Between Two Worlds

17.21: Merchant of Time Pt 2

#mature

Helpful note:
**Kirino will refer to Masato Yamaguchi by either his first or last name, depending on how close she is to him at that point in time.**

27 thoughts on “17.21: Merchant of Time Pt 2

  1. omg Kirino WHY? 😭
    How does she think she can protect the boy when she’s dead?? Or does she think she has no more chances?
    But Calypso is still alive, so I thought it might be still enough motivation for her… but depressions have weird influence over one’s mind…
    When Masato pulled her back I was surprised how easy he talked her back into loving him, after he failed for almost two decades… except he did not, it was only an imagination – this was heartbreaking.
    Now I wonder if he’ll keep up the promise he made to illusion Kirino, or if he’ll end up bitter and hopeless like Lucien, after he has lost everything.

    Btw did she and Blaze have something? It would be nice if she found some happiness, despite her illness. Also I wonder what he has to say about her suicide. I bet he’ll blame Masato. Or does he even care enough?
    omg I’m rambling again πŸ˜€

    1. I was very sad when I wrote this. But I was also very mad too at her. How can things improve if she’s not there championing for change. 😭 But in her mind, Kirino doesn’t see a way to break the cycle she had helped create. She feels stuck and the guilt is too much for her, especially what she thinks she has contributed for Curtis in the future. (I’m saying this all as her perception, not that I think it’s a fact even if it could be).

      What happens to Masato will be revealed in S2. As to this illusion Masato has, I’m trying to weave more of it into the epilogue, but if I can’t then it’ll have to go into next season too. πŸ˜… Kirino’s values are very traditional. She is a marriage for life type of person so there’s nothing between her and Blaze. πŸ˜” Blaze will be affected.

      I love your rambles! That’s the only way people can talk to each other right? Otherwise I’ll be talking to myself! πŸ˜‚

      1. yeah when you feel depressed and guilty, it usually can’t end up well 😦

        ahhhh, wait, so it was Masato who broke up? 😱 I wouldn’t have guessed! He still cares for her and loves her, but also I guess it can end really badly if you have to take care of a mentally ill person with no hope for them to get better.
        I’d totally have shipped that one with Blaze tho!

        ty 😘 I just never know if I don’t go to far! πŸ˜‚

      2. Ah but Masato is also the wed-for-life type of person. Why else would he keep Kirino by his side for almost two decades when he can’t even have her? Omg this sounds so sad. Blaze is smart enough to realise there’s something going on between the two so he’s been very neutral. πŸ˜…

    1. I cried as I was writing and proof reading this. πŸ˜” It’s heartbreaking that it went undetected for so long and no one knew except at the end. I absolutely do not condone this. That’s why I chose to depict Masato’s pain. Often they who leave do not realise who is most affected when they’re gone, and that is the people who love them the most.

  2. Having struggled with depression myself and having a loved one with major depression, I can sympathize with Kirino. Depression is an insidious disease that can take over and distort a person’s thoughts. It is also an invisible illness, so someone may look completely normal on the outside, but be a total mess on the inside. It’s the nature of the disease to isolate and not seek help. Oftentimes, severe types of depression require lifelong treatment and management, a good support system, and will crop up at times of stress. I do feel like people with depression that choose suicide truly see no way out and were suffering deeply. On the other side, I also think it is normal to express blame and anger at a loved one that committed suicide. It is a way people process difficult emotions or things they don’t fully understand. I don’t think either side is right or wrong, it just is. Kirino was suffering in silence for years, and perhaps being in the situation she was in, only amplified her depression. Maybe the best thing for Kirino would have been to be far away from Masato and the stresses of their line of work and really work on getting help for herself. But that’s not what happened, and I think she probably felt hopeless in the end, and in a way, suicide was the only thing she had control over. I in no way condone suicide, there is help out there and a person should seek help if they feel this way or if you know someone that is depressed, don’t be afraid to offer an empathetic ear and direct them toward professional help. Depression is an awful disease and I would in no way wish it on anyone, but it can be managed with appropriate treatment. Anyway, I totally got up on my soapbox and was rambling. This was a thought-provoking chapter.

