Survivor's Guilt

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How could one person be so oblivious? You thought as you sat in a room of the police station waiting to have your statement taken, holding a plastic cup of water with both hands. Everything seemed so obvious now. It was a wonder you hadn't realized it sooner. Still, you had so many questions.

When did you become the main character, the object of obsession? When had you, the tutorial girl, and the true main character switched roles? Had you been a little less dense, a little less focused on saving your own neck, could you have realized it in time to save Hiro?

You'd been pushing him down the road to ruin, leading him on like a lamb to the slaughter. You thought he had plot armor. It never occurred to you that you had taken his armor for yourself, leaving him defenseless. It wasn't your fault... You couldn't have known... Or could you have?

Other than Minoru, had any of the girls even hinted at being gay? Sure, they had been touchy in the past and complimented you often, but you thought that was just girls being girls. And then there was that one slumber party you had... Now you were left wondering if you ever had an innocent friendship with them to begin with.

It was at that moment someone entered the room: a police officer, large in every sense of the word, with a handlebar mustache that normally would have made you laugh.

"Okay, girlie, just give me your statement, and then you're free to go."

At his request, you recounted what happened that morning. There wasn't much to tell. You couldn't sleep the night before so you walked to school early. You went to your locker, you went to your classroom, and... There he was. Waiting for you.

"Do you have any idea why the killer may have chosen your desk in particular?"

Why did Kimiko cut off Sumiko's hair? Because she suspected you liked it, liked Sumiko more than her. And that was just because you gave Sumiko more than a passing glance.

You gave Hiro much more attention and affection than that, and he paid the price for it. She even warned you, "I hate that motherfucker. I hate his fucking guts, and I hope he dies."

"I know who did it," you told him before draining your cup of water. You wished it was something stronger. If there was ever a time you needed a stiff drink, it would be now.

"Oh, really?" He sounded apprehensive but gave you the benefit of the doubt.

"Do you have a pen and paper?" He grabbed a notepad and a needle-sharp pencil and you started listing off names, "Minoru Satomi, Oshiro Kyou, Kimiko Noa, and Hinata Shizuka. All students at Haruki High."

He dutifully jutted down all the names before looking over the list with a critical eye. "You think a teenage girl did this?"

"One or all of the girls on that list killed Hiro." Most likely all of them. You thought back to those four red roses and shuddered in revulsion. What a grisly parody of Hiro's gift of that pink rose.

"Okay... We'll look into them." Doubtful. He was looking at you like you were crazy. You weren't going to get anywhere telling him these girls drugged, stalked, and almost killed you on more than one occasion. It would help if you had some proof. But here you were, empty-handed.

"Did he suffer much?" You asked at last, your voice shaky. If you had any tears left to cry, you'd still be shedding them now. Instead, your eyes were red, irritated, and dry as the Sahara. "Before they..."

"No," he said, too quickly for it to have been anything but a lie. He might as well have said it was painless, like putting a cat to sleep. You could only hope they waited until he was dead to start cutting him up.

Then he ushered you out of the room and into the lobby, where Aina's mom and dad were waiting with matching somber, drawn expressions. You wished, not for the first time, that you had your real parents here and not these strangers you had been living with for the last couple months.

They loved you, though, with a love that gave instead of taking away. You ran up to Aina's mom and buried your face in the crook of her neck. She wrapped her arms around you tight, like she would never let you go.

"Mom, I don't know what to do..." You sobbed, your eyes screwed shut.

"Oh, Aina. Aina, Aina, Aina... There's nothing you can do," she said, pressing comforting kisses to your sweaty hairline.

She was right. No matter which route you picked moving forward, more people would die. You didn't want to hurt anyone, didn't want anyone to get hurt due to your actions.

No, the only real way to win this game was not to play.

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