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The Colour of Your Soul

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Naegi woke up confused, disoriented, and with a nagging feeling that he was forgetting something. As he lifted his head he let his surroundings come into focus, surroundings he didn’t recognize. The more he looked around the more confused and worried he grew, not only was there a security camera, but the windows, or what he assumed were windows, were bolted over with thick, solid metal plates. Very solid he thought after he tried to pry one off. Glancing at the clock, just after eight. Panic blossomed in his chest, he was supposed to meet with the other students for the welcome ceremony at eight, and now he was going to be the idiot that was late.

He rushed out of the classroom and raced to the front hall, not taking in any of his surroundings as they blurred passed. Bursting into the entry hall he was met with fourteen pairs of eyes landing on him. The variety of looks he received was only matched by the complete variety of students. Naegi did a quick a once over of all the teens, trying to see who he could recognize from what he read on the online forums. He froze as his eyes landed on one student in particular. He was tall and lithe, Naegi could tell that under his perfectly tailored suit there were well toned muscles. He stood away from the others, but still in position to keep an eye on them all, an aura of superiority flowing off him. His blond hair fell perfectly around his angular face, accentuating the piercing blue eyes that locked onto Naegi. The intensity of the gaze cause the brunet to take an involuntary step backwards.

‘Wait… blue?’ Naegi thought to himself, he shouldn’t be able to tell what color what color the other teen’s eyes were, unless… He wasn’t given time to ponder this train of thought as a boy with striking red eyes and eyebrows that seemed to need their own personal stylist, came over and began lecturing him on being late and how punctuality is the only way to live one’s life. After that Naegi went around and introduced himself to the others. A few people stood out from the rest as he moved around; Sayaka Maizono, Celeste, and Kyoko Kirigiri made the biggest impression on him, or so he thought as he approached the final two students. Sakura Ogami ended up scaring him a little bit, but she seemed nice enough. It would probably be best to stay on her good side, just to be safe. The last student left was the blond boy who had never once taken his eyes off Naegi. As Naegi slowly walked over to said teen, the nagging feeling from earlier returned.

“Umm, hi, I’m Naegi Makoto,” the small brunet introduced himself.

“Name’s Togami Byakuya,” was the clipped reply.

Naegi wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but even still. There wasn’t much he could do about it, even among the ultimate students Togami was special. The heir to his family’s massive financial conglomerate, and he’s even started managing business operations. His own personal assets, those separate from what he’ll inherit from his family name, are, well, vast, to say the least. His title of Ultimate Affluent Progeny is completely accurate, he’s the definition of exceptional, and not just in his accomplishments, Naegi added mentally.

“We’re done with introductions, right? How much longer are you going to stand there? Go away. I’m sick of looking at you,” he said, bright cerulean orbs peering down a perfectly sculpted nose as one would regard a screaming child in a supermarket.

Naegi quietly stepped away, a disappointed sigh slipping passed pouting lips as the brunet watched the blond retreat to a secluded corner of the room. As he turned back to the rest of the group he could hear hushed voices answering whispered questions as the other students tried to figure out what was going on. The smallest of the bunch had started to approach Naegi when a bell chimed and the monitor on the wall crackled to life.

“Ahem, testing, testing, This is a test of the school broadcast system! Can everyone hear me? Yes? Good,” an overly cheery voice came through the speakers, it was so playful and unconcerned, something was wrong with it, “Ahh, to all incoming students! I would like to begin the entrance ceremony at… right now! So if you could all make your way to the gymnasium at your earliest convenience, no dawdling, we wouldn’t want to keep everyone waiting!”

“What. The. Hell was that just now?” Enoshima asked, voicing the question on everyone’s mind.

“Well then, if you’ll excuse me,” Togami said walking out of the entry hall.

He was soon followed by Hagakure, Fujisaki, Kuwata, Fukawa, and Celeste. All leaving under much the same mood, terrified curiosity. Naegi spared a short glance at those who remained before he, too, left for the gym. Upon entering the large room he found it set up as he would have expected it to be for a welcoming ceremony, and for some reason that made the whole situation even more unsettling. Everything looked normal, well besides the thick metal plates bolted to the windows, what was up with that? Deciding to worry about it later Naegi went to join the others. The room, while quiet, was heavy with apprehension, growing more so as the last few students arrived.

“Hey there, howdy, hello! Is everyone here? Good! Then let’s got things rolling!”

No one knew what to expect, but a black and white stuffed, talking bear thing, was probably not on anyone’s list.

“Huh? A teddy bear?” Fujisaki asked in a timid tone.

“I’m not a teddy bear! I…am…Monokuma! And I am this school’s headmaster!” the bear exclaimed.

The reactions hit all the marks, a few screamed, others laughed it off as a joke, some just waited in silence for a more realistic explanation as to what was going on. After a few quips back and forth between Monokuma and some students, the bear was able to bring the focus back to the welcoming ceremony.

“Now then, let us commence with a most noteworthy and memorable entrance ceremony! First, let’s talk a bit about what your school life here will be like. Now, ah, make no mistake-- you few students, so full of potential, represent the hope of the world. And to protect such splendid hope… You will all live a communal life together solely within the confines of this school. Everyone will live in harmony together, and adhere to the rules and regulations of the school,” Monokuma said, his cheery voice never once fluctuating, “Now then...regarding the end date for this communal life… There isn’t one! In other words, you’ll all be here until the day you die! Such is the school life you’ve been assigned,”

Tension was thick in the air, there wasn’t a calm molecule to be found, and what was once nervous fear had shifted heavily to terrified rage.

“What the hell? You can’t be for real? There’s no way I’m living here forever!” Enoshima screeched.

“Oh, I can guarantee you that I am 100% for real, and just so you know, you have been completely cut of from the outside world! So you don’t have to worry about that dirty, dirty world beyond these walls ever again,”

“Cut off…? So all those metal plates all over the school… They’re there to keep us trapped here?” Naegi inquired.

“Exactly! No matter how much may yell or scream for help...help will not come. So with that in mind, feel free to live out your life here with reckless abandon!”

“Cut this shit out! It isn’t funny anymore!” Owada growled, raising a clenched fist in a threat of bodily harm.

“A bunch skeptics you all are, you all keep saying this a lie or a joke… But I guess that’s to be expected, oh well, you’ll have plenty of time to find out whether or not what I say is true, and when that time comes, you’ll see with your own eyeballs, that I speak the undeniable truth,”

“Having to live here forever would be… quite the problem,” Celeste said morosely.

“Come on now. What’s the matter with all of you? You all chose to attend Hope’s Peak Academy of your own free will didn’t ya? And before the entrance ceremony is even finished, you already want to leave? Oh, but y’know, I guess I did forget to mention one itty bitty little thing. There is one way for you to leave the school...”

“R-- Really?” Fukawa stuttered out.

“As headmaster, I’ve created a special clause for those of you who would like to leave. I call it...the Graduation Clause! Now, let me tell you about this fun little rule! As I mentioned, in order to maintain an environment of harmony here, we rely on a communal lifestyle. And if someone were to disrupt that harmony, they and they alone would be allowed to leave the school. That, my students,is the Graduation Clause!”

“What do you mean by ‘disrupt the harmony’?” Togami snapped.

“Puhuhu… Well, you know… if one person were to murder another,” Monokuma chuckled.

“M-- Murder!?” Naegi questioned, not sure if he wanted to believe what he just heard.

“Stabbing, strangling, bludgeoning, crushing, hacking, drowning, igniting, how you do it doesn’t matter. You must kill someone of you want to leave. It’s as simple as that. The rest is up to you. Give it your all to achieve the best outcome in the worst way possible,”

The room suddenly felt significantly colder. A shiver danced along Naegi’s spine, his blood turning cold at the thought of having to murder one of his friends just to leave. He was frozen in place as some other students argued with Monokuma, he couldn’t even hear what was being said, it was all just a muffled gurgle in his ears. He was shocked back to the present when Owada stomped up to the bear and grasped it in his fist.

“Stop fucking with us, you goddamn bastard! What the hell is going on?” the gang leader snarled.

“Waah! Violence against the headmaster is in violation of school regulations!” Monokuma shouted, arms waving frantically as Owada help him in a death grip.

“Shut the fuck up! Just let me the fuck outta here, or I swear to Christ...” Owada’s threat trailed off as Monokuma stilled.

A high pitched beeping started to echo from the bear, gradually growing faster.

“Watch out! Get rid of it!” Kirigiri said, her voice calm and controlled even as the beeping grew faster.

“Wha?”

“Hurry up and throw it!” she commanded.

Not knowing what compelled him to do so, whether it be Kirigiri’s order, or something else, Owada chucked Monokuma to the far side of the gym, as it reached the apex of it’s arc it exploded in a violent smattering of stuffing and metal. Thankfully all the debris didn’t get thrown far enough to injure anyone.

“Is, is the teddy bear dead?” Fujisaki asked quietly.

“I-- I think so?” Yamada answered, inching away from the remains.

“I told you, I’m not a teddy bear! I’m Monokuma! And I’m not dead,”

The voice caused everyone to jump and turn back to the stage. There they found another Monokuma sitting exactly where the previous one had.

“What the hell man?” Hagakure exclaimed.

“There’s another one?” Kuwata yelled.

“You son of a bitch! You seriously tried to kill me!” Owada growled.

“Well, yes. I was serious about trying to kill you. You did violate one of the school regulations, after all. I’ll let you off with a warning time, but you’d better be careful from now on. Any naughty boy or girl who violates my rules won’t get off with just a little swat to the butt,” Monokuma said.

“H-Hey… So does this mean there’s like, a bunch more of you around here somewhere?” Enoshima inquired.

“Monokumas have been placed all throughout the school, yes. Plus, don’t forget the surveillance cameras installed everywhere. And if you’re caught breaking any rules, well… you just saw what happened, right? Puhuhu… And next time I won’t be so forgiving with my punishment, so don’t let it happen again!”

Everyone stared, wide eyed, at the bear, how was one even supposed to respond to that?

“Now then, lastly… To commemorate your joyous entry into our school, I have a little something for you,” Monokuma said, handing out small tablets to each student, “This is our official student handbook! Pretty cool, huh? As you can see, it’s fully digital. So naturally we call it… The e-handbook! This handbook is absolutely vital to a healthy school life, so don’t lose it! When you start it up, it will display your name. Always make sure you have the right one! Now this is not your everyday notebook. It has so many more uses than that! Also it’s completely waterproof. Splash it, wash it, drown it, it’ll keep on ticking! And thanks to its space-age design, it can withstand an impact force of up to ten tons. Very resistant! It contains all of our school regulations, so make sure you review them thoroughly!

You’ll hear me say this a lot, but any violation of school regulations will not be tolerated. Rules restrict, yes, but they also protect. Society, for example, would be utter chaos without laws. The same thing applies here! Which is why it’s crucial we have strict punishments in place for violators. Okay, well...that brings our entrance ceremony to a close! Please enjoy your abundantly dreary school life! See ya!” Monokuma concluded.

“Wait!” Maizono shouted Monokuma started to leave.

“Yes?”

“What-- what about our soulmates?” she asked.

“Your what now?”

“Our soulmates! The one who brings color to our lives, our other half!” Ishimaru proclaimed.

“Oh… Those. Not my problem,” and with that Monokuma was gone.

“I’m never going to see Takeshi-kun again?” Maizono said, voice hallow, reflecting the emptiness in her eyes as she fell to her knees.

“At least you know who your soulmates is,” Asahina remarked, a jealous undertone to her words.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s just that, I can see colors, so I must’ve met my soulmate, right? But I can’t remember them,”

“You can see colors too?” Maizono asked, shocked that she wasn’t the only one.

The swimming pro nodded solemnly, a lone tear crawling down her cheek as she thought about it. Most people didn’t meet their soulmates until their university years, that was usually when one would find the people that would have the greatest impact on their life. Occasionally people would meet their soulmate when they were very young, but those occurrences were few and far between.

“Is there anyone else who isn’t colorblind?” Kirigiri asked the group, curious to see if this was a single instance or not.

Naegi, Ishimaru, Owada, Ogami, and to everyone’s surprise, Togami, all raised a hand in answer.

“And do any of you remember who your soulmate is?”

All five shook their head in the negative, which drew an inquisitive expression to the lilac haired girl’s face. But before she could continue down that train of thought she was interrupted.

“Aren’t there more important things we should be focusing on? Such as getting out of here, or whether or not someone is actually considering this?” Togami stated.

Everyone fell silent once more, eyes shifting nervously to every other person in the room, everyone wondering if someone really would betray them just to get out.

“You’re right, but that doesn’t mean that what we just learned isn’t important. Anyways, what we should be doing right now is exploring this place, seeing what we can find, any clues about where we are and how got here. We can meet back up in a few hours in the dining hall to compare our findings,” Kirigiri said.

Everyone seemed to agree with her decision and slowly began to trickle out of the gym. Soon enough only Naegi, Togami, Fukawa, and Kirigiri remained.

“Well? What are you three waiting for? A personal invitation?” the violet eyed girl quipped.

Togami sneered at her but didn’t say anything, while Fukawa stuttered out an apology. Naegi couldn’t speak for the other two, but he was still trying to process everything that had just happened. Something about the soulmate thing struck him as odd, which was an impressive feat considering all that had just been revealed. How could he forget his soulmate? That just didn’t seem possible, and for five others, besides himself, to be in the same predicament, it was all just too odd. With a shake of his head to clear his thoughts he bid the others goodbye and left to begin his own search of the school.

He didn’t search so much as wander aimlessly, lost in thought. Sure he could be forgetful, but to forget his soulmate? Even he wasn’t that bad. Naegi was so deep in his thoughts that he wasn’t watching where he was going until it was too late, and he was on the floor rubbing his head.

“Oh I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going,” a soft, female voice apologized.

“Ah, no, it’s my fault, I wasn’t watching where I was going,” Naegi said, “Here let me help you up,” he continued, offering his hand to help the girl after clamoring to his feet.

“Wait, Naegi? I was actually looking for you,”

“Y- You were?” he inquired, surprised that anyone would be looking for him, especially Sayaka Maizono.

“Of course, I had something I wanted to ask you,” she said with a sweet smile.

He stared at her, blinking in confusion, this day was getting stranger and stranger with every passing moment.

“You went to Blackroot Junior High, right? You were in class 2?”

“Uhh… Yeah? Why?”

“I knew it!” she cheered, her excitement startling the short brunet.

Naegi nodded, stunned into silence.

“I was in class four! It’s strange though, I never thought that I would get a chance to talk to you like this. All through middle school, you never talked to me, in fact, you never even looked at me,”

“It’s because you were like a celebrity! I couldn’t just go around staring at you… Wait, how do you know I never looked at you?” he pressed.

“Because I looked at you all the time...”

“Huh?”

“I was always looking for an opportunity to talk to you,”

“You… wanted to talk to me?”

“But since I always had so many people around me, we ended up graduating without saying a word, that was one of my biggest regrets,”

“But why me?” Naegi couldn’t fathom why someone would find him interesting, he was just an average high school student, there was nothing special about him.

“Do you remember during our first year of junior high, that huge crane that wandered into the school pond? It was so big, the teacher had no idea what to do. But you lead it into the forest behind the school. You helped it find its way out,” she said.

‘Only because I was in charge of taking care of the animals at school, they made me do it...’ the brunet thought to himself bitterly.

“I should’ve said thank you then, but… is it okay if I do it now?”

“Thank me?”

“Yeah! Honestly I was so impressed… That’s why I always wanted to talk to you, even just once. I never imagined the would be how I got my chance… anyways, what I’m trying to say, is that it’s nice to know somebody here, you know?”

“Uh… Yeah,” Naegi said slowly, still not fully understanding what was going on.

Maizono laughed, a melodic sound that helped ease Naegi’s nerves, if only a little. He returned the gentle smile she sent his way when something clicked in his brain.

“Hey, Maizono,” he started as they walked through the school, “You said something about your soulmate earlier, right?”

“Mhmmm,”

“Well, umm, do you think it’s possible to forget your soulmate? Or to not realize you met them?”

“Huh? What do you mean? Oh! You were one of the ones who couldn’t remember their soulmate. That’s so sad! And you don’t remember anything about them?”

“No, nothing, but that didn’t answer my question,”

“Sorry! It’s just, that’s really weird. People don’t just forget their soulmates… Maybe your soulmate is one of the others who forgot?” she suggested.

“Not likely, I hadn’t met any of them before today, and even so, aren’t soulmates supposed to compliment each other? I’m not even on the same level as any of you guys! I only got into this school because I got lucky, not because I have some ‘ultimate’ talent,” Naegi protested.

“So that means you couldn’t balance out one of them?” Maizono pondered, truly confused by the boy’s hard-fast denial that he could be the missing piece to one of the other students.

“Who do you think it would be? Can you really say, based on our limited first impressions of them, that I could possibly balance any of them?”

“Well…”

“Ogami would crush me, as would Owada, both are too, I don’t know, but I’m not what they need. Asahina is too similar to me, we would clash more than balance each other. Ishimaru? Yeah right, if anyone were to balance him it would be Owada. And there’s absolutely no way it’s Togami,”

“I guess...” Maizono sounded unconvinced but didn’t push the matter further as they entered the dining hall.

Ishimaru, Ogami, Asahina, and Fujisaki were already there, sitting at the long table in the center of the room. Enoshima, Kuwata, and Hagakure showed up not long after, followed a few minutes later by Yamada and Celeste. Fukawa slunk in behind Owada. Togami arrived by himself, and finally Kirigiri being the very last to make an appearance. Ishimaru took charge, getting everyone’s reports on their findings.

It seemed there two staircases that were blocked off, as was the bathhouse, nurse’s office, and warehouse. The trash room was only accessible to whoever was on cleaning duty. The kitchen was stocked, and, according to Asahina, would be replenished each night. Everyone had their own dorm room, and, other than the gym and two classrooms, there was an A/V lab and a school store on the first floor. Ogami reported to have had no luck in trying to pry the iron plates off the windows. No one had any luck locating a way out. Kirigiri was the only one who turned up any kind of clue as to where they were; a map of Hope’s Peak Academy that matched the layout of wherever they were perfectly.

After the meeting everyone went their separate ways, leaving Naegi alone once more. Not knowing what else to do he went to his room, ‘might as well see were I’m going to be living for… well… who knows how long...’ he thought to himself as he opened the door marked with his name.

His room wasn’t anything special, there was a bed with light blue sheets, a small table, a desk and chair, a lint roller, and a notepad. As he looked around he found a note taped to the wall explaining that the water would be turned off between ten pm and seven am as well as stating that the girls’ bathrooms all had locks on them, and that all the girls’ rooms came with a sewing kit and a map of the vital organs, while the boys’ dorms had a toolkit.

Naegi glared at the paper ripping it off the wall, crumpling it up, and throwing it away. He let out an exasperated huff as he flopped down on his bed to think about the day. There had to be some other way out that didn’t involve murdering each other, there just had to be. He already knew there was no way he would ever resort to killing someone, he just didn’t have it in him to consider that a viable option. His mental pondering was interrupted by the chime of his door bell. Opening the door he found Maizono standing on the other side, a smile lighting up her face.

“Maizono?” he asked.

“Naegi, I was wondering if you would like to hang out for a little while?” she said.

“Oh? Uh, sure, just a minute,”

Naegi moved to grab his room key off the table so he could lock his door before following the singer out into the first floor of the school. The pair eventually found themselves standing in the small hallway between the gym and the main hall. They chatted quietly, not really talking about anything when Maizono’s deep blue eyes fell upon the replica sword in the trophy case.

“You should take that sword back to your room with you,” she said.

“It’s a little...gaudy, don’t you think? And I’m pretty sure it’s only a replica, not sure how useful something like that would be,” Naegi countered.

“sure, but, you know, it might look nice? Even if it is a bit on the flashy side you can still use in self-defense,”

The brunet thought it over, nodding in agreement after going over the pros and cons. Reaching for the replica he pulled his back as if it had burned him.

“Geez, I barley touched and I’m covered in the gold leaf,” he grumbled.

