At least I find solace in searching.
~Justin Wetch, Bending The Universe
It rains through the night and it’s still raining when you wake up the next day. Even though there is only you and Sora in the inn, the atmosphere is gloomy. Having dried your clothing with much effort and time, neither of you is eager to step outside, so you remain indoors. At one point, Sora notes that the rain has made an impact on the snow, melting away much of it, but, as he points out, there is a potential for dangerous icing if temperatures freeze the wet snow. At least he doesn’t have to go to the stream for more water since he can just set it outside while getting minimally wet instead of soaked.
Today you turn on one of your phones to listen to some music, though you fear that your tastes don’t match Sora’s all that much. He doesn’t complain about the music you choose, but you worry that he doesn’t like it. Still, the sounds help lift some of the gloom and inject a little positivity into you both.
Sora thinks that the rain signals warmer weather, so perhaps this is the end of winter wherever ‘here’ is. You really don’t want to think that this is a different world, but with the evidence slowly piling up, what other option is there to believe in? Perhaps an illusionary Quirk of some kind? If you’re lucky, then you’re lying somewhere on a hospital bed with Shizu and Daiki trying to find a way to wake you up and raining hell on whoever is responsible for this.
But somehow, you just don’t think that you’re that lucky.
Turning their resources upon the small seaside town, it isn’t too long before they find more CCTV footage of their friends and the mysterious blond man. Granted, most of the footage came from a fish packaging plant, but it’s something.
Still, Shizu makes a mental note to remind her friend to check for cameras before she uses her Quirk outside of headquarters or other private buildings. The camera recording the interior of the large packaging area catches the biokinetic reaching into a crate of fish and the fish themselves dropping out of sight. It also records her touching the blond man and later showing one of the workers peering into the crate and lifting it, showcasing its emptiness by doing so with only one hand.
Unfortunately, no one got the names of either her friend or the man with them. In fact, no one in town knows the man’s name, but most express concern and condolences about their missing friend. Having arrived at another dead end, Shizu decides to take the man’s picture to the police, who by now are aware of the missing person’s case. Or rather, she goes to her friend’s parents and they and her both go to the police.
In the end, the man’s face is printed, asking people to come forward if they have any information on the ‘suspicious man related to a missing person’s case’.
(his detective friend asks him to meet up and when Toshinori arrives a newspaper article is practically shoved in his face
he blanches at the realization that his benefactor—the savior of All Might—is missing)
Three days have passed in tedious succession with rain coming and going. There is definitely an uptick in the weather, but it’s so unlike what you’re accustomed to that you have a hard time believing that the seasons are actually changing. Wasn’t it just a few days ago that there was snow piled up to your thighs?
At least Sora agrees with you that this sudden change of weather is disconcerting. Both of you are more used to a gradual change, and rain isn’t usually part of the transition from winter to spring, at least not anywhere near the current quantity falling from the sky.
Still, you can’t deny that it is good fortune that the bitter winter is ending. Cold could kill you much easier than it could kill Sora, though your friend would probably starve to death without you around to change the Nopefish into edible stuff. Yeah, neither of you has tried to eat the Nopefish as it is, not when you can easily substitute is for something better and more familiar.
You’ve been cleaning this ramshackle building in the meantime. Normally you wouldn’t bother with something so menial, but there isn’t much else to do. Plus, as more time passes, the stronger the sinking feeling in your stomach gets. Shizu and Daiki might be looking for you right now like Sora says, but you can’t help but think they might… well, never find you.
Sora finally came outright and said the two of you might have been isekai’d, so if you two were truly in another world, then how were your friends supposed to find you and bring you home? It wasn’t like they could just drive here to pick you up, right?
Then again, this whole mess is probably because of someone’s Quirk. If Shizu and Daiki could just find that person, maybe you and Sora could go home.
But there are millions of people in Japan and billions in the whole world! There’s no telling who is that has the Quirk responsible for your situation. It’s like searching for a needle in the biggest haystack imaginable!
Frustrated, you swiped hard on the handrails of the staircase.
Hearing his boss making an angry sound, he glanced up from his chair to see her trying to vent her frustrations via cleaning. It was her new method of coping, he supposed. His was being bored while being on the lookout for goblins and dangers.
Looking back up at the ceiling as he leaned back on a chair, Sora wondered if it was possible to get back home. Sure, Daiki and Shizu could tear up Japan trying to find them, but that doesn’t actually mean they’ll succeed, not matter how much all parties want that. He doesn’t doubt that boss wants to go home as much as he does—probably even more, considering that she and her parents actually have a good relationship—but he’s played games where the protagonist ends up stuck in a new world for one reason or another, sometimes even by choice.
He really hopes that that’s just a worst-case scenario, but he shouldn’t discount the possibility that… well, that there might not be any going back.
Scowling at the thought, he changed his mind and decided to not entertain that possibility. He would operate under the assumption that their goal of going back home is achievable, one way or another.
