Episode 2 - A Crying Heart! Keitarou Vanishes!?
I woke up some time later, to a sight I wouldn't soon forget - Fluffon's face, mere centimeters from mine, looking me directly in the eye. "Yo."
"Uwaah!" Startled, I instantly bolted upright (removing Fluffon from on top of me in the process) and started looking around in a panic. "How, where..." I wasn't outside the school anymore, that much was obvious. I was sitting in a bed in what appeared to be someone's bedroom - probably a girl's, judging from the pink curtains in the window and the dresses I could see hanging in the closet.
That was confirmed pretty much immediately, when Himekawa rushed into the room and to my bedside. "Is everything all right? I heard yelling!"
"Y-yeah, I'm fine," I said, somewhat embarrassed. "Fluffon just surprised me, is all..."
"Oh, really?" She shot a disapproving glare at Fluffon, who'd relocated to the nightstand beside the bed by this point. The cat, for his part, simply smiled sheepishly.
"I was just trying to say hi..."
"Right..." Himekawa sighed, then turned her focus back to me, a concerned look on her face. "Anyway, are you feeling all right? You really scared us, fainting like that..."
"Y-yeah, I think so. I was just... shocked, I guess..." As I spoke, I looked down at what had surprised me so badly - my own body, reshaped in the image of my classmate, Kokoro Himekawa. And there on my wrist was the device that did it - the Copy Heart Watch...
I shook my head, casting thoughts of that aside for the moment. "Anyway," I asked, "Where are we, exactly?"
"Actually, we're in my room. I figured my house would be a better place to wait for you to wake up than outside school, you know?" I nodded my head. Things were making sense so far, but something still wasn't sitting right with me.
"OK, and how did we get to your house? I mean, you didn't just carry me here, right?"
"Well, I thought about it. I mean, we're pretty strong when we transform, so I totally could have." Honestly, I hadn't even considered that... "But then I realized, you know, that might look kind of suspicious, Miracle Heart carrying an unconscious girl around... So, I just called my dad and asked for a lift!" It occurred to me later that that could have seemed plenty suspicious in its own right, but that wasn't what caught my attention at the time.
"Wait, your dad?" I asked. "That means he saw me like this, right? Does he...?"
"Know about me being Miracle Heart?" Himekawa replied, finishing my sentence. "Yeah, Mom too. I told them a little after I first met Fluffon."
Fluffon nodded and said, "Honestly, I was surprised they took at as well as they did... But we're getting a bit off topic here, don't you think?"
"Ah, right!" Having been reminded of my most pressing concern, I immediately climbed out of bed and stood next to Himekawa, my doppelganger. "What are we going to do about me looking like this?"
"Well, me and Kokoro did come up with a few things we could try while you were out," Fluffon said. "First off, why don't you try just taking that watch off? It might only work while you're wearing it."
"It's worth a shot..." I took a deep breath, unhooked the watch, and carefully lifted it off my wrist... to no effect. Even after I set it down next to Fluffon on Himekawa's nightstand and took a step away from it, nothing happened. I remained exactly as I was. "...No good, huh?"
"Hmm, too bad..." Himekawa gave me a sympathetic look as she spoke. "Well, there's still one other thing we can try! Why don't you put it back on and go over your dial again? Maybe you missed something there the first time."
"Sure." I nodded before before putting my Copy Heart Watch back on and reactivating it. Unfortunately, as I check its functions I only saw the same four icons I did before: the heart that turned me into Copy Heart, the face that turned me into my current form, a fist, and a flame. None of these seemed particularly helpful at the moment, so I shook my head and told Fluffon and Himekawa, "I'm not seeing anything useful... What now?"
Himekawa's reply came slowly. "Unfortunately, those were really the best ideas we had..."
"Well, there is one other thing," Fluffon said. "We could always try calling her..."
"Hold on," said Himekawa. "By 'her', do you mean...?"
Fluffon nodded and replied, "That's right. Dressa."
"Ugh..." Himekawa groaned as she collapsed onto the bed beside me. "I was afraid of that..."
Feeling somewhat left behind in the conversation, I had to ask, "Who's Dressa?"
Fluffon answered, "She's a fairy from Heart Land, like me, and she's also one of our world's greatest magicians. If anyone can help you out of this, it's her!"
Behind me, I just barely heard Himekawa mumble into her pillow. "That's the good part about her, anyway..."
"The good part?" I asked, now feeling a bit nervous about this. "Does that mean there's a bad part?"
"Eh, I'd just ignore her," Fluffon said dismissively. "She just has some kind of weird problem with how Dressa does her magic. Don't let her scare you, though - it all totally works."
"If you say so..." I said, still not entirely convinced. It was then that I noticed Fluffon reaching behind his back like he was about to pull something out of his pocket - not that he actually had anything in the way of pockets, of course. "What are you doing now?" I asked.