Taking his blazer off, he used that to wrap the sword up so as to not cover himself in any more of the flaking gold leaf. Maizono followed at his side, chatting mindlessly about her pop group and soulmate as they trekked back to Naegi’s room. After depositing the sword on top of his dresser they returned to the dining hall to get dinner.

It seemed everyone else had a similar idea. The other students were all gathered together, eating their meals or just chatting with someone who was. When Naegi and Maizono entered the room Celeste rose to her feet to address the group, she must have been waiting for everyone to arrive.

“As we are all now here, I would like to make a suggestion. We all understand that we’re trapped here, which means that we will be spending the night. However, you all remember the rule regarding nighttime, right? So regarding the nighttime, I think we need to add a rule of our own,” the gambler said, a calm seriousness on her face.

“What do you mean?” Naegi asked.

“Going out at nighttime should be prohibited altogether. The school regulations do not actually tell us not to go out at night. I would like to make it official,”

“B-But why?” Fukawa stuttered.

“The way things are now, every time night comes we will start to get worried and anxious. We will be afraid someone might try and come kill us. If we have to worry about that night after night for who knows how long, it will wear us down in no time,” Celeste elaborated.

“So you’re suggesting we limit our activity at night as a kind of preventative measure,” Ogami stated.

“However, unlike the other rules, nobody can be forced to comply. We all have to agree to follow it,”

Everyone glanced around at each other, trying to decide if someone wasn’t going to agree.

“On behalf of all the men here, I agree to comply!” Ishimaru declared, “I would also like to suggest that we all have breakfast together, that way we can all be sure everyone made it safely through the night,”

All the students ended up agreeing, some more begrudgingly than others, and when the nighttime announcement sounded over the monitors they all returned to their rooms for a chance to find rest.

Locking his door him, Naegi leaned his forehead against the cool wood, shutting his eyes in an attempt to settle the nausea bubbling in his stomach. He was trapped in this ‘school’, if it even deserved to be called that at this point, with fourteen other students, all but one he had never met before. The headmaster was some robot teddy bear thing that wanted them to kill each other so one person could leave. The only positive thing was that he knew someone, and even that didn’t seem like such a good thing, considering. And on top of all that, he had apparently forgotten his soulmate.

Another sigh escaped his lips, he seemed to be doing that a lot today. Settling his himself, Naegi pushed away from the door and moved over to the dresser, surprised to find it fully stocked with his own clothes. Rummaging around, the brunet soon located a pair of sleep pants and changed into them, leaving on the white t-shirt from that day, he would change it in the morning, after a shower. Tossing the dirty clothes into the hamper and flicking the lights off, the ‘lucky’ student finally settled in for a restless night.

After a night of tossing and turning Naegi was brought into consciousness by the morning announcement. Groaning in exhaustion, the small boy dragged himself out of bed and shuffled over to his bathroom. Turning the knob he expected to just walk into the bathroom, instead he found himself getting intimately acquainted with said door. “Huh?” Naegi said drowsily, “I thought only the girls’ dorms had locks?”

“Right you are Mr. Naegi,” a voice came from behind the brunet, “It’s actually pretty ironic that you would get this room,”

Naegi would forever deny any accusations that he screamed like a young girl when he turned around, even though the was video proof of that fact thanks to the surveillance cameras.

“Holy crap! How the fuck did you get in here? I thought I locked the door?” he shouted.

“A magician never reveals his secrets. But anyways, about your bathroom, you see the door doesn’t quite sit right in the frame,”

“So it’s not locked? It just doesn’t fit?” Naegi was still half asleep and thus having trouble processing everything.

“Didn’t you see the notice? It clearly stated that only the girls’ bathrooms have locks. Geez, whatever, all you need to do to get the door to open is turn the knob then lift up while pulling,”

“Huh?”

“You’re really slow in the mornings aren’t ya? Oh well, just remember, lift up and pull. Seems like rotten luck for someone who’s supposed to be the ‘Ultimate Lucky Student’ to get the one room with a broken door. Anyways, I suddenly don’t feel like being here anymore. Bye!”

Before Naegi could give any form of response Monokuma had gone. He hadn’t even seen him leave, and he’d been watching the bear the whole time, he must be more tired than he realized. Shaking his head to rid himself of any lingering sleep, he opened the door tot he bathroom and proceeded to get ready for the day ahead.

He dressed in almost the same thing as the day prior, and after making sure his door was locked, Naegi headed to the dining hall to meet up with the others. Only a few others were already there, nibbling on their breakfast or sipping on a drink. He wasn’t surprised to find Ishimaru there, but Owada and Kuwata somewhat shocked him. By eight o’clock everyone had arrived, but no one knew how to move forward from that point.

“Are we just supposed to sit here like brainless sheep for the whole day?” Togami finally broke the silence that fallen over then with his snide remark.

“Oh? Did I hear that you’re looking for something to do today?” Monokuma asked, appearing on the monitor, “Well too bad. You’re all smart kids, I’m sure you find some way to entertain yourselves. I’m a headmaster not a babysitter, so figure it out,”

“Whatever, I’ll be in my room if anyone needs me,” Enoshima said, walking out of the dining hall.

“I, too, shall be in my room if someone were to require my presence,” Celeste said, following Enoshima’s lead.

Others soon left as well, either to go to their rooms or wander the halls, leaving Naegi, Fujisaki, Kuwata, and Maizono. The latter two were chatting animatedly about something music related that Naegi didn’t understand. Looking over he saw Fujisaki sitting by herself and decided to go over and chat with her.

“Hey, Fujisaki, right?” Naegi asked as he approached the small girl.

“Huh? Oh, yes, that’s right, ad you’re Naegi, right?” she replied.

“Yep! Hey, so, uh, do you wanna hang out?” he asked, nervously rubbing the back of his neck.

“Sure, was there anything in particular that you wanted to do?”

“Umm, not really, I figured we could just walk around and talk,”

“Okay,” Fujisaki said with a bright smile.

Somehow the two found themselves in the A/V room where Fujisaki was examining the DVD players. Not finding anything worthwhile she slumped in her seat with a defeated sigh and scowled at the machine.

“No luck?” Naegi asked, though he had no clue what she had been trying to do.

“No, not that I expected anything, but...” she trailed off, “It’s doubtful this would have given us any leads anyways, it’s just a stupid DVD player, it’s not like I could hack it or anything,”

Naegi didn’t really comprehend what the programmer was saying but nodded in response. After spending a bit more time together and getting to know one another, the two parted ways and Naegi returned to his room. Finding there were still a few good hours until ‘nighttime’ the brunet left his room to see who else he could get to know. It was by pure happenstance that the person he had hoped to spend time with was also leaving their room at that moment.

“Oh,” Naegi said brightly, “Togami-kun,”

The blond in question turned to look at the shorter boy, “What?” he asked, sharp as usual.

“I- uh, I was, umm-”

“Just spit it out already, I don’t have all day,”

“I was wondering if you might want to spend some time together?” Naegi blurted out.

“And what makes you think I would want to waste my time entertaining your pathetically average mind?” Togami sneered.

“I, uh, well, I guess I had just hoped,” Naegi said quietly, gaze lowering to the floor.

Togami wasn’t sure why, but seeing the other boy fall from his bright and upbeat self to a quiet, sad shell, just from his words, bothered the heir. He studied the brunet for a moment, trying to determine why the lucky teen would want to spend time with him, or anyone for that matter. In this game they had been forced into, relationships, no matter how small, could, would be nothing more than a handicap. And yet, for some unfathomable reason, Togami found himself intrigued by the teen in front of him, a mere commoner who would never have caught the blond’s attention outside of this school.

“Fine, you may accompany me to the kitchen,” the young heir stated, already walking away.

Naegi scurried after him, his blinding smile back in place. Togami didn’t say anything as they walked through the empty dining hall to the kitchen. He remained silent as he moved around the space, preparing himself a cup of coffee, and as an after thought, made a second cup, adding a large amount of sugar and milk to it. In his own cup he only tipped half a teaspoon of sugar, stirring it slowly.

“How did you know how I like my coffee?” Naegi asked, taking the cup offered to him and enjoying a small sip of the hot beverage.

“What do you mean? How could I possibly know how you like you coffee?”

“But you just...” Naegi didn’t know how to finish that thought, thoroughly perplexed by the situation.

They stood there in awkward silence for another moment before the brunet couldn’t take it any longer.

“So, you don’t remember your soulmate?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but no, I don’t. Not that it really matters,” Togami answered.

“How could it not matter?” Naegi shouted, somehow personally offended by Togami’s nonchalance about not knowing who his soulmate was.

“As heir to the Togami name I don’t have time for a relationship. And once I do take over as head of the family I shall be required to produce multiple heirs with multiple, wealthy, women around the world, something I highly doubt my soulmate will be willing to comply with,” the blond explained, voice monotone and face void of expression, like a practiced answer he had rehearsed. Though, as Naegi looked closer, he could see the sadness that was weighing on the teen in those startling blue eyes.

“That’s… That’s just terrible! Why would you ever agree to that?” Naegi yelled.

“Hmph, I would never expect someone as plainly ordinary as you to ever understand,”

“Try me,” the shorter boy challenged.

“I don’t have to explain anything to you, now if you’ll remove yourself from my personal space, I’m going to return to my room,” Togami took his coffee and pushed passed Naegi, leaving the other to stew in anger and confusion.

Glaring at his own cup of coffee, Naegi let out a small growl and poured the cup out before leaving to go back to his room as well. He changed into his sleep pants, still frustrated with Togami’s blatant uncaring attitude towards his soulmate. Locking the door and turning off the light, Naegi got ready for bed, falling into another restless sleep.

Chapter Text

Morning came, only the morning announcement to prove otherwise. Naegi dressed for the day, forgoing the hoodie and just slipping the school blazer over a forest green shirt. As he got ready a heavy weight settled in his gut, he didn’t know why, but something told him this wasn’t going to be a normal day. Pushing the feeling aside he left his room, locking it behind him, and trekked to the dining hall to meet with everyone.

 

Not seeing everyone just yet, he allowed himself to slip into the kitchen to grab an apple for breakfast. He didn’t plan to run into anyone, so finding Togami fighting with the microwave froze him in the doorway. The tall blond was grumbling under his breath as he pulled a soggy looking piece of bread out of the appliance. Naegi couldn’t help but laugh at the sight before him, Togami glaring at the microwave like it personally offended him. At the sound of laughter he spun around and fixed a murderous glare on the person who dared laugh at him.

 

“Just what do you think you’re laughing at?” Togami barked, words laced with poison.

 

“Nothing, nothing,” Naegi responded, raising his hands in defense, “I was just curious how you managed to get piece of bread that soggy after putting it in the microwave?”

 

Togami flushed a pale pink, either from embarrassment or anger, Naegi couldn’t be sure. He never did get answer, the blond took his coffee cup and stalked out of the kitchen without a second glance. Naegi brushed off the interaction and grabbed an apple, biting into it as he returned to the dining hall. A few others had emerged from their rooms and sleepily shuffled to their chairs. Only Kirigiri, Celeste, and Hagakure were still unaccounted for, though they didn’t have to wait long for them to show up.

 

As Naegi sat down next to Maizono, the heavy feeling in his gut returned full force. Ogami sent him a worried look as his apple slipped from his grasp and rolled in her direction. The brunet shook his head in response to the questioning stares he got; he didn’t know how to word how he was feeling so he didn’t want to worry everyone over what was probably nothing.

 

“You guys are sooo boring, I mean come one, you’re all hormonal teenagers, if you’re not going to kill each other – which you really should be doing if you ever want to leave – I would at least expect you guys to be doing *it*,” Monokuma’s jarringly perky voice rang through the hall, his image emblazoned on the monitor.

 

“Doing *it*? What is this *it* you are referring to?” Ishimaru asked, not fully grasping the underlying meaning of the word.

 

“You don’t know? I guess I can’t say I’m surprised that the ‘Ultimate Moral Compass’ wouldn’t know what *it* is. But that’s not why I’m here,” the bear said, a wickedness hidden beneath the false cheerfulness.

 

“Unless you have something useful to say, leave us alone,” Togami snapped.

 

“Hmmm? Useful? I don’t know about useful, unless you count a gift from the outside useful, oh well, up to you, upuhuhuhu,”

 

The monitor faded to black, leaving an air of barely contained anxiety lingering in it’s wake. Eyes shifted nervously from side to side, legs bounced in an agitated tick, hands twitched searching for something solid to take hold of. No one said a word. No one knew whether or not to believe what they were just told.

 

“Should, should we try to find whatever it is he was talking about?” Maizono asked, her voice cracking barely above a whisper.

 

“I don’t see what choice we have, I doubt any of us will be able to relax until we know whether or not he’s lying about this ‘gift’. I suggest we split up and search the school to see if we can find anything that could qualify as a gift,” Kirigiri said calmly.

 

Her stoic nature seemed too natural, added to the fact that nobody knew what her ‘Ultimate’ talent was, it set Naegi on edge. He didn’t want to doubt the girl, but there was just something something about her that kept him on his toes. He shook those thoughts from his mind and returned his focus to the conversation that was taking place before him.

 

“Wait, what is *it*?” Ishimaru asked before everyone went to search.

 

“I’m not answering that,” Kirigiri said then turned on heel and left.

 

Togami scoffed at the other boy’s ignorance before he left as well. Fukawa scampered out after the heir, Ogami and Asahina soon followed. When Hagakure and Kuwata started trying to explain to the confused teen everyone else quickly made their escape.

 

Naegi was joined by Maizono as he went to search the first floor of the school. He couldn’t explain why, but something told him to go to the A/V room, and once inside they found box full of DVDs each marked with one of their names.

 

“I – I think I found the ‘gift’ Monokuma was talking about,” Naegi said in stunned disbelief, “You stay here, I’m going to find everyone,”

 

Naegi ran through the halls, gathering the other students, some followed him while others went straight to the A/V room. He returned to said room not too much later.

 

“Wh- what did y- you find?” Fukawa asked.

 

“I’m not entirely sure to be honest, but there’s a box full of DVDs, there’s one for each of us,” Naegi said.

 

At that everyone rushed to the box, grabbed their disc, and claimed a seat to watch whatever it was Monokuma had prepared for them. The room was silent as the videos played, at first light hearted elation danced off the teens, but the mood was quick to drastically switch. After relaying the positive messages from their loved ones the scene changed, plummeting the mood hard and fast as visions of terribly horrid happenings took center stage. Where his family sat only seconds ago now looked like a scene out of a horror film. The couch was ripped to shreds, cracked down the middle and covered in broken glass from the shattered window. His family was nowhere to be seen, only a message: find out what happened to them after graduation.

 

Naegi sat there, staring at the black screen, he didn’t know how to react, there was no way what he just saw was real, it had to be a joke. Monokuma must’ve just faked it all, there was no way his family was gone. He was broken out of his internal panic by a shrill shriek right next to his ear.

 

Next to him Maizono was wide eyed, hands covering her mouth to stop herself from releasing another ear piercing sound. Suddenly she shot backwards hitting the wall behind her with a solid thud. Everyone had turned their attention to the girl, watching with the same caution one would give a cornered beast.

 

“M- Maizono?” Naegi said, cautiously stepping towards her.

 

“I can’t! I can’t do this anymore!” she cried before darting out of the room.

 

Naegi didn’t think twice as he ran after her, worried she might do something drastic. He caught up with her half way tot he dorms, grabbing her wrist to stop her from running again.

 

“I have to get out of here! I have to!” the bluenette sobbed, pressing her face into Naegi’s chest.

 

Her tears soaked through the thin material of his t-shirt.

 

“I’ll get us out,” Naegi said, “I won’t let anyone die. I promise you, I’ll get all of us out of here, no matter what,” by the end of his little speech everyone else had joined them in the hallway.

 

“Y- You’re really going to get us out of here?” Fujisaki asked.

 

A hard determination set in Naegi’s mossy green eyes as he looked at the others who were trapped here with him, “Yes. I will do everything in my power to get us all out of here, alive,” he affirmed.

 

After that everyone went their separate ways, all too shaken from the videos to want to do much more than sleep it off. Naegi was just pulling out a fresh pair of sleep pants when his doorbell chimed, startling the short boy and causing him to jump. Seeing as it was almost nighttime he had no idea who could possibly on the other side of the door.

 

“H- hello?” he said over the intercom.

 

“N- Naegi? Could, could I come in?” Maizono’s voice answered him.

 

Flicking the lock open he swung the door open for the girl.

 

“Maizono? Are you okay?”

 

The pop sensation was shaking slightly, her whole body was trembling as she stepped into the room. Blue eyes kept shifting, looking for something she couldn’t name. Almost as if on autopilot she walked over to the boy’s bed and sat down. Each movement stiff, the complete opposite of how she normally was.

 

“Did something happen?” Naegi asked, hoping to get some form of a reply.

 

“I’m not sure,” her words were distant, yet filled with fear, “I was in my room getting ready for bed when I heard my door shake. It was like someone was trying to get in, but when I opened it to see who it was, there was no one there,”

 

“Are you okay?!” the boy asked, worry seeping out him in waves.

 

“I, I think so, I’m just scared,”

 

“Well, it’s almost nighttime right? We all promised not to go outside during nighttime,”

 

“But that’s just a promise we made, right? If someone decided to break that promise...” Maizono let the unspoken part of her sentence hang between them.

 

“Th- Then… Why don’t you stay in my room tonight? Would that make you feel a little better? The school regulations say you can only sleep in the dorms, but they didn’t specify which dorm room a person had to sleep in. So...”

 

“Huh? But wouldn’t that be a little, uh, well, you know? Awkward?”

 

“Awkward? Oh! Oh jeez, I’m sorry! I didn’t even think about that! Honestly, that thought never even crossed my mind!” Naegi explained, flustered by what the girl was implying.

 

“I’m just teasing you,” Maizono giggled, though it felt forced, “I know you wouldn’t do anything. But, um, if you don’t mind, could we maybe switch rooms? Just for tonight?”

 

“Switch rooms? I-If it’ll help put your mind at ease, then it’s totally fine with me. But… I don’t mind you staying in my room, but...are you sure you’re okay with me staying in yours? That doesn’t, like...concern you?”

 

“No, it’s fine I trust you,”

 

“Hah. Well, okay then. I guess we should probably trade keys then. Oh! You should know, my bathroom door is a little broken. You can still open it, but there’s a trick to it,”

 

Naegi then went on to show her how to open the door and handed her his key.

 

“Okay, do you need anything from your room?” he asked her.

 

“No, I should be okay for the night,” she replied.

 

“Alright, make sure you lock the door, and don’t open it for anyone, even if you’re sure it’s me, don’t open it until morning,” Naegi instructed.

 

Maizono nodded in affirmation, a small smile toying at the corners of her lips. Naegi returned the smile and took the key she offered him.

 

“Don’t forget, don’t open the door for anyone, and keep it locked, otherwise this will be pointless,” he repeated one last time.

 

“I won’t, I’ll see you at breakfast, okay?” Maizono said.

 

“Yeah, see you then,”

 

And with that she shut the door to Naegi’s room. The brunet waited until he heard the lock click before going to let himself into Maizono’s room. Her room was set up almost exactly as his own; the only noticeable difference he could spot was the color of the sheets. With a tired he locked the door and moved to sit on the bed.

 

“Was I wrong to let her switch rooms with me?” he wondered out loud, “It’s too late to change it now… I just hope it was the right choice…”

 

That final thought still pestering his brain, Naegi let sleep take him. His dreams were filled with images from the video from earlier that day, leaving him tired and groggy the following morning. Due to yet another restless night’s sleep he found himself running late for breakfast. Leaving Maizono’s room he found he wasn’t the only one who was late. Togami was exiting his room at the same time as the short boy.

 

“Good morning Togami, did you sleep well?” Naegi greeted.

 

“Hn,” he answered, or at least replied, “What were you doing in Maizono’s room? And why is your name plate on her door?” he asked after a pause.

 

“Oh well… wait, what?” Naegi spun around to face the door he just came out of. Just as Togami had stated, there was his name plate, right where Maizono’s should have been.