    1. Thank you so, so much for sharing your insights. I agree with you that depression is a silent killer and can affect a person for years or their whole life if unmanaged. The intense emotions we feel when a loved one leaves us can manifest in sorrow, or deflected as anger and blame or apathy, depending on which stage of grief and a myriad of other factors.
      Kirino is lovingly crafted from someone dear to me and her inner struggles are things I’d never wish on anyone. There’s so much compounded onto her which drove her to this decision that I’m not sure if I’d do her justice — her increasing loss over the years, depression, hopelessness and feeling helpless are clear. Then, there’s the mental stress she’s subjected to daily in that she can’t accept her own lifestyle, but I gave a direct indication of this only once throughout the entire story in chapter 14.3. The rest of the time she uses disconnection/disassociation as a very unhealthy coping mechanism to get by. Kirino’s strength is actually her biggest weakness. She is so good at concealment that she doesn’t express vulnerability. Curtis is the only means of cracking her disguise since she associates Curtis as her son and unfortunately when her mask comes off, it is critical that she receives support, otherwise in this case, it overwhelmed her.
      I agree that if anyone feels vulnerable, they should seek support immediately. This is the reason why I outlined two ‘scenarios’, one where Masato catches her and one where he didn’t. Should any vulnerable reader stumble onto this post, the takeaway is that there is always someone who accepts them and regardless of what they think of themselves or their situation. The first step is always reaching out.
      Thank you for giving such a detailed response and it’s incredibly brave of you to share yourself. As I told another reader, its only when we share that we converse and in this case, you’ve shed light and much needed comprehension that we can all benefit from.

  3. This was so incredibly sad. Masato sacrificing Curtis was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I hated what happened, but I loved how you portrayed it, from the flashbacks to the pictures getting a cloudy edge when Masato was imagining/hallucinating himself having caught her. Very well done.

    I still hate him, but their backstory and those pictures of their son at the end are just heartbreaking. Hopefully Kirino is at peace now. I wonder if she was able to find her son in death. I’d like to think that she did.

    1. Regardless of his background, he still does loathesome things. And yes, that’s probably the first thing Kirino does once she crosses over to the Other side. :/

      Thank you. I was worried it would be confusing for the reader. Im glad the fuzzy edges helped. πŸ™‚

      1. Would Grim know what lies beyond sim-death? Maybe he can’t go himself, since he’s a reaper, but since he’s sending all of those souls to the other side (well, was), maybe he’s caught a glimpse of it before? I wonder what Grim would say if you asked him what he thinks the afterlife looks like.

      2. Grim doesn’t know, but someone in the story has the answer to your question. XD Lol you and your oracle ways. You just might find out.

      3. Well darn, now I want to re-read the whole thing to speculate on who is most likely to know that XD Besides Curtis. Y’know. because he actually died.
        ….
        ….
        Waaaaaiiiiiit.
        Hol’up. Hol’up.

  4. Wow. This was such a powerful chapter, and the pacing and the execution, as well as the final reveal were all really well done. All the puzzle pieces fell into place. We get Scorcher’s origins story, and finally, finally see the real, vulnerable side of Masato. That moment where Kirino fades away… Just wow. I think this may be the best chapter in the entire story (not as in “their suffering brings me joy”, but as in incredibly skillfully done). I really appreciate this.

    I’m not surprised about Kirino. I am sad, and will miss her terribly, but not surprised. Ever sicne that chapter with them on the roof it was clear how much pain she was in.

    Side note – Masato and Kirino’s origins story could easily be its own spin-off. It is so good.

    1. Owh thank you so much. I’m so glad you like this chapter and that it ties up loose ends for you. I’m still amazed how you picked up her silent pain from since the rooftop too. Especially when since after you made connections with her appearances to it too.
      Ahh yeah, I actually have a full backstory for Masato and Kirino from their teen days to meeting Lucian and everything. πŸ˜‚ So yeah they could have their spin off.