After all, in a world with hundreds of millions if not billions of Quirks, surely there’s a way to bring them home, right?
(he doesn’t think of how if they can only bring one back, he knows he’s not the one they’ll pick)
Toshinori tries not to sweat bullets as he waits for the parents of his savior to show up. He’s in Naomasa’s precinct building, but not in an interrogation room as that’s too impersonal, and besides, he knows that he had nothing to do with that young woman’s disappearance. He was probably one of the last to see her, certainly, but he didn’t murder her or do any other nefarious deed, and Naomasa knows that too.
The detective still questioned him, yeah, but that was his job, even regarding All Might’s civilian identity.
Of course, his friend had been… incensed that the young woman in question had used her Quirk on him in an authorized manner, and he got lectured about how he should know better (he really should). He’d been ordered for a full checkup, which he’d gotten, getting back a clean bill of health from Recovery Girl. Finding out why he needed a checkup, Toshinori got another lecture about letting people do unauthorized Quirk usage on his person, and after she confirmed that his new organs were perfect, he got another lecture for letting the young woman slip away without so much as her name.
Yes, he knew more than anyone just how use that Quirk could be, how the government would likely overlook her high school education in order to make a hero out of someone with a Quirk like that, but he also knows that that young woman hadn’t wanted any of that. If she had wanted to be a hero, she’d already be one they knew.
Hell, she’d have probably been his personal doctor after his final fight with All for One.
Thinking about might-have’s isn’t productive, and Toshinori pushed away those useless thoughts. He needs to be in the present, ready to speak to that young woman’s parents.
And, speaking of, the door opens and there they are, a pair of haggard looking people who look as though their world is crumbling beneath their feet.
(it isn’t a productive meeting because he doesn’t know what happened to her any more than they do
but he offers them his contact information and says he will keep an eye out for her
perhaps they think he just means well, but he definitely will, because it’s the least he can do for what she’s done for him)
Daiki and Shizu agree on emergency measures and make cutbacks in the gang’s operations. They can no longer rely on their friend’s Quirk, so Shizu and Kyoko cancel all future appointments while Daiki cuts loose many on the lower ranks. They shave off non-essential personnel and create alternate ways of generating revenue. For this, Shizu delves into businesses while Daiki leads the effort of cleaning out and abandoning the headquarters under the club. The nightclub will continue to function for a while in order to generate money, but they agree that without their friend, they can’t risk keeping the gang’s headquarters in the same place, and Daiki had already begun the process of selling it.
Kyoko takes charge of the brothels, immediately issuing orders to practice safe sex and for the girls to go back on prevention medication and items. She also begins the cultivating of the drug plants that were left over from the last growth they were put under. While they weren’t true reproducing plants, they could be cloned by using and potting the cuttings. There would be a slower output of drugs, but they weren’t completely high and dry in that area yet. The hallucinogenic snails were healthy and didn’t really need the application of their friend’s Quirk, so that was another thing they didn’t have to worry about.
Everything would need to be relocated, and that took most of their attention to make it go smoothly. Still, they both agreed that they wanted it done as soon as possible so they could get back to the most important thing: finding their friend.
Oh, wait, friends.
Sora is missing too, but they hope that at least he’s with her so that they can be found at the same time.
Katsu wished he had fought harder to meet up with Sora when boss lady headed off to that beach again. Neither of them was sure why she kept going, only that Sora had long since had his orders to discretely follow her wherever she went. Apparently she’d been going to either wait or meet up with a weird skinny, blond guy, or at least that’s the current theory from Kyoko. Katsu rarely went with Sora since his shield Quirk was more useful for protecting boss lady, but ever since the alert went out, Katsu had been wishing that he’d gone with him that day.
Even if he went missing too, at least he would know what happened to them.
Regrets are useless, though, so he tries to make himself useful in the search. Digital Jack and Digital Jane have mostly got the digital aspect covered, but Shizu has been using him as a means of spying on that man, Yagi Toshinori, the last man who saw their friend.
Katsu follows at a distance, farther than usual, and he’s lost sight of Yagi more than once, but he remains dogged. One of these days, if Yagi is responsible for the disappearance of his friends, then the man will slip up.
He’s going to find out everything about Yagi Toshinori, or die trying.
(faces laughing and saying his name, in constant remembrance of his existence, but now no more, and their absence hurts)
There are no more signs of life from the cave where the infected Goblins had occupied. No doubt they’ve all succumbed to the plague, but smoke still rises from the abandoned settlement where the plague first originated. Are there actually living beings there, or is the fire just mysteriously burning on its own?
The intermittent rain makes spying difficult, but the guardsmen manage it. From what they can see, at least one Human is occupying one of the buildings. They only seem to leave to fetch water from either a bucket left in the rain, or from the nearby creek which they know will soon overflow. It is unknown why the Human was squatting in an abandoned place, but they were probably the reason why the plague was active again.
And yet, if that was true, why wasn’t the Human already dead?
