This one's for the plushie, which I love the looks of.
Recording The Fear In Her Voice
Miku awoke with a sense of terror. Or was it horror? She'd always confused the two, though somewhere in the back of her mind she could hear someone correcting her. Terror was when you were afraid of something scary. Horror was when you'd seen something scary.
In any case, she was breathing heavily, and hoped she hadn't screamed. No matter how nice Yuu and Rei were, it was becoming increasingly embarrassing to have one or both of them run in, or in some cases, not run in. It made her feel like an intruder in their lives that just happened to live with them because her brother was gone.
She'd been dreaming of the boy in the clock. The boy in the clock that liked the girl that was missing, the boy who had played with her while trying to kill her, though she doubted he knew what he was doing. All she could remember was that she was chasing him through Himuro Mansion for the mirror place while he became increasingly gory, skin melting away until he was organs and then a skeleton. And he was still laughing.
Even though she knew the ghosts of Himuro Mansion were gone for the most part, she was still afraid they'd show up one day. She reassured herself that even if they were there, she couldn't see them and they couldn't harm her, but it was a feeble reassurance; who knew if her accursed sixth sense would come back?
Besides, Kirie could certainly kill without worry about that, and there were certainly enough spirits in Japanese folklore that didn't need for a person to be spiritually sensitive to harm them. She'd spent a lot of time reading Yuu's books on folklore, especially after she'd first come. They'd scared her a lot at first – okay, they still scared her – but she was determined to know what she might encounter that other people might not expect. Some of the books were old friends by now.
Yuu was, of course, delighted to see someone interested in his research, though sometimes he looked worried about her tendency to devour every book she could find on the subject. She hadn't said much about what she'd seen in Himuro to him, though she had told him about what happened to Mr. Takamine; he deserved that much. She didn't tell him how she'd fought the ghostly author at the shrine, how she'd fought Tomoe twice on the way there, how she fought the editor, Koji, in that hallway full of lamps. She didn't know how much Mafuyu had told Yuu about his sixth sense, or if Miku had one too.
Sometimes Miku preferred being around Rei, because Rei was more interested in her camera than she was in Miku. Yes, they liked each other, but Rei didn't ask about her life the way Yuu did. Yuu was more personal, more caring, while Rei was more distant, more interested in image than the inside.
There was a knock on her door. "Yes?" she called, though softly, just in case she'd only woken one of them up. Her bed was just a wall away from Yuu's, and sometimes the walls in the house were notoriously thin.
"Miku, are you all right?" Yuu's voice came from the other side of the door.
"Just a nightmare?" She wished she didn't sound so uncertain. Yuu should have been a counselor, not a folklorist.
"May I come in?" Yuu asked. Apparently, she didn't sound convincing to him, either.
"Yes?" She wasn't sure if she wanted him to come in, but the faster he came in, the faster they could both go to bed.
The door opened softly and then Yuu came in. She slid aside so that he could sit beside her. "You were screaming. What happened?"
Oh, no. "I... it was a nightmare. About a boy." She told him about the nightmare, though she didn't mention that the whole thing was in Himuro Mansion. She didn't want to talk about that place, about running across that place where they kept the fish for the mansion, where they blinded that woman. Himuro Mansion had probably been a nice place, if you didn't look in the deep, dark parts that nobody talked about.
She would have nightmares about the place where Kirie was killed for years, she was sure.
"Mafuyu once told me he could see ghosts." Yuu was thoughtful. "We were both drunk, but I remember him telling me this. You can too, can't you, Miku?"
Miku wondered if she should have told him to go right back to bed. "I...."
"I asked Mafuyu about it, and I know he could. You've read the books by Kunihiko Asou, I know."
"Yes." They would have been a little more fascinating if they weren't so scary.
"My family's known for a long time that there were some people that could see things that other people couldn't. That's why I wasn't surprised that Mafuyu had the ability. I would have been surprised if he did and you didn't. It tends to run in women, not men."
"I... I know. But mom's sixth sense was very strong, so...." So strong that it had caused her to hang herself after using the camera. Miku had almost been glad when it had broken down below in that final chamber. Mafuyu and Kirie could have it for all she cared.
No. She would not blame Mafuyu for her inability to haul him out of there to safety. That was all her fault.
"Ah." Yuu was nodding. "I'm glad to know that."
"Mafuyu and I don't – didn't – talk about it to others much." Neither of them wanted to be weird, and her mother Miyuki had taught them to be cautious.
"It's okay, Miku. I won't tell anyone." He gave her one of his famous gentle smiles. "Not even Rei, though I suspect she has some of the ability herself."
"She does?" Rei didn't act like she and Mafuyu did – she'd always wanted to know more about other people than talking about herself.
"I suspect she sees some things I can't." Yuu shrugged, signaling the end of the matter.
"Oh. But I'm okay now, Yuu. Thank you for being worried." There was nothing he could do to fix this, after all.
"Miku... I think it might help if you talked to someone about what happened." His suggestion was gentle. He'd made it before. But she still cringed. "I can lend you a tape recorder and some tapes if you want. Nobody else has to hear it but you. I just think it will help you."
She looked at Yuu. Gentle, sympathetic Yuu who had been there for her, who she'd never talked to about Mafuyu's death because they were friends. Yuu, who knew about Mafuyu's ability and her own, was so much like Mafuyu in some ways that it hurt.
"I-I think I'd like it very much if we did that."
"We? Would you be comfortable talking to me, or would you rather do it alone?" Yuu put a hand on her shoulder. "I don't want you to feel pressured to tell me or anybody."
"No, it's time for somebody to hear. I want you to hear." Hear her terrible guilt about Mafuyu, hear what had happened in that awful place.
"Good. When Rei goes to see her family next week, we'll sit down at the couch, and I'll bring my tape recorder, and a stack of tapes, and we'll talk. Is that okay?"
"Yes." It was a sigh, a breath of relief. By the time Yuu left, she was smiling.
And then, the week after, they recorded. He asked her to tell him in chronological order what happened. She told him about following Mafuyu, the ghosts she met, the camera, Kirie's split self. How Takamine and his party had died. When she cried, he stopped the tapes and comforted her. He prompted her gently when she needed it, let her talk when she didn't. He never condemned her for what she did, for not hauling Mafuyu out when she had the chance.
When they were done, he gave them to her, and she hid the tapes away in a drawer. He bought her a little tape player so that she could listen when she needed to. Every so often, she did.
So when Yuu died, when Rei fell apart, Miku was able to put everything aside and care for her. And when the whole adventure with the Manor of Sleep was done and Reika was put to rest, she took the tapes out from where she had hidden them, took them downstairs, and let Rei and Kei and Mio listen to them. Listen to her confessions, her crying, her horror, so that they could cry and heal too.