Part 3

Infinity II "Fiction"

Rehearsals began and the students started working on the musical. Over a span of two months, the girls and boys who worked as the cast and staff gave their all to make this production the best they could.

Over time, Sae and Yuki were also slowly growing closer. In between classes, the two would often meet and talk to one another, as well as bonding over play rehearsals.

Their growing friendship was catching the attention of Sayaka and Minami. They watched over the pair as they grew closer and closer each day, as well as paying close attention to them during rehearsals.

“They sure have a natural chemistry,” Minami commented with a smile.

“They sure do.”

“It makes me a bit relieved,” she then commented, making Sayaka look down at her. “I was so scared up till now… But now I feel like we might actually be able to pull it off.”

“You’re right…” she reached out for the girl’s hand, holding it with a look of relief on her face. “If we succeed in bringing them together… Mari--”

The woman stopped mid-sentence when the two felt someone smack their backs from behind. They turned around and saw Rena standing there, an ignorant smile on her face as usual.

“Rena! You scared us,” Sayaka said.

“Watching rehearsals, you two?”

“Yup. Tomorrow’s dress rehearsal, and then finally, we perform for the student’s Friday,” Minami said in an excited tone. “Kyaa! I’m nervous, but also excited, my heart won’t stop pounding!”

“Ahh~ Takamina, you’re always so emotional,” Rena said with a giggle. “Welp, I’m off to file some papers. Bye, love birds!”

Minami blushed heavily, while Sayaka had to push up her glasses, a slightly shook expression on her face.

“Sayaka… do you think Rena-sensei heard us?” Minami then asked.

“I would hope not. Then again, she always seems to have her head in the clouds, so I wouldn’t worry too much.”

The shorter girl sighed, leaning against Sayaka’s arm and laying her head on her shoulder.

“I also… I’m sorry. I almost called you ‘Maria’.”

She shook her head. “Don’t be.”

The two continued to watch as Sae and Yuki were rehearsing, enjoying each other’s company. Sayaka smiled softly while Minami was holding the girl’s arm.

“Ruka…” she said in a whisper.

------------------------

“Maria!”

A storm…

“Ruka?! Ruka, where are you?!”

“Monster!!!”

*Crash* *Boom*

Fire… Rain… Lightning…

“Kill that monster! Hurry!”

“Give me back my daughter!”

Where… where is she..?

“Maria..!”

Blood…

“Maria, no… Don’t leave me, please..! I can give you eternal life! Please, just hold on!”

Blood… so much blood…

“No! Why?! Don’t take her away from me!!!”

It hurts…

“There it is! Get him!”

It hurts..! It hurts so much..!

“Killer!”

“Monster!”

“...I’m not a monster… I’m no different than any of you! Why can you not see that?!”

“You are not human! You are a beast of the night who feeds on human blood! You violate young maiden’s hearts and trick them into loving you, but you are nothing more than a monster!”

“I LOVED HER!!!”

Tears…

“I loved her and you took that away from me!”

Tears… mixed with the rain…

“Ha! Impossible. Vampires like you cannot love.”

“Fools… You humans are fools! Your fear and hate blinds you! You do not know what true love is! The love we had… that was all that is pure in this world. If you cannot accept me, so be it.. But..! But, I will always love her! And I will live on loving only her!”

Why does… this seem so real..?

Is this really… my memory?

***Sae***

“I will… only… her…”

“Sae. Oi, Sae, wake up!”

Sae’s eyes snapped open as she saw Furuhata and Azuma standing in front of her. She found herself in the locker room, where she was still in her basketball uniform, laying on her gym bag.

“Dude, you okay?” Azuma asked, he and Furuhata looking shocked as Sae slowly sat up.

“I-I must’ve dozed off…” she said as she slowly got up. “Is that why you’re here? You should know better, you two! If someone finds you in the girl’s locker room--”

“No, Sae. You’re crying.”

“Eh?”

“Yeah, you were crying like crazy in your sleep. It had us really worried.”

Sae looked down at her bag and saw a damp patch from where she had been crying. She touched both her cheeks, wiping away the tears that still lingered.

“Are you really alright?” Furuhata asked. “Masuda told us you got dizzy during practice and have been back here ever since.”

“Were you dreaming about something from your past?”

“I… don’t know,” Sae could only say that, as she could no longer fathom the meaning of her recurring dreams. “I don’t know anymore. Are they really just dreams, or are they memories?”

