I’m not sure how to feel about all of it…” Lucy paused. “I… don’t remember much, after all.”
“That’s true…” Adam looked over at Charlotte, beckoning her.
“Huh? What is it…?” As Charlotte approached, Adam placed his hand on her shoulder.
“The two ghost girls. Literally cold on the outside, but with warm hearts inside. You two are worth the struggle. We’ll figure out your memories, no matter what. And, whatever does end up happening…” Adam grinned, disintegrating the darkness that had taken a hold of him earlier. “We’ll make sure everything turns out okay!”
Lucy’s face lit up. “Yeah! We can do it!” She started giggling, jumping up and down with strong enthusiasm.
Thomas, Travis, and Jerry had gathered next to each other, smiling at Adam’s statement. Muraco chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. “Sheesh, you sure can tip the scales when it comes to your emotions, if you want to.”
Cody remained sitting at the computers with surprise on his face.
“This is the kid who tried to kill himself several months back…?” He snickered. “Winona definitely chooses unique friends, doesn’t she? I’m glad she knows someone like you. Someone who can disregard his own inner turmoil and light himself up, simply to help others… Just like Becca.”
Tears began to fall from Charlotte’s eyes, surprising Adam.
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong…” Charlotte sniffled. “I’m just… so grateful that I’m here…” She buried herself in Adam’s shoulder, embracing him tightly.
“Well, I’m glad about tha—” Adam’s eyes widened. “Charlotte…”
“What is it?” She asked staying still.
“Huh!?” Jerry dashed over to the two, grabbing Charlotte’s shoulder. “My hand isn’t freezing…? What’s going on!? Dad—get the—”
“I’m already on it!” Thomas had a small watch-like device in his hand, scanning the area around Charlotte. “These readings surely are different than usual… What do they mean? How does this change in phantonic values result in a ghost suddenly becoming warm?”
“I-I’m not sure either!” Charlotte was now flailing her arms around while trying to wipe the tears away at the same time.
“Oh, wait. They’re going back to normal…” Thomas sighed.
“They are!?” Jerry touched Charlotte’s shoulder for a second time. “She’s getting cold again…”
“Maybe it has something to do with the World Mirror! Charlotte—mind getting close to Adam again?” Thomas asked.
“I think I’m going to bed!” Charlotte shook her head in annoyance. “Adam, what are you going to do?”
“Stay here with us!” Lucy begged. “We couldn’t have a sleepover at the police place, so let’s have one here!”
“I think I need to go back to the station. Make sure everyone’s all right… Don’t worry though, Charlotte’s good company.
I-I guess, but…” Lucy pouted. Charlotte held out her hand to her.
“Come on, Lucy. Us ghosts need some rest.”
“Oh, fine! See you tomorrow, Adam!” Lucy waved at him, then glanced up at Charlotte. The older girl smiled at the younger girl as she escorted her to the area with the beds.
Witnessing this act, a sharp pain radiated through Adam’s head. Muraco was the only one who noticed the boy holding his head in silent agony.
“What’s wrong, Adam?”
“Where is this place…?”
“Huh…!?” Muraco looked at him with tremendous concern.
“It-It’s nothing. Sorry, Muraco. I think I’m just tired… Wanted to train a bit, but I don’t think my body is up for that.”
“Right… Well, let’s get back to the station, then.”
Jerry waved goodbye to the two. “I’ll let you know if this god drive has anything on it. Text me if you want me to let you guys back in again.”
“Will do.” Adam nodded. With Muraco by his side, the two walked up the stairs out of the basement.
A few minutes later, Adam and Muraco arrived at the station. They met with Brandon, who was next to the entrance, leaning against the wall.
“Hey, Adam. Feeling better?”
“Y-Yeah… How about you? You’re looking gloomy as hell. That’s not normal.”
“Just thinking about stuff…” He smiled at Adam. “Nothing to worry about.”
“If you say so…” Adam tapped Muraco’s head. “Stay out here with Brandon. Keep him company.”
“What? Why should I!?”
“I need to check on everyone inside. And I don’t want him to be alone.”
“Wait, Adam, it’s okay. I—” Before Brandon could continue, Adam walked inside, leaving him alone with Muraco.
“All right, sure?” Muraco scratched his ear. “I guess it’s my job tonight to talk to people who are feeling down?”
“Nah, seriously, I’m fine. You don’t have to—”
“Human!” Muraco pointed at Brandon with ferocity. “Let me indulge in your secrets!”
“Fine! I’ll tell you, ya freaking demon rabbit!”
Inside, Adam glanced around the room, noticing a few people passed out on the floor. On the other side of the main room, Winona and Emma were sleeping next to each other, wrapped up in blankets. Roy had fallen asleep at a desk off to the left, while Roger had passed out in a seat at the center table.
He walked over toward the hallway off to the right, where he peered down the dark corridors. A faint light was coming from Pam’s office, and Adam could notice a silhouette sitting up against the wall to the left of it. Approaching it, Adam realized that it was Faith who took the position. Unlike the others, she was still awake.
“Why aren’t you out there with the others?” He asked her.
“Hey, Adam…” Faith was clearly exhausted, seemingly in a daze. “I wanted to keep an eye on my mom, so I’m hanging out here.”
Adam glanced into the office, seeing Pam sleeping peacefully at her desk with a blanket covering her. He also noticed that the debris from the destroyed door had been cleaned up already.
“Adam? You feeling better?”
He turned back to her. “Yeah…” Hesitating for a moment, he walked over and sat on the left side of Faith. “I’m sorry…”
“Don’t be! Here—” Faith covered Adam up with half of her blanket. “Just get some rest for now. We all need it.”
“Uh…? Are you sure it’s okay if I’m right here…?”
“I’m fine with it if you’re fine with it! We used to cuddle all the time when we were kids!”
“Well, yeah. But we were kids. We’re not anymore…”
“I…” Faith began to ponder that statement. “I’m still okay with it…”
“Well, in that case—” Adam leaned his head on Faith’s shoulder, calmly closing his eyes. The gesture startled Faith, yet she kept her reaction internal.
“Y-Yeah… Get some rest…” She felt Adam’s soft hair up against her face. It was comforting to her—she could nuzzle it if she wanted. Although, she held back from the sudden urge.
“I… really need to stay strong. I can’t let anything get in the way. There’s a lot that needs to be handled before this can become the future… Wait. I… want it to be the future…?” She quietly chuckled.
“What’s so funny…?” Adam asked, almost asleep.
“It’s nothing…” She responded in a faint whisper. The calmness of the now silent police station surrounded them, and the two quickly doze off into a peaceful sleep.
This would be the last night of peace any of them would get, as their world was about to shatter apart.
Next: Chapter 2.26
Previous: Chapter 2.24