tallulahgs: Cross Takako (Cross Takako)
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[Title] When There Is Only Hope
[Fandom] LIFE / Battle Royale
[Rating] PG (mention of death, bullying, suicide)
[Notes/Summary] Set after the end of LIFE. Ayumu wants to do the right thing, even if it doesn't change anything.



The first report fades into silence and the names of the dead vanish and Ayumu knows that she should be crying and yet the same time it feels like she's upset about nothing at all. But Sonoda, next to her, squeezing her hand, is looking pale and sick, and Manami, across the room with her feet tucked neatly underneath her, is watching, a small smile on her face. Ayumu grits her teeth and remembers how Hatori never lets her expression betray her. Hatori wasn't on the report. That's the important thing.

“So,” Manami says, voice very light, “what are you going to do now?” She glances away, as if she's not even that interested in hearing the answer.

Ayumu swallows.

“We're still not in a danger zone,” she says. “We might as well stay here for now.”

Manami looks pitying. “I meant about your sweet little plan to try and unite the class and stop the killing. People have died. Sounds like the others don't need your help to fix things.” She pouts a little. “Seems like they aren't looking for a heroine, are they?”

That calm mocking voice still lights a fire under Ayumu's ribs but Sonoda's still holding her hand and so she can say, “That doesn't mean I'm going to give up. It just... it just means we have to be careful.”

“We're not going to start playing just because everyone else is,” Sonoda says. His voice shakes a little but Ayumu knows full well that doesn't mean he isn't telling the truth.

Manami giggles, prettily. “Wow. You really are both delusional. I should have known. You and Miss Stuck-Up Hatori have been taking your protector-of-the-weak role so seriously. I suppose you think maybe this time everyone will actually fall at your feet and thank you?”

Ayumu is so tired already and the endless we're in the Program, we have to kill each other, all of us will die heartbeat is deafening if she thinks about it and she snaps, “I didn't care what any of you thought. I was sick of bullying. That's all.” Her voice starts to wobble. “And this doesn't – it doesn't make that any different. They want us to remember all that stuff and... and turn on each other and – do anything to make sure we're safe –”

“As though that's all we are,” Sonoda says, quietly. “Like if we're not hurting each other then we're just pretending.”

Manami actually looks at him straight on, genuine incredulity crossing her face.

“You... honestly haven't realised, have you,” she says at last.

“What?”

“That it is just pretending,” Manami says, back to that dreadful bored tone as if Ayumu and Sonoda are too stupid to understand. “Of course it's pretending. People say that they'll stand up for the weak and they'll stop bullying, everyone's been saying all the right things since... well. Since everything.” A shy smile as if the everything had been nothing to do with her. “You three lecturing people whenever they start giving me hassle has made bullying uncool. Wow, well done!” Her smile vanishes, suddenly, and her eyes are very cold. “It doesn't mean anything now.”

She scrambles across, on hands and knees, to look them both in the face.

“If Akira were in this,” she murmurs, “and it were him or Sonoda and only one could go home... do you really think Sonoda would let himself die?”

Ayumu feels Sonoda's fingers tighten. She squeezes his hand and wishes he would say, I wouldn't care, I would do the right thing, but he's silent, his breathing shallow.

“And if you two and Hatori were the last three alive,” Manami continues, “are you really all going to politely offer to die so one of the other two can survive? Do you really love each other that much? And as for me – in the end, are you really going to keep me alive?” Her face is very close to Ayumu's. She still smells of strawberry shampoo and perfume even after a night spent hiding in an abandoned shrine. “You don't trust me. You know no one else on this island will trust me. I told you that you're nothing to me and you never were. And you're going to protect me until the end and then die so I can live?” Another pitying smile. “I'm sorry that I can't quite believe you.”

Ayumu swallows back the scream that's been trying to crawl up her throat since they woke up in the game. She swallows and then she can hardly take a breath because it feels as if something's squeezing her lungs. All those times people laughed. Made her scrabble through the trash to get her stuff back. Watched and didn't say anything. Die scribbed over and over on the blackboard or on textbooks. A bucket of needles tipped over her head. Cold filthy water in her face. Laughter as if all of it was absolutely fine. And now people are dying. Like she's woken up in Manami's reality where people are just toys to be played with and then thrown away –

Sonoda says, “What else can we do?”