----------------------------

The next day…

As classes were going on, Yuki couldn’t help but think about the upcoming dress rehearsal for the play. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach whenever she thought about what Sae would look like as the vampire prince in the play, and the nerves made her heart pound even more.

Every now and then, she went over her lines silently, hoping to memorize everything. Caught up in her own thoughts, she didn’t realize a certain someone watching her.

“Kashiwagi-chan~”

Yuki looked up to see Rena glancing over her shoulder, reading the script and all the notes that were scribbled in.

“My~ What a diligent actress! As expected, you are a very serious learner, aren’t you?”

“R-Rena-sensei? Um, yes. I want this play to succeed!”

Rena smiled. “Then, break a leg, Maria.”

Yuki blinked for a second, before looking up confused. “Huh?”

“Ah! I mean, Kashiwagi-chan. Sorry I said your role name there. Hehehe,” Rena giggled as she walked off.

Yuki then felt thirsty, so she made her way downstairs to get a drink from the vending machine. As she was passing the music room, however, she heard a heavenly voice singing a song.

“Do not be afraid to love

There is nothing to lose

Your scent, your everything

Has drawn me and made me dream”

She opened the classroom door and saw Sayaka was singing in the empty room. Her eyelids were closed as she sang the song with what seemed like a longing passion. But Yuki also felt another emotion in her voice.

Sorrow…

“Sayaka-san?” Yuki rose her voice, making the woman cease her melodic singing.

She quickly turned around, staring at her with shock evident in her eyes. She covered , hastily starting to make her leave.

“Wait! What was that song?” Yuki quickly asked. “It’s one of the songs in the musical, right?”

“R-right…” the woman answered, still having her hand hovered over her lips.

“You were singing it… It was very pretty. Do you like it?”

“Um, yes… Excuse me,” she then bowed, dashing past the girl.

“I guess she’s shy about singing… Still, something about it,” Yuki suddenly blinked, and rubbed her eye, realizing that a single tear had fallen down her left cheek. “Huh..? Again?”

It was a strange new phenomenon to her. Ever since she had started the musical, she found herself crying, even if she didn’t feel sad. Sometimes, she would just be reading over her script or practicing the songs, and she’d find a tear or two shed from her eyes.

“Why was I crying hearing that song..?”

Meanwhile, Sayaka hurried to Minami’s office, where she found the girl was sitting down. She approached the girl, still tense from her previous encounter.

“Minami… Yuki heard me singing our song. I don’t know if her memories were returning, but--” She then noticed that there was a tear falling from Minami’s left eye, streaming down her cheek. “Minami..! Could it be you’re..?”

“Yes… It’s still faint, but.. The memories are there.”

Sayaka gave a sad smile.

“You felt it with Sae last night, too, didn’t you?” she then asked. “You awoke crying, tears streaming uncontrollably from your eyes.”

“Yes. She dreamed of that day, centuries ago… when we were…” The woman couldn’t find herself to continue the sentence, so she quickly changed the subject. “It’s much stronger inside her. Her memories are starting to return more and more. I think by today, she should remember.”

“But, what about Yuki?” Minami asked worriedly. “If she doesn’t regain her memories, then the spell won’t be complete. She has to remember, or else we will--”

Sayaka silenced the girl with a strong embrace. She could still hear her breath, quivering like the wings of a hummingbird. All she could do was comfort her; she was uncertain herself, but she knew she had to keep Minami calm. She couldn’t allow her to cry… Not again.

“Don’t worry…” she said in a low tone. “She will… She will remember. By opening day tomorrow, she must.”

“Then today’s our last chance…”

------------------------

“What do I do?!” Yuki’s voice echoed from the walls of the auditorium as she and the other students were doing their dress rehearsal for the musical.

Dressed in the costumes for their characters, they felt they could enter their roles easily and immerse themselves in the scene. Sae, in particular, felt this way, as she was now dressed more like an 18th century vampire, complete with a short white wig.

As soft music played, she slowly approached Yuki, who was weeping quietly as she knelt to the ground. She carefully placed her hands on her shoulders, holding her close.

“Maria… you’re free,” she said in a gentle whisper, helping the girl to her feet. “Now, go.”

“Ruka…”

“I love you… eternally.”

From a distance, Rena watched as the girl’s went on with the rehearsal. Her focus was mainly kept on Yuki and Sae, a smile curving her lips whenever the two interacted with each other.

Then an important scene came where Ruka has an emotional breakdown…

“There is love between us… Even now, there is…” Sae closed her eyes, the words coming naturally to her. She gripped her chest as tears started to escape the rims of her eyes. “You cannot chase love… and yet…”

From backstage, Yuki saw as Sae fell to her knees, tears dripping from her face.