 

“Why is my name plate on Maizono’s door?” Naegi thought out loud.

 

“That’s what I just asked you,” Togami remarked dryly.

 

“I could’ve sworn her name plate was on her door when we switched rooms last night,”

 

“You switched rooms? Why?”

 

“Uh, yeah… Maizono was really freaked out about something so we switched to help her feel better,”

 

“I see,” the blond said slowly, brain working to piece together what this could mean.

 

“Yeah, well, we should probably head to breakfast,” Naegi said, not sure what Togami could be thinking.

 

“Yes, I believe we should,”

 

Togami walked away, heels of his expensive dress shoes clicking on the linoleum. Naegi jogged after the long legged blond, catching up only as they reached the doors tot he dining hall.

 

“There you two are!” Hagakure said as they took their normal seats, “Now we’re just missing Maizono. Either of you happen to see her on your way here?”

 

“No, I only saw Togami,” Naegi answered, is gut flipping over itself as he thought about what this could mean. He shot to his feet, bolting to the exit, “I’ll be right back, I have to check on something,”

 

Naegi sprinted to his dorm room but froze when his hand reached for the handle. ‘No,’ he thought, ‘Everything is fine, she probably just over slept, or she’s taking a shower.’ He kept trying to convince himself that there was no way something could have happened, even though Maizono had never once missed a meeting or was late, he almost believed his own words. That was until he turned the handle to find the door unlocked. Slowly, hesitantly, he entered the room, unaware he wasn’t alone as he did so.

 

Togami had followed Naegi out of the dining hall, though unsure why he did so, he continued to follow the teen to his room. Upon entering the room it became abundantly clear that something had happened. Scratch marks littered the walls and floor, the bed was in disarray, a hideous gold sword lay separate from it’s sheath on the floor. The blond was careful not to disturb any of the items as he followed Naegi to the bathroom. He managed to get there just in time.

 

Naegi let out a scream that sounded so foreign to him, it took him a moment to realize that it did indeed some from him. There, slumped against the wall of his shower, was Maizono’s body, sitting in a pool of her own blood. The brunet didn’t know what happened next, all he could recall was a pair of strong arms wrapping around his waist, and then, darkness.

 

Togami just barely managed to catch Naegi as the shorter boy passed out, not surprised that he had done so. The sight before them was not a pleasant one to say the least. Maizono was covered in blood, a knife protruding from her abdomen, while she slouched lifelessly against the wall of the shower. It was obvious she had been murdered, no sane person would do that to themselves. But who? The prime suspect pointed to Naegi, but the unconscious boy in his arms had reacted far too surprised to be suspicious, unless he was just that good of an actor. Togami doubted that was true, but he wasn’t going to cross Naegi off his list just yet.

 

“What’s going on…” Kirigiri’s voice came from the doorway behind him. Togami was about to answer with his usual snark when…

 

*Ding dong, bing bong*

 

“A body has been discovered! After a certain amount of time, during which you can use however you like, the class trial will begin! Now since this is the first investigation and trial you will have, please gather in the gym for further explanation,in, actually, right now!” the monitor clicked off after that.

 

“Somebody make sure he gets down there,” Togami said as he removed removed himself from Naegi’s unconscious form, pushing him towards Kirigiri.

 

Brushing off his suit, the blond took one last at the scene and then took his leave. Everyone was quick to gather in the gym, Ogami carrying Naegi and laying him down on the bleachers. Togami kept his distance from the boy, already annoyed at himself for letting Naegi get through the walls he had set in place at the start of all this madness. If killing someone was the only way out, relationships would just hinder him, and he, Togami Byakuya, did not intend to lose.

 

“You’re awake!” Asahina exclaimed, drawing Togami’s focus to where Naegi was trying to sit up.

 

“Why am I in the gym?” the brunet asked.

 

“Monokuma summoned us here, for what, we can only guess,” Togami said with a bored tone.

 

“Wait, Maizono!” Naegi shouted, jumping up and racing to the door.

 

“Don’t bother, she’s dead,” Kirigiri said bluntly, “Hey, where do you think you’re going?”

 

“I have to see for myself! I have to see if Maizono is--! If Maizono is…!”

 

“You can check once, twice, a thousand times. Maizono is completely and irrevocably dead,” Togami bit back.

 

“No! I have to see for myself!” Naegi fought.

 

“Hey man, why do you think you woke up in the gym? You passed out when you found her body,” Owada growled.

 

Naegi looked from face to face, desperately hoping to find some hint of a lie. Finding none, he sunk to his knees in defeat and shock. Before anyone could say anymore, or give any attempt at comfort, Monokuma popped up and started addressing them.

 

“As you all know by now, one of your classmates has died, or more specifically, was murdered,” the bear said, “And the one who killed her is...one of you!”

 

Nobody had a reply for that.

 

“Hmmm? What’s the matter? You guys all look like you’re about to see a dove get shot up with a Gatling gun! Don’t you remember what I told you when this all began? One of you decided to kill Maizono so that you could graduate! Someone’s just following the rules. There’s nothing wrong with that!”

 

“Y-You’re lying...right?” Yamada asked.

 

“Of course he’s lying! I’m telling you, he killed her!” Naegi protested.

 

“Nope, sorry. One of you is a bona fide killer. If they wanted to, the one who did it could testify to that little fact,”

 

Everyone started arguing and questioning the bear after he said those words. Panic spread like fire through a dry forest.

 

“That’s enough,” Togami broke the panic with his stern tone, “Before we do anything else, I’d to confirm something with the stuffed animal here. If one of us really did kill her, that person gets to graduate from the school, right?”

 

“Huh?” Monokuma said.

 

“Don’t play dumb! That’s what you said, isn’t it? If you kill someone, you get to leave!”

 

The bear started cracking up in fits of psychotic laughter at that.

 

“That’s only half of it!” he cackled.

 

“You are referring to rule number six of the school regulations. If you are the ‘blackened’ that committed the murder, you can’t be found out by the other students. That is what you are talking about, is it not?” Celeste inquired.

 

Bingo! It’s not enough to just kill someone. You have to actually get away with it! Which naturally means you need a system in place to assess whether or not it’s been gotten away with! So, a certain amount of time after a murder has taken place, a class trial will begin!During the trial, you'll have to present your arguments about who you think the blackened is. And once everything comes to an end, the outcome will be decided by popular vote! If the answer you've arrived at is correct...only the one that disturbed your peace will be punished. The rest may continue their communal life. However...if you choose poorly...then the one who got away with murder will survive, and the rest of you will receive your punishment. Which of course means your school life will come to an end! As far as class trial rules go...that's all there is to it!”

 

“So, um...what exactly is this ‘punishment’ you keep talking about?” Yamada asked.

 

“Oh, well, to put it simply… It’s execution!”

 

“E-Execution!?” Yamada shouted.

 

“And by execution, you mean…” Fujisaki squeaked.

 

“Execution is… execution. Ex-e-cution! Eletric chair, bzzt bzzt! Poison gas, cough cough! Torn apart like a piece of paper in a hurricane!” Monokuma giddily recited.

 

“W- Wait, hold on a second! You’re freaking insane, you know that!?” Enoshima yelled, “A class trial? What the hell is that!? I don’t want anything to do with it!”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Whaddya mean why not!? Why do I have to waste my time trying to figure out who murdered someone?”

 

“What? Are you saying that you’re not gonna participate in the trial? Only punishment awaits such blasphemy!”

 

“What? Punishment?”

 

“I might… I dunno, throw you in a deep, dark scary prison or something!”

 

“Shut the hell up! Say whatever you want, I’m not gonna be part of this! Kill whoever you want, it’s got nothing to do with me!”

 

“Look honey, if you really wanna get outta here, you’ll have to go through me first!” as he said that, he came charging at us, although it was more of a waddle, but then…

 

“Are you enjoying yourself now?” Enoshima asked, slamming her boot down on the robot’s torso, “Listen here you glorified children’s toy, I’m not doing it. End of story,”

 

“Violence against the headmaster is strictly prohibited! You’ve violated a school regulation… I invoke the mighty summon spell! Help! To me, godly spear Gungnir!”

 

A bright flash of light, a sickening squelching sound, and then a shuddered gasp. When the light faded only silence remained. Enoshima wavered, her body impaled by a number of metal spears, blood gushing out of the entry and exit wounds like a fountain.

 

“...Wh…? Th- this w-wasn’t supposed t-to happ-en,” she choked out before dropping to the floor in a dead heep.

 

“Enoshima!” Naegi shouted, rushing towards her body.

 

“O-o-oh god,” Fukawa gasped out, “S-so m-much bl-blood,” the novelist then darted out of the gym without another word.

 

“Well that was unexpected…” Monokuma said, head tilted to the side as he stared at the door Fukawa had just left through.

 

“Y- you killed her,” Asahina said, staring in disbelief at Enoshima’s still form.

 

“Now you see just how serious I am... Defy me and you get shot full of holes, exploded, buried alive, disintegrated...etcetera. So if you don't want that to happen to you, you'd best obey those school regulations! Anyways none of that matters right now. I have something I’d like to give you to help you in your search for the blackened! This little file has all the information I've gathered about the death in question. I like to call it... The Monokuma File! I mean, naturally you guys aren't experts at this kind of thing, so you can only do so much with a corpse. So instead, I've gathered up everything I know about the circumstances and cause of death,”

 

And just like every time before this, Monokuma disappeared without another word.

 

“Don’t we already know who did it?” Kuwata asked.

 

“What do you mean?” Ogami replied.

 

“Well Maizono’s body was found in Naegi’s room, right? So doesn’t that make him the most likely suspect?”

 

“It does make him suspicious, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the culprit,” Kirigiri said.

 

“But who else besides Naegi could’ve done it? I mean she was found in * his * room,” Hagakure said.

 

“H-Hold on a second! You think I killed her?” Naegi asked, “Why would I do something like that?”

 

“To get out of here,” Celeste stated, “Look at the facts. They do not lean in your favor,”

 

“Then, then I just have to prove it wasn’t me,” Naegi said.

 

“Very well, but no matter if you are or aren’t the killer, we need to something about securing the crime scene,” Kirigiri said.

 

“You’re thinking about putting someone on guard duty so nobody can disturb the area, aren’t you? After all, if the culprit decides to destroy the evidence, we’re pretty much screwed,” Togami responded.

 

“I’ll guard the scene, I don’t think I’ll be much help with an investigation, but I can keep watch,” Ogami offered, “But shouldn’t we have someone else also guard? For extra security, and as a way to keep everyone honest?”

 

“I can do it,” Owada said, “I’m more of an action man, thinking and shit ain’t really my thing,”

 

Ogami and Owada left then, to go stand guard over the crime scene in Naegi’s room.

 

“I would also to propose that someone stay with Naegi, just as a precaution, in case he is the culprit,” Celeste said.

 

“What?” Naegi asked.

 

“As you are the prime suspect right now, I’m inclined to agree with her. I won’t stop you from trying to clear your name, but it would be in everyone’s best interest if you weren’t left alone at this time,” Kirigiri explained.

 

“Fine,” Naegi relented with a sigh, “So who is going to do it?”

 

“I’ll do it,” Fujisaki offered quietly.

 

“Fine,” Kirigiri said, “Are we all done talking? We need to begin our investigation soon. At this point, we should split up. We need to get to the bottom of this and find out who killed Sayaka. We'll have to collect clues to form a foundation, then construct an argument to come to a final decision. If we get this wrong...”

 

Everyone trickled out until only Naegi, Fujisaki, and Hagakure remained.

 

“We should start by reading the Monokuma file,” Naegi said sullenly, "The victim was Sayaka Maizono. The time of death is estimated to be around 1:30 a.m. The body was discovered in Naegi’s room, in the dormitory. All evidence suggests that the death took place in the bathroom. The cause of death was a stab wound to the abdomen. There was also an injury to her right wrist. Specifically, the wrist appears to have suffered a fracture."

 

After reading the file, Naegi was absolutely certain he could clear his name. He just needed to gather evidence to support his claim.

 

“I guess we start with where the body was found,” the boy said more to himself than Fujisaki.

 

The small girl nodded, realizing Naegi was deep in thought and not actually addressing her. She silently followed behind the brunet through the halls of the school and into the living quarters. There were a few people gathered outside Naegi’s room, they didn’t appear to be doing anything that would help with the investigation but they didn’t stop Naegi either, so Fujisaki didn’t question it. Naegi ignored them as he entered his room, bracing himself, mentally, for what he was walking into.

Chapter Text

Ignoring the swirling nausea in his gut Naegi set to work searching for anything that would prove his innocence. The most obvious thing, besides the destruction, was that the sword, which had had originally been placed on top of his dresser, was now laying on the floor separate from its sheath. The sheath also lay on the floor and had a deep scratch in it. Both were clearly missing patches of the gold leaf they had been coated with. Another thing Naegi found odd was that his lint roller was missing a significant number of sheets, and he was positive he had never yet used the thing. When Kirigiri asked him about it, wondering why the floor lacked any trace that someone had been living there, he couldn’t give a answer, only stating that he hadn’t been the one to do so. She also inquired about the bathroom door, curious to know if he knew why it was broken.

 

After explaining that the door wasn’t broken it just didn’t fit into the frame properly and then explained how only he and Maizono were the two people to know about the trick to opening it. This puzzled the lilac haired girl because that hadn’t been what she was asking about. Looking closer after she said that, he found the door handle now hung off kilter. Seeing that Naegi went over to his desk and removed his toolkit, finding it still in it’s original shrink wrap.

 

Knowing it wasn’t enough to just look around the living area of his room, he entered the bathroom with a heavy heart and a determined mind. Fujisaki stuck close by, but Naegi could tell she didn’t want to be there. As he searched the body, careful to still respect Maizono even in death, a few things stood out as unusual, ‘Not that this whole situation isn’t unusual’ Naegi thought. Besides her left index finger, Maizono’s hands were clean, the only sign of the gold leaf was a tiny flake on her right wrist. Said wrist was broken, but how? Pushing that train of thought aside for the moment Naegi continued to examine the body and surrounding area.

 

The knife that protruded from her gut most likely came from the kitchen, he was pretty sure he had seen knives just like that displayed along the back wall. The next most intriguing piece of evidence were the numbers written in blood on the wall behind Maizono’s body, 11037. Asking Fujisaki about them didn’t lead anywhere at first, but after she steeled herself and took a closer a look she turned to Naegi with a huge grin. The programmer told him she knew what the numbers meant, and would tell him once they were away from prying ears, just in case the culprit was listening in. He consented, as there were still other places he needed to check that she would be able to speak to him privately in.

 

Leaving the bathroom, Naegi noticed something he had missed the first time around. His room key lay on the floor, partially hidden by the knocked over table. Tucking that information away for later, Naegi and Fujisaki left Naegi’s room and started to the kitchen. Inside they found Asahina sipping on a cup of tea as they headed to where the knives were displayed.

 

Naegi asked the swimmer if she had seen anything the previous night as she had admitted that she and Ogami had been in the kitchen last night making tea. Unfortunately she didn’t have any useful info to lend to the investigation other than confirming that she hadn’t seen him. He was able to verify that the knife did in fact come from the kitchen though.

 

Next the pair located Yamada, who they had been told was on trash duty that week and thus the only one with access to the trash room. The fanfic creator lead Naegi and Fujisaki to the trash room, unlocking it and following them inside. On the floor next to the incinerator Fujisaki pointed out that there was a burnt end of a white button down shirt, and not too far from that was a broken glass...something. Yamada noted that he found it odd that the incinerator was turned on, because when he had come in last night he had made sure it was turned off before leaving, and hadn’t come back until just now.

 

Naegi thanked the boy for his help and left the trash room, there was still one more thing he wanted to do before the class trial. Making a beeline to Maizono’s room he was again met with the oddity that was his name plate on Maizono’s door. He didn’t know why, but he knew this was going to be pertinent to the solving the case.

 

The room was just as he left it that morning, which unnerved him more than he expected it to. He went straight for the trash bin, recalling seeing what he was looking for there. Finding he was right Naegi plucked the DVD out of the bin and turned to leave the room.

 

Disc in hand, the lucky student set off to his final destination, the A/V room. He had two goals once he got there; watch the video and have Fujisaki tell him what she learned about the numbers on the wall. The room was empty when they arrived, not that that surprised Naegi, what use did anyone else have for going there during an investigation?

 

“So you said you figured out what the numbers meant?” Naegi asked the programmer as they sat down at one of the desks.

 

“Mhmmm, I did. But they aren’t numbers, that’s why I didn’t have any answer for they meant at first. They’re letters, but with how they are written they look like numbers,” she said excitedly.

 

“Letters?”

“Yeah! If you flip it over you can see says ‘L E O N’, the diagonal line of the ‘N’ is almost non-existent, but it’s there. I think she was trying to write out the name of her killer,”

 

“Fujisaki… You’re amazing! That makes so much sense when you look at all the other evidence we found!” Naegi exclaimed, startling the shy girl, “But, why would Kuwata kill Maizono? I thought they were friends? Something doesn’t add up still...”

 

“I don’t know...”

 

“I don’t either, maybe this will tell us something,” he said, inserting the disc into the player.

 

Fujisaki nodded and placed the headphones she had been fidgeting with on so she could listen along with Naegi. The two teens watched the video in silence, too shocked by what they were witnessing to react in any way. At the end of the video the students removed their headphones and sat in stunned silence.

 

“There’s no way this is real. It has to be fake,” Naegi whispered, more so trying to convince himself of his own words than anything else.

 

“With the right resources and technology, it wouldn’t be hard to do that,” Fujisaki confirmed.

 

“You’re not wrong, but at the same time you’re totally wrong,” Monokuma said, appearing behind the duo, “I didn’t falsify any of the videos, all that footage is one hundred percent real,”

 

“It’s all real? What do you mean? How the hell could you have gotten any of that footage?” Naegi demanded.

 

“Puhuhu, a bear’s gotta have some secrets, otherwise you’d all get bored if I told you everything. But if I were you, I’d get focus on the investigation, or not, it’s your choice, but time’s running out,” And then he was gone.

 

“Do you really believe him?” Fujisaki asked.

 

“I don’t know what to believe anymore...” Naegi said honestly.

 

“W-well, I’m not sure I believe him, but I do believe you. I believe that you’ll get us out of here! And I’ll do whatever I can to help!” Fujisaki said firmly. Her sudden burst of confidence sparking something inside of Naegi.

 

“Thanks Fujisaki,” Naegi said with a weak smile, “That means a lot. Is there anything else we need to do before the trial?”

 

“I don’t think so? I mean we could try to figure out what that broken glass was, but other than that, I don’t think there’s anything else we can do,”

 

“Alright, I’m pretty sure I know what the broken glass was, but how it got there, or more accurately how the culprit got it, is what’s bothering me,” Naegi said.

 

“Then let’s go answer that question,” she said with renewed vigor.

 

They left the A/V room to go find the person who Naegi suspected would recognize the bits of broken glass. If he remembered correctly, said person hadn’t left the gym, claiming to not know what to do help with the investigation.

 

“Hagakure,” Naegi addressed the older male, causing him to jump as he was startled back to reality, “Do you have a minute?”

 

“Ah! Naegi! Where’d you come from?” Hagakure yelped.

 

“The door… But that’s beside the point, do you have a minute?” Naegi asked again.

 

“Y- Yeah, whatdya need?”

 

“Do you recognize this?” Naegi said, pulling out the fragments of broken glass.

 

The clairvoyant inspected the shards, thinking they looked familiar. A few seconds later recognition dawned on him.

 

“Hey! That’s my crystal ball! Or, it was,” Hagakure said, “Why’s it broken?”

 

“It was found on the floor of the trash room,” Fujisaki said.

 

“Huh? How’d it get there? I thought I left it in the laundry room? But when I went back to get it, it was gone,”

 

“So you left it in the laundry room last night?” Naegi clarified.

 

“Yeah?” Hagakure said, confused by what was going on.

 

“Thank you Hagakure, I think I just figured everything out,” Naegi said.

