Cutscene: Back to Black

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Katsuya's phone rings over and over, but with an unfamiliar ringtone. It sounds kind of like a Beatles song. He perhaps sounds somewhat bleary when he answers, "...Yes? Hello? ...This is Suou."

For a few moments there's nothing but silence on the other end. Then a distorted, female, /familiar/ voice says, "H-hello?"

There is a brief and very transitory moment where Katsuya pauses. It breaks quickly. "--Itoh-san?! You've recovered?"

Ran Itoh's voice is overlaid with heavy static. It sounds like the noise that Ran's new body makes when she's dismayed. "Itoh...? Is Ran Itoh... is that person me? They keep calling me Ran, and Senpai... I know who they are, most of the time, but... Who am I?"

"You-- Itoh-san, where are you calling from?!"

"Calling? I don't... I don't know? Everything's black..."

"...Don't hang up. Stay on the line. All right, Itoh-san?"

"I... all right. Um... do you know me? Are we friends?"

Katsuya Suou is silent a moment. "...We have met before. I know who you are. You /are/ Ran Itoh. You have... Itoh-san, please tell me the most recent thing you can remember, and work your way backwards from there."

"But if ... if I'm Ran Itoh... then who is that? I don't remember anything in order, it's all mixed up. I can't find my baby..."

"...Your... baby?"

"My baby. But... Am I a mother? I should be taking care of someone, but I can't remember who."

"...No, I don't think that you are a mother. You are a... No, there were several people you were taking care of. Can you remember anything else, Itoh-san? Anything at all?" There is the muffled sound of an opening drawer. On the other end, Katsuya fumbles through the contents of a desk drawer. "...You're still transformed."

"I'm not? I'm not a mother... then what am I missing? /Who/ am I missing? There are so many people here and I know some of them but not /why/ I know them. And sometimes I don't remember anyone at all. ...There's a boy who..."

"A boy who comes to visit you."

"I don't know why. I want him to hold me and I want him to kill me and I don't know why... is it because... because I'm 'transformed'?" Ran sounds like she's holding back tears. "The way he looks at me... Like I'm supposed to help him, but I don't know how... It hurts..."

"...It's because he's very important to you. And you're important to him."

"It hurts. It hurts, it hurts, I don't want to hurt anymore!"

The drawer shuts, suddenly. "...What you're doing now is enough, you-- Itoh-san! Itoh-san, please calm down! It will be all right!"

Ran sniffles. "It hurts and I'm alone. I... I wish he'd go away and I don't want him to leave me. I'm afraid... I'm afraid of what's going to happen. I'm slipping more and more. I forget that they bleed if you hurt them and I forget that I can hurt them and make them bleed, and it's getting harder to be gentle. I don't want to be a monster."

There is, however distantly, a metallic creak, as if someone had sat down heavily on the edge of a cot. "You're not alone, Itoh-san. There are people who care about you. You won't be alone. ...Do whatever you can. Even if it seems small."

"Whatever I can...? Suou-san, please... I've been trying. I don't know how long I'll remember we talked at all. Everything's all scattered around. Please, can you help me? Isn't there anything-- I... I can't... find my baby..."

"I know you are. But please, don't stop trying. --Scattered around? Your memories? --Itoh-san, tell me what you can remember. I'll do whatever I can if it helps you, but I can't tell what you're... --Itoh-san?"

"Itoh...? I..."

"What is your baby? It's symbolic of something, but I just don't... --Itoh-san? You're breaking up."

"I can't find......ease don't take it all..."

"--Itoh-san, what are you... Hey, stay with me!"

"Please, it hurts, please give them ba..." Ran's voice fades into static, and in time even that disappears.

"Itoh-san! Wait, please don't--"

With a start, he awakens, bolting upright with the sheet in a tangle around him. Had he fallen asleep? He was sure he had dreamed all that, just now. But his cellphone in his hand, which he only notices as he starts to rub at his forehead, suggests otherwise. A quick and hasty glance through his call logs yet reveals nothing. So, it must have been a dream, Katsuya decides, swinging long legs over the edge of the cramped cot. Early morning sunlight only just illuminates his office, including the entire contents of a file scattered across the floor. Wait, how had that happened? Kneeling, he picks up an errant sheet. ...SHU schematics... And this one is on Shadow Possession. Hadn't he opened the file cabinet in his dream...?

The phone, still in his hand, begins to ring.

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