The Aftermath

Neku stood alone in the centre of Scramble Crossing, lost in his thoughts again. This was where it all began; he was pulled into the Game, met Shiki, Beat, Rhyme and Joshua, fought countless Noise and Reapers and a handful of Game Masters. He sighed, and shoved his hands in his pockets, assuming she had forgotten…He didn’t know somebody was watching him from across the road.

Shiki stood only a few feet away from Neku, but didn’t feel like she could talk to him just yet. She had been waiting for this ever since she entered the Game; so why was it so hard to just say hello? Maybe it was the way she looked…since entering the RG again, she was back to her old appearance. Her hair was brown once more, her eyes were hazel, and she was taller. But other than that, she looked completely different to her old self. Her hair was longer, and styled into choppy layers. Her clothes were different, too: she had designed and made her own outfit, without any help from Eri.

Taking a deep breath and steeling herself, Shiki skipped across the road. Just by chance, Neku turned on the spot as she got to the other side. They both gasped at the sight of each other. Shiki felt her face burn up, and knew a fiery blush was crawling up to the roots of her hair. She gripped Mr. Mew tightly. Neku was stunned. Shiki looked completely different to how he remembered her – he knew she didn’t look like herself in the UG, but he had seen a picture of her and this was new. Before Shiki knew what to say or do, she felt Neku envelope her in a tight hug. “Shiki,” he breathed. “Finally.”

Shiki laughed. “What, did you miss me?” she teased. Now it was Neku’s turn to blush. “Yeah well…” he muttered, scuffing his shoe on the ground. She chuckled again, and linked arms with him, wandering along the pavement. “So where do you wanna go?” she asked lightly. Neku shrugged. “Oh! I know!” Shiki cried, and dragged Neku off in a specific direction.

Once the two of them reached Dogenzaka, Neku knew where they were headed, and Shiki slowed down a little, smiling at him. That was when she noticed. She had known he had changed his appearance somehow, but now she knew just how. “You aren’t wearing your headphones anymore!” she laughed. Neku nodded. “Yeah. I’ve changed; what can I say? You’ve changed too, though. You look nice.” Shiki blushed again, and cursed silently.

Inside Ramen Don, Shiki and Neku grabbed a table and ordered two bowls of simple, delicious ramen. Once it was served, Neku laughed into his bowl. He realised Shiki was looking at him questioningly and explained. “Once you left the UG, I had to play through the Game twice more, right? And as part of one of the missions, we made this place popular again. Through using a meme to get Ramen Don to serve this type of ramen again.” Shiki smiled. “While players are in the Game they do so much that affects the RG, and we never even realise, huh?” she said thoughtfully, playing with her ramen. Neku nodded.

After finishing their steaming bowls of ramen, Neku had an idea of where they could go next. He led Shiki by the hand down Centre Street and through the maze of Cadoi City, finally stopping outside a small internet café. “Let’s get some coffee and a conversation, shall we?” he asked. Shiki nodded, and followed him inside.

“Hey, Mr. Hanekoma, can we get a couple of cups of coffee and a chat?” Neku said as they reached the counter. Mr. Hanekoma looked up, confused, and laughed. “Phones! Shiki! Hey, guys! Sit down, I’ll be right with you.” Neku and Shiki sat down at the counter, and Shiki looked at Neku in wonderment. Neku said nothing, just smiled innocently.

Mr. Hanekoma sat down with Neku and Shiki a few minutes later, and they chatted for a while about life since the Game. But the café had to close soon, and Mr. H had some new players to help out, so Neku and Shiki left. “Drop by anytime, guys! Just as long as I’m not helping fresh meat out of any tight spots,” Mr. Hanekoma laughed as he ran off.

Neku took Shiki’s hand, and they walked away in a comfortable silence. There was no need to say anything; they both knew the one place they had left to visit. It took about five minutes to reach the Statue of Hachiko, and they sat on a bench opposite it. Shiki couldn’t help but stare at Neku; he was finally here with her, they were both alive, they were together. She couldn’t ask for much more than that. Well, until Neku leaned over and kissed her, that is.

Neku was as surprised as Shiki was. He pulled back, and they were both bright red. Shiki laughed, and Neku was captivated by the sparkle in her eyes. They weren’t sure how long they sat there, but it could never have been long enough...