 

Ding dong, bing bong

 

“Erm, so ah...I'm getting tired of waiting. What say we just get started, hm? It's time for the long-awaited Class Trial! Now then, allow me to appoint a proper location for the proceedings. Please go through the red door on the 1st floor of the school! Puhuhu. See you soon!” Monokuma announced over the monitors.

 

“I guess it’s time,” Naegi sighed.

 

“Are you ready?” Fujisaki inquired.

 

“I have to be, I guess. I don’t want to believe one of our friends would murder someone, but… I don’t want to risk everyone’s life just because I refuse to accept the truth,”

 

“I don’t want to believe it either, but we don’t have much of a choice,”

 

“No, we don’t,” Naegi replied, glancing to where Enoshima’s body still lay.

 

All he could do now was hope that everyone would believe him.He knew he wasn’t the culprit, and now he could prove it. But whether or not the others would listen… that was another story. At least he had one person on his side, Fujisaki didn’t seem like the type to turn on him. They exited the gym and made their way to the red door. Pushing it open they found they were the last to arrive.

 

“Naegi, Fujisaki, Hagakure, you’re late,” Ishimaru stated, annoyed at their tardiness.

 

“Oh, sorry,” Naegi apologized, though not really meaning it.

 

“Hmph, I bet y-you were afraid you would be discovered as th-the murderer you are...” Fukawa sneered at him.

 

“Let’s not jump to conclusions just yet! Save that for the class trial! There we can all reveal the details of Naegi’s crime!” Ishimaru shouted.

 

‘So they really are convinced I did it… But I didn’t… And I’m almost positive I know who did… But how can I convince everyone else?’

 

“Puhuhu... Is everyone here? Okay then... Please board the elevator in front of you, which will transport you to the courtroom...where all your fates will be decided. Puhu. I'll meet you all down there. I'll be waiting...” Monokuma said, popping up briefly to say what he needed to say before he disappeared just as quick as he came.

 

Nobody said anything as they all got into the elevator, a heavy silence hanging over them. The rattle of the grate and scraping of metal on concrete filled the air. Filling the space with dread as the metal box descended down into the depths of the earth. After what felt like hours the elevator shuddered to a halt. The door raised to a room that truly did resemble a court room. Sixteen podiums, each labeled with someone’s name, were arranged in a circle. At the back of the room sat Monokuma, placed on a large chair behind the only unlabeled podium. The most morbid thing about the whole set-up was that at two of the podiums were black and white photographs of the two girls who had died.

 

“Let's begin with a basic explanation of the class trial! So, your votes will determine the results. If you can figure out "whodunnit" then only they will receive punishment. But if you pick the wrong one... then I'll punish everyone *besides* the blackened, and the one that deceived everyone else will graduate!” Monokuma explained.

 

“Before we get started, can I ask a quick question?” Kirigiri said, eyeing Monokuma, “What’s going on with...those pictures?”

 

“I’d feel awful if they got left out just because they died. Friendship penetrates even death’s barrier!”

 

“Okay, but what about that other empty seat? There were only fifteen of us to begin with, so why are there sixteen seats?” Celeste asked.

 

“Oh, no reason. It’s just that our little court room here can technically fit up to sixteen people. Okay, that about does it for the preamble. Get ready to get started! Now let the class trial...begin!”

 

So how do we start this?” Asahina asked.

 

“Don’t we already know who did it? It was Naegi, right? So what’s the point of this trial?” Kuwata argued.

 

“Can you prove it was Naegi?” Togami asked.

 

“Actually the only thing that connects Naegi to the murder is the fact that Maizono’s body was found in his bathroom, other than that there is no evidence that points to Naegi being the culprit,” Kirigiri said.

 

“Maybe we should start with discussing the murder weapon,” Ogami suggested, “It was a kitchen knife, was it not?”

 

“Yes, it was, so we can determine who the culprit is by looking at who went to the kitchen last night,” Celeste said.

 

“Asahina, you said you were in the kitchen with Ogami last night, are you sure you didn’t see anyone else come in?” Naegi asked.

 

“If y-you two were in the k-kitchen last night then why couldn’t y-you have done it?” Fukawa accused.

 

“Because I was with Sakura all last night! We have alibis!” Asahina retorted.

 

“That doesn’t mean you couldn’t have been working together,” Celeste said.

 

“Speaking of which, I’d like to ask the bear...if there * is * an accomplice, do they also become ‘blackened’?” Togami interjected.

 

“So you ask, and so I shall answer! Each murder is allowed to have an accomplice, but only the one who does the killing will get to graduate,” Monokuma supplied.

 

“So in other words, two people can work together, but one of them has no chance at profiting from it...” Kirigiri mused.

 

“Then there’s no way anyone would work together, right…?” Owada asked.

 

“I don’t think there’s an accomplice...” Fujisaki said.

 

“Uggh, good grief! Enough already! No, okay! There are no accomplices in this case! ...Oops! Did I say that out loud...?” Monokuma said, ending that train of discussion.

 

“Anyways… Just for clarification…. Sakura is?” Hagakure asked.

 

“Me,” Ogami stated bluntly.

 

“You were with Ogre last night? Is that even allowed?” Hagakure blubbered.

 

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Asahina asked.

 

“A boy and a girl spending the night together!? It’s… it’s….unwholesome!” Ishimaru complained.

 

“I’m a girl,” Ogami replied dryly.

 

“Oh...” was all Hagakure and Ishimaru had to say to that.

 

“Moving on…” Kirigiri said.

 

“So if it wasn’t either of you, then what other possibility is there?” Celeste asked.

 

“Actually, there * is * one other possibility. Right, Hina?” Ogami prompted.

 

“Oh yeah, that’s true! One other person did come to the kitchen while we were there,” Asahina chirped.

 

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Togami snapped.

 

“Well, because...they’re not here anymore… Maizono. She’s the one who came to the kitchen. And then later...she wound up dead...”

 

“Then… Maizono is the one who took the knife?” Naegi asked.

 

“That's the only possibility. And thinking back on it, she was acting kind of unusual... When she came into the kitchen, she didn't even look at us. As she left, she said she just wanted a drink of water. But most likely...” Ogami didn’t finish her thought.

 

“But why would Maizono need a knife?” Ishimaru queried.

 

“Because she was planning doing the killing, but in the end her plan backfired,” Kirigiri said.

 

“She what?!” Yamada exclaimed.

 

“Knowing that she was the one to take the knife makes this note I found make much more sense,”

 

“What note?” Togami sneered.

 

“This,” Kirigiri held up a piece of paper on which she had shaded over the entire page to reveal the imprint of a note, Maizono’s signature clear as day at the bottom.

 

“So she was the one to switch the name plates,” the heir said.

 

“Wait, what? The name plates were switched?” Owada asked.

 

“Yes, I assume she was going to kill whoever this note was intended for, then change the name plates back so she could frame it on Naegi,” Kirigiri detailed.

 

“Even if she had succeeded in the murder, the rest of the plan would have failed. I saw Naegi leaving Maizono’s room this morning,” Togami said.

 

“So who was the note for?” Hagakure asked.

 

“That’s what we have to figure out,”

 

“Wait a minute, if the killer thought they were in Maizono’s room, that would actually explain why the handle to my bathroom was tampered with,” Naegi said.

 

“What does that mean?” Ishimaru asked.

 

“Because the killer would have thought that they were in a girl’s room and only the girl’s bathrooms have locks, mine is just kinda broken. Only Maizono and myself knew about how to open the door, the killer would have just thought it was locked,”

 

“So whoever killed her thought they killed her in her own room...” Hagakure said.

 

“But there’s more to it, whoever it was didn’t want anyone to know they had been there and tried to erase any evidence of themselves form the room. They almost got away with it, if it weren’t for the message Maizono left behind,”

 

“You mean the numbers on the wall behind her body?” Kirigiri inquired.

 

“Yes, but they aren’t numbers, they’re letters,” Fujisaki said.

 

“Letters?” Yamada asked.

 

“Yes, letters, that spell out the first name of Maizono’s killer,” Naegi confirmed.

 

“I see, if you rotate them 180 degrees, it becomes clear,” Kirigiri said in understanding.

 

“Mhmmm, they very clearly spell ‘L-E-O-N’,” Naegi nodded.

 

“Th- That doesn’t mean anything!” Kuwata argued.

 

“Not by itself, no,” Naegi agreed, “But when you look at everything, including the evidence we found in the trash room, it couldn’t have been anyone but you,”

 

“Oh yeah? D- Do you have any idea how stupid you sound right now?”

 

“Let’s go over everything and we’ll if you’re still saying that at the end,” Naegi began, “After Maizono and I switched rooms she went to the kitchen to get the knife, the last thing she needed to go through her murder plan. She then sent her target a note, stating that they should come to her room, which is why she switched the name plates. Unfortunately things didn’t go according to plan, the culprit ended up fighting back, using the replica sword as a form of defense. In the struggle Maizono’s wrist got injured at which point she retreated to the bathroom. Seeing their opportunity the killer picked up the knife that Maizono had dropped and moved to the bathroom but found they couldn’t get it open. Thinking it was actually Maizono’s room they set about removing the handle to remove the lock that was never there. Maizono didn’t have anywhere else to run, the killer had her cornered in the shower, that’s where they stabbed the knife into her gut.

 

“When they finished that they left the bathroom and proceeded to remove any trace that they had ever been in the room, too bad for them they had gotten some blood on their shirt. Which is why they had to get rid of it. They found Hagakure’s crystal ball sitting on the table in the laundry room. Using that they were able to hit the button to turn on the incinerator and then dispose of the shirt, but they didn’t stick around to see that not all of the shirt was burned to ash. I don’t think anyone else here is capable of hitting that switch from that distance, not unless they happened to be the Ultimate Baseball Star,” Naegi concluded.

 

“I’m not the killer! These goddamn shit-for-brains have got it all wrong! I’m telling you!” Kuwata screamed.

“You still won’t admit it? Then could you tell us where your toolkit is?”

 

“And if you say you used it for something else, you’ll have to explain exactly when, where and why… And let me say this right now, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I lost it’ isn’t an excuse at this point,” Togami said.

 

Kuwata began sputtering some nonsense, garbled sounds and syllables mixing together in an attempt to formulate some for of an answer. All eyes were focused on the red head as he fell deeper and deeper into his own grave.

 

“Looks like you've reached your verdict! Then are we ready to cast our votes? You all have a lever in front of you. Use it to make your selection! Oh and just to remind you all… Make triple sure you vote for someone! You wouldn’t want to be punished for something so minor, right? Okay! Then let’s get excited! Who will be chosen as the blackened? Will you make the right choice, or the dreadfully wrong one?” Monokuma asked, the gleeful edge to his tone not helping anyone’s nerves.

 

Naegi stared down at the lever for a moment, with a forlorn sigh he selected Kuwata from the list, all while a small part of him still hoping this was a bad dream and he would wake up in his bed at home. Seconds ticked by as everyone input their vote, no doubt in anyone's mind that they would reach a majority. When the results appeared, Kuwata's image filled the screen.

Chapter Text

“Uh-oh! Looks like you got it right on the money! The blackened in this case, the one that killed Maizono...was none other than Kuwata Leon!” Monokuma announced.

 

“H-Hold on a second...” Kuwata tried to protest.

 

“Kuwata…. Kuwata, did you really...kill Maizono?” Naegi asked.

 

“I don’t believe it,” Asahina gasped.

 

“Son of a bitch…! What the hell is wrong with you!?” Owada growled.

 

“I-I didn’t have a choice… It was kill or be killed! S-So that’s why… I killed her first. None of you are any different! One wrong step, and you’d be the one standing here! It was complete chance that I wound up like this! I was just...unlucky! That’s all...” Kuwata argued. Owada could only growl in irritation, words no longer a viable response.

 

“H-Hey, come on…! You expect me to just accept my death!?”

 

No one said anything, they didn’t have to. They all just stared at the red head, not one gaze held any sympathy as he pleaded that he did it only to keep himself alive.

 

“Now then! Since you so magnificently revealed the identity of the killer during the class trial...the blackened, Kuwata Leon, will receive his punishment!” Monokuma said.

 

“P-Punishment? You mean...e-execution? W-Wait a second! I didn’t have a choice! I HAD to kill her! Y-Yeah, that’s it! I was just protecting myself in the heat of the moment! It was self-defense!” Kuwata shouted.

 

“How, exactly, was it self-defense?” Celeste asked, “When you forced your way into the bathroom, did you or did you not use your very own toolkit? After she’d shut herself in the bathroom, you went out of your way to head back to your own room, then you came all the way back, broke into the bathroom, and killed her. Am I wrong? You had a number of chances to stop what you were doing. But you chose not to. Is it not because you had an unclouded intent to commit murder?”

 

“N-No! That’s not…!” Kuwata started to protest but was cut off.

 

“Stop it… I’ve had enough of this,” Naegi said.

 

“Oh? Are you sure? You were closer to her than anyone, were you not? He killed your precious Maizono. Do you understand?” Celeste pressed.

 

“I can’t say Kuwata is solely to blame. Of course, I don’t plan on blaming Maizono either. Because… Because the one to blame...is him!” Naegi pointed accusingly at Monokuma, “If it weren’t for you, this never would have happened to Maizono, OR Kuwata! We shouldn’t be fighting each other… We should be fighting against the one who put us in this situation! The mastermind!”

 

“Uh-oh! Did you awaken your sense of justice?” Monokuma snickered, “Oh, well, anyway. More importantly…! Let’s hurry up and get to what everyone’s been waiting for! The punishment!”

 

“I’m begging you…! Please, don’t do this!” Kuwata was near tears, hands clasped together in a prayer.

 

“No more begging! No more excuses! You must pay the penalty for breaking the rules! Society demands it! Now then, I’ve prepared a very special punishment for Kuwata Leon, the Ultimate Baseball Star! Let’s give it everything we’ve got! It’s… PUNISHMENT TIIIME!” Monokuma cheered, bringing down a gavel on a large red button, starting a horrifying chain of events.

 

Kuwata tried to run, racing to the elevator, only to be intercepted by a metal chain shooting out from the back wall. The collar at the end clamped around the baseball star’s neck, and then lurched him backwards, dragging his kicking body into a dark passage way. Next to the panel Kuwata disappeared through, the wall opened up to reveal a...batting cage?

 

“Please proceed to the viewing area,” Monokuma instructed.

 

After what had happened to Enoshima, no one was eager to go against the bear. They all filed into the next room, while doing so Naegi found himself standing next to Togami. He couldn’t understand why he kept finding himself drawn to the blond teen, but he felt safe around him, or something, he wasn’t entirely sure and now wasn’t the time to dwell on it.

 

Looking at the scene before them, it was clear this wasn’t going to be a ‘normal’ execution. Kuwata was chained to a post in the middle of the cage, his hands clawed in vain at the restraint around his neck. In front of him, a pitching machine. It started out slow, a few baseballs being launched at the red head, then… then it sped up. The machine was soon firing baseballs at inhuman speeds, circling around the post to hit Kuwata from every angle.

 

As this was happening Kirigiri took a moment to observe those around her. Asahina had her face tucked behind Ogami’s arm, not daring to watch. Fujisaki and Fukawa had their faces hidden in their hands, while Celeste looked on with bored disinterest. Yamada and Hagakure stared with wide-eyed shock, occasionally one would make a whimpering sound. What shocked her was Ishimaru and Owada. Ishimaru was standing behind Owada discreetly hiding his gaze and at every painfully loud crack of a baseball hitting Kuwata would he inch closer to the biker. Owada had adjusted his stance so he was blocking more of Ishimaru’s line of sight. Moving on from that pair, Kirigiri turned her focus to the pair closest to her, a ghost of a smirk twitched at the corners of her mouth. Togami had one hand resting on Naegi’s back, holding the smaller boy close as the execution drew to a close, no outward emotions relayed through his features though. Naegi, on the other hand, looked close to being sick, if it hadn’t been for Togami, it was unlikely the boy would still be standing.

 

At the end Kuwata’s body hung limply, held up only by the chains tying him to the post. For all intents and purposes, the best way to describe what had just happened, was that the baseball star had been stoned to death, just with baseballs instead of stones. Despair clung to every breath taken as the remaining students returned to the trial room.

 

“What’s wrong? You guys all look like you’ve never seen someone die before,” Monokuma teased.

 

Those words finally caused something to snap inside Naegi. He lunged forward, or tried to, fist raised to attack. But an arm around his waist held him back from actually following through in his assault of the robotic bear.

 

“Don’t, he’s not worth it. He’s just trying to egg you on,” Kirigiri said while Togami kept him in place.

 

Naegi dropped his fist, he knew she was right, even if the urge to smash Monokuma’s face in was still there, it wasn’t worth it. Pulling away from Togami, he turned and made his way to the elevator, he just wanted to go lock himself in his room and sleep for the rest of the day. He didn’t want to be around people anymore, he barely wanted to be around himself, but he couldn’t do anything about that. The others followed after him. No words were exchanged as the elevator returned them to the first floor of the school.

 

No one stopped him as he exited the metal box, no one stopped him as he continued ahead to the dorms. He entered his room alone, and locked the door, not wanting to be disturbed for the rest of the day. He flopped down onto the bed, staring blankly at the ceiling.

 

Naegi didn’t know how long he laid there, the nighttime announcement came and went, yet he was still awake long after. Eventually sleep won him over, and the next thing he knew, his doorbell was ringing nonstop. Groaning in sleepy frustration, Naegi pulled himself to his feet and shuffled over to his door. He really didn’t want to deal with anyone just yet, but he also didn’t want to be a dick...so against his better interest he opened the door.

 

“Naegi! You’re okay!” Asahina said brightly.

 

“Yeah… Why wouldn’t I be?” he replied, rubbing sleep from his mossy green eyes.

 

“Well...you missed breakfast, and lunch… So...” she answered.

 

“What!? What time is it!?”

 

“It’s about two o’clock,” Ogami said from where she stood behind Asahina, almost like a body guard.

 

“Holy crap! Shit, I didn’t mean to sleep that long!” Naegi said, panic bubbling up in his chest.

 

“It’s okay, everybody understood, it’s just, we thought you should know,” Asahina hesitated, words faltering at the end of her sentence.

 

“Monokuma has opened the second floor of the school,” Ogami provided the rest of what the swimmer was going to say.

 

“What really?” Naegi asked, almost not believing them, but knowing they had nothing to gain from lying about this.

 

“Yeah, you should go check it out! There’s a bunch of cool stuff! Oh, and we’re all going to meet for dinner to discuss what we found,” Asahina said excitedly.

 

“Ah, alright, let me just get ready and I’ll, uh, go check it out,” Naegi said.

 

Ogami nodded and turned away, Asahina following after her, waving good-bye as she trotted off. Naegi returned the gesture and went to get changed and go through his normal morning routine, even though it was two in the afternoon. Not really feeling up to putting much effort into how he looked, Naegi decided it was a good day to wear sweat pants and a t-shirt. Ishimaru might give him an earful about it, but he honestly couldn’t find himself caring. After yesterday he felt he deserved a day to be comfortable. With that thought in mind Naegi left his room, locking the door as usual, and headed to the second floor of the school. Along the way he noticed the bath house had been opened up, ‘It might be nice to relax in a hot bath later tonight,’ he mused as he walked by.

 

The nurse’s office was still closed off, but he figured if someone truly needed medical help it would be provided, ‘So long as it doesn’t interfere with a murder,’ he thought bitterly. As he approached the stairs to the second floor voices floated down to where stood, clearly angry, judging by the gruff shouting he could hear. Climbing the stairs, Naegi didn’t know what to expect when he reached the top. And for some reason seeing Togami and Owada having a stare down while Fujisaki was crying quietly and Ishimaru was sprawled out on the floor, wasn’t the most concerning thing he could have run into.

 

“Uh… What’s going on?” Naegi inquired, drawing four sets of eyes to where he stood.

 

“This bastard thinks this whole thing is a goddamn game! Fucker going after Fujisaki, saying she’s the weakest link! Thinks he’s gonna win,” Owada snarled, fists clenched to the point of white knuckles.

