‘Thank you both for coming today. Sonia, this is Fuyuhiko, Fuyuhiko, this is-‘
‘I know who the hell she is. You don’t have to treat me like a child.’
He was sitting up straight, arms crossed, legs crossed. He was an impenetrable wall. Sonia couldn’t help admiring him for that, and she found herself crossing her arms, trying to match his intensity.
‘Yes, well. Nice to see your memory hasn’t been too terribly damaged. I’m sure you’re wondering why I brought you both in together.’
Sonia mulled this over and over but came to no conclusions. Fuyuhiko, however, didn’t need any time.
‘Cause we’re the only ones awake. No shit.’
Sonia couldn’t help staring at him. He was so reckless, indifferent to everything. Fuyuhiko was so unlike her who faithfully did as she was told and spent every waking moment on the edge of despair. Fuyuhiko wasn’t just on the edge of despair, he was basking in it.
‘Yes, and not only that, but you have another similarity… Fuyuhiko, is there something wrong with your eye?’
Fuyuhiko let a vibrating growl rumble from his throat. Sonia hadn’t noticed before, but he kept his right eye continuously shut. However, when the psychiatrist pointed it out, he instantly opened it. Sonia did her best not to look surprised, but judging by Fuyuhiko shooting her a glare, she had clearly failed. However, his glare did give her a chance to see his eye. It was just as bright as the other, as far as she could tell.
‘Don’t worry about my eye, you bastard.’
His cursing made Sonia wince, but the psychiatrist only smiled and wrote something down on his notepad.
‘Anyway, the other thing you have in common is this… obsession with one of your fellow group members.’
Fuyuhiko’s arms began to unfold after that, as did his legs. Suddenly both feet were planted firmly on the ground, and his hands were gripping the edges of the couch cushions. It looked like any second he would fall forward, and he was closing his eye again. The Ultimate Psychiatrist pulled out Sonia’s journal, and what she could only guess was Fuyuhiko’s journal. His journal was black and dull. She was surprised he even had written in a journal in the first place.
‘Sonia, you frequently spend time in the ward with Gundam Tanaka, correct?’
She winced but nodded just the same.
‘On the other hand, you, Fuyuhiko, you don’t go to the ward at all. I am I correct in that?’
Fuyuhiko didn’t respond. There was sweat trailing from his hairline down to his jawline. It was making Sonia uncomfortable just watching him.
‘However, much like Sonia, you seem to be writing a lot about –’
Fuyuhiko shot up from his seat. Sonia jumped, but the psychiatrist just sat there, watching him. It was as if he had expected that response. This must have been more common than Sonia realized.
‘Shut your mouth. I don’t want to deal with this stupid shit anymore.’
Then, he stomped out of the room, though not before yanking some of the delicate books off the shelf. The psychiatrist sighed, placing their journals at his feet alongside his notepad.
‘Please excuse me, Sonia. I must see to him.’
And with that, he quietly left the room, and, as usual, Sonia was left in silence. While she sat there, unsure of whether to stay or go, her gaze locked on their journals. Hers was on top, but right underneath was Fuyuhiko’s. Her gaze flickered toward the door, then back to the journals. It didn’t seem like anyone would be coming back for some time.
She hesitantly reached forward and took both of the journals. She looked at hers and smiled, then set it to the side. Fuyuhiko’s seemed much heavier than hers, though they looked to be about the same size. Her heart ached as she opened the front cover. Every line was filled with words. Some she could read with ease, others were scribbled down in a flurry and were illegible. When she flipped to the next page, she found that he had begun filling each line with double lines. Two sentences were written on top of each other in small print that Sonia had to squint to read. One constant throughout, though, was a name.
This memory flooded back as Sonia hovered over the pod. Peko was in one of the pods between Kazuichi and Tanaka. One of her braids had come undone sometime before she went into the coma. She didn’t have her sword anymore. Sonia hovered over her from a distance, admiring the stoic expression she held even when unconscious. While Sonia studied Peko, Kazuichi was watching Sonia. Somehow, someway, he remembered her in detail, though she was much older than he had expected. He was a lot older than he had expected.
Sonia was watching Peko’s hands, but they didn’t move. She took a step closer to the pod and reached out. Her hand was ice. If it had been Tanaka’s hand, it would have been a painful feeling. However, a cold hand from Peko somehow seemed fitting. She clasped Peko’s hand in hers and held it tightly, warming it, so the muscles softened, and she felt less like a statue. She was alive. She was a living person. She was just like Tanaka, and Fuyuhiko was just like…
“What are you doing, Ms. Sonia?”
Sonia didn’t look up, and she didn’t let go of Peko’s hand. She mentally promised to write to Peko, too. Sonia would let her know Fuyuhiko hadn’t forgotten. Sonia wouldn’t forget either.
Somewhat annoyed, she looked up to meet Kazuichi’s eyes. Once again, she felt the need to scratch her own eyes.
“Don’t those hurt?”
“The contacts. Who knows how long you’ve had them in.”
Kazuichi chuckled, rubbing one of his eyelids with the back of his hand just before yawning. He then held his arms up over his head and stretched. There was a popping sound, then he sighed.
“I’ve slept with these things in for years. No worries.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Pardon me, Ms. Sonia, but… you never told me what you were thinking about.”
She looked down at Peko again. Sonia was thinking about a lot of things. She was trying to decide what she would pick up from the cafeteria on her way back to her room. Sonia was thinking of what book to read Peko. She was thinking about talking to Fuyuhiko. She was wondering why he didn’t visit. Most of all, she was thinking of Tanaka and his warm hands. She was thinking about hope.
“Nothing in particular,” was all she could manage.
Kazuichi didn’t press her for more information but continued to silently watch her. Sonia decided she had spent too much time away and started back toward Tanaka’s pod. Kazuichi called frantically after her.
“Sonia! Sonia, wait! Where are you going?”
She didn’t turn around, though she stopped.
“Excuse me for my rudeness, but someone is waiting for me.”
There was a pause.
She looked over her shoulder and could see a mixture of fear and surprise in the pink-redness of his eyes. She thought she could see his heart thrumming in his chest and in his ears. His ears were nearly as red as his eyes. Somehow, she thought he knew who she was going to see.
“Tanaka. Gundam Tanaka. Do you remember him?”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he shook his head and deflated back into his pod.
“I think I need to lie down.”
Sonia suddenly felt like she needed to, too. Instead, she faced back toward Tanaka and went to his side, but her seat by him didn’t feel so comfortable anymore.