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Volume 12
Chapters 122 - 134
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Aiko and Punpun travel across towns, living through motels and convenience stores, while Punpun's sanity continues to crumble. In her effort to locate him, Sachi realizes she knows nothing of Punpun's past and pays visit to his family members. Seki deals with his own regrets before a last-ditch effort to reconcile with Shimizu. He carries out his suspicious button-pushing job, while Wada ensures his grand finale for the Pegasus Ensemble is indeed grand.

Chapter 122 Edit

Blood leaks from Punpun's eye, and Aiko drops the fork. Punpun raises a hand to hit her, and her noisy crying draws attention. Punpun lowers his fist and tells her that he's utterly dedicated to her, so she must prove she's dedicated to him enough to rip out his eye. Sachi and Mimura discuss that Punpun wasn't in any of his usual hiding places, and there's no one besides them he's close to. Mimura is sure he will come home soon, though, and when he does, Sachi ought to be more honest with her feelings. Punpun and Aiko make out in a public bathroom. When he reaches into her shorts, she pulls away and says she's on her period. He unzips his pants, and she kneels down. Thus begins June 23.

Chapter 123 Edit

They tour Kyoto. Aiko wonders if this is okay, but they decide there's no real reason to hurry. Punpun sees crafts being sold by a prison correctional program and begins sweating. He wakes up from images of family, friends, and Punpunia, to a worried Aiko. She tells him not to keep putting off sleep since he has a fever and an injured leg. He holds her hands and places them around his throat, tells her to squeeze tighter, to kill him. She pulls away and cries. She can't be alone. Later, they see a news headline from Aiko's hometown; there's a serial robber. Aiko cries against Punpun, rattled and relieved. It's time to keep driving.

Punpun: I'm scared... I'll wake up from my dream if I fall asleep.

Aiko: Huh? Shouldn't that be the opposite?

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Chapter 124 Edit

Azusa Kanie meets with Miyuki and Sachi at the bar. Sachi asks her who Punpun was close to in high school. Kanie recalls that even though he had few friends, he didn't have any enemies. She appreciated that he continued to be nice to her after their sour date. Miyuki and Sachi discuss Punpun's "nice-guy" act and low self-image, but Miyuki notes that Sachi loves dependent guys because she can keep them near. However, you can't truly understand someone through such a deluded relationship. Sachi visits Manager at the nursing home, where Misuzu tells her that he's in high spirits lately, and Punpun has been collecting maneki-neko statues for him. She gives Sachi a key to Punpun's apartment and says he can't get wrapped up in any chaos now, what with how hard he's been studying for his real estate and computer exams. Sachi goes to his place and finds a spot of blood on the bedsheets. She looks through the cell phone he left behind, but the only contact is Midori Ookuma. She lays down. How little she knows of Punpun's life.

Chapter 125 Edit

June 25. Sachi visits Midori and Yuuichi at their coffee shop, but they don't know Punpun's whereabouts, either. Yuuichi brings her by the house he used to live in with Punpun and tells Sachi that for a short time, they were a happy family. He says he can see what Punpun is really searching for, especially since Sachi is so much like Mama. She sleeps beside Punpun's portrait that night. In the morning, she her editor offers her a two-volume long project. Too lonely to feel proud, she begins to cry and decides her hair is a nuisance. She gets the scissors.

Chapter 126 Edit

Punpun realizes his checking account is running low. He meets Aiko at the laundromat and tells her they'll have to sleep in the car for a few nights. She watches the rain through the car windows and laments that it obscures the bull hearder constellation. While Aiko plays in the convenience store, Punpun rests in the bathroom and takes a handful of painkillers. He finds Aiko by the decorative Tanabata tree, writing down her wish. He tells her he's not in the mood, but she ignores him. He drags her away by the arm, but when she begins yelling and crying, a crowd draws. Punpun lets go and crumples her wish paper and throws it at her. Long after the store has closed, they remain inside while Punpun uses the computer to google prison terms, fugitives, and suicide methods.

Chapter 127 Edit

Sachi takes a train to Fukushima and stops at a nursing home, where Papa works as a nurse. He tells her he hasn't heard from Punpun since Mama passed away, but he will gladly give her more information about Punpun. Aiko changes her dirty bandages in a public bathroom and takes a handful of painkillers. In the store, Punpun browses the magazine stand and sees a man wearing the same shirt as him reading Sachi's manga oneshot. He asks about the manga, and the man tells him it's not very good. Papa brings Sachi to his home and tells her that Punpun was a very talkative and smart child. Three of his buddies drop in, with two of their kids in tow. The man from the store sits outside and drinks soda, then leaves the can on the sidewalk and walks away. Punpun follows him, until the man turns around.