 

Naegi figured there was more to the matter than that, but wasn’t sure if he should push it with tensions so high strung. Choosing not to press his luck, ironic considering he was the ‘Ultimate Lucky Student’, the brunet stepped over to Fujisaki to see if she was okay. Togami scoffed at the situation but dropped the matter and walked into the room behind him. Naegi watched him go, part of him wanting to after the blond, but he sensed the taller boy needed his space at the moment.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked Fujisaki.

 

“I guess,” she said, accepting his hand to help her up.

 

“Okay, if you’re sure… I’m gonna go look around some more, but if you wanna talk later, we can,” he offered.

 

Fujisaki gave him a weak smile and nodded her head in agreement of the suggestion.

 

“You guys going to be alright?” he asked Owada and Ishimaru.

 

They said they would be, both avoiding eye contact with the other. Naegi nodded, and left them to their own business as he went to wander the second floor.

 

At the end where he came up from there was an off-shoot that lead to a set of locker rooms, each with a scanner by the door. Apparently he needed to scan his handbook to get inside and if he tried to get into the girls’ locker rooms, well… the Gatling gun would see to it that he never saw the inside of them. Beyond that was an Olympic sized pool, that was probably what Asahina had been so excited about. Back in the hallway the next thing he found was bathrooms, nothing special about those. Then another off-shoot that lead to another gated stairway and across from that, a classroom. He bypassed the door Togami disappeared through, not ready to deal with that just yet. The far end of the floor held another classroom, again nothing special.

 

Soon enough Naegi found himself standing in front of a set of double doors leading to the library, if the plaque next to the doors was to be believed. Taking a shaky breath, he opened the door and was thrown off by how dark the room was. The only significant source of light appeared to be the desk lamp that sat on the table in the middle of the room. Togami sat at the table, book in hand, but his eyes were locked onto Naegi. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t have to, his expression said it all, ‘Get out if you value your life.’ The icy chill it sent up Naegi’s spine almost had the brunet turning tail and running, but he stood his ground and stepped further into the room.

 

“Are you okay?” Naegi asked, not knowing what else to say.

 

“Clearly,” was all the reply Naegi received.

 

“What was that with Owada? I know the guy has a short fuse, but… it seemed there was more to it than that…?”

 

“It was as he said. This is nothing more than an elaborate game, one that I intend to win, by any means necessary. If that upsets you, then you’re just as naive as that girl. You may believe otherwise, you may think there’s some other way to escape this prison, but at the end of the day, the only way out is murder. What side of that you’re on is up to you. Don’t get the wrong idea, that we’re friends,” he spat the word out as if it were acid on his tongue, “You are nothing more than an obstacle in my path,” Togami finished, a fierce conviction burning in his eyes.

 

“You’re wrong. That can’t be the only way out. If we work together I know we can get out of here, all of us,” Naegi argued.

 

Togami merely scoffed at the brunet’s outburst, not deeming worthy of a verbal response. He returned his attention back to the book in his hand, effectively ending the conversation. Naegi stared at the blond, wanting to say something, anything, but nothing felt appropriate. He stood there for another two or three minutes before Togami spoke once more.

 

“If you are done here, please leave, your presence is doing little to improve the already dull atmosphere,”

 

Naegi had no reply for that, and so did as he was told. On his way back to the dorms his thoughts were consumed by the Ultimate Affluent Progeny; ‘How could someone so handsome, so gorgeously attractive, be so ugly in their personality? Was this how Togami always was, or was this just a facade he had created to protect himself during their imprisonment? If this was how he truly was, why did he hold me back from attacking Monokuma? Wouldn’t it have benefited him more to let me follow in Enoshima’s footsteps? Why had he offered me comfort during the execution?’, Naegi doubted Togami knew he had done so, the blond would most likely be much colder to the brunet if he knew. ‘But… it felt so natural… like we had done that before,’

 

These thoughts continued to plague the small boy as he wandered back to his room. He didn’t know what to do, there was still a few– oh, no, looking at the time in his handbook he found it to be already six o’clock. ‘I guess that’s not that surprising since I woke up so late,’

 

Leaving his room and going to the dining hall to meet up with the others was a short trip. Everyone except Togami was present. Fujisaki was seated between Owada and Ishimaru, almost like they were her personal body guards, though she looked some what uncomfortable with that fact.

 

“Uh, hey…?” he greeted awkwardly.

 

“Naegi! There you are! You doin’ alright, man?” Hagakure asked, pulling the younger teen over to the table.

 

“Ah, yeah, I guess…”

 

“Excellent! Then let us begin our meeting!” Ishimaru declared, “As we all know the second floor has been opened up to us. But not only that, the bath house and the warehouse have also been opened to us as well. And the warehouse is chock-full of food, clothes, whatever you want. There’s so much it’s insane! So go ahead and stuff yourself to the gills whenever you feel like! Ha-ha!”

 

“Keep in mind, of course, that going out at nighttime is still prohibited. Please do not forget...” Celeste reminded.

 

“Okay, and what about a fuckin’ way out of here? You find anything like that?” Owada barked.

 

“Oh, well...umm...” Ishimaru’s enthusiasm was quickly shot down.

 

“There wasn’t anything in the warehouse we could use to get our asses outta here? Nothin’?”

 

“U-Unfortunately, no… not that I saw…”

 

“You fuckin’ people… Who gives a shit if we have a goddamn pool now!? Or a warehouse, or whatever the fuck! We’re still trapped in this piece of shit school! We need to find a goddamn way OUT!” Owada yelled, face turning red in rage.

 

“For now, let’s just continue our investigation, and let everyone know if you should discover something...” Ishimaru said softly, looking defeated.

 

“I did find a laptop in the library...” Fujisaki said, drawing all eyes to her.

 

“And? Did it work? Was there anything on it?” Kirigiri pressed, more aggressively than anyone had seen her be up to that point.

 

“Well, no… But I took it back to my room, I think I might be able to fix it...” the programmer answered quickly.

 

“Get on that, and update us when you make any progress, that could be the key to getting us out of here,”

 

Fujisaki nodded. No one else had anything to add that was deemed useful, so they ended the meeting and dispersed into the school for the remaining hours before nighttime. Naegi remained in the dining hall, planning on locating some sort of sustenance to keep him going. Entering the kitchen and going straight to the fridge, Naegi found himself staring at the well stocked shelves for longer than a normal person would have.

 

“Are you really that brainless that you can’t even decide what to eat on your own?” a snarky voice quipped from behind Naegi.

 

“Wha? Oh, Togami, sorry, did you want something?” Naegi asked, turning to face the other occupant of the room. Too mentally distracted to fully understand what the blond had said.

 

“No,”

 

“Then… why are you here?” Naegi tilted his head to the side as he asked.

 

“This is a public space, is it not? Am I not allowed to come and go as I please?”

 

“You are… It’s just… I don’t know,” Naegi was utterly thrown by the heir’s response, how was he supposed to reply to that? “I’m just… going to go…”

 

Naegi scurried out of the kitchen, grabbing a muffin as he went. Togami confused him to no end. The blond claimed that he didn’t care for anyone here, yet he seemed to keep finding excuses to talk to the lucky student. And Naegi, while he wanted to get close and be friends with the other, every time he talked with him… well, he wasn’t sure if his mentality could continue the constant onslaught of insults and bluntness. He let out a sigh as he left the dining hall, not wanting to stick around for when Togami took his leave. He decided he would go check on Fujisaki, after what had happened earlier with Togami, Owada, and Ishimaru, and then Kirigiri making her demands, he wanted to make sure the girl was okay. After ringing the doorbell, Naegi finished off the last bite of his muffin while he waited. He was swallowing the last bit when the door cracked open.

 

“Ah, Naegi,” she greeted, “Did you need something?”

 

“Not really, I just wanted to make sure you okay after...everything,” he replied.

 

“Mmm, yeah, I’m okay. Do you wanna come in for a little bit? It might be more comfortable than standing here,”

 

“Uh, sure,”

 

Fujisaki pulled her door open fully so Naegi could enter. Closing it, she returned to her desk, sitting down in the plush office chair. Not seeing anywhere else to sit Naegi perched himself on the edge of the bed, angling himself so he was facing Fujisaki after taking a look around the room.

 

“Is that the laptop you found?” he asked, gesturing to the computer resting on her desk.

 

“Mhmmm,”

 

“Have you figured out if you can fix it yet?” he realized it was a stupid question as he asked it, she had only just gotten it today, so any progress would be minimal.

 

“I think I can, it’ll take some time, but I know I can do it,” her response was excited and optimistic.

 

“Well, if anyone can do it, it’s you,”

 

Fujisaki blushed at that, rosy patches lighting up her cheeks. She turned back to the computer and tinkered with it for a few minutes before speaking again.

 

“Can I ask you something?” she said it so softly Naegi almost didn’t hear her.

 

“Of course, anything,”

 

“What’s it like being able to see colours?”

 

“Oh,” Naegi hadn’t been expecting a question like that, “Well, I can’t really describe it… At first it was a little distracting, but I haven’t really thought about it all that much. I mean it would nice if I remembered who my soulmate was, but… I almost wish I couldn’t see colours… It’s just another thing to worry about while we’re stuck in here,”

 

“Hmmm, do you think it’s possible your soulmate could be one of the others who… y’know? Sees colours?”

 

“Maizono thought that, but I’m not sure… If they are, that would almost be worse because I would constantly be worrying about them,”

 

“Do you want it to be one of them?” Fujisaki asked.

 

“Maybe? I don’t know…”

 

“Well, if you could pick, who would you want it to be?”

 

“I don’t know, maybe Asahina, I think we’d get along pretty well. But I kinda feel like she and Ogami might be soulmates? A small part of me wants it to be Togami...”

 

“Togami?” the question wasn’t accusatory, simply curious.

 

“Well, I mean, he’s definitely not bad on the eyes, though his personality leaves some to be desired. I just feel like there’s something about him...” Naegi trailed off, not finishing the thought, “What about you? Ignoring the fact that some of us have met our soulmate, who would you want it to be?”

 

“Um, I haven’t really thought about it much… It’s not like it matters anyway, but I guess, maybe, Owada?”

 

“Owada? Really?” Naegi was more surprised than anything at the confession.

 

“Y-Yeah, I just feel like he’s someone who wouldn’t judge me, and he could help me get stronger,” she explained.

 

“You want to get stronger? Why don’t you use the locker rooms? I noticed a bunch of workout stuff in them,”

 

“I… uh, I’m not really that confident with doing that on my own...” Fujisaki confessed.

 

“I’m sure there’s someone who would be willing to help you,” Naegi said with a comforting smile.

 

They fell into a comfortable silence, Naegi watched as the programmer fiddled with the laptop, doing what she could to try to get it to work again.

 

“Hey Naegi?” she suddenly asked.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’m really glad I met you. I, I don’t make friends easily, but I feel like I can trust you. And if we’re going to be stuck in here for the unforeseeable future, it might get weird only using our family names, so if you want you can call me Chihiro,”

 

“I’m really glad I met you too. You’re a really fun person to talk to, and I completely agree about the name thing, so feel free to call me Makoto,” Naegi said with a happy grin.

 

Before Chihiro could reply the nighttime announcement played, signaling that it was ten o’clock.

 

“I guess I should go, don’t stay up all night working in the laptop, you still need to sleep too,” Naegi said as he stood up.

 

“I won’t. I’ll see you at breakfast,” she said as they walked to the door.

 

“Of course! See you then Chihiro,” Naegi said as he left the girls’ room.

 

He returned to his own room, locking the door behind him, and walked over to his dresser to find a clean pair of sleep pants and underwear. Changing quickly, the brunet was pleasantly surprised to find that he was actually tired, considering how late he had slept the night before. After turning off the light he crawled into bed and drifted off into a peaceful slumber.

Chapter Text

He awoke to the morning announcement, feeling refreshed for once. Getting dressed in a pair of black skinny jeans, a moss green t-shirt, and the uniform blazer, once again forgoing the hoodie. Brushing his teeth and attempting to tame his hair didn’t take all that long, and a short while later Naegi was walking into the dining hall.

 

He greeted everyone who was already there and sat down in his usual seat to wait for the few that were taking their time to get ready. He watched Celeste and Yamada chat idly, while Asahina and Ogami discussed the best workouts for a particular muscle group. When Fujisaki scampered in, Ishimaru stood up to begin the meeting, even though Togami and Fukawa were both absent.

 

“Wait, what about Togami and Fukawa?” Naegi asked, “Shouldn’t we wait for them before we start?”

 

“Yesterday Togami expressed his great displeasure to continue working with us, I don’t think he’ll be attending the morning meetings anymore,” Ishimaru informed him.

 

“But what about Fukawa?”

 

“Don’t really care if crazy pants shows her face or not, not like she cares about any of us anyways,” Owada shrugged.

 

Naegi didn’t know where to begin with a response to that, so he remained silent. Ishimaru ran through his usual spiel and when he finished everyone went their separate ways.

 

As he munched on the granola bar he snagged, Naegi meandered through the halls, not knowing what to do. His wondering eventually lead him to Fujisaki’s room, but as he was about to ring the doorbell a voice stopped him.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“Oh, Kirigiri,I was just going to see how Fujisaki was doing,” Naegi said.

 

“You really shouldn’t be distracting her while she’s working,” Kirigiri reprimanded.

 

“I wasn’t going to distract her,” Naegi protested.

 

Kirigiri just quirked an eyebrow, as if to say ‘Really?’. Naegi didn’t want to fight with the girl so he let it drop, turning away from Fujisaki’s door with a sigh. Kirigiri must have expected him to argue or put up some level of fight as she appeared to relax when he retreated to his own room. He ended up doodling in his notepad until he was interrupted by his own doorbell ringing.

 

“Fukawa?” he queried, stunned to see the reclusive girl at his door, “What’s the matter?”

 

“Why are you s-so surprised? Am I really that an-noying? W-Well I already know I’m annoying. I came here kn-knowing that, so...that makes it o-okay...” she scowled as she pushed her way into his room.

 

“No, you’re not annoying… I was just wondering what was going on,”

 

“I have a f-f-favour to ask… I want you to g-go somewhere with me...” she forced out.

 

“And...where is it you want to go?”

 

“I want you t-to go to the l-library with me,” she was alarmingly forceful as she dragged him out of his room without waiting for a reply. She pulled him all the way to the library before releasing her hold on his forearm. They were crouched, hiding behind one of the oak shelves, just out of sight of the table in the center.

 

“G-Go talk to to him,” Fukawa ordered, pushing Naegi out towards the table where Togami sat, illuminated by a desk lamp and reading a book while drinking his coffee.

 

If Naegi had known this was what Fukawa had needed him for, he would have refused; he really should have asked for more details, not that he had the chance, but still… All he wanted to do was turn around and run back to his room, but he wasn’t sure he could get passed Fukawa. Not seeing any other choice, the short boy approached the table. He had no idea what he was going to say or do, and luckily for him, his title of ‘Ultimate Lucky Student’ paid off. Just not in the most positive way.

 

“What are you doing here?” Togami snapped, not looking up from his book.

 

“Um, well...” Naegi started.

 

“Not you, her,” Togami was now glaring at where Fukawa was poking her head out, “I can smell you all the way over here, it’s disgusting. Get our before your stench permeates the furniture, and go do everyone a favour by bathing,”

 

Naegi couldn’t tell if she was upset or not at the blond as she scurried away, not even trying to stand up for herself.

 

“You don’t have to be a jerk to everyone, y’know,” Naegi said, feeling sorry for Fukawa.

 

“As if I care what a commoner like you thinks,” Togami snipped.

 

Naegi was getting tired of Togami’s constant degradation of everyone, “Look, I don’t care what personal problems you’ve got, but I, nor anyone else for that matter, have done anything to earn this kind of treatment from you. Just because you’re some rich boy outside of here doesn’t mean shit right now. Your money can’t help you now, maybe if you actually did something helpful we could get out of here. But you are choosing not to, so just back off okay?” by the end of his little rant Naegi was more worked up than he thought he would be.

 

He didn’t bother sticking around to hear the reply, it would probably some scathing remark about his intelligence or something anyways. Storming out in a huff before he let his anger get the better of him, he slammed the library door shut. His mood didn’t lighten any as he returned to his room and face planted onto his bed, letting out a frustrated scream into his pillow.

 

“Goddammit! Why does he have to be like that?” Naegi shouted at the ceiling. He continued to grumble to himself about the heir, so caught up in his anger he didn’t hear the soft knock at his door, jumping when someone addressed him.

 

“Makoto?”

 

“Ack!” Naegi tumbled to the floor in surprise, landing in a heap as he looked up at Fujisaki.

 

“Oh no! Are you alright? I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you! I just saw coming back from somewhere and you looked upset… I wanted to make sure you were okay,” Fujisaki apologized as she helped him up.

 

“You saw that?”

 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to, I was just leaving my room when you were coming back, you must have really upset to not see me...”

 

“It’s not your fault, like you said I was just really angry…” Naegi admitted.

 

“So what happened? You don’t seem like the type to get angry easily,”

 

“I’m not...but… I don’t know, Togami just seems to push all the right buttons to get me there. God I hope he isn’t my soulmate,”

 

Fujisaki sat quietly next to him as he vented his frustrations to her.

 

“What if he is my soulmate? How could we even begin to make it work? What’s worse… every time I see him, I just want him to pin me to a wall and kiss me… I don’t know what to do!” Naegi buried his face in his hands and let out a conflicted groan.

 

“Well I can’t say much to help, I don’t have much experience with relationships or soulmates, myself, but um, I don’t know where I was going with this...” she laughed, which drew a small laugh from Naegi as well.

 

The two spent the rest of the afternoon together, joking around and poking fun at some of the other students. They continued well into the evening and ended up going to dinner together were they joined Asahina, Ogami, Yamada, and Hagakure. Some of the others filtered in and out, Kirigiri coming to check on Fujisaki’s progress with the laptop, but none stuck around long. They eventually parted ways for the night, each returning to their own room to sleep.

 

The next morning went by as usual; Naegi woke up, took a shower and got ready, went to breakfast, and ended up wandering the halls looking for something to do. Coming to the library, the brunet found Fukawa standing outside the doors, peering in through the small crack between them.

 

“Fukawa? What are you doing?”

 

The girl in question jumped, startled by the query, “Ah! Wh- What are you doing here?”

 

“Walking…? Were you spying on Togami?”

 

“S-So what if I was? Why do y-you care?”

 

“I don’t…?”

 

“Good. Hey Naegi...what do you think?” Fukawa’s sudden shift in tone through Naegi off.

 

“Think? About what?”

 

“Do you think M-Master Togami and would be...g-good together?” her face was flushed a bright red, and small bit of drool was creeping out of her mouth.

 

“Uh… You know Togami has a soulmate, right? One that he’s met?”

 

“One that he can’t remember,” she said with a sinister smile.

 

“What about your soulmate? Do you really want to give up on them? And take Togami away from his? Is that really fair to either of you?” Naegi tried to reason with her.

 

“It’s not l-like we’re ever going to get out of here. S-So just back off and leave me and Master Togami alone!” Fukawa snapped before skittering away down the hall.

 

Naegi stared after her in disbelief, closed the door tot he library, and left the second floor. He tried to put the conversation with Fukawa out of his mind as he returned to the living quarters. As he was passing the dining hall a voice called out to him.

 

“Naegi! Would you like to join us for some tea?”

 

The boy glanced over to see Asahina and Ogami standing in the doorway to the dining hall. Nodding in acceptance, Naegi joined the two girls for tea, grateful to have have some conversation that wouldn’t leave him frustrated or confused, not that he felt that way after talking with Fujisaki, but it was always nice to have options. He prepared a cup of green tea for himself and followed the girls back out to the main dining area where they claimed one of the smaller tables.

 

“How are you holding up? Asahina asked, “I know you and Maizono were pretty close,”

 

“I’m doing okay. I haven’t really thought about it all that much, not that I’ve the time to, but still,” Naegi replied.