“My heart… is breaking..!”

Music began, and Yuki, as well as the others, watched Sae singing her heart out, her cheeks still stained with freshly shed tears. It seemed to Yuki, as if, that she hadn’t ceased crying, even as she was singing.

I cast aside my wings willingly
Falling head first
My heart bleeds red
Like our romance, the color of a sunset

If we had never met
I would not have to lose you
I look up to the sky
And always believe that legend

However, in the middle of the song, Sae found herself unable to continue singing. She covered her both as the melodic notes were replaced by heart-wrenching sobs.

“Stop! Stop the music!” Akane quickly said, ceasing the music. The students quickly entered the stage, Yuki being the first one to approach the weeping girl.

“Sae! What’s wrong?”

“I-I-I don’t know… I…” Sae removed her wig, holding her head as her eyes squeezed tight. “I s-suddenly… don’t feel…”

“Are you sick?” Akane asked. Sae just shook her head, her breath shaky. “I think we should take a break. Sae, go rest in the infirmary for a bit.”

“Okay…”

Sae made her way to the infirmary, wiping off the cheeks from her tears. All the while, she was unaware of the lone figure stalking her from behind.

When she made it to the infirmary, she went to the sink and washed her face off, taking deep breaths to calm her heart rate. She still had an intense headache, so she started searching for some pain killers.

“Sae-chan?” She jumped as she saw Rena enter the room, closing the door behind her. “Everything alright?”

“Y-yeah… Just got a little overwhelmed, I guess.”

“I see…”

Sae gulped down the pain medicine before sitting down on the bed, still drying her damp face.

“Was it a memory?”

“No, it wasn’t that… I must’ve just gotten into my role,” Sae chuckled. “I dunno, it’s weird. I just found myself getting lost in the moment and--”

“Can you recall?” Rena suddenly asked, her tone slightly shifting from her normal, spacey tone of voice. “All those years… waiting for her?”

Sae just snickered, wondering if this were another one of the teacher’s strange musings. “Eh?”

“Can you recall any of it… Ruka?”

“What..?”

The girl started to grow more confused as Rena eerily approached her, her eyes seeming dark and empty. As if she were possessed by something.

“Rena-sensei..? Y-you’re kinda spooking me.”

“Remember, Ruka. Remember who you’re doing this for.”

“Huh?”

“Everything was for her. For Maria.”

Meanwhile…

Yuki wanted to visit Sae in the infirmary, but ran into Minami along the way. She saw the short, young woman standing out the window, a glimmer of worry in her eyes.

“Takamina-san?” she approached her. “Is something wrong..?”

“I wish I could say… but you won’t understand.”

“Try me,” Yuki said, making her eyes widen.

“Well… I’m afraid.”

“Afraid? Of what?”

“I made a deal with someone… and I can’t rid myself of the uncertainty that I won’t be able to succeed in our agreement.”

“What was the agreement?”

Minami didn’t say. She just lowered her head, her long hair hiding her pursed lips.

“Takamina-san… Is there anything I can do?”

“Tell me how it ends.”

“Hm? How what ends?” Yuki asked, even more puzzled.

“Tell me the ending of the musical. Don’t leave out anything; tell me every detail.”

The girl just furrowed her eyebrows, but decided to abide by her request.

“After Ruka lets Maria go, Maria is alone. She misses him…”

“Does she think about him?”

“I… I’d say so, yes. All the time,” Yuki said, looking at her as Minami did not let their eyes meet. “But then, Ruka comes to see Maria. She’s shocked, thinking it’s a dream.”

“But it’s not.”

“No… It’s really him. They hug and he expresses how he can’t live without Maria… and he promises.. He will always...”

“Always…”

“Be with her,” Yuki suddenly felt her eyes water, her eyes blinking rapidly. “B-but then… as they’re embracing.. Ruka…”

Yuki suddenly felt her chest become tight, a lump forming in as vivid visions started to flash in her mind. Visions of what looked like her and Sae, embracing in tears, and Sae being stabbed in the back with a silver stake.

“Ruka is stabbed by the hunters… and is slowly dying… Maria is crying… Sh-she doesn’t want.. She doesn’t want Ruka to die..!”

“She’ll be all alone…”

“Heartbroken,” Yuki gripped her chest with both her hands. “S-so… she begs Ruka to bite her… so she can…”

“Find him again.”