Chapter 128 Edit

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Punpun tells the man that it's bad to litter and gives him back the soda can. The man explains that the trashcan outside that store is usually full, but Punpun tells him to go back and check. The man criticizes Punpun's misplaced sense of justice, but says he will throw the can away down the street and walks off. Punpun grabs a plank of wood. At Papa's house, the two kids perform the skit for their school's Star Festival. Papa recalls a time when Punpun was in second grade and his best friend had told him he once caught a shooting star. Punpun wanted to believe him, so the next meteor shower, they went looking for shooting stars, but Punpun got lost, and elsewhere, his friend got hit by a motorcycle. He survived, but Punpun blamed himself and became very hesitant to make new friends. Papa wishes he had taught Punpun that not everything can be solved through selflessness. Punpun hits the man with the wood and keeps hitting him, until Aiko throws herself at Punpun. She begs him to stop, then brings him back to the car. As she turns on the ignition, the man appears in the parking lot and throws a flag pole at their front window. They speed away.

Chapter 129 Edit

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Punpun tells Aiko that the man attacked him first, with a cinder block, so his actions were only self-defense. Aiko simply tells him he's gotten strange. They abandon the car and take the last train of the night, then sleep on the sidewalk outside a convenience store. They finally made it to Kagoshima... Aiko has her recurring nightmare, and wakes up alone. She finds Punpun studying a map, and he points at a spot. Aiko smiles, and they board the ferry to Tanegashima.

Aiko: I think you've gotten a little strange, Punpun.

Punpun: No, it's everyone else that's actually strange.
Aiko: That's... the same thing my mother used to say.


Chapter 130 Edit

June 29. Punpun and Aiko visit the Tanegashima space museum. She remembers how Punpun wanted to be a space scientist, and thinks of all the paths their lives could've taken. He tells her it's pointless to talk of if's. They head to the beach, and Punpun watches her contentedly. She speaks of living here, in a small house without kids. He tells her again that if's are pointless, but it'd be nice if they could worry about pointless things someday. He tells her he's happy right now and blessed to have met her. He turns back into his bird form and thanks her.

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Chapter 131 Edit

Aiko runs barefoot on the beach and basks in the sunshine. She and Punpun splash in the water, carefree. The scene is bliss. Punpun returns to shore, and lays eyes on a stray rope. Aiko approaches from behind. She asks him if this is where she dies. Horns returning, he answers yes.

Chapter 132 Edit

Punpun wraps the rope around Aiko's neck and says this is the only option if she doesn't want to be left alone. She begs him to have sex. He tells her not to worry, he will join her in death. Aiko tells him she doesn't want to die, and one day, he will be glad he's alive. He says simply there's no future for a murderer. Through tears, Aiko tells him he's not a murderer. She explains that when he answered the deliveryman, her mother stood up, so that's why Aiko started stabbing her. Punpun says over and over again that she's lying, but Aiko insists it's true. Now that he knows, he can leave her. They lay in the grass after the stars come out, and Aiko says she's staying on this island and won't go to the police. She asks Punpun where he will go. He says they should get married.

I wonder when it was that I realized talking with God was merely talking to my ow self.

-Punpun

Chapter 133 Edit

Pegasus tells a cowering family that he will vanquish the Dark Spot soon, and leaves their home. Outside, he thanks Wada for his guidance, but also says he is aware of Wada's ulterior plan. June 30, midnight. Seki comes home to find two burly men sent by his ex-boss. One headlocks him while the other other throws a punch and then pulls out a lighter. Seki scrambles, and they suggest testing whether his face really prefers an electric stove to an open flame. Bloodied and alone, Seki later curls against his bookshelf and drifts into memories of the old miso factory and a little girl, Sachi, he would talk to there. She'd promised to show him her finished manga someday. She was also there when, years later, his friends explored the factory. That factory ruined his life, it seems. He decides he wants to leave his past and this place completely. In the morning, he hollers to Shimizu and tells him not to go to Pegasus today. He suggests they go to Tibet and become monks instead, but Shimizu looks down and claims he's decided to be useful to someone else. Seki nods. Shimizu raises his head to say something else, but Seki's already gone. Seki lets himself into Wada's house and sees only an envelope and casette tape on the coffee table for him. Wada's elderly mother appears and begs Seki to turn on the TV for her. He finds the remote and sits, confused about whether this is his esteemed button-pushing job.

Chapter 134 Edit

Pegasus records his final message to the world, a world bound by love. To begin a new world in the age of the collective, and end the age of the individual, he and his Ensemble must go to space, to reach the Akashik Record before July 7. A toast! The Ensemble raises their glasses. Numata rushes to the front and yells for them to stop. They can't kill themselves, she reasons. Other members voice their own fears, while others lend their courage. Wada stops the camera and suggest they all talk things out. While they debate, he goes to the basement and pours gasoline, lamenting that it had to come to this. He throws his cigarette and calls the police. On a rooftop, Seki listens to Wada's tape, explaining that absolute truths come from within. It asks Seki what it is he believes in, when a boom catches his attention. He sees a distant building aflame and knows Shimizu is in there. Aiko again tries to write her Tanabata wish, when a waitress approaches with a phone and says a nearby dairy farm is looking for young people to hire, complete with employee housing. Aiko is ecstatic and rushes to find Punpun, who is filling out a phone contract under her name. As she enters, she hears the TV inside announce the discovery of Mitsuko Tanaka's dead body and the search for Aiko Tanaka.

Even the smallest spark can become a great flame that can reveal people's true natures.

-Wada

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