A Bad Time (Yasumi Yumeji, Kotomi Kobana)

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A Bad Time (Yasumi Yumeji, Kotomi Kobana)
Date of Cutscene: 25 September 2019
Location: Kobana Household
Synopsis: Yasumi, Kotomi, and indirectly Kotomi's sister Kurumi are all feeling down following the events of The Last Nightmare.
Cast of Characters: Kotomi Kobana

Yasumi wasn't feeling too great.

She sat in her home dreamscape, an open field with a small white house in the style of the beginning of the Edo period, covered in vines and kudzu. In a reflection of her mood, there was a light drizzle.

Just shy of four hundred years ago, she'd become a Nightmare, and ever since then, the house had been closed to her. She couldn't even remember what the inside looked like. A little more than six months ago, a little unicorn named Ariel had offered to help Yasumi find her own hope, rather than trying to use stolen hope from the shards of the Nightmare Prince's heart. She'd offered to help Yasumi go back inside her house.

Well, so much for that hope. As far as Yasumi was concerned, it was simple logic that Ariel was doomed. Yasumi knew perfectly well that she would never see Ariel again; most likely, she would get devoured before anyone could rescue her, along with that reincarnation of ... someone who was before Yasumi's time. Takara Himura, that was her name! And then Ariel's mother would be the third victim of the Eater of Dreams, and so on and so on until ... well ...

When she thought about it, she didn't really think it was the end of the world. The Eater of Dreams had been beaten once already, and it was only recently that she'd begun browsing the dreams of Tokyo in earnest, but she had been left with the impression that the new warriors had even more resources at their disposal than the band of adventurers and samurai who'd originally created the seal, and now they had the support of the Prince of Nightmares on top of that now that he had his heart back.

(... She'd mostly kept away from the Prince. She and that band of Nightmares which she'd always called "the wrong crowd" had always preferred to hang together, rather than serving a higher purpose.)

Still, though, it was going to be a disaster. And Yasumi had to admit that she'd liked Ariel. With her gone ...

She wasn't sure she could go on, really. Or what she'd even do if someone, somehow, managed to return Yasumi to the state of existence she'd had before she became a Nightmare.

She considered going to visit the seal and staying with Ariel's mother until the seal broke. But Yasumi wasn't that self-destructive. If she was doomed, she'd much rather stay here, in the dreamscape which had been her home for her entire life.

The rain began to get worse. Thunder rolled.

Kotomi wasn't feeling too great.

She sat in her bedroom, still in the Verone middle school uniform, listlessly alternating between doing her homework and poking at a magical girl manga. She realized that she'd read the same page five times without actually taking it in, and she sighed and put it down. It was a better use of her time than trying to take constant naps and practicing in the dream-world, but she still wasn't in top form.

Wow. She'd first gotten involved in magical girl stuff near the beginning of January. She'd pretty much been helping Ariel chase down the Nightmare Prince's heart all year. It had led to getting cursed by that catgirl Yasumi, and she'd met a bunch of magical girls over the subsequent months when they came to rescue her from youma, which was awesome apart from the whole "needing to get rescued" thing, but ...

... well, now, a direct result of that whole mission was that Ariel was trapped behind a seal with an eldritch abomination.

Still, she had hope. As far as Kotomi was concerned, it was simple logic that Ariel would be saved. Kotomi knew perfectly well that she would see Ariel again; most likely, Lacrima and the Prince were already working on figuring out a more permanent solution which didn't require a dream and a dreamer to stay trapped in a pitch-black box with a monster.

But Kotomi's anxiety didn't see it that way, and tried to make everything as bad as it possibly could be. And even apart from that, this didn't change that Ariel and Takara were trapped in a pitch-black box with a monster for four days and counting. That had to be terrifying at best.

Kotomi was no longer sure volunteering herself had been a good idea. It was moot since Ariel had unceremoniously thrown her out, but still. She sighed softly.

There was a knock at her door. "It's me!" said her twelve-year-old sister Kurumi. "Can I come in?"

"Oh! Sure," said Kotomi.

Kurumi stepped in. One could instantly see the family resemblance, although Kurumi had her hair in twintails, and she wore a purple dress. "How's it going, sis?" she asked pointedly.

And to top it all off, Kotomi had to hide all of this from her family. Kurumi, their mother Hanami ... frankly, that was one of the worst parts.

"Um." Kotomi shrugged. "Same as I have been, I guess."

"Right." Kurumi gave her a piercing look. "When are you gonna tell us what's got you down?"

Oh what the heck, might as well.

"Well, my friend Maria Hanazawa is actually a vampire," said Kotomi, "and her girlfriend Ariel just got trapped with a monster behind a seal in the world of dreams."

Kurumi chortled. "Well, your sense of humor's working," she said. "Or maybe you just need to read fewer magical girl books."

Kotomi sighed. "My sense of humor still working is always the weird part," she said, changing the subject. "Like. I'll come up with the dumbest jokes, even when I'm feeling terrible." She almost never said these jokes aloud, of course, because 1. anxiety, and 2. it never felt appropriate. But still.

Kurumi walked over. "It must be making you really out of it, then, if you're able to just say it out loud," she said. "Like, you're supposed to have anxiety, not depression!"

"I couldn't tell you," said Kotomi. "Like if I ... did know, I would've said it at the beginning."

She could tell that Kurumi wasn't completely satisfied by this. But what was the alternative, really? She'd told her the reason, which sounded like it was just something from a magical girl manga if you didn't already know it was true.

This ... wasn't the worst-case scenario. The Eater of Dreams had given her a new perspective on that. But still.

"... All right," said Kurumi slowly. "But, like, still. You can't just spend all your time sitting around in your room or napping and stuff!"

Kotomi thought about this. "Yeah, probably," she said softly. She smiled faintly at Kurumi. "I'll, um. I'll try to ... to do my best, okay?"

Kurumi looked like she was going to argue the point, but then just shrugged. "Okay," she said, and left without another word.

Kurumi wasn't feeling too great.

She sprawled on her bed, playing Undertale on her Switch. (She and Kotomi each had a Switch of their own, more-or-less just because their mother could afford it.) She'd just gotten to the True Lab, and was just ... running around aimlessly in circles. Yeah she was way too distracted for this; she closed the game and picked up a notebook.

She scribbled, "More bugged than anything I've seen since she started transitioning." While Kurumi certainly didn't know what that was like, it was clear enough that Something Was Wrong. Below that, she wrote "Bad enough that she can't tell her own family???" Surely there was nothing going wrong between her and Unmei, Kotomi had never tried to hide anything about the relationship before.

Maybe that wisecrack about Vampire Maria was a clue. Obviously, in a literal sense it was just a joke, but ...

... something suddenly occurred to her. Kurumi slowly and carefully wrote, "She was fine on Saturday night, and only seemed bad on Sunday morning."

Hmm. Kurumi thought about this for a moment.

She wrote "Maria Hanazawa = Vampire" and drew a circle of question marks around it.

Yeah, no, she had no idea what it all meant, and no idea where to start picking at the problem. She sighed and closed the notebook.

Still, whatever. As far as Kurumi was concerned, it was simple logic that it wasn't going to be that bad. Kurumi knew perfectly well that Kotomi would have said something, anything, if there was any problem that Kurumi and Mom could help with, even if it was just emotional support. Which Kotomi almost always needed, and which Kurumi was all-too-happy to give. Most likely, Kotomi would tell them eventually.

But still. This was gonna bug Kurumi until she did find out.