Tears fell from Yuki’s eyes. The visions were clear in her mind; she and Sae kissing, Sae biting her neck, before disappearing, leaving only a blue rose behind.

“Why..?! Why is it so…?” she tried to ask as she cried.

“It hurts, doesn’t it?”

It was then that Yuki saw that Minami was crying, too. She looked at her with solemn eyes.

“Do you remember… Yuki?”

“W-what are you talking about?” Yuki raised her hand, wiping away Minami’s tears. “Why are… you crying?”

“I feel the same pain as you.”

“What? That’s--”

“Yuki, do you remember anything?” the woman said again, this time more urgently. “Please, tell me. Can you recall any of it?!”

“Any of what?”

“All those years alone..! So much time waiting, searching..! All alone!” Minami cried harder. Yuki found more tears were starting to fall from her eyes, almost like what happened to Sae.

“T-Takamina-san?”

The short woman grabbed Yuki, looking at her with tear-filled eyes.

“Please… say that you remember it all vividly… No matter how much it may hurt to, please tell me you can recall it…”

Yuki suddenly saw new visions enter her mind. Visions of herself, crying alone in her room. Her hair was a mess and there were bags under her eyes from what seemed like endless crying.

“Ruka… I miss you… Come back to me…” she said in a hoarse voice.

“Why..?!”

“Yuki… you have to--”

“Takamina-san, what is happening to me?!” she asked urgently, wiping off her cheeks. “Why can’t I stop crying..?!”

“I’m sorry…”

Minami took a deep breath, calming down. As she did, Yuki felt herself suddenly grow calm as well, the tears disappearing from her eyes.

“What?” Yuki stood shocked as Minami wiped the tears from her own face.

“You could feel it, didn’t you? I felt it, too,” the woman confessed. “I feel your pain because we are connected.”

“W-what are you talking about?”

“Yuki… we are one.”

Yuki’s eyes widened. She wanted to believe she was joking, but the short woman’s eyes were dead serious.

“Y-you… can’t be…” Yuki backed away, shaking her head. “I’m.. Kashiwagi Yuki! I am--”

“That’s not who you used to be,” Minami said, grabbing her shoulders again, tightly gripping her sleeves. “I… am who you used to be.”

“Eh..?”

“I’m you…
Maria.”

Yuki felt something click at the mention of that name. She felt her head spinning in her confusion as she looked at Minami.

“I know it may seem like a lie, but it’s true.”

“But… how can that be..? I-I’m not--”

“I’m made up of your memories. When you gave them up.”

“Gave them.. Eh?”

“You gave up everything because you couldn’t take it. Because we couldn’t take the pain! Now you have to accept it and move on! Please, it’s our only hope!”

“I don’t understand… I don’t get it at all!” Yuki broke away. “I’m not Maria! And why are you saying I gave up my memories?! If I did such a thing, then what does that mean about my life now?! Was it all a lie?!”

“No, I--!”

“Then, tell me! If you say you know everything, tell me why I did that!”

“We did it because we wanted the world to accept us!” Minami blurted out. “And if we don’t, then I’ll disappear!”

“..!” Yuki stood shocked, seeing more tears form in her eyes. “Disappear..?”

“...I don’t want…”

“Eh?”

“I DON’T WANT TO DISAPPEAR!!!” Minami suddenly broke down, falling to her knees while crying hard. Yuki started to move, but then someone moved by her at what seemed like lightning speed.

“Minami!” Sayaka appeared, kneeling down to meet her height. “What happened?!”

“..Ruka… Ruka!”

Minami hugged her tightly, crying into her chest. Sayaka looked to Yuki, who only stood in a confused daze.

“Ruka…?”

“Y-Yuki…” she looked at the crying woman in her arms. “Don’t tell me… did you..?”

“Ruka… I’m sorry…”

“Ruka,” Yuki started to breathe sharply, holding the side of her head. “Ruka… Ruka..!”

“Yuki?”

The girl turned around, starting to walk away, but soon felt her knees grow weak. She fell to the ground as her vision faded to black.

“Yuki!”

---------------------------

“Hey, where’s Yukirin? She still with Sae?”

“I think…”

Akane opened the door as she, Yuka, Ryoka, and Juri entered the infirmary.

“Sae-san? Yukirin?” Ryoka called out to them. “You in here?”

Yuka started looking around, until she saw a familiar person on the ground. She looked behind one of the beds and saw that very someone collapsed, unconscious on the ground.

“Sae-san!”

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