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Ghosting

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“Where are you, Joshua?” You murmur the question under your breath as if it were an incomplete or illicit thought–one that never quite makes it to the surface. It fizzles like bubbles in a soda, ephemeral as Joshua seems now, in retrospect. Now that Neku can actually stop and think, he’s been reflecting ever since.

You took care of things, right? You talk to him in hushed tones, not because you’re ashamed, but because you won’t pray aloud. Leave prayer circles to the pious; you’re still not sure you believe. You don’t know what you believe, or would believe, if you could.

But you want to believe that in some way Joshua can hear you, or at the very least see you. He shot you; you know that much. You saw him and Mr. H in your final moments spiraling out of the UG… Speaking of the UG…

Does it even exist anymore? And if that’s the case, then…

Fuck!” You swing a kick at the wall you just rounded, barely registering the subsequent pain spiking up your leg. “Why did you do this?! Why did you have to make everything so fucking complicated?! I don’t understand–” You grit your teeth against the onset of a headache; they come on like clockwork every time you try to muddle through all the shit he put you through, and why why why couldn’t he have just–

…trusted you? Did he ever trust you in any way that mattered? You cared about him. You obviously still do. Did he ever care about you, too?

Maybe in his own convoluted Joshua way. You’re here after all. Shibuya is just as it was; you’re alive.

But you still catch yourself tensing when you walk past the mural, that pivotal moment permanently imprinted on your body. Most of the time it’s dread, but sometimes your heart does that little flip hearts do when you’re waiting for someone to appear in the crowd.

This will never be an airport reunion.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Shibuya, and he’ll never be one of them.

At least if he were here, you could let him have it. You would grab him, shake him and scream until he finally listened. And then after that cathartic beatdown, you could let him go on your own terms.

“You owe me that much, jackass.” Relentless city noise drowns out your voice, but thankfully you don’t miss your phone set to vibrate. Flipping it open, you boggle at the caller’s digits.

000-0000-0000

You smash the screen to your ear, and breathe a wary, “hello?”

A jarring busy signal screeches in reply, immediately followed by static.

But it’s not even that which disturbs you; it’s how you suddenly feel. A bolt of energy jolts your spine, scatters through your body, and tingles in your extremities.

“Joshua?” You whisper instinctively, and the call (of course) drops.

Shaken, you stare at your phone like it’s about to bite you and quickly stash it.

Joshua's distinct giggles bounce through your head, unwarranted but not unwanted. You’d almost forgotten how it sounded. You clutch the sound tight in your mind, smiling. If this is his idea of the burning bush, well…

“You’ll have to do more than that to make me a believer, Joshua.”