Satoru bows down in embarrassment. “I’m very sorry Otanashi-san, I just….” Satoru stops short, uncertain how to continue and explain just what he’s doing. How does he explain that he’s here to help him to avoid making the same mistakes and escape from that world? He can’t, he’d surely think he was insane. Especially since his trauma hasn’t happened yet. It’d probably be best to play it cool and befriend him. That way he can keep watch on him and guide him when he’s in danger of making the same mistake. Now the question is, how can he recover from this embarrassing situation? Satoru stands erect and thinks up an explanation on the fly. “I’m very sorry about that, I thought you might have been someone I know, but I was mistaken.”
The young man looks suspicious for a moment, but then relaxes. “I see. Well, that happens sometimes. Sorry I couldn’t be the one you were looking for. Have a good day.”
He starts walking away, but Satoru calls after him. “Wait, please!” Satoru runs behind him. “Let me make it up to you somehow. Do you like coffee?” The young man turns back around to face Satoru and now he can get a good look at him. His orange hair that hangs by his ears shines in the sunlight and contrasts against his peach skin. He wears a cargo style outfit and has a strap across him, where the connected satchel bag hands at his side. He looks like he could be a college student or a young man just starting out in the adult world. He has gentle brown eyes.
“It’s ok, it’s really not that big of a deal. I just got out of orientation and was headed home.”
“Oh, so you’re a student then? I had a feeling you might be. Please, I insist, for just a bit.”
He looks unsure, but eventually decides a simple cup of coffee wouldn’t hurt and accepts. “Ok, I suppose I have time for a cup, but if it’s ok with you, may I pick the place?”
“Of course, I’d be happy if you did. To be honest, I’m new to this city, so I was going to ask you to do so anyway. Please lead the way. Oh, my name is Satoru Fujinuma by the way.”
“Nice to meet you Fujinuma-san, welcome to the city. I hope you’ll find it enjoyable.”
“Thank you. Please Call me Satoru, no need for formality.”
“Right. Well, then please call me Yuzuru as well. Please follow me.” Yuzuru begins walking and Satoru follows closely behind. “So, what brings you to the city? Work or are you visiting?”
“I’m actually just here for the day I think. I was looking for someone, but I’m afraid I may have missed them. That’s why I mistook you for them. So now, I’m just taking the chance to explore the city before I head back home. What about you, what are you attending university for?”
“I’m actually about to start at the local medical university. It wasn’t a calling I ever thought I’d end up pursuing, but for some reason I’ve felt inclined towards it. I feel like by becoming a doctor I can save lives. It may sound weird, but I often have this dream. I dream that a terrible accident happened and I died, but because I became an organ donor, someone else got to live. They even found me in the afterlife just to thank me for giving them a chance to live a while longer. But then they had to move on from there and I was left alone for a while, until finally I moved on too. I always wake up after that, so I have no idea how that dream ends. But what I remember most is her face. It’s as though it’s burned in my brain and somehow I can’t help but feel that although I may have saved her, she really saved me and gave my life meaning. I consider her my guardian angel and it’s because of her that I feel compelled to pursue this dream, so that I can save more people just like her, but on the other side of the table. Crazy right?”
As they enter a café and take a seat, Satoru reflects on what he just heard and smiles to himself. To Yuzuru, everything he just said was just a long dream, but Satoru knows the truth from the vision he had when their hands first met in The Between. Everything he said really did happen, it’s just that it happened in his previous life. That Yuzuru has already passed, but the new Yuzuru, reborn into this timeline still retains some of the old memories. This angel he speaks of was also very real and based on the vison, has also been reborn in this timeline, but the trauma that Yuzuru is going to face, that will leave him trapped in The Between, hasn’t happened yet. However, according to what Satoru can remember, in just an hour, Yuzuru will leave this café and pass by a girl. This girl will trigger something in him and make him turn back to her and he’ll even reach out his hand to touch her, but in the end he’ll retract his hand and continue on his way, choosing not to believe in such a foolish notion as angels. By turning away from this opportunity, he will become filled with regret, he’ll turn away from his dream and wallow in his own self-pity, condemning him to spend his remaining days in The Between. Not reaching out to her and grabbing hold was his mistake and it’s one that Satoru must keep him from making again. So he looks at Yuzuru and with a wider smile says, “not at all. In fact, I think it’s a beautiful dream. I have an angel of my own I long to see, so don’t think it’s strange at all.”
