Author's Note: Finally committing to a date I guess. Obviously this story's universe is not the same as our own. Wow, diary entry fiction is not my strong suit.

CW: Violence and Anger


Chapter 24.5

The Diary of Fletcher Orion Aldaine

Dear Diary Sunday November 1st 2020

I played some Call of Duty with Erica today. Well, more like tried.

It's been a while since we gamed together and I wanted to have fun with her. Plus, I haven't picked up the game since everything that happened with Crewe. I know I joked with Mrs. Waldemer about having a greater reaction to my crushes than nearly getting shot, but in my defense I'm around Naota and Erica a lot more than I am around guns. So I think about them more.

At first my heart raced a little and I thought maybe it was just hormones acting up, but no. When my arms started to shake and I could barely aim I knew I had a problem. It made me think about Crewe and what happened, so I told Erica I needed the bathroom.

I splashed some water on my face to calm down. I was surprised. Why was I only feeling this way now? I had some theories. Perhaps everything that happened at the time gave me some sort of emotional override that shut down my normal emotions. When I saw Naota in danger my initial thought was to protect him.

I've read somewhere that most trauma comes from feeling hopeless. Obviously people are unique individuals, cannot stress that enough, blah blah blah- And yeah I can see why. Having a gun pointed at me, I felt hopeless. If I'd been fully functioning I would have probably begged for my life. But in the moment, I was too hopeless to even manage that.

But in this scenario that hopelessness was extremely brief. Naota called upon the power of divine protection and stopped the gun from firing? Then Lake took Crewe down? It was all over so fast and we absolutely overwhelmed him. We were safe.

In that moment we had power over him and honestly- I was just relieved. I forgot all about the danger and focused on Naota. He was upset and I wanted to calm him down. In the end, he helped me calm down to, whether he realized it or not. I didn't really have time to dwell on my feelings. I thought I would be fine.

But seeing the guns in the game brought back memories of Crewe. They weren't even the same kind of gun but I guess that didn't matter to my brain. My mind just went gun=Crewe and replayed the scenario in my head. Except only the first half of it was the same.

He pulls the gun out, I nearly piss my pants, Naota stops him and Lake takes him down. Then once he's at our mercy it's payback time. He wanted to hurt us, he wanted to hurt me and Naota, so I hurt him instead. I punch and kick and tell him what a piece of shit he is. I pick up the gun and shoot him- not lethally because that wretched excuse for a human being doesn't deserve the reprieve of death. (Yeah the gun was out of bullets irl but I was caught in the middle of a horrible revenge fantasy. My brain did not give a damn.)

I must have been in the bathroom for longer than I realized because Erica came knocking for me. I apologized and told her a half truth, that the guns made me think of Crewe. She gave me a deep hug that, at any other time would have been really nice. But I felt guilty for telling a half truth.

"It's okay to admit that you're scared," she told me.

I mean I guess I am scared. Just not of the gun. I was scared of myself.

Dear Diary Monday November 2nd 2020

I almost visited Mrs. Waldemer again, but I chickened out. If I tell her that I wanted to hurt someone, does that mark me as dangerous enough to report to the police? I know that patient client confidentiality (or student counselor confidentiality) goes out the window when the patient is a danger to themselves or others. And I do not want this made into a big thing.

Mrs. Waldemer saw me staring at her office and invited me inside, asking if I needed counseling. I just told her that I was working through some issues and wasn't too sure myself.

I did not want to admit I had fantasized about shooting someone.

I better make sure I keep this diary safely hidden. I don't think my mom would read my stuff, but it's better safe than sorry.

Dear Diary Tuesday November 3rd 2020

Why am I even writing out the full date? Like, obviously this is still going to be 2020. Maybe I should stop. Lol, so not much happened today, but I did get to hang out with Justin during lunch. We talked about girls for a while.

Saw Naota today. She was wearing a hairclip again. I wanted to tell her that she looks really cute when she wears them (well, she always looks cute but they make her look extra cute) but I was too shy. Justin seemed to be watching us intently while we chatted. I think he might be onto me, but if he is, he isn't saying anything.