 

“That’s probably for the best considering the situation. If you let yourself get too caught up on something like that right now, you may do something drastic that you’ll end up regretting later,” Ogami said, calm and level headed as always. Asahina nodded in agreement.

 

“What about you two? How are guys dealing with the whole soulmate thing? I know you are two of the ones that can see colours...” Naegi shifted the topic.

 

“We’re doing okay actually,” Asahina said with a shy smile.

 

“Really?” Naegi was surprised to hear that.

 

“Yeah, actually, we, uh, we think we might be each others’ soulmate,” she said, a light blush rising on her cheeks.

 

“Really? That’s great! I’m glad to hear that you guys found each other again!” Naegi beamed.

 

“Thanks! We’re glad too! But what about you? Weren’t you also one who said they can see colour?”

 

And just like that his good mood deflated. He slumped forward, a long sigh falling from his lips. He had thought about who his soulmate could be, talked to both Maizono and Fujisaki about it, and had come to pretty certain conclusion on who his soulmate was. But he wasn’t ready to admit it yet, and he doubted the other party was likely to respond kindly to the revelation when it came to light.

 

“I’d rather not talk about it...” he finally answered.

 

Asahina and Ogami shared a knowing look. They had both had a relatively good idea what was going on. Both had seen signs of who Naegi's soulmate most likely was, but decided it best to refrain from commenting on it at the moment. Out of everyone, the short boy had probably won the lottery on difficult soulmates. But when looked at form an objective standpoint, the match made sense. They were the perfect balance to each other, both in personality and personal history; and that was just basing on what the girls could discern from the short time they had known everyone.

 

“I think I’m gonna go back to my room for a bit, thanks for the tea,” Naegi said, standing up and taking his cup back to the kitchen.

 

He went back to his room, no one stopping him along the way. Even though it was only in the afternoon, Naegi found himself drifting off and the brunet soon fell into a restful not quite sleep. His growling stomach roused him a few hours later, and what he expected to be a simple trip to the dining hall to grab a quick meal, almost had him turning tail and running back to his room.

 

“Naegi! Perfect timing!” Ishimaru shouted when he noticed the lucky student.

 

“Yeah! I have a favour to ask!” Owada growled.

 

“A favour?” Naegi repeated, unsure if he should agree or not.

 

“C’mon, Naegi. You gotta be our witness!” Owada said.

 

“W-Witness? What’s going on?” Naegi really considered running, really.

 

“This guy’s been talkin’ shit about me since day one. Callin’ me a coward and shit like that...” Owada explained.

 

“You are a coward! That’s why you turn to violence to solve your problems!” Ishimaru countered in his usual loud manner, “That’s why you can’t do what society asks of you, why you walk around dressed like that!”

 

“...The fuck you say? You dunno shit,”

 

“You’ve already lost to yourself, but you’re such a coward you don’t even realize it!”

 

“So what, you sayin’ you’re not a coward? You think you’re tougher than me?”

 

“I know I am!”

 

“Okay, then let’s throw down. Prove you got what I don’t!”

 

“I accept your challenge!”

 

“So that’s what’s happening, Naegi. You gotta be our witness!”

 

“You’re gonna...throw down? You’re not gonna like..start punching each other, are you?” Naegi asked.

 

“There’s a bath house on the first floor of the dorm, right? With a sauna inside?” Owada continued on as if Naegi hadn’t said anything.

 

“I see… a simple endurance contest, is it? We’re going to see who can stay in the sauna the longest, am I right!?”

 

“Goddamn straight!”

 

And suddenly Naegi was being dragged to the bath house against his will by both Owada and Ishimaru. They continued to argue back and forth as they settled in for their ‘endurance contest’. Minutes ticked by, soon turning into an hour. Naegi watched through the window, not sure who he was more worried about; Ishimaru was looking more red than his normal milky white complexion, but Owada had gone in fully clothed.

 

“Hey guys?” Naegi began, knocking on the window of the sauna door, “I know you both wanna prove how big of badasses you are, but...don’t you think you’ve done enough? It’s nighttime, how about we call it a tie?”

 

“Shut up!” both Owada and Ishimaru shouted.

 

“If you wanna pussy out, then be my guest, but I’m seeing this through to the end!” Owada snarled.

 

“Alright… just be careful,” Naegi said in farewell.

 

He tried not to think about all the possible outcomes as he crawled into bed, door securely locked and lights turned out.

 

~ ~ ~

 

Arriving at breakfast the next morning brought a startling sight to Naegi’s eyes. Out of all the possible outcomes from last night’s events, this was one of least likely. Ishimaru and Owada were laughing and joking together like life-long friends. He sent a questioning look to Asahina who just shrugged and went back to her conversation with Kirigiri and Ogami.

 

“So you two are friends now?” Naegi asked.

 

“Friends? Hah! What we have transcends friendship!” Ishimaru exclaimed.

 

“So who won? Who left the sauna first?”

 

“Who cares?” Owada said, laughing off the question.

 

“Yeah? Who cares?” Ishimaru repeated.

 

The two started going on about how their new relationship was something none of the other students could hope to understand. Meanwhile Yamada came pattering out of the kitchen holding a silver platter with a tea set balanced on it. Naegi watched as he took the platter over to Celeste and set the tea cup down in front of her. She lifted the cup to her lips, took a small sip, cocked her head to the side, and then threw the cup as hard as she could at the wall behind Yamada. Yamada, for his part, ducked out of the way just in time.

 

“I HATE this kind of tea!” Celeste snapped.

 

“U-Umm… I don’t understand...” Yamada said, thoroughly baffled by the gambler’s reaction.

 

“Imagine we are at a coffee shop--just any normal, everyday cafe. I sit down, and I order some tea. They then ask me, "Would you like lemon, or milk?" Now, further imagine that I replied, "Ah, yes, I would like milk tea, please." In this case, along with my tea they may bring me a small container of milk, yes? But this is not for me! I am among those who prefer the milk to be part of the process from the outset! The fragrance is just so overwhelmingly sweet that way... Adding milk or lemon right before you drink is like dousing your fries in ketchup--mere condiments! Whenever looking for a cafe, I first review their menu to see if it offers the proper style of milk tea. And I cannot acknowledge any "milk tea" that does not add the milk during the brewing process!” Celeste said.

 

“Umm...I went through all that trouble to make you that tea… and you wanted me to go even farther?” Yamada squeaked.

 

“Yes, I realize it can be a bit of a hassle... Even in cafes that offer proper milk tea, it is always more expensive than simple tea with milk. It takes more time to prepare, surely, but…why even bother creating a menu if you are not going to offer the highest level of quality!?”

 

“Well, um...we don’t actually have a menu..”

 

“That does not matter. Hurry up and bring me what I asked for, swine!” the fire burning in her red eyes paired with the harsh change from her normal calm, accented voice set everyone on edge.

 

Yamada squealed and scampered back to the kitchen, saying something that sounded like an apology while also calling himself a swine. Everyone stared in wide eyed bewilderment at the exchange, no words could describe it, and as such, no one said anything. Not that anyone had the chance to.

 

*Ding dong, bing bong*

 

“School announcement, school announcement. Ahem, sorry, but I need all students to gather in the gym for a mandatory pep rally, we need to put a little pep in your step!” Monokuma said over the monitors.

 

A short time later all the remaining students stood, gathered in front of the stage in the gym, no one looking even the slightest bit peppy. Naegi had a bad feeling that were about to receive their next motive, and whatever it was, wasn’t going to be good. Fujisaki looked the most anxious, her small form trembling in frightened anticipation. Togami and Kirigiri appeared to be the most composed, and Celeste had regained her own composure, though Naegi wasn’t sure if he trusted it to hold.

 

“Glad to see you’re all here!” Monokuma said, a sinister gleam somehow shining in his eyes.

 

“Yes, now why have you called us all here?” Kirigiri asked frankly.

 

“You don’t beat around the bush do you? Ready for me to get right to the point, huh? But before that, you mind if I vent a little? I'm low on energy these days. My stitching's even losing all its shine and luster... I'm thinking, it's probably because of this ho-hum, boring old everyday life. I'm looking for something with a little more stimulation, something rife with danger and intrigue! Listen, can I just be frank? The next blackened hasn’t shown up yet, and I’m getting boooored! So, I’ve decided to come up with a new way to motivate you! So I did a little investigating of my own, and I dug up some of your darkest secrets!” he said holding up a hand(paw?)ful of envelopes, each with one of the student’s names on it.

 

Monokuma tossed the envelopes out and let them float down to the floor, “Oh and just so you know...You have 24 hours! If someone doesn't become blackened by then...all your deepest, darkest, most embarrassingest secrets will be exposed to the world! Maybe I'll roll by a crowded intersection in a van strapped with loudspeakers and spill the beans! Toodles!” and then he was gone.

Chapter Text

They watched in horror as Monokuma disappeared to wherever he went to, leaving them alone with their secrets. Kirigiri was the first to retrieve her envelope, prompting the others to do the same. Naegi wasn’t too worried about what his secret was, there wasn’t much he had to hide. Opening his envelope proved this to be true, ‘Naegi wet the bed until he was in the fifth grade’. It wasn’t particularly dark or anything, sure he didn’t want it getting out, but it wasn’t something he was going to kill over. But judging by the others reactions to what was written inside the envelopes, they had more at stake.

 

“Good new, everyone! I have a brilliant idea! Why don’t we all just confess the secrets in those envelopes right here and now!?” Ishimaru suggested, looking proud of his plan, “If we do that, any and all motive for murder will vanish!”

 

“Do you truly believe that?” Togami said, icy distrust hanging off his words.

 

“It’s not a terrible idea, but it’ll only work if everyone agrees to it, we could help each other work through what we have hidden,” Naegi supplied, he would rather get his secret out there and help the others than risk another murder.

 

“If you want to embarrass yourselves for a mere chance that someone still won’t kill over what they have kept secret, be my guest. But don’t think I’ll be joining,” Togami said as he walked out of the gym.

 

Fukawa scurried after the blond, murmuring something about ‘Master Togami’ and something else unintelligible. Others soon found themselves agreeing with what the heir had said, giving some reason or another for why they didn’t want to share. Naegi sighed and looked down at his ‘secret’, if someone wanted to kill over it, it was their choice, but he wasn’t going to hide behind it. He dropped it to the floor for everyone to see before heading back to his dorm.

 

Stripping down, Naegi stepped into a scalding hot shower, hoping to wash away at least a fraction of the frustration he felt. He let the near boiling water beat down on his shoulders as he tried to clear his mind, not even feeling the burn on his skin. He didn’t know how long he stayed under the burning downpour, it could’ve been hours for all he knew, but when he got out, turning the water off, he heard the familiar chime of his doorbell. Shouting a quick,”Just a minute!” even though whoever it was wouldn’t hear him because of the sound proofing, he puled on a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt. Shaking his damp hair, he opened the door to see Fujisaki looking nervous, more so than usual.

 

“Chihiro? Are you okay?” Naegi asked, moving to let the girl in.

 

As he did this he had a strange sense of deja vu, recalling a similar situation with Maizono after the last motive was revealed. Naegi hoped this wasn’t going to go the same way.

 

“Yeah, I was just thinking about what you and Ishimaru said about sharing our secrets...” she said.

 

“Oh,” Naegi blinked, he didn’t think anyone had actually listened to what they said, or considered it.

 

“I, I think you’re right… we should help each other work through our secrets,”

 

“I’m guessing you read mine then?”

 

“Mhmmm… I figured you left there as sort of an invitation? I mean if you didn’t want anyone to read it you wouldn’t have left it there, right? I’m rambling aren’t I? Sorry...”

 

“No, you’re fine, and you’re right about me leaving my secret there,” Naegi said.

 

Naegi motioned for Fujisaki to join him in sitting on his bed, figuring it might be more comfortable than awkwardly standing in the middle of room. Fujisaki followed, not saying anything, she just handed her envelope and e-handbook over. Naegi took both, watching Fujisaki with a cautious eye as he opened the envelope. He hadn’t known what to expect from the ‘Ultimate Programmer’, maybe something along the lines of; she had hacked into the government and leaked national secrets? But what he read actually, somehow made more sense. The paper he held read: ‘Even though Fujisaki’s a boy, he wears girls’ clothes.’

 

“So… you’re a guy?” Naegi asked, wanting to be sure this wasn’t something Monokuma had come up with, not that he didn’t trust Fujisaki, but he didn’t trust Monokuma.

 

“Yeah… I’ve never been confident in my body as a guy, but I want to change that. I want to get stronger, and not hide behind dresses and skirts. But I’m not sure if I’m ready to tell the others yet… but I wanted to tell you, because you’re my closest friend here,” Fujisaki explained.

 

“Thank you for trusting me with this, it couldn’t have been easy to tell me, but I’m glad you did, and when you want to tell the others, I’ll be there for you,” Naegi said, reassuring the shy boy, “And maybe we can try working out together? If you want? I’m not the strongest by any means, but I’d be happy to help you reach your goal,”

 

“Thanks! That would be great! But I should probably get the laptop up and running first. I’ve almost got it to where I want it,”

 

Naegi sent the smaller boy a confused look, not understanding what he meant by that.

 

“Yeah, I’ve been working on programming an AI to decrypt the files, that way I won’t be locked in my room for the unforeseeable future,” Fujisaki expanded.

 

“That’s great!”

 

“Yeah, I’m probably going to have to start working in the bathhouse though,”

 

“The bathhouse? Why?”

 

“There are no cameras in there, Monokuma won’t be able to see what I’m doing,”

 

“That almost seems too convenient…” Naegi said.

 

“That’s what I thought, but it also makes sense to give us some amount of privacy in there,”

 

Naegi had to agree with that, as there weren’t any cameras in the bathrooms, at least the ones in the dorm rooms, it made sense that there wouldn’t be any on the bathhouse. While they continued talking about a hope for escaping the school, else where in the school more wicked conversations were taking place and dark schemes were beginning to form.

 

~ ~ ~

 

“Rise and shine students!” Monokuma’s voice echoed through Naegi’s room, but it wasn’t the normal morning announcement he was used to waking up to, “While you were off in dreamland one of you classmates was subject to some good, old-fashioned homicide! Puhuhu!”

 

Naegi didn’t hear the rest of what was said, if there was more, too busy rushing to get ready so he could get to the dining hall. He ran into the room, looking desperately to see who all was there. Asahina, Ogami, and Celeste were standing together, whispering between themselves. Togami sat at one of the smaller tables, a book in hand.

 

“Who isn’t here?” Naegi asked, voice raspy as he tried to catch his breath.

 

“We don’t know, not everyone has woken up yet, or hasn’t left their room,” Asahina said.

 

“You don’t think someone’s actually dead, do you? Monokuma could’ve been lying, right?”

 

“Yeah! There’s no way someone would do anything over those secrets! That stuff was just a bunch of old memories anyways!” Asahina said with determination.

 

“‘Just’ old memories? Don’t be so sure about that. Clearly someone felt it was more important than that,” Togami quipped, not looking up from his book.

 

“Huh…?” Naegi questioned.

 

“Not all secrets are created equal. To judge someone else’s values based on your own outlook… Do you realize how dangerous that is?” Togami said.

 

“Wh--? Why didn’t you say something yesterday!?” Asahina shouted.

 

“Did you forget already? This isn’t a co-o game. It’s every man for himself. What good does it do me to go out my way to help you?”

 

“Stop saying that already!”

 

“There’s something wrong with him, clearly,” Celeste said.

 

“That’s not important. What matters right now is that we find out what happened...” Ogami said, bringing them all back to the problem at hand.

 

“She’s right. Let’s split up and begin looking. Hmhm… The game is afoot,” Togami said with a cool bluntness, “Naegi, you’re with me,”

 

The brunet didn’t get a chance to protest as the bland grabbed his wrist and pulled him out of the dining hall. Naegi stumbled over his feet as he was pulled along behind the taller boy, through the first floor and up to the second floor. During the trip Naegi wondered why Togami was going to wherever he was going with such confidence. Was the blond the killer? Was he taking Naegi somewhere to kill him? Why had he even asked, well demanded, Naegi accompany him? Togami hadn’t wanted anything to do with the brunet up to this point, so why now? His thoughts were interrupted when he walked into Togami’s back, unaware that he had stopped.

 

“Do pay attention, I don’t need you injuring yourself before the fun even begins,” Togami snipped, sending a cold glare Naegi’s way.

 

“Sorry, I got lost in thought...” the lucky student apologized.

 

“Something I can only assume doesn’t happen often,”

 

Naegi was going to respond, really, but two things prevented him from doing so, the first being a realization of where they were, and the second being an announcement from Monokuma.

 

“Oh, hey, kids! The doors are currently unlocked for investigation purposes. Please feel free to look around to your heart’s content!”

 

“I-Investigation...?” Naegi stuttered.

 

“Just as I thought. Judging from what he just said. There can be no doubt a murder really has taken place. And the locker rooms… They’re suspicious. Very suspicious, indeed. Wouldn’t you agree?”

 

“Huh? Suspicious?”

 

“It seems nobody’s searched the locker rooms. Let’s start with them, shall we...” Togami muttered, as if talking only to himself as he approached one of the doors. Swinging it open with ease, not even needing to scan his handbook, proof that Monokuma had unlocked all the doors.

 

Naegi glanced at the other boy, then at the Gatling gun mounted from the ceiling, before finally following Togami inside. Once inside, and after the light had been flicked on, the small boy shuddered to a full stop before quickly backtracking into Togami’s chest.

 

There, hanging between two of the contraptions, was a very clearly dead body. Blood that had run down from the victim’s head, dried in crusty streams over their face, a face that was frozen in shock, the last expression forever sculpted for the world to see. Naegi didn’t know how long it took to fully comprehend the reality of what he was seeing, but when he did, he let out a wild, almost primeval scream.

Chapter Text

“What’s going on? I hear--! AAAAHH! Hagakure!?” Ishimaru started to ask as he entered the locker room but the sight of Hagakure’s body stopped him short.

 

“That’s three for three kiddos! A body has been discovered! After a certain amount of time, during which you may however you like, the class trial will begin!” Monokuma cheered over the speakers.

 

“Wh- What the hell was that?” Naegi asked.

 

“Ah, that's right,” Togami said, “You were unconscious during Maizono’s, so you don't know about it. What you just heard was the body discovery announcement. Apparently, when three or more people discover a body, an announcement plays to let everyone know. I imagine it's so that the search for the culprit can proceed fairly for everyone involved,”

 

The body discovery announcement? Then Hagakure is...” Ishimaru couldn’t even finish the sentence.

 

“Dead, yes,” Togami filled in the blank.

 

“D-D-D-D--!”

 

“Before you start screaming your head off, go round everyone up. It seems another game has begun. Another life-or-death game to uncover a killer...”

 

Ishimaru snapped to attention, saluting the blond before going off the gather the others. During his absence Naegi did his best to calm down so he could think logically. Based on what little information he had gathered so far, the most suspicious was Togami… but he wouldn’t make it that obvious… would he? Right now all the evidence was circumstantial, until some solid evidence was brought to light Naegi wasn’t going to point the finger just yet. Togami was innocent, or innocent enough… right? That’s what Naegi was choosing to believe, at least for now.

 

Ishimaru returned shortly after, all other students in tow, minus Fukawa. Everyone was shocked to see that it was Hagakure who had been killed, or that’s what Naegi thought, unbeknownst to him the killer was only shocked to see the state the body was found in.

 

 

“So there’s another victim...” Ishimaru said, once the others had filtered in.

 

“Which means we are now in the position once again,” Celeste stated.

 

“Fuck, man… What the fuck IS this!?” Owada shouted.

 

As Naegi went to examine the body, Togami stopped him, “For now pay attention to the wall,”

 

“Huh?” Naegi asked looking over his shoulder at the other boy.

 

“I said it once already. There’s a word written there,”

 

He wasn’t wrong, and it wasn’t like it was hard to miss with how large it was written. There on the wall was the word ‘bloodlust’, written in blood...

 

“I don’t think it’s any kin of dying message. it’s just too...strange...” Kirigiri mused, observing the scene with a critical eye.