“Thanks for the support, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a silly dream. My goal is real though.”
“Well that’s a good thing. Uh, what type of coffee would you like, I’ll go order it now.”
“Oh, just a simple coffee with milk and sugar is fine, thank you.” Satoru nods and leaves.
As Satoru stands in line, he thinks about the best angle to take on this. He has to get Yuzuru to believe in his dream and be willing to reach for it, but he can’t outright tell him he’s going to meet his angel and needs to talk to her. It has to be his own choice. There’s only one way he can think to get him there, but it’s going to have to get personal. He orders two coffees and returns to the table. “I brought some extra sugar since I wasn’t sure if it’d be enough. Here you are.”
“Thank you, I appreciate this.” They sit silently for a moment and drink the coffee.
“Wow, this is really good!” Satoru is surprised at how rich and savory it is.
“Yea, this is the best café in the city in my opinion. If I ever met my angel, I’d bring her here.”
“You say that as though you don’t believe you will. Maybe she really will appear before you.”
“No, I’m not so much of a dreamer that I’d believe in something so foolish. Angels aren’t real.”
“Perhaps Angels in the sense that we’re used to seeing them, where they have wings and can fly are not, but I believe we all have an angel out there somewhere waiting to find us.”
“You say that like you’ve really met one. Have you met your angel Satoru?”
“I have actually. Despite all odds, even when I thought it really may have just been a dream, she appeared in front of me, beautiful as ever. I almost gave up hope. I almost started to think I was foolish for believing such a thing, but then she found me and then it wasn’t just a foolish dream.”
“What did you do after? Did you approach her? Did she even know who you were?”
“Well she actually approached me first, though I was just a stranger to her. She knew nothing about me, but I knew everything about her. She was just the same as I always saw her.”
“Wasn’t it scary though? You dreamed about her for so long and then suddenly there she was in front of you. So close, yet she still feels so far? Even worse, you feel as though you know her so well, but she doesn’t know you. It’d be like starting over, and all those old memories you always dreamed of would probably disappear. That’s too scary, painful, to risk such precious things.”
“You’re right, it’s scary and maybe even a bit painful. You have all these precious moments in your head and even if they are just fantasy, they are still important and of course you don’t want to lose them. In my case, I felt as though I’d already formed a special bond with my angel in another life, that’s how real those memories were for me and it hurt me when I met her again and she didn’t remember them. However, that didn’t stop me from still taking her hand because even if she never got to experience those memories, I did and so I would remember them for the both of us. I’d always have those memories, but now, in this new lifetime, I would start over and together, we would form new memories that were even better than before. For me, that seems much more enjoyable because now, I have two times the precious memories. That’s what it’s all about. So you can’t run away from the future, just so you don’t lose the past. The past is always going to be behind you, but if you keep looking back rather than move forward, you’ll never break free from your internal cage. You have a choice on what happens next, so follow your heart, wherever it may lead you, no matter how crazy or scary it may seem. Trust me on that.” Yuzuru looks like he’s deep in thought and Satoru can tell he’s really reflecting on his words. He’s said what he could, now he just has to have faith that he’ll follow through. Homura doesn’t believe people can change and that they will always choose the same path no matter how many times they have the chance to change it, but Satoru doesn’t believe that, because he’s living proof that futures can be changed. Kayo’s very life is proof of that. So he’ll always believe.