Dear Diary Wednesday November 4th 2020

Maxwell and I partnered up after school today. We battled an infected Enforcer who had mild telekinetic powers. Really wish I could figure out some sort of pattern in what was going on there. Some of them get powers, most don't.

Anyway his name was Geoffrey and he was upset because Animal Crossing file got erased. I know it might sound a little silly, but I can't imagine spending hundreds of hours on something only for it to vanish.

I remember when I was a kid I spent hours working on a clay figure for art class, only for one of the other kids to accidentally knock it off the shelf. She was super apologetic but I was so upset I didn't speak to her for a week. I'd ignore her in line and pretend not to hear her talking.

Erica got so pissed at me and told me that I was being a baby for reacting this way over an accident. I didn't want Erica to be mad at me, so the next day I apologized for the way I'd been acting. I still think my anger was justified, but perhaps I was being destructive with the way I was handling things.

Dear Diary Thursday November 5th

Had a- bad experience in class.

We were talking about the amusement park in gym class and someone mentioned that there had been an arrest there because one of the employees pulled a gun on his boss. It turned into a discussion about capitalism and how bosses mistreat their employees. Many of them cheered for the mysterious gunman.

Just hearing about that made my blood boil. I get why they said it, and from their perspective it was just a man striking back against a likely corrupt boss, but the individual unique circumstances of this scenario meant innocent lives were in danger. (Not that I actually approve of shooting bad bosses. Yes they deserve to be punished but I think murder is a bit extreme.)

We were playing soccer and, in my anger and frustration I kicked the ball too hard.

It hit a classmate in the face and gave him a bloody nose. I apologized profusely and told the coach I needed to use the bathroom, hiding in the stall for a good twenty minutes. Mr. Evans eventually came to get me and told me everything was okay, I hadn't hurt the other guy badly and he would be fine.

I decided to visit Mrs. Waldemer after class, but I didn't tell her what happened. She seemed to sense there was something more, but didn't pry.

Dear Diary Friday November 6th

Naota was a boy today and maybe this is a little strange to say but I was hoping he'd be a girl. It's casual Friday and Naota looks so good in girl's clothes. Is that creepy? I don't mean to turn him into a mental dress up doll where I imagine him in cute clothes for my personal pleasure, but I can't help it if my hormones are a little out of control.

He showed up in a red T-shirt with the words Life is Bread Love is Bread written in black. I thought it seemed uncharacteristically dark for him, but he did say I bring out the best in him and I've never seen him on a 'bad day.'

Part of me never wants to, because I don't ever want Naota to have bad days. But part of me wants to show him that I'll always be there for him.

Dear Diary Saturday November 7th

Met up with dad to go fishing today. Showed him the pictures from tux shopping and he said I looked very handsome. He then asked if I was going to the dance with Naota.

Apparently he'd seen the Love Quiz video online, but waited to talk to me in person. He assured me that he had not told anyone else but he wanted me to know how happy he was for me. "Fletch, you're my son and I'll always love you, no matter what."

So I told him the basics of what happened. I left out the part about demonic influence, guns, and magical card battles for the fate of a human soul.

"Naota and I aren't actually dating. He just forgot his wallet at the park so I went with him to get it." Might as well repeat that lie, right? "Then we sort of got caught up in the Love Quiz game. But Naota does like me. A lot. He told me so that time you dropped me off to meet him and Erica at the mall. And I like him too, but I haven't been able to tell him."

My dad hugged me tight and said he was proud of me for being able to admit that.

"I actually really enjoyed being his fake boyfriend. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance to do it. But Naota has no idea how I really feel."

"Have you tried telling him?" My dad asked.

If only it were that easy.

Dear Diary Sunday November 8th

Got to hang out with Naota and Erica today. Naota came to get me first and then we went to get Erica. Her brother opened the door. It was a hot morning and he didn't have a shirt on- which seemed to catch Naota's attention. I was torn, part of me was jealous of course, but I did think she looked super cute when flustered like that. I just prefer it when I'm the one flustering her.