  5. Masato deserved this. I’m glad you decided to follow through with this. For a moment I thought you wouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I like Kirino’s character a lot and will miss her. It’s not like I wanted her dead just because. But this makes sense to me. She never got over the death of her child. And she was guilty of being part of how Curtis had been treated. She seems to have known about him from the begining and didn’t do anything about it until the boy was older and it was too late. I’m she carried the guilt for it and that it was part of the reason why she killed herself.
    As for Lucian, this chapter answered most questions. Was he really Masato’s brother? That would explain why I always thought there’s a resemblance. Masato being the mastermind behind Curtis’ conditioning also confirms the ever present nagging suspicion in my mind. I really appreciate how complex this whole plot is.
    Only one thing that crossed my mind while reading this chapter: How did Curtis’ and Kian’s friendship play into Masato’s hand? He couldn’t have liked that his little experiment boy was friends with a cop’s son. How is it possible that he didn’t took necessary steps to break the friendship? After all, he controls pretty much every aspect of Curtis’ life. He was trying to avoid putting Curtis on cops’ radar, wasn’t he? He must have expected Kian’s son might run a background check on Curtis.
    Uh. Excuse all this babbling. It’s just my thoughts racing.

    1. Yes. 😒 I actually like Kirino very much even as she falls apart throughout the story. I tried very much to save her, but she doesn’t want to be saved. (I think you get what I mean since your characters come alive to you.) Masato and Lucian are not brothers by blood, but they are sworn brothers. If they look alike it’s coincidence since Masato is a descendent of a premade and Lucian is the result of random dice in CAS. πŸ˜„

      Yup! Masato doesn’t like Curtis hanging with Kian. But it’s too suspicious to drive Kian away since KC has been together since Grade 2. Hence Kian has a scholarship into CS HIgh so Masato can keep an eye on him from there. There’s a lot of sensitive information you can get of a child from school records so its a very handy leverage. Not to mention studying his habits, favourite foods, hangouts etc.

  6. I didn’t expect to have sympathy for Masato. Now he’s lost both his son and the woman he loved. Somehow I don’t see him as him taking this to want to further bring Curtis closer. I worry this will cause him to blame Curtis for some odd reason.

  7. This was the worst heartbreak so far. She was so beautiful yet so broken and he loved her so much. This will break him somehow, but how is the question. I think it’ll hurt Curtis too. And the whole β€˜family’.

  8. So Masato and Lucian are brothers? What a beautiful and depressing chapter. I loved the format you used. It was sweet and sad how Kirino took an interest in Curtis and wanted to help him/protect him. Also I secretly love the name “Madame” for her. So fitting. And oh my gawd! She killed herself? Why, darling Kirino why? She’s so broken and lost and I’m guessing she feels hopeless. This was so heartbreaking. Masato didn’t stop her?? I am going to miss her character. I had grown to like her and be attached to her. And killing herself isn’t going to help Curtis. I do think Masato brought all of this on himself and Kirino is a casualty of this war that he perpetuated.

  9. Oh, awesome! ‘High-functioning depression’: yep, it me. Dr. Llama hears you, Kirino. She never had a stray moment to process her trauma. Yep. It’ll wear anyone down to keep being told that who they are is not okay, or that they’re not allowed to be happy, or that they can’t exist in this world without doing things they find abhorrent.

    Of course, though it didn’t have to end this way, I’m proud of her for that epic beatdown of Masato at the end. Nailed it. Seriously, great execution there. Everything that comes out of Masato’s mouth is thin justification for bad behavior, and it was so satisfying to have the person who arguably knows him better than anyone else call him out at the end.

    (Dumb aside: I don’t eat meat or speak Japanese, so I read ‘katsudon’ as ‘breaded udon noodles’ before looking it up and realizing that was not the case. I don’t know? Breaded noodles sounds like something British people would eat.)

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