“You are really convincing Satoru, you actually made me think for a moment that all this was real and not just one huge hypothetical discussion. I mean, Angels don’t exist and my dream is nothing more than that. Those memories are just fragments of that dream. Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me, but now I should get going. I hope you’ll find who you’re looking for though.” Yuzuru stands and holds out his hand to Satoru. “Goodbye then.”
Satoru stands and offers his hand in return and they shake. “I hope I was able to help you.”
“Yea, of course.” They release their hands and Yuzuru begins walking towards the door, but just before pushing it open he turn back to Satoru. “Oh, if you don’t mind me asking, what happened between you and your angel? Did everything work out ok?”
“Yes, things went very well actually. Once I met her again, I did the only logical thing to do, I married her. We settled down together and had a beautiful little girl. It was the best time of my life, but if I hadn’t taken her hand back then, I would’ve missed out. Don’t make that mistake.”
Yuzuru smiles slightly. “Have a great day Satoru and thanks again.” He walks out the door.
Satoru waves and waits for him to make his way down the street, keeping eye contact on him through the windows. He finally exits the café and follows his direction, tailing him. He does his best to act casual and discreet and constantly looks at his watch. The clock on the building in his vision showed 4 PM, it’s now 3:54 PM. He trails him all the way to a bookstore, which Yuzuru enters. Satoru creeps past the entrance to stand on the other, casually leaning against the wall as he discretely looks into the window. He looks around the surroundings and his eyes come to rest on a clock hanging from the wall at the side. He recognizes it instantly; this is the spot. Just as realizes this, he hears someone humming. He looks to his side and sees a girl, just a bit further down the sidewalk, also leaning against the wall. She’s wearing a white and blue dress and a matching white hat, with her white hair that sticks out from beneath it. She’s got earphones in her ears and holding her music player, she’s humming a song that Satoru is sure he heard a snippet of in his vision. “Could that be…?” Satoru casually moves closer, so that he’s beside her, but not close enough to scare her off. He turns to her. “Wow, that’s a beautiful song.”
The girl turns to look at him, her golden eyes shining bright. “Oh, thank you. I really love it. I heard it in a dream one day and was determined to find it and so I’ve come to this music store everyday listening to something new, in the hopes I’d come across it. I finally did today and so now I’ve just been standing here listening to it. Somehow, I feel like today is going to be an important day, finding this song at last proves that. Though I’ve been waiting here for almost an hour now, so it may be time to go on home.” She looks as though she’s about to leave.
“Wait!” She stops. “Don’t leave yet. You’ve waited this long, why not wait a bit longer. It’s not even quite four yet. It may be just a minute away, but sometimes your life can change drastically even in just one minute. I think you’re right about it being an important day, so why not see it through? You just might meet the man of your dreams.” She looks at him and starts to laugh.
“The man in my dreams loves this song, in fact I think it’s because of him I even got to discover it. Sadly, he’s just in my dreams, though I feel as though I owe him my life. Weird right?”
“I find dreams to be anything but weird, so don’t doubt them. Let me tell you a little secret. If you ever find yourself meeting that man in your dream, don’t let him get away, no matter how crazy it seems. Crazier things have happened, trust me. Anyway, good luck to you.” He waves.
“Uh…right….” She watches as he quickly walks away, after saying such a strange thing. However, she feels that it won’t hurt to wait just another minute, as she’s feeling optimistic. She goes back to humming her song.
Satoru looks at the clock, it’s now 4 PM on the mark. He looks at the bookstore entrance from across the street and like clockwork, Yuzuru is coming out. He watches in anticipation as he starts walking down the sidewalk, and he approaches the girl, who is still against the wall.
As Yuzuru walks, he passes a girl leaning against the wall. He pays her no mind, only focusing on getting home, but then he hears her humming a song and as soon as its melody hits his ears, he freezes. “This song….” He turns around slowly, just as the girl has decided to give in for the day and head home herself. He follows behind her quickly, and once he’s at the appropriate proximity, he reaches out his hand for her shoulder. However, he stops suddenly and shakes his head. He retracts his hand and looks down with a hopeless smile. “What are you thinking idiot?”