Erica seemed to notice Naota's reaction and playfully inquired into Naota's overall taste in men. I listened intently, in case there was anyway for me to step up my game. Apparently Naota thinks some guys look good with facial hair. Erica agreed and immediately opened her phone to Facebook so she could show off a few photos of Arc with some scruff. I tried to play it off nonchalantly, looking at the sky, watching the birds fly, but it made me feel bitter.

We went swimming at the pool again and this time Naota tried her hardest not to stare at me.

Later that night I texted my dad and asked him how old he was when he started growing facial hair and shaving. Apparently he first grew a mustache at age 15, but it wasn't until around 16 when he started growing anything more noticeable.

I'm hoping it doesn't take me that long.

Dear Diary Monday November 9th

Had another bad moment in class today when the topic of gun control came up (in relation to the recent events at the amusement park.) Apparently members of the Akimoto family were pushing for stricter gun control laws, which I am all for. But again hearing about Crewe pissed me off so badly I had trouble breathing.

I gasped for air and ended up coughing so badly that waves of pain shot through my body with each cough. I excused myself to go to the bathroom and splashed some water on my face.

Justin heard about the event and confronted me, so I told him that hearing about the gun incident pissed me off so much because I was there- there as in the vague vicinity. I did not tell him that I saw the gun, just that being nearby was worrying enough.

He invited me to the batting cages to blow off some steam, but suggested I stop by a sporting goods store to pick up a cup first. I heard they were uncomfortable so I decided to skip it and met him at the batting cages as soon as I could. He simply gave me a grim look and told me to be careful.

I uhhh had a lot of trouble actually hitting the ball, even when Justin adjusted the speed. I feel like that almost defeated the purpose of venting my anger, but in actuality simply focusing on the ball and swinging at it helped calm me down.

I thanked Justin for that and went home feeling much better.

Dear Diary Tuesday November 10th

Lost to an infected Enforcer today and had to give up Phoenix. I was really scared and sad, my friends got that card for me. Heck, I'm pretty sure that card was a gift from Naota. It was also one of my best cards.

Luckily Alicia made a double ante and won the Enforcer's cursed card as well as Phoenix. She gave it right back to me but jokingly told me I owed her. I decided to treat her to some ice cream as thanks. I got black cherry and she got peppermint.

We had a couple of for fun practice matches after that. The score ended up being 2 wins and 8 losses. I thought I was getting better but it seems I still have quite a way to go before I can catch up with the other Peppermint Knights.

Dear Diary Wednesday November 11th

I had a dream about Naota last night. I was in in the changing room, trying on more tuxes, and I invited him to join me just to speed up the process. You know, that way I wouldn't have to go in and out of the changing room just to show off my new outfit.

Dear Diary Thursday November 12th

After school I visited the amusement park again, just to test myself and see how I would react. Maybe it was careless of me. Luckily, the park itself doesn't seem to be a trigger. I even visited the tent where the attack happened. That was a little upsetting, but I calmed down by trying some breathing exercised I found online.

I returned to the rifle game and said hi to Ronald. I missed the first shot right away. Obviously that meant I couldn't win any prizes, but I asked if I could still take the rest of the shots to practice. I missed two and three and couldn't even take the fourth. I felt like I was hyperventilating, so angry I couldn't focus.

Ron and I talked after that. He noticed my shaking hands and asked if I was okay, so I told him about what happened with Crewe. He was extremely sympathetic and told me about a time he got into a car crash. He was only sixteen and had just earned his license, so he was a bit reckless and drove over the speed limit, going as fast as he could. He missed a turn and crashed into a tree. His brand new car was wrecked and he ended up not driving again for a year, but he's fine now.

Hopefully I'll be fine too someday.

A good thing did happen though. I ran into Lake! She had those free admission passes he mentioned before. Free admission for life and free rides! They told me to give one of them to Naota, so I stopped by his house after school.

Dear Diary Friday the 13th

You know I don't think of myself as overly superstitious but apparently the devil is real and is trying to murder one of my close friends so I think I'm justified in trying to be extra safe today.