Manami blinks.

“Well,” she says, “you could play to win, like everyone else. I know that you will. I'm just wondering why you're wasting everyone's time pretending.”

“Because,” Sonoda says, his voice trembling, “I can't not.”

Ayumu swallows again, reminds herself she is done with crying in front of Manami.

“I can't go home,” she says, “I can't go home if that's what I've got to do.”

Not that Manami will understand. Ayumu has had guilt eating her alive for most of the last six months. Manami cheerfully admits to doing terrible things and laughs about it. If Manami played this game, then afterwards she would go home and be just fine.

“Then why don't you both just die?” she says, now, looking genuinely irritated. “You have the gun. Or you could fling yourself off the roof – just find one that's higher than the school's, you don't want to screw it up like poor Hiro, do you –”

Ayumu cuts across her: “And why don't you just go?”

Manami's eyes narrow.

“If you think we're so stupid and so – so evil underneath, why did you hide out here with us all night? Why are you wasting time trying to talk to us when you could just go?”

Manami says, “I – because I know the two of you are too pathetic to kill me. And besides, maybe I can get the gun off you.” A sweet smile. “I know all your weaknesses, Ayumu, after all.”

Which is true.

But the catch in her voice after the first word tells Ayumu what she needs to know. Manami knows that every other person on this island will likely kill her on sight. Manami is probably only still alive because she was the first person out. Manami is – probably – as scared as Ayumu is, right now.

Which is not much. But a lot of times, there is not much hope. You have to believe that things might get better. You have to turn towards the sun.



[Title] Living Legend
[Fandom] Battle Royale / Gitaroo Man
[Rating] G
[Notes/Summary] Shuuya's discovered his destiny. His friends aren't convinced.



“I know it sounds crazy,” Shuuya says.

“Yep,” Shinji says. “It sounds crazy.”

“Or like you’ve got sunstroke,” Yoshitoki says. “Seriously, did you hit your head at some point and forget to mention it?”

“I didn’t hit my head and I’m not drunk and I didn’t pass out,” Shuuya says. “I was just sitting out in the garden strumming some chords –”

“Harassing the neighbours –” Shinji cuts in.

“Practising my craft, and then someone says to me, I need you to listen and not freak out.”

“And it’s the dog,” Shinji says, glancing at the orphanage dog, who’s dozing in a patch of shade.

“Yep.”

“The dog talked.”

“Look, if it were just that, then I’d figure I’d dozed off or something,” Shuuya says. “But he starts going on about how I’m… the protector of the legendary Gitaroos and I need to gather them in order to save the planet Gitaroo through the power of my music –”

“Still not hearing anything that doesn’t sound like concussion,” Shinji says.

“And then the… the demon bursts through the top of the climbing frame,” Shuuya says. “With his own guitar. And then Puma… it’s like he throws me another guitar –”

“He’s a dog.”

“He throws me a guitar and I catch it and suddenly I’m in this… like a Super Sentai suit.”

“You actually had a transformation sequence,” Shinji says, glancing at Yoshitoki with a can you believe this face. Yoshitoki frowns back. Shuuya scowls at them and carries on, “And then the demon started trying to shoot me with… laser blasts or something. From his guitar. And we had this amazing music battle. Like, I didn’t even know the song, and yet it was right at my fingertips. And, I mean, I won. Because I’m still here. So… I battled a demon with the power of rock and I may be a superhero. I thought you guys might like to know.”

Yoshitoki and Shinji glance round at the empty garden. The cicadas hum. In the distance, some kids are playing. A wind chime hanging in the doorway gently jingles. Shuuya folds his arms and glowers at both of them.

“Hey, if you want to escape into a fantasy world of rock and roll in order to deal with the futility of your own meaningless existence and the oppressive stranglehold this government has on human freedom, then go for it,” Shinji says at last.

“I really think you should go lie down for a bit,” Yoshitoki says. “Or tell Ms Ryoko you’re hallucinating.”

“Or take up a new hobby,” Shinji says. “Or get a girlfriend. Maybe you’ve just got way too much time on your hands.”

Shuuya sighs, scrambles to his feet. “You know what, you can believe what you want. I always knew I was destined for rock stardom. Turns out it’s just from a slightly more… unusual source. When you guys find yourselves being attacked by music demons, you’ll be glad to have me around.”

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