 

“But you know… that thing about writing ‘bloodlust’ in blood… Doesn’t it sound kinda familiar?” Ishimaru tried to recall where he had heard the phrase before.

 

“Genocider Syo!” Yamada exclaimed.

 

Genocider Syo… The ‘murderous fiend’ whose grisly attacks were famous all over the country. The Ultimate Murderous Fiend, creating a reputation of abnormal, downright cruel killings. The police were just as close to finding them as Naegi was to going to space… not at all.

 

“Then this is… some copycat killer trying to imitate Genocider Syo’s ‘style’? But… why would anyone do that?” Asahina asked, not wanting to believe that someone would be that cruel as to mimic a serial killer.

 

“Perhaps… it’s the work of the work of the real Genocider Syo,” Togami offered the group.

 

They didn’t get the chance to react to that as Fukawa had finally showed up. She was just standing there in the doorway to the locker room, not saying anything, until…

 

“..? Nnnnnno… Wh-Why…? Why…? W...h..y..? WHYYYYYYYY!?!?” she shrieked, and then promptly fainted.

 

“She fainted! That did NOT sound good,” Owada said.

 

“Fukawa!” Asahina exclaimed, rushing to the girl’s side, “Fukawa, are you okay? Come one, wake up!”

 

“Oh, that’s right. I just remembered what she said, about how she faints anytime she sees blood,” Yamada said.

 

“So she is hemophobic? I imagine she does not watch too many horror films, then,” Celeste said offhandedly.

 

“Fukawa, can you hear me!? Hey, you gotta wake up!” Asahina persisted in trying to wake the girl.

 

As if she’d heard her...Fukawa suddenly shot awake. As in, she literally jumped up from where she was laying. It was such a strange reaction, Naegi was at a total loss for words. She leapt straight into the air, changing her stance as she did. In no time flat, she was just...standing up. Ignoring the physical contortions she had to go through, her motions were totally haphazard.

 

“Huh? What?” Asahina darted back from the girl in alarm.

 

“sorry about that. I was just so shocked, ya know? It happens, right? Was I the only one?” Fukawa asked, her entire aura changed to something dark and crazed.

 

“F-Fukawa? Are you...okay?” Naegi asked.

 

“I’m fine, I’m fine! Kyehaha…! Whoa is that a dead body!? Hey! Are you dead!? Kyeehahaha!”

 

“She musta hit her head real hard when who passed out...” Owada muttered.

 

“The world has a front and a back, a top inning and a bottom, a sea of truth and a web of lies!”

 

“This is...quite concerning. I mean, she sounds completely different...” Yamada said.

 

“No no no, everything’s fine! At least the stutter’s all gone. That’s a good thing, right!? Kyeehahaha!”

 

“It’s clear to me that everything is not fine! Your eyes seem strangely vacant!” Ishimaru declared.

 

“It might be best if we take her back to her room for the time being...” Ogami suggested.

 

“I don’t mind taking her, but… could someone help me?” Asahina offered, “Ishimaru, could you help me?” she asked, completely ignoring Yamada’s offer.

 

“Very well. You take care of the girl, and the rest of us can begin the investigation right away. Can I assume nobody has a problem leaving Ogami and Owada on guard duty again?” Togami said.

 

“H-Hold on a second. Rushing into an investigation--” Naegi started.

 

“The mastermind isn’t behind that. After what happened last time, surely you realize that. There is no question that Hagakure was murdered be someone among us. Isn’t that right, Monokuma?”

 

“Right as rain! But don’t take it as a bad thing. It’s just a fact of life! Because that’s how graduation works!” Monokuma said, popping up in front the group.

 

“Stop monologuing and give us what you came here to give us. You did bring it, right?” Togami stopped the bear before he got too carried away.

 

“Hehehe… I sure did, chum! Allow me to present the next Monokuma File. I know how much you must be looking forward to it! So please do your very tippytop best on this investigation!” and then he was gone.

 

“We may as well get started. No point in delaying that and further,” Kirigiri said, walking over to examine Hagakure’s body, “If we don’t solve this mystery and fine the killer, our own lives are forfeit. And if Togami is right that Genocider Syo is somehow the one who killed Hagakure then unless we something, more victims could start piling up,”

 

“Forget more victims! If we mess this up, we’re all dead meat!” Yamada exclaimed.

 

“Hold on, hold on,” Monokuma reappeared, “If that’s your worry, you don’t gotta worry any longer! In any one killing game, the guilty party may only kill a maximum of two people,”

 

“What…? I don’t remember any rule like that,”

 

“I just came up with it. I mean, if one person went around and killed everyone, your lovely school life would be all over, right?”

 

“In that case, why not limit it to one person?” Ogami asked.

 

“Well in a good mystery, you don’t want to miss out on at least the potential of a serial killer angle! Nyoohohoho! Just one would totally murder that possibility! Anywhoooo! Farewell for now! I’ll catch you guys later at the class trial!” he was gone again.

 

Naegi tuned out whatever else was said, instead choosing to read over the Monokuma File. ‘The victim was Hagakure Yasuhiro. The time of death is estimated to be around two am. The body was discovered in the boys locker room, on the second floor of the school. The cause of death was a blow to the head with a blunt object. He was killed instantly.’ That was all that was written.

 

The brunet decided to see if Kirigiri had found anything, but before he could get over to her, he was pulled aside by Togami. The blond said something about letting Naegi cooperate with him during the investigation, something about how he had solved Maizono’s murder and thus seemed to have some limited use, which was why he was allowing Naegi the honor of contributing to his investigation. Naegi found himself being lead to the library, but Togami kept going to the door at the far end of the room, the archives. Inside were shelves packed full of books, files, and old and current police reports, all cold cases, according to Togami. When asked how he knew that all these were real, Togami stated, after a brutal verbal beating, that they were just like the ones back at his home. Naegi didn’t feel comfortable pushing the mater further, so he let the heir continue with whatever had brought Naegi there for.

 

Togami continued his little monologue, going on about how he had always been interested in cold cases, reaching for a specific file as he did so. It was the Genocider Syo file, with every report surrounding the cases. Togami gave a brief summary of the main points. The first being that at every crime scene, the word ‘bloodlust’ is written in the victim’s blood. And the the second...is that when the victims are murdered, their bodies are suspended in a certain way. But, according to Togami, only the police and members of the higher up knew about the body being suspended, well them and the actual killer of course.

 

Naegi asked to look through the file for himself, to which Togami complied, handing it over with little argument. Flipping through the report, Naegi noticed a few other things that Togami hadn’t mentioned, but kept that to himself. One other thing the blond pointed out as Naegi read bits and pieces of the reports, was that the police suspected the culprit may potentially suffer from dissociative identity disorder.

 

The brunet pondered what he had just learned as he left the library with Togami. On his way out his eyes wondered over to the desk lamp the heir had been using to read, it was turned off and the cord that it had been plugged into was missing. ‘That’s odd...’ Naegi thought as he walked by and made his way back towards the locker room. He didn’t make it that far though, Asahina came running up to him and Togami in a frenzied rush. She said there was some kind of emergency going on with Fukawa, and the girl was demanding to speak with Togami. The trio, lead by Asahina, made their way to Fukawa’s room. The swimmer rang the doorbell and told the novelist that she had brought Togami with her.

 

The door cracked open, only a sliver, just enough for an immense aura of negativity to flow out and produce a small gasp from the lucky student. Fukawa glared at Naegi, he wasn’t who she had asked for and wasn’t happy to see him there at all. But when she caught sight of Togami, the anger dissolved to deep regret and near desperate pleading. She stuttered out something about being sorry for not being able to keep a promise, but that she was in control now and she wouldn’t let Genocider Syo have control ever again. Togami gave no response, merely glaring icy daggers at the quaking girl. Fukawa squeaked and slammed the door shut, refusing to open it again.

 

Naegi and Asahina were both surprised that not even Togami was able to get the girl out, not that he tried, but still. Naegi shook his head and turned away from the others, there were still quite a few things he needed to do before the class trial started.

 

‘Maybe if I ask the others if they saw anything last night I might have more to go on,’ Naegi thought as he entered the warehouse where he had seen Celeste go. Asking her if she had seen anything out of the ordinary last night didn’t lead to any answers right away, but after a moment of going over the previous night’s events she recalled that she had seen Owada leaving the bathhouse around two thirty or so in the morning. When asked what she was doing at that time, Celeste simply replied that she was cold and was seeking a spare blanket in the warehouse. Other than that she didn’t have anything pertinent to add. Naegi thanked her and made to check the bathhouse to see if he could figure out what Owada might have been doing there at the aforementioned time.

 

In the locker area he found Fujisaki typing away on the laptop. When asked if he had seen Owada the night before, the small boy said he hadn’t only that he had seen Hagakure leaving the dorm area as he was returning to his room after speaking with Naegi. Other than that the programmer claimed to have been in his room the entire night, which Naegi believed with absolute certainty; Fujisaki was one of the few people he trusted on a deeper level than the others. Naegi nodded and moved to enter the bath, Fujisaki trailing behind out of curiosity.

 

Once the steam cleared, the two boys both let out a startled gasp. The water was tinted a pale pink, and right in the middle was a dumbbell. That had to be the murder weapon, the killed must have brought it here to clean it off, but then forgot it or something… Was this what Owada was doing in the bathhouse last night? But why would he bring the dumbbell all the way here? Why not just wash it off in the bathrooms on the second floor? Something wasn’t adding up, there were too many unanswered questions. Naegi closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he backed out of the bath, ‘This is getting more complicated than it should be...’

 

There were still a few people he needed to talk to, and he wanted to look over the crime scene one more time, not having the time earlier since Togami had pulled him away so abruptly. He found one of the people he was looking for standing outside the locker room. Ishimaru was pacing back and forth, looking distressed. As Naegi approached him a wild panic bloomed in his already frantic eyes. He quickly made a half-assed excuse and ran out of the room before the brunet could even begin questioning him.

 

‘Why would he run like that?’ Naegi asked himself as he entered the boys locker room. He nodded briefly to Ogami and Owada. Ogami called Naegi over to tell him her alibi for the night before, not that she was on his suspect list but it never hurt to check everyone’s alibi. She said that once again she and Asahina had spent the night together after working out, but she hadn’t seen Hagakure going to the locker rooms when she and Asahina were leaving. Owada walked over to them and said that he and Ishimaru had been talking earlier yesterday evening and they had both fallen asleep in the biker’s room. Only his story seemed more scripted than Ogami’s.

 

Meanwhile Kirigiri was still going over the crime scene with excruciating detail. The only thing she was willing to share with him was that the ‘rope’ used to hang Hagakure’s body was actually an extension cord. One that most likely came from the library. Looking at the body, it didn’t appear as though there had been any sign of a struggle before the killing blow was administered, so whoever did it had the element of surprise.

 

Not finding anything else of much use to identify the culprit, Naegi returned to the library. ‘Maybe I should look over the Genocider dossier one last time? I might have missed something there...’ and with that in mind the brunet entered the archives. Even through the layers of dust and poor lighting, he could tell something was wrong. The shelf where the file should have sat, housed a gaping, dark hole. The file was missing… Someone had to have taken it, and the only person Naegi could think of was Togami. Naegi wanted to ask the taller boy about it, but as he exited the archives Monokuma popped up on the monitor.

 

“Like all good things, this investigation must come to an end! That and I’m getting bored of waiting for you all. So shall we just plunge right in? It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for...the class trial! You remember where to meet, right? Please go through the red door on the first floor of the school! Puhuhu. See you soon!”

 

‘This is going to be a long trial… I’m still not sure who did it… And what’s Togami’s part in all of this? I don’t want to think he’s the killer… But he definitely knows more than he’s letting on. And then what about Owada? He’s my most likely suspect… isn’t he? Then there’s Ishimaru… he knows something, and it must be something that points to the killer or he wouldn’t have run like he did… And Fukawa? What’s going on with her? She made it sound like she did something, but how would she even have gotten into the boys locker room? Was she even strong enough to wield that dumbbell as a weapon? Not to mention, how would she have been able to reach Hagakure’s head? Ugh… this is all too confusing. Why couldn’t we just all get along? Why do we have to kill each other?’

 

Naegi’s feet lead him to the designated room without him realizing it, thoughts too consuming for him to be aware of his surroundings. He arrived just after Yamada, but he wasn’t the last one to show like last time. Fukawa was nowhere to be seen. He opened his mouth to inquire where she was but snapped it shut when Monokuma appeared before the class.

 

“Ahem, so.. is everyone ready to—whaaaat!? Am I blind, or are we missing someone? Where is Fukawa?” the bear demanded.

 

“She’s still in her room, she refused to leave,” Asahina said.

 

“Well not, that is simply unacceptable! I’ll be right back, talk amongst yourselves while I’m gone,”

 

It was an aggravatingly tense period of time while they waited for Monokuma to return. No one spoke, just shared awkward glances with one another.

 

“Here we are! The lady of the hour!” Monokuma announced as he dragged Fukawa’s kicking and screaming body behind him, “We can’t start the trial unless everyone is present, and this one,” he shoved Fukawa forward, “Is a very crucial part in this particular trial. Now then, if we’re all here, please enter the elevator so we can get going!”

 

“Nng...ghh… I t-told him I didn’t want to, but… h-he forced me! I can’t believe you would d-drag a girl around… Terrible…! You’re t-terrible!” Fukawa screeched.

 

Monokuma just laughed and disappeared.

 

“What did he mean by that? Why is Fukawa so important to this trial?” Asahina asked, perplexed by the statement, as was a majority of the group.

 

“I guess we will just have to wait and see in the trail, let’s go,” the ominous tone of Togami’s words left little room for response.

 

Others shared a nervous look, but followed the blond into the elevator, nowhere else to go. Kirigiri was deep in thought as she stepped in, arms crossed and brow furrowed. Fujisaki looked anxious, as did Ishimaru. Yamada was the only one who didn’t look to have clue what was going on.

 

The doors closed, grate rattling, as the remaining eleven students descended to another life or death death trial. Either ten students would emerge to continue living trapped here; or one student would finally escape out into the world, mourning the loos of their classmates as they did so.

 

Deeper and deeper they went until finally the metal box lurched to a standstill, knocking a few of the teens off balance. Naegi found himself stumbling back into an oh-too-familiar chest. Looking up his mossy green eyes locked with bright cerulean blue. Togami raised an unimpressed eyebrow as the shorter boy flushed and hurriedly righted himself. The blond ignored the feelings that erupted in his chest, feelings that had begun to be more persistent in their existence, and pushed passed into the trial room. 

Chapter Text

Everyone took their spots, settling in for what would undoubtedly be a grueling trial. Like the first trial, Monokuma went over the rules and procedure before passing it off to the students to begin.

 

“Where do we even start? Why would anyone want to kill Hagakure?” Asahina began.

 

“I can think of a few reasons...” Celeste mused.

 

“What are you saying!?”

 

“Simply that Hagakure lacked any useful skills to help us get out of this prison, out of everyone, he is least likely to be missed,”

 

“Well.. I mean...” Asahina couldn’t argue with that, no one really could.

 

The clairvoyant hadn’t done anything, really, and he definitely wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box. He even admitted that his predictions were only right, at best, thirty percent of the time, a fact he somehow proud of. How he got scouted for Hope’s Peak was a wonder.

 

“Moving on,” Kirigiri said, “We should start by discussing how the body was displayed, it will most likely lead us to the identity of the killer,”

 

“Why not the murder weapon? And how he was killed?” Yamada asked.

 

“Did you see a weapon at the crime scene?” Kirigiri quipped.

 

“Well, no, but… The Monokuma File did mention that it was blunt object that was used to kill him,”

 

“Anything we say about a murder weapon at this moment would be mere speculation at best, it won’t lead us anywhere. We could see how Hagakure was strung up and that there was a message on the wall, so it makes sense to start there,”

 

“The message said ‘bloodlust’ if I remember correctly, I feel like I’ve seen that somewhere before…?” Fujisaki said, tapping his chin thoughtfully.

 

“I’d be surprised if you hadn’t,” Togami snipped, pushing his glasses up in a smug manner.

 

“Huh? What do you mean by that? Should we recognize the message?” Ishimaru asked.

 

“Did none of you pay attention to the news before this? I guess I can’t say I’m surprised by this fact,”

 

“You wouldn’t happen to be referring to those murders, would you?” Kirigiri asked.

 

“What murders? What are you guys talking about?” Owada demanded to know, not liking not knowing what was going on.

 

“I think he means the Genocider Syo murders, right?” Naegi tried to clarify.

 

“That’s right. At the scene of every murder there are two defining characteristics, the most notable being the bloody message left at every scene,” Togami said.

 

“So you’re claiming that the culprit that killed Hagakure is some kind of Genocider Syo copycat?” Ogami inquired.

 

“No, I believe that in this case the culprit was the real Genocider Syo. Case closed, as far as I’m concerned,”

 

“You said there are two defining characteristics, so what’s the other one?” Ishimaru asked.

 

“It’s something that was never made public,”

 

“Never made public…? What the hell is it?” Owada demanded.

 

“Why don’t you tell them, Naegi,”

 

“Apparently, in every Genocider Syo case, the killer suspends the body in a certain way. Other than the killer, the only people who know about this are the higher-ups in the police department,” Naegi explained.

 

“However, Hagakure was most definitely suspended in the same way. So, how did the culprit know about thing, when only the high-level police officials were aware of it? There’s only one logical answer I can think of. It’s because the culprit in this case...is the real Genocider Syo,” Togami said with a finality that said he shouldn’t be questioned.

 

“No fuckin’ way!” Owada shouted.

 

“You’re saying Genocider Syo...is one of us?” Celeste gasped.

 

“Precisely. In fact, it’s none other than Fukawa,” Togami declared, pointing an accusing finger at the shy girl.

 

“Wh…?” Fukawa squeaked out.

 

“Genocider Syo’s true identity...is Fukawa Toko,”

 

“Wh- Wh- Wh- What?” Fukawa stuttered out, panic racing through shifting eyes.

 

“Hey, okay, wait, hold on a sec!” Asahina interjected, “Fukawa has like, bloodophobia or whatever, remember? How the hell could she be a murderer? What kind of serial killer is afraid of blood!?”

 

“Is Fukawa Genocider Syo? The answer is yes… and no,” Togami said cryptically.

 

“It’s because Genocider Syo...has a split personality,” Naegi informed the class, recalling what he had been told when reading through the file, “I think I read that somewhere in the file, too. They thought that the suspect might have...what did they call it? ‘Dissociative identity disorder’,”

 

“O-Okay...but still, to go and say that about Fukawa is--” Yamada started to say but was cut off.

 

“Perfectly acceptable. Fukawa’s strange behavior after seeing the body is proof enough that she has a split personality. Think back—she fainted when she saw Hagakure’s corpse, and when she woke up...”

 

“She was acting funny, that’s for sure! That melancholy tone of hers completely disappeared!” Ishimaru said.

 

“Don’t go assigning adjectives to my t-tone without permission...” Fukawa said in an attempt to defend herself.

 

“Not to mention, once she regained consciousness and saw Hagakure’s body again, she was utterly calm. In other words, within her is one personality that can’t handle blood, and one that obviously can,” Togami said.

 

“So when Fukawa trapped herself in her room, it’s because she was scared of Genocider Syo...?” Asahina pondered, ignoring Fukawa’s throaty noise.

 

“The reason she locked herself in her room wasn’t to keep other people from getting in… It was to keep her other personality from getting out,”

 

“What…?”

 

“Fukawa was afraid—afraid of the murderous fiend inside of her, of killing even more people...”

 

“H-H-How…?” Fukawa cried out.

 

“Yeah, how can you know all this?” Asahina asked, trying to defend Fukawa.

 

“I do believe you misunderstood her. What she’s trying to say isn’t, ‘How can you know all this?’. No, what she wants to know is, ‘How could tell them?’,”

 

At the confused expressions on everyone’s faces Togami went into more detail, “Last night, just after Monokuma gave his ‘motive’ speech, Fukawa and I had a strange conversation. She told me a most interesting story… She said a murderous fiend within her, and she was afraid it could appear and attack at any time. And that trepidation is what’s caused her to have such a bleak attitude. Isn’t that right, Fukawa?”

