Tales of the Abyss Short Story: Distby Takumi Miyajima
A calm voice, and cold, frigid eyes.
Unconsciously, Dist raised his arm and called out.
Surprised by his own voice, he woke up.
Realizing that it was only a dream, Dist felt relieved. Only then did he realize that he had been crying.
…It’s that dream again, isn’’t it…
Dist wiped away his tears and got up from the bed.
He’d had countless dreams about running after Jade, but this was the only kind that would always have him waking up with tears. The dream where Jade, with the coldest of faces, would tell him that they’d be parting now.
When Dist was still working with the Malkuth military, Jade would always say things like “I’ll be going, then” or “Good day” to him before going home from work. Considering that he’d either ignore him when they were younger, or at most just say “see you”, Dist felt happy with how their friendship was improving. But that time–at the moment when Jade decisively chose to part ways with him, he’d said “goodbye” with coldness unlike anything he’d ever seen before.
Dist could sense it instantly–Jade was cutting him off.
In the days when he still went by the name ‘Saphir’, to Dist, Jade was a presence that was nothing less than a god. Even though they were of the same age, Jade was able to handle anything thrown at him with skill worthy of a genius. Dist naturally admired him for it, and continuously worked hard to be like him. For that reason, when he heard that Jade had gone off to the Malkuth military school, he’d decided to follow him there without a second thought.
After they graduated, he was ordered to conduct a certain research with Jade. This research was about fomicry–the technique by which replicas are made. It would not be preposterous to say that this was the sole reason both Jade and Dist joined the military.
But even then–
“But even then, you’re still going to stop the research!?”
“Yes. I’m going to ban fomicry on the grounds that it’s an unethical practice. Even if we were to continue working on it, we won’t be able to bring Professor Nebilim back to life. I should have known this, but I couldn’t accept it until now. I ended up spending my time doing something useless.”
Jade continued to lightly, faintly weave his words. He remained like his usual self, calm and collected, and spoke as though he were doing nothing more pressing than deciding how to cook some eggs for breakfast.
“It isn’t useless! We’ll bring back Professor Nebilim! If it’s you doing it, Jade, we’ll definitely succeed. I’ll help too, so…”
Saphir desperately attempted to stop Jade. Everything was falling apart.
“You don’t have to. I’ve already decided.”
This must be what it feels like to have nothing to hold on to.
He’d thought something was wrong for some time now. Jade had been looking at a letter from Peony, and for some reason went back home to meet him. He had looked melancholic upon his return, and had been neglectful of his research ever since. Come to think of it now, Peony–that emperor’s son, who’d always inspire anger in Dist upon sight–had probably urged Jade to stop his fomicry research.
“…It’s Peony, isn’t it. He’s the one who told you to quit, isn’t he?!”
“It was a decision that I made myself.”
“That’s a lie! The Jade I know wouldn’t say something like that!”
“Are you saying you know anything about me?”
“I have no intention of living a lifestyle where other people make my decisions for me. The one who killed Professor Nebilim–it was me.”
Jade, unperturbedly, stated his childhood secret.
This was probably some sort of parting ceremony for Jade’s leaving fomicry. I have to stop him, Saphir thought. Jade wasn’t his usual self. Ever since Nebilim, who he’d admired as a child, died, he’d always been acting strange. He couldn’t tell what it was, but something had changed. That was precisely why Saphir had wanted to revive Nebilim. He had liked her too, and if they could bring her back, he supposed Jade would return to his old self, too.
“…Stop it, Jade.”
“I’d never wanted to admit that I had made that mistake, and just because of that, I obsessed over researching how to bring back the dead.”
Jade continued, paying no heed to Saphir’s words.
“…I said stop it….”
“But now, I’ve concluded that it was all a waste of time. The dead won’t come back to life. It was an obvious fact. That’s why–”
For the first time in his life, Saphir fought back against Jade. He fought back–grabbed his collar and pushed him against the wall. Although he’d hit the wall with quite some force, Jade’s expression remained unchanged as he finished his sentence.
“–I decided to ban fomicry by my own will.”
At that moment, Saphir felt the strength drain away from both his hands.
Everything’s falling apart. Every last thing.
Even Saphir could realize that, despite all the work he had put into closing the distance between him and Jade, they had once again grown distant in an instant.
No, perhaps the idea that he’d ever gotten closer to him was an illusion to begin with.
“I won’t accept this… I’m going to continue the research, even if I have to do it alone.”
“I’ll stop you.”
“I won’t stop! It’s because Professor Nebilim died that you changed! You never really laughed anymore, and you never even really got angry anymore–you’ve never told me what you really felt or thought since then! If I can revive Professor Nebilim, then you’d go back to the way you were!”
“…Saphir. I won’t go back to the way I was. People change. That’s all there is to it.”
“That’s wrong! I don’t really understand it either, but you’re suffering. So I’ll help you! As your best friend, I’ll do that!”
“Who’s this 'best friend’? I don’t–”
“Anyway, the point is–I won’t accept this decision!”
“No matter what happens?”
“No matter what!”
At that instant, Jade severed his ties with Saphir.
Dist shook his head hard to shake off the memory of the dream.
The present Jade wasn’t the Jade that he’d admired.
And the present Dist, too, wasn’t the Saphir who could only follow Jade from behind.
…I’ll be able to perfect fomicry soon enough. Once I do, Jade will probably revise his thoughts on this.
If Jade returned to the way he was, he might take back that word–“goodbye”. It’s only then when the long-gone days he held so dearly would come back. Jade, his little sister Nephry, their teacher Nebilim, and he himself would be there–they’d all be together again.
And then we can add Peony, too. After all, I have a big heart.
In order to turn that dream into reality, Dist had to get up and go through the day today, too.
In the original Japanese text, the term used for “goodbye” was 「さようなら」 (sayonara). This particular term is only used for situations where the speaker does not expect to see the addresee for a long time, if not forever.
Translated by Eirlys-Tylluan and proofread by DimensionSlip