"Getting my Fairy Caller, of course," he said, before whipping out what appeared to be a little pink cellphone, with buttons shaped like hearts. "I use this to keep in touch with the other fairies living in this world."
"Huh. I wouldn't have thought fairies had phones..." I muttered as I watched Fluffon dial a number on his Fairy Caller and start talking into it.
"Hi, Dressa? Fluffon here. Could you- Huh? N-no, I... Really? Are you sure? Uh-huh... Uh-huh... You don't say..." From what I could faintly hear from the Fairy Caller, Dressa seemed to have Fluffon trapped in a storm of idle chatter and gossip.
While we waited for them to finish, Himekawa sat back up beside me and asked, "Are you sure you want to bring Dressa in? Her magic really is super uncomfortable."
"The way things are going, I'm not sure I have much choice but to put up with whatever she has for me..." I told her. "Besides, it can't be that bad, can it?"
Before she could finish that thought, our attention was drawn away by Fluffon finally making some progress in his conversation. "A-Anyway, Dressa! We have a bit of a situation here, so we could really use your help. You know where to find us!" And with that, he hung up his phone and put it back wherever it came from. "Jeez. I respect her and all, but I really do wish she'd learn to shut up..." he muttered to himself.
"So is she on her way?" I asked.
"Yep. In fact, she should be right about-" Before Fluffon could say "now", a small puff of smoke erupted in the air next to him, which soon cleared to reveal a small creature I could only describe as a stuffed white rabbit in a pink dress.
The rabbit immediately turned to Fluffon and asked him, "So, what seems to be the trouble today, dear? Another run-in with that Scienkien character?" Her voice was surprisingly more mature than I would have expected, seeming more like it should be coming from an adult woman than a cute little bunny.
Fluffon nodded. "That's right. I'm afraid this one might be a bit trickier than usual, though. You see that human there?" he said, before pointing a paw at me.
Dressa looked, and gasped when she saw Himekawa and I together. "Oh my!" she exclaimed. "Kokoro, dear, you never told me you had a sister!"
"That's because I don't," Himekawa said. "That's what the issue is..."
The three of us proceeded to tell Dressa all about this incident, everything from me finding the Copy Heart Watch to our decision to call her. At the end of it all, Dressa had a thoughtful look on her face. "My, that does sound like quite the predicament," she said. Turning to look me in the eye, she added, "So what you want me to do now is reverse this watch's power and return you to being a boy, correct?"
I nodded and told her, "That's right. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes for you to do that."
"Oh, that's just what I love to hear from a model!" Dressa replied, with a big smile on her face. "Then let's get started right away!" Before I could ask what she meant by that, she pulled out a tape measure and jumped at me!
Dressa flew all around me, using that tape to measure what felt like every inch of my body, from the size of my head to the length of my feet and everything in between. A lot of it was... uncomfortably personal. I tried to to protest, but any time I opened my mouth she'd just say, "Hush, dear! This is all very necessary!" All the while Fluffon watched on in awe of her 'genius', and all Himekawa could do was shake her head. "I tried to warn you..." she seemed to be telling me.
After several minutes of this, she finally put the tape away and settled down on the floor in front of me. "How very curious..." she said.
"What you mean, curious?" I asked. "What did you get from all that?"
Dressa shook her head. "To be honest, I've never seen anything quite like this. I have to wonder if even Scienkien realized what she was doing when she replicated the Watch..."
"But you can still fix it, right?" I asked. I couldn't imagine what would happen if I was stuck like this...
"Well, I'll certainly do my best," Dressa said. "Give me just one moment." She then clapped her hands together and vanished in another puff of smoke!
"Umm... Where'd she go?" I asked Himekawa and Fluffon.
"Oh, right. I've never seen it, but apparently Dressa has a workshop somewhere where she puts everything together for her magic," Himekawa explained.
"I see..." I said, wondering what sort of workshop a magician like Dressa might have. Would she be stirring a bubbling cauldron in some dark cave, like a witch from some fairy tale? Somehow I doubted that...
Dressa returned a short while later, carrying a red knitted scarf, of all things. She handed the scarf to me and said, "With any luck, this will do the trick. I will say though, this was probably one of the toughest projects I've ever worked on."
"But... This is just a scarf, isn't it?" I asked, perhaps more skeptical than I should have been given the circumstances. "How is this supposed to help?"
"I guess you wouldn't know, huh," Fluffon said. "Dressa's magic works through her knitting. Put that on and bam! You'll be back to normal, no doubt!"
"If you say so..." I said, still not entirely buying it. Still I put the scarf around my neck, and... nothing. A few seconds later... still nothing.
Nothing at all was happening.
