* 68 *

It really was a ridiculous scene, I'd say.
Two Santa Clauses at night, after a power outage, wielding traffic control sticks to indeed control traffic. Not even your friends would believe that one.

The colorful strobe lights placed all around, from a certain point of view, looked undeniably like Christmas lights.
Red, blue, yellow, green. Even though we had no time, we bothered to arrange them in a pretty way.

I was so caught up in the bizarrely fantastical atmosphere that, when couples stopped their cars for us, I said “Merry Christmas!" to them countless times.
I shouldn't have wanted to say it one bit, but the freezing cold and the outfit must have done something to my head.

It really was an awful snowstorm, and just keeping our eyes open was difficult. I was unconsciously grinding my back teeth from the cold, and my jaw hurt.
Nearly my whole body was freezing, such that I couldn't even feel how clothed I was.

Plus, we occasionally had to wipe off snow that covered the strobe lights, so we were moving hither and thither.
It certainly wouldn't have been surprising if we got run over. But we managed to survive, perhaps thanks to our distinctive outfits.
For one day, I was thankful to Santa Claus. If I were Jack Lantern, I'd have died for sure.
It would have been great to be a little warmer, though; it's not as good at protection from the cold as it looks. I was chilled to the core.

While we did our traffic conducting, I was thinking about Hiiragi the whole time.
And I don't mean in our first lives. I naturally recalled all the common points we shared in our second.

When we rode the bus to the international school soccer meet, or an art appreciation event, or whatever, we had no one to sit with, so we always sat in silence in the frontmost seats.
We waited together outside the infirmary, waiting for the school nurse who would never come.
During the baseball tournament, I hid in an empty classroom, and she did the same thing, and we both failed to attend the opening ceremony.
On the roll sheet for the launching of the culture festival, we were the only two marked as not attending.

The day of graduation rehearsal, we met in the music preparation room and formed a relationship of complicity.
The day of graduation, we were the only ones who immediately left after our homeroom teacher's long speech.
Even in college, we were friendless as ever, always sitting in the back corner of the lecture room and looking sour.

I didn't know if they were good memories or bad, but those memories comforted me the same way music did.

And then - about twelve minutes after the blackout.
That blue car slowly drove by, and we saw them off.
We saw off the former us.

From beginning to end, they didn't know about any of it.
Tokiwa and Tsugumi didn't know they were my and Hiiragi's doubles, and as long as we never told them, they would never know we saved their lives.

But perhaps that's for the best.
Personally, I found it thrilling to have saved their lives without them even noticing.

With them safe, our objective was completed. But after having come that far, we decided we wanted to see it through to the end.
So we continued conducting traffic until the power was back.

Chapter 69

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