Dear Diary Saturday the 14th

I got an email saying my clothes were ready, so dad and I picked them up. After dropping them off at home we went fishing again. We've been doing that a lot lately to be honest, but I don't mind. It's calming. And I like seeing the banyan tree, it's been there as long as I can remember. I'm not especially in touch with my culture, but banyan trees are the national tree of India.

And this is supposed to be the second largest banyan tree in the Unites States!

Dear Diary Sunday the 15th

Erica and I hung out today while Alicia and Nayuta worked on a mission. We walked to the mall together, when a car drove by honking its horn. Erica jumped, startled by the loud noise. She told me that she still wasn't fully over what happened with Theodore. Loud noises scare her.

Loud noises are of course startling for many people, but Theodore made it worse for her. "People tend to get loud when they're angry, they raise their voice, they slam things, they throw and break stuff. I hear loud noises and I think aggression and my heart races. Usually it turns out to be an honest accident and my heart slows down soon."

Dear Diary Monday the 16th

Since Erica turned me down and I didn't have a date to the dance, I considered asking Naota. But I got as far as "So, I don't have a date to the dance-" before I choked up. Naota looked extremely apologetic and told me he was sorry for making me ask Erica.

"I really thought she would say yes."

"It's not your fault," I told him. "It's mine. I shouldn't have waited so long. Now I'll never know if things could have worked out between Erica and me."

"You really are a great guy. I'm sure there are tons of girls who would love to go out with you. I hope you find someone soon."

Dear Diary Tuesday the 17th

A bunch of us bumped into each other before school started.

Naota was reading a magazine with a love compatibility quiz in it. Though he laughed at the idea romantic compatibility could so easily be determined by a few simple questions, the group did mostly agree that these things could be great harmless fun.

Not Maxwell, because he thought it was a terrible idea. Nayuta also laughed, saying that as an aromantic asexual she had no interest in the quiz. Alicia said she already had a girlfriend she was happy with, but that still left a handful of us to take the quiz, even knowing that this was just a joke.

Erica and Arc were 80% compatible. I pretended to be happy for them.

Justin and Naota were 70% compatible (they simply laughed at this) while Justin and Hikaru were 80% compatible.

Loaño and Naota were surprisingly 70% compatible, but they also laughed at the idea. Though they did enjoy each other's company, they really couldn't imagine themselves as a couple.

When the quiz determined that Loaño and Hikaru were 96% compatible everyone fell silent, unsure of what to say. The two girls just looked around the yard, pretending not to think about it.

Loaño pointed at some pretty birds.

It was my turn next, but I chickened out. I tried to play it off as simple disinterest, though I later admitted to Naota that I was simply too afraid to see the results.

Dear Diary Wednesday the 18th

I was reading the newspaper after class when I saw an article about Crewe. It pissed me off so much that I asked Justin to take me to the batting cage. I blew off some steam, and even managed to hit the ball (once.)

Still, it's not like I can run to the batting cage every time I'm pissed off.

Dear Diary Thursday the 19th

I've been visiting Mrs. Waldemer every now and then and today I finally admitted that I was holding back. "I'm sorry if it seems like I'm not opening up as much as I should, there are some things I want to talk about, but the subject matter still makes me uncomfortable. I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to open up more."

"It's okay, Fletcher, take your time."

Dear Diary Friday the 20th

Ran into Loaño today and we talked about the romantic compatibility quiz. "Hikaru's a great girl and all, but I barely know her," Loaño explained, hugging her knees. "Would she and I make a good couple? I don't know! We only just met. I mean she is cute and she's a good friend but I'm not just going to go out with someone I barely know.

"I do enjoy spending time with her though."

Dear Diary Saturday the 21st

Shinigami Conglomerate made lots of announcements today.

New trailer for Card Force Eclipse 2 dropped. The Peppermint Knights are busy trying to comb through it for hidden messages. But so far our investigations haven't yielded many results.