It was a conundrum, but one the Watch Captain decided to leave. She didn’t want to risk losing her guardsmen to the plague, and gave the order that the Human was not permitted to approach the city.
If the Human was still alive in a few weeks, then she would revisit the issue.
Personally, she hoped they wouldn’t be and that they could go back to ignoring the abandoned settlement.
The rain replaced the snow, and the falling water droplets seemed endless. It seemed that the seasons had gone from winter straight into a rainy season. It was… an improvement over the cold, you supposed. Sora wasn’t happy, though, since any nearby wood was wet and therefore useless until it dried out.
In the days since the rain started, you have pretty much cleaned the entire place. Scrubbing the walls and floors of the upstairs rooms was probably pointless, but it helped pass the time which was about the only thing both you and Sora had in abundance. You had left the ceilings as they were, because you weren’t that desperate to pass the time, nor were you cruel enough to make Sora do it when there wasn’t really a point to it.
The ground was too wet for grass to grow, leaving the Nopefish as your only source of biological material. It felt strange constantly eating food you had reshaped from something else, but there was little choice in the matter. Neither you or Sora wanted to starve, so you both ate without complaint.
Cooking wasn’t very adventurous either, not when you had a limited supply of flour and butter. Boiling was the most common method of cooking, followed by grilling, though the tuna you kept making was mostly eaten as sashimi. Bacon was a rare treat, mostly because of the butter limit again. After all, after humans, pigs were the animal you were most familiar with.
As days went by with nearly constant rain and no sign of rescue, the idea that you might never be rescued surfaced again as you sat next to Sora in the kitchen. Reduced to watching the fire for entertainment, you were both practically hypnotized by the fire burning beyond the open stove door. It probably shouldn’t be open, being a fire hazard, but at this point having the inn burn down around you wasn’t looking like a bad option.
Sighing, you scooted your chair over and leaned your head against Sora’s shoulder.
“What if they can’t find us? What if… Sora, what if there’s no way home?”
Goblins and runes and snowmen that move on their own. He said that you two might have been isekai’d, and if that’s true then how were you supposed to get back home?
Your friend grumbled under his breath, but you caught his words anyway as he answered your question with blunt honesty you weren’t ready to hear.
“Then we’re screwed.”
(he feels a rush of anger, annoyance, guilt and panic when he realizes that his words made her cry)
Sora yells at you not to cry and you banish him from the kitchen in retaliation for his callousness. He goes in a huff, and it isn’t long after that when music drifts in from the common room. Crying quietly as you wished someone would come get you, the music only made you feel worse because you knew there was no electricity here. Hell, even if there was, neither of you had chargers for your phones. Once the battery was used up, that would be it: no more music.
The thought of not having music anymore sets off a new wave of tears, sobbing which you muffle as best you can. You try telling yourself that you’re not alone, but you just feel guilty because Sora needn’t be here with you. If you just hadn’t gone to wait for Yagi, then neither of you would be in this position. If you had just minded your own business…!
There is a creeping suspicion that only gets stronger the longer you are out here without contact from home: that you are lost in a place where you cannot be found.
You want to go home, and you know Sora does too, but there are no clear directions, no beacon declaring that that was the way you needed to go. There are no signs of civilization here, and from what you saw outside, there are only hills around for miles. Sora can’t even go looking for clues, not when neither of you know if the danger of goblins will return.
Plus, you suspect that he is just as afraid as you are that you will get lost out there, that you won’t even have the comfort of a roof over your heads like you do now as long as you stay in this inn.
What if he’s right and this is a new world? What if no one speaks Japanese except the two of you? What if there were worse monsters out there than just the goblins?
What if Sora abandoned you?
It’s stupid to think that because you know that your Quirk is invaluable, especially if modern medicine isn’t available to him, but you can’t help but fear being abandoned. You know that aside from your Quirk that you were dead weight. You have no particular skills or talents outside of what your Quirk allows you to do. How could you make a living if this world was where you were going to have to spend the rest of your life?
Would your Quirk and Sora’s Quirk be seen as witchcraft? Would you two be hunted down and killed? Or worse, held captive and studied, forced to use your Quirks for the benefit of your captors?
You know that you won’t be able to handle being tortured. Just falling and skinning your knees or heels is enough to make your tears well up, so how could you possibly handle something hanging you from chains or whipping you or anything else? Sora’s Quirk is useful, but even it has a threshold that it buckles under, and not to mention that he is only one man.
Your thoughts chase each other around and you get so lost in them that you don’t notice Sora’s presence until he’s pulling you to lean against him. His body is firm and the hand on your shoulder is reassuring. Letting go of your knees and putting your feet on the floor, you turned and hugged his waist.
“I’m so sorry, Sora.
“I’m so damn sorry.”
(he’d been blaming her, if only in his head, but her apology helps him let go of his anger
they only have each other, so he promises himself to do his best to make it work
if only until they get home, at least)
Never ruin an apology with an excuse.