"I was afraid this might happen..." Dressa said with a sigh. "It seems that whatever forces Scienkien tapped into with that Copy Heart Watch are beyond even my abilities. As it stands, I'm not certain that anything less than the Queen Heart itself would be able to repair your condition..." It took me a second to remember where I'd heard that name before. Back at the school, Fluffon told me that it was an object with some kind of incredible power. Apparently Miracle Heart had been protecting it from the bad guys this whole time...
"So let's go ahead and do that!" I said, hopeful that we finally had a solution. "You said you have that hidden away somewhere, right? Can we just pull it out now, or do we have to go to some kind special hiding place...?" I looked in turn at each of the others, but none of them looked back at me. Himekawa, Fluffon, and Dressa all averted their gazes, and I began to fear the worst. "Guys? Is... Is something wrong?" I asked. Finally, Himekawa spoke.
"We... don't know where it is. I'm sorry..."
"You... don't know?" Once again, I could feel my hopes crashing down. "What do you mean, you don't know? You're supposed to be its guardian, right? Shouldn't you know this!?"
"When the Prince and Princess of Heart hid away the Queen Heart, they hid it from everyone - even the people of Heart Land," Fluffon explained. "We've tried searching for it ourselves, but so far we haven't had any luck..."
"We're gonna do everything we can to find it and help you, I promise!" Himekawa said with a determined look on her face. "We just... don't know how long it'll take."
"Thanks..." As uncertain as the situation was, hearing something like that from Miracle Heart herself was somewhat comforting. But my worries still weren't completely relaxed. "What am I supposed to do until then, though? I mean, I can't just go back to my normal life looking like Himekawa. People are bound to ask questions."
"Tomoya's got a point," Fluffon said. "If we're not careful about this, our whole cover could be blown."
"Oh, that's right. Hmm..." Himekawa folded her arms and closed her eyes thoughtfully for a few moments. Finally she reopened them and clapped her hands together. "I've got it!" she confidently declared. "Dressa mistook you for my sister before, right? You could just pretend to be some kind of relative of mine, visiting from out of town!" Already, though, I was shaking my head.
"It sounds nice, but would anyone really believe that you've had an identical twin all this time and no one knew? I just can't see it working."
"Actually, there is one way Kokoro's plan could work," Dressa said. "It's rather drastic, though. You may want to think carefully before going through with it..."
"When you say drastic, what exactly to do you mean...?" I asked cautiously.
"You see, I may not have been able to change your current form, but I can still change other things," Dressa explained. "I can create an item that would alter the memories of everyone else in this town to make them believe that Kokoro has always had a twin sister - meaning you, of course. My spell will even take care of all the paperwork and the like."
"Oh, that sounds perfect!" Himekawa said. "Don't you think, Tomoya?"
"That does sound like it would work..." I admitted. "But there's still one problem. How do we explain me - the real me - disappearing during all this?"
"That is the most drastic part of the plan, I'm afraid," Dressa said with a sigh. "In order to place these memories of Kokoro's sister I will need to overwrite everyone's current memories of you. As far as the world outside this house in concerned, Keitarou Tomoya will never have existed..."
I felt my heart skip a beat when I heard that. My whole life, gone? All those years, everything I'd ever said or done, completely erased. The very idea stopped me cold.
Himekawa seemed to be thinking along the same lines. "That's way too far, Dressa!" she said. "Isn't there any other way?"
"If she had another way, don't you think she would have said so?" Fluffon retorted.
Dressa held up a paw to interrupt here. "I understand your objection, Kokoro, but this decision should be Tomoya's to make. Don't you think?" Everyone looked at me, wondering what my answer would be. In the end, there was only one thing I could say...
"I'll do it."
"Tomoya... Are you sure? I mean, we're basically talking about wiping you out completely!" Himekawa said.
I smiled at her, though I have to admit I wasn't entirely feeling it. "It's what we have to do, right? So it's fine." Turning to Dressa, I added, "Go ahead and do whatever you need to get ready."
"Of course. I will be back as soon as I can." After saying that Dressa disappeared into the same sort of smoke she appeared from, leaving just me, Himekawa, and Fluffon.
Several seconds went by without anyone saying anything. It was Fluffon who finally broke the silence. "So you're really going through with this, huh? I gotta say, that's pretty brave."
"Yeah, but... Are you really sure this doesn't bother you?" Himekawa asked me. "If anything's wrong, you can tell us..."
Truth be told, I wasn't at all sure. The implications of what I'd just agreed to were downright frightening... But admitting that wasn't going to change anything. If anything, it would only make Himekawa and the others worry more. ...At least, that was what I told myself at the time.
So I kept that all inside. I turned my head away from them and said, "You know what? I think I could use some fresh air after all that. Excuse me..." Then, without waiting for a response from either of them, I ran out the door and down the hall.