Shinigami Conglomerate also announced a new project that has people excited. Card Force Genesis, a game where you can make your own Card Force Video Game! You use character creators to make opponents and you can either have them show up on a list of opponents, make them wander a map, or even fully flesh out a story where you wander around battling people! You can assign cards to booster packs and create unlock conditions for players, meddle with individual character AI settings, and there's even talk of implementing a card creator system.

They've also got tons of new RPGs and Visual Novels coming out soon. It's a wonder how they manage this all and without having to deal with tons of delays too. I'm really starting to lean towards the theories that this family uses magic in everything they do.

Dear Diary Sunday the 22nd

Went back to the amusement park today and won that shooting game. Apparently Ronald still hasn't had any other winning customers, and people seem to have just stopped coming, so they're thinking of getting rid of this game.

Dear Diary Monday the 23rd

"I lied a little. About the gun thing. It did freak me out more than I let on. I just wasn't ready to talk about it yet. In the aftermath of all that happened, I'm just so angry. I want to hurt the man that did this to me. I want to tear Crewe to shreds.

"But sometimes it feels like people are only okay with negative emotions when they're sorrow or fear. Anger and revenge are associated with abuse. Obviously I know it's wrong to actually go through with these fantasies, but I can't help but feel this way sometimes.

"Fletcher, it's perfectly normal to feel anger. And wanting revenge isn't something I can hold against you. Thinking about these things doesn't make you a bad person as long as you choose not to follow through."

"I know, but it's still scary to talk about. And the anger hurts a lot."

In the end, Mrs. Waldemer walked me through several breathing techniques

Dear Diary Tuesday the 24th

Played against an infected Enforcer today. Her Thunder Deck was slow but very difficult to counter. She had a defensive strategy that constantly protected her field with weak Units while inflicting lots of effect damage. I could barely keep up!

Near the end of the battle our scores were 1700 - 16000, and I thought I was done for. Luckily I managed to pull off a win with the help of Garuda.

Dear Diary Wednesday the 25th

I ran into Donovan at Moink today. I noticed him first, sitting there with his head down. I waited in line, carefully glancing at him every now and then, though he didn't seem to notice. I ordered my food to go, eager to get away from him, but something changed my mind.

I sat across the table from him. "Something got you down?" I asked.

Donovan glanced upward, but let his head rest on the table as he shooed me away with his hand. "Not in the mood right now. Come back later."

It's a classic dilemma really. Someone is upset and wants space, do you ignore their desires to support them, or do you listen to their needs and trust their judgment on the matter. I don't know which is right, but normally I'd leave someone alone unless they showed me signs they were seriously unwell.

But Donovan can be kind of an ass so I pressed my luck.

Eating a bite of my turkey burger I asked, "What's got you down?"

"Life sucks and God has abandoned me."

I am not a religious person. I think this much is obvious. But I do try to respect other people's religious beliefs. But when different people have different beliefs those beliefs can clash and it becomes hard to draw the line between supporting one person and hurting another.

I know God is important to lots of people. When a distant aunt of mine got really sick, she turned to God to pull her through it. Her church gave her the strength to carry on and endure. Strength she might not have had on her own.

But religion can hurt too.

"I'm here to listen, if you want to talk."

"…" He sat there wordlessly for a moment, thinking things over. I felt sweat dripping down my side, even though it wasn't particularly hot. "Want to play a game?" he asked. I blinked at him, surprised by his sudden shift in mood. "Not Card Force. I'm not up to it right now." He pulled out a pack of regular playing cards.

We settled on old maid. "If I win, you have to answer just one question, but if you win, I'll answer everything." I admit, I wanted to know more about this mysterious stranger. Sadly, he kicked my ass. He didn't even touch the old maid card once it had been dealt.

With a grin on his face, he asked me, "So, tell me, who do you like more? Naota or Erica?"

I didn't bother asking how he knew about my crushes, seeing as I doubted he would answer. "Erica," I answered plainly.

But honestly, I wasn't sure.

We ate our food in silence and parted ways. But I have the feeling I'll be seeing him again soon.

Dear Diary Thursday the 26th

Erica and I played Call of Duty today and everything was fine.