Satoru watches as he turns back around and starts to continue on his way, about to make the same mistake again. “No! Don’t run away you fool!” He considers running over there and pushing him towards her, but that would probably just make things worse. Just when he thinks he’s failed, he notices that Yuzuru has stopped once again.
Yuzuru stands frozen as the words of the random stranger he just met, Satoru’s words swirl in his head. Is he doing just what he warned him not to do? Is he running away? He’s scared, no, he’s terrified, but even still, can he really just let this chance slip away? What if she really could be her? Even if it’s just a dream, even if she will turn her back and run away, can he really just walk away without saying he at least tried? He feels somehow that if he doesn’t face this here and now, he’s going to suffer a far greater turmoil than the fear he’s feeling now. He clenches his fists, grits his teeth and having made up his mind, he turns back around. He’s lost sight of her now though and he laughs, thinking he was a fool who missed his chance. However, when he looks back up after hanging his head, he’s surprised to see a familiar face looking back at him.
“Are you ok? You seemed to be in pain. It felt as like your heart was beating through my chest.”
Yuzuru stares at the girl in front of him and suddenly, tears are streaming down his face. He quickly wipes them, puts on a smile and replies, “no, I’m not in pain at all. I just found myself blinded by an angel.” She smiles bashfully, he offers his hand and the rest is history.
Satoru watches as they laugh and smile together and he breathes a sigh of relief, knowing that things should be alright. In this very moment, the world becomes distorted and he finds himself once again traveling through a vortex. He finds himself back in the familiar surroundings of The Between. He looks around as he reorients himself and finally his gaze comes to rest on Yuzuru once more. However, this time he’s smiling and surrounded by a glow. “Yuzuru, you….”
“Thank you Satoru, for everything. Thanks to you, I can be with Kanade again. Please take this, I think it’ll help you on your journey.” He offers Satoru a light orb. “Best of luck to you.” He waves and then he is gone, his soul returning to the real world again at last.
The orb floats from his hands and to Homura, who’d been standing at the side observing. It enters her chest and disappears, surprising Satoru. “The orb, it went inside of you?”
“It’s likely that the orb holds the key in defeating the witch. I’m sure it’s fragments of her soul. It seems that is what we’re looking for in the ones you help. The selected lost souls will likely hold a piece of her soul and so by saving them, they will relinquish it. To defeat her, she must have her soul returned by me, as it’s the only way to make her mortal. Only once she’s mortal again, I can destroy her. So you must keep saving these souls, until she is complete.”
“Well, then we shouldn’t waste anymore time. Oh and now do you see? People can change.”
“This was an easy case, I’m sure they won’t all be that easy. Anyway, just keep it up ok?” He nods and then looks around for the butterfly, but doesn’t see it. So like before, he starts to walk around and looks for anyone who may seem like they are lost. Then he hears a yell.
“Don’t touch that! Get away! All of you get away!” They turn to see a man yelling at a group of kids who are running out of a rundown apartment laughing. He looks older, but he also seems like he’s still young. His black hair is messy, his glasses are twisted and cracked and he’s got blue eyes that seemed to have lost their shine. He falls to the ground holding something against his chest as he starts to sob. He whimpers and says, “Kaori, I’m sorry, I’m sorry I let them touch you. I’ll protect you. I’ll never let you go again. I promise.” He speaks tenderly to it like it’s a lover and moving closer, Satoru can see it’s a rusty, old violin he’s holding, the strings broken. Satoru looks at this man, clearly broken and a shell of the man he used to be and he knows, this is his next target. As if to confirm, his butterfly flutters around him. The vision it reveals, sends Satoru down on his knees and tears down his cheeks as he once again, is sucked in the vortex.