 

Fukawa made some weird noises but otherwise remained silent.

 

“That’s all a lie...right, Fukawa?” Asahina asked, becoming less sure if she should be defending the girl.

 

“T-Togami! Y-You said you wouldn’t t-tell anyone…!” Fukawa finally said, the words bursting forth without much thought as to who else heard them.

 

“...What!?” Asahina cried, not believing her ears.

 

“You p-promised…! I can’t b-believe you l-lied!”

 

“You only have yourself to blame—you came to me with your tragic little story. I didn’t ask you to. This is the real world, not some romantic fantasy fairytale,” Togami snapped, “Besides, you broke your promise first. You said that as long as you were here, no matter what, you wouldn’t let Genocider Syo kill anyone. But in spite of that promise…”

 

“You said if I k-kept my promise...you would g-go out with me! Th-That’s the only r-reason I promised…!”

 

“How many times do I have to tell you? I never said that. But you weren’t able to do it—you just couldn’t resist that rush you got from killing, could you?”

 

“I-I tried...I swear I t-tried to control it! B-But...”

 

“But you efforts were useless. What a disappointment,”

 

“Nggh… I hate you...”

 

“You only wish you did. Well, the opening act in nearly finished. All that’s left to do now is hear from the person in question directly,”

 

“The p-person…? Y-Y-You don’t m-m-m-mean…!?”

 

Fukawa never did finish her question. Her body suddenly lunged backwards, hitting the floor with a solid THUD, as she blacked out. But barely seconds later…

 

“Well, hello there! Is it me you were hoping to see?” Fukawa jeered, the same dark aura that encompassed her in the locker room returning ten fold.

 

Her eyes, once nervously shifting every which way, now were hard and focused. Somehow her tongue had elongated, hanging out of her mouth. The timid nature was gone, everything that they had come to associate with Fukawa, was now replaced by a blood thirsty confidence that reached a new level of psychotic.

 

“What the fuck!? The hell happened to her? She’s like a totally different person!” Owada yelled.

 

“Well duh. Don’t you know anything about split personalities?” Fukawa barked.

 

“F-Fukawa?” Fujisaki stammered, shocked by the girl’s sudden shift.

 

“I’m not Fukawa! I’m the Ultimate Murderous Fiend, Genocider Syo! But it seems you already figured that out, huh? Well, whatever! What’re ya gonna do!?” the introduction seemed somehow threatening, even without any hint of an actual threat.

 

“Um, e-excuse me, Miss Genocider? Can I ask you a question…?” Yamada whimpered.

 

“What’s up?”

 

“Some of think you might be the mastermind behind out entire situation. What are your thoughts on that?”

 

“Well I’ll tell you! I’m the mastermind of all masterminds!”

 

“What!?” Ishimaru exclaimed.

 

“Just kidding!”

 

“Then.. it’s not true?” Naegi asked.

 

“Of course it’s not true! How dare you try to link me to that creepazoid!? And another thing! The police and government and society in the outside world are totally powerless! I mean, that just let this idiotic bloodthirsty maniac go buck wild all over town!” Monokuma interjected.

 

“Sure, I’m a bloodthirsty maniac. But life is pain, right? To live is to hurt other people. It’s a necessary evil if you want to survive. The act of living itself causes pain for everyone…! Just kidding again! Kyeehahaha!” Genocider said, laughing psychotically as she did so.

 

“This should be enough to convince you. This murderous fiend is responsible for Hagakure’s death. There’s clearly a motive, so there should be no doubt,” Togami stated.

 

“...A motive?” Ogami asked.

 

“Remember what Monokuma told us? If someone didn't murder and graduate within 24 hours, an embarrassing memory or secret would be revealed. Well, let's assume that Fukawa’s secret was about Genocider Syo. If a secret like that came to light, Fukawa’s life would have undoubtedly been forever ruined. So she had a very clear motive to never have that side of herself exposed,” Togami explained.

 

“Interesting… Very very very interesting…! But sorry! As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not the culprit! I didn’t kill anyone...recently...” Genocider rebutted.

 

“...Do you really expect any of us to believe you?” Ogami inquire4d.

 

“Yeah! You really think we’re going to believe a monster like you!?” Asahina yelled.

 

“Whether you believe me or not, it’[s the truth,” Genocider shrugged.

 

“Please, everything about the scene matches your modus operandi completely, as far as I see it, no one else would have been able to pull it off,” Togami scoffed.

 

“But… Wait… That’s not quite true...” Naegi said, “Hagakure’s body was found in the boys locker room, and Genocider is not a guy. Not to mention, there are at least two differences between Hagakure’s murder and the Genocider Syo murders,”

 

“Oh? And pray tell, what are they?”

 

“For one, the cause of death is different. In the Genocider Syo murders, all the victims were killed the same way. According to the case file, they were all apparently killed with...a pair of scissors. But Hagakure died from a blow to the head, right?”

 

“Ah, yes! That is remarkably different from the other murders!” Yamada said.

 

“Wouldn’t it be strange for someone who kills the same way without fail to suddenly change their method? And there’s more—one more conflicting detail. Do you remember what the killer used to suspend Hagakure? They’d used some kind of rope to hang him up by his wrists,”

 

“What is your point?” Celeste asked, not seeing where this was going.

 

“Well, in all the previous Genocider Syo cases, something else was used to suspend them… specifically pairs of razor-sharp scissors,”

 

“And guess what! I used my own specially designed scissor for the murders AND the arrangement! Like I said, I’m a professional. So naturally I’m very picky about the tools I use! And anyways, why would I bother to kill someone like that in this situation? The message and arrangement? It’d make me the obvious suspect! That is, if I was even able to get into the locker room in the first place,”

 

“That...does make some amount of sense,” Celeste admitted.

 

“PLUS! Whatever reason I have for killing! I would NEVER leave out my prized scissors!” she then pulled out four pairs of her specialized scissors, proving that she could easily have used them had she been the culprit, “Not to mention, I have no clue how to tie a good knot. So rope’s totally out of the question anyway!”

 

“Ngh...ngraah…! I have no idea what’s going on anymore…! Could such a heinous villain really be innocent!?” Ishimaru asked, struggling to come to terms with all the information being presented.

 

“But...the body really was suspended, right? And nobody but the police knew about that...” Owada said.

 

“Yeah! That’s why we figured it had to be the real deal and not some copycat killer or whatever!” Asahina said.

 

“Togami...it’s possible you could have found out, isn’t it? You’d have no problem gaining access to classified government documents or internal police records. Plus you’d already been looking through the Genocider Syo file before all this happened, hadn’t you?” Naegi asked.

 

Togami didn’t answer.

 

“A-Are you saying Togami did it?” Yamada gasped out in shock.

 

“Then the reason he pushed the theory of Genocider Syo being the killer so hard was because he wanted to pin the crime on her!” Celeste declared.

 

“So he arranged the scene to disguise it and make it look like I’d put my stamp on it...! The adorable glasses man was behind it all!? Ahh, I’m on fire!” Genocider said, drifting off into her own little world.

 

“...Well, Togami!? What’s your response!?” Ishimaru demanded.

 

“I see… So now the suspicion falls on me. Then I must ask… just what evidence do you have to back your claim? Just the fact that I knew about the Genocider Syo murders and her style doesn’t prove a thing,” Togami said, completely unphased by the accusation.

 

“The rope used to suspend Hagakure’s body,” Kirigiri supplied, “It’s not at all, it’s an extension cord,”

 

“And you think that’s enough to claim me as the culprit? You must be dreaming, besides I’ve never seen that cord before,” Togami said.

 

“I’m pretty sure that’s wrong...” Naegi said, “That extension cord came from the library, and you had been using it so that you could use the desk lamp on the table. And there’s no way someone who uses that extension cord as much as you do wouldn’t discover it was missing,”

 

“Then Togami must be the one who took it! I can’t imagine any other possibility!” Ishimaru shouted.

 

“That’s really what you think? Then your conclusion is something like this…? I killed Hagakure, then hung him up and wrote that bloody message. I intentionally made it look like Genocider Syo was behind it. Is that about right?”

 

No one said anything.

 

“What’s wrong? I asked you if you think that’s what happened,”

 

“Hell yes that’s what happened! So that’s it, right? Togami’s the killer!” Owada shouted.

 

“I don’t disagree with not disagreeing!” Genocider said, not quite making sense.

 

“He kept calling this a game, right? So he’d be totally willing to do something like this to ‘win’!” Ishimaru reminded the group.

 

“If you really are the killer then you wouldn’t mind informing us as to what the murder weapon was, would you?” Kirigiri asked.

 

“What are you getting at? Of course he would know what the murder weapon was! He did it!” Owada growled.

 

“Are you really so sure of that, that you’re willing to risk everyone’s life just on circumstantial evidence?”

 

That shut Owada up.

 

“I didn’t think so,”

 

“She has a point though, if you are the killer, as you claim to be, then why don’t you enlighten us as to what the murder weapon was,” Celeste said.

 

“To be clear, I have not claimed to be the killer, all of you put that title on me,” Togami clarified.

 

“Why are you avoiding the question?” Asahina asked, anger burning in her eyes.

 

“Because he can’t answer it,” Naegi said.

 

“And why can’t he answer it?” Ogami questioned.

 

“Because he didn’t kill Hagakure, the proof of that is the fact that he can’t tell us what the murder weapon was,”

 

“If he did do it he would be able to tell us what was in the bathhouse,” Fujisaki stated.

 

“The bathhouse? What does the bathhouse have to with anything?” Genocider piped in.

 

“Fujisaki and I found something very interesting in the bath, in there,” Naegi said.

 

“What did you find?” Ogami asked.

 

“We think we found the murder weapon,” Fujisaki said.

 

“In the bathhouse?” Asahina reiterated, not believing the absurdity of the confession.

 

“Yes, in the bathhouse,” Naegi confirmed.

 

“So the killer, who isn’t Togami, brought the murder weapon all the way from the locker rooms to the bathhouse?” Ishimaru asked, “Why?”

 

“Most likely to wash the blood off, since the water turns off at nighttime, the only place, besides the pool, would be the bathhouse. But for whatever reason, they ended up leaving it there,” Naegi explained.

 

“So whoever went to the bathhouse last night is the killer?” Owada asked, “Well then it wasn’t me, I never took anything, or went to the bathhouse. Besides, who would be stupid enough to carry a dumbbell all the way to the bathhouse from the locker rooms?”

 

“What did you just say?” Kirigiri pounced like a lioness on the hunt.

 

“Whaddya mean?”

 

“Owada, neither Fujisaki, nor myself, mentioned anything about a dumbbell, and Celeste told me she saw you leaving the bathhouse last night… So how would you know what was in there if you didn’t go there?” Naegi questioned.

 

“I- well ya see- I just...”

 

“You’re accusing Mondo? You’re wrong! I know he didn’t do it!” Ishimaru defended the biker.

 

“Are you sure? Is that why you refused to talk with me during the investigation?” Naegi asked.

 

“Wh-What? No I didn’t! I just had something I had to check on! That’s all!”

 

“Then you wouldn’t mind answering the question I was going to ask you now?”

 

“N-Not at all,”

 

“Good, then would you mind telling us if you saw anything last night that might help us find the culprit? Or if you saw Hagakure at all last night?”

 

“Well…” Ishimaru let out a long sigh, “I did see Hagakure last night. Mondo was telling me about his secret and he caught Hagakure listening in. Nothing happened, I swear! This all happened right after the motive was given anyways! So there’s no way that Mondo did it!”

 

“And how can you be so sure of that?” Kirigiri asked.

 

“I-I...well, I just know!” Ishimaru argued, “There’s no way Mondo did it! Where’s your evidence? Your proof? Just because Celeste saw Mondo leaving the bathhouse last night doesn’t mean anything!”

 

“No… they’re right...I did it...” Owada admitted, “After you left, after we found him eavesdropping, he asked me to meet him in the locker rooms later that night,”

 

“What!? NO! Tell them they’re wrong!” Ishimaru cried running over to Owada’s side.

 

“Maybe if we look at the whole case one more time, now that we have this new information, you’ll come to see the truth...” Naegi said gently, “Last night Hagakure went to the locker rooms to meet with someone, unfortunately for him, that meeting didn’t go as planned. For some reason or another, the person Hagakure was meeting with turned on him, taking one of the dumbbells and hitting him in the back of the head. After realizing what they’d done, the killer fled the scene, taking the murder weapon with them. That’s when Togami came in, seeing a perfect opportunity to frame and expose Genocider Syo. So while Togami was setting his scene, the real killer was taking the dumbbell to the bathhouse to wash it off. But something happened and they ended up leaving the weight in the bath. Sneaking out to go back to their room, not realizing that someone had seen them leaving. And that someone is you!” Naegi pointed to Owada, “Owada Mondo!”

 

Owada just grunted, there was nothing more to say, they had figured it out.

 

“Mondo! Tell them they’re wrong! Please! They have to be!” Ishimaru sobbed.

 

“Hey, Monokuma? It’s voting time, ain’t it? Let’s get this over with,” Owada said, tone indicating that he had accepted his fate.

 

“Wait! Hold on!” Ishimaru shouted.

 

“No waiting! No holding on! Time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Grab your lever and give it a yank! Who will you elect as the blackened this time around? Will you make the right choice, or the dreadfully wrong one? What’s it gonna be? What’s it gonna beeee!?” Monokuma said excitedly.

 

Time seemed to slow to a near freeze as they waited for the results to go through. After what felt like hours, the screen behind Monokuma lit up, flashing a picture of Owada.

Chapter Text

“Uh-oh… This time it looks like...you got it right again! Yes, it is so. The blackened that killed Hagakure Yasuhiro was Owada Mondoooo! In case you’re wondering, the vote was NOT unanimous. Ishimaru chose the wrong answer! You’re treading very close to the danger zone Ishimaru! You need to be more careful!” Monokuma declared.

 

“No! Please, no! It can’t be true! I- I refuse to believe it… There’s no way...no way he would kill someone!” Ishimaru was sobbing harder now, clinging to Owada for dear life.

 

“Sorry...” Owada said in a soft growl.

 

“Wh-Why are you apologizing!? Why!? Why why why why why!? WHYYY!? Wh...why? Why did you do it?” Ishimaru cried.

 

Owada kept quiet, taking a vow of silence now that the truth was out.

 

“Why’d you do it? Why’d you kill him?” Naegi asked, he needed to know why the gang leader had done what he’d done. It wouldn’t make anything better, but at least it would give Hagakure’s death some meaning.

 

Owada didn’t answer, only clenched his fist in agitation. Monokuma noticed this and hopped down off his chair to address the question. All the while Ishimaru just clung to Owada.

 

“The story of murder this time...is the sad story of two men. One who knew he didn’t stand a chance of surviving without help, and one who let his anger get the better of him… Let’s begin with our victim, Hagakure. Hagakure knew he was a likely target, as paranoid as he was, and after the time limit was imposed with the last motive he knew he had to do something to prevent himself from falling victim to whoever was desperate enough to keep their secret under wraps. And the person he went to was...” Monokuma trailed off.

 

“It was me…!” Owada admitted.

 

“Yup, it sure was! The biker gang fella saw the threat as a challenge to his status as a strong man, something he worked hard to be. What’s more, Hagakure didn’t even have the balls to go through with a solid threat! He came across more pleading than anything, begging Owada to protect him or he would let slip what he overheard between Ishimaru and Owada. Owada wasn’t too pleased to see such a coward as Hagakure attempting to blackmail him, and out of anger, not only from the threat, but also the implication that Hagakure had been spying on Ishimaru and him, Owada let his anger over power him and grabbed the nearest thing, which just so happened to be the dumbbell, and whacked Hagakure in the head,”

 

“Why...would he...do that? The more I hear you talk, the more I don’t understand! Why…? Why did you…?” Ishimaru asked between shaky gasps.

 

“...Because… no matter what, I couldn’t let anyone else know… I knew you wouldn’t tell anyone, but I couldn’t risk Hagakure telling everyone...” Owada stated.

 

“So that’s what triggered it, after all,” Kirigiri said, “The possibility of having you embarrassing memories and secrets exposed...”

 

“AHAHAHAHA! What’d I tell ya? You kiddos would kill in a heart beat to protect yer domd ol’ past and lame-ass memories! You wanna know what Owada did? The secret he killed to keep hidden? He killed his own brother! Owada, the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader, makes all the hoodlums and riff-raff across the country tremble… But the only reason he had the chance to join a gang in the first place was because of a certain someone. Owada’s older brother’s name was Owada Daiya. Owada had nothing respect for him. It was because of Daiya that Owada ever got a motorcycle.

 

“Owada’s older brother was his only family growing up. He was the only one Owada could trust, or respect. He wanted to measure up to his big brother, so he imitated him in everything he did. Owada was the epitome of the starry-eyed kid brother. Meanwhile, the charismatic older brother had put together a local motorcycle gang...and before anyone knew it, it had grown into the biggest biker gang in the country. Daiya, the older brother, number one in the gang. And his number two, his younger brother. In the beginning, everything was peaches and gravy. But when Owada started to think about how he would have to take over the gang from his brother someday, his brother’s greatness, his reputation, began to gnaw on Owada’s very soul!

 

“Almost every day, Owada heard the gossip and whispers of the other members of the gang, not believing he was worthy of taking over for Daiya. Which is why Owada strove to become stronger, stronger than his brother, he had to win, had to come out on top, just once. And on the night of his amazing brother’s retirement ceremony, Owada challenged him to a street race! But during the race, tragedy struck… The kid brother pushed ahead with reckless abandon, eager for victory, and dashed into oncoming traffic. But suddenly…! Daiya had pushed Owada out of the way of a semi, risking his own life to save his brother. Laying in his kid brother’s arms, the older brother delivered his final words… ‘M-My bad, kid...I fucked up. Sorry.’ Of course he knew it was his brother’s fault, but Daiya never blamed him for what happened. ‘Hey, kid… The rest is up to you. No matter what, you gotta keep the gang together. Cuz it’s the team...you and me put together. It’s...a pr...a promise...between men...’

 

“He decided to hide the truth of what happened from everyone else in the gang. In order to keep the gang together, and keep the promise to his brother, he could never admit to anyone that it was his own weakness that had caused the accident! And as a result...the team got even stronger, under the banner of the kid who’d bested his big brother. ‘Daiya was gonna lose to his kid brother, so he got stupid and got himself killed.’ That became the explanation for what happened. Owada’s lie became the truth. He wanted to lead the team so bad, he was willing to tell all kinds of lies about his brother!

 

“And yet… As soon as our little killing game began, he realized no matter how tough he pretended to be, he was another weakling that could die in an instant. And then the lovely, the hateful Monokuma announced the revealing of the embarrassing secrets. At that point, it was clear I would have no problem shedding light on his secret… ‘Owada killed his own brother,’,” Monokuma finished his story.

 

“N-No matter what… I couldn’t let the other gang members find out. If that happened, everything would have been ruined… Everything me and my brother had worked to create...woulda been destroyed… His death...all the guilt I’d been carrying around...it all woulda been for nothing. So that’s why… That’s why I...I…!” Owada said, trying to justify his actions.

 

“Owada...” Naegi said, concerned for the biker’s emotional state.

 

“After I saw what Monokuma had on me my head filled up with a kind of fuzzy uneasiness, and just started swirlin’ around. I’d never felt anything like it before. I didn’t know what to do about it. I talked to Ishi about it, and that kinda helped… But then Hagakure came up and threatened to tell y’all my secret if I didn’t protect him… His cowardliness reminded me of what I did to the gang with my brother’s death… I don’t remember anything after that… When I woke up again, he was laying at my feet...covered in blood… I had the dumbbell in my hand...and I was just staring down at him...down at the ground…” Owada explained.

 

“H-Hey...” Ishimaru tried to cut in.

 

“...I...killed him. I killed Hagakure. Even after all this time, I’m still just as weak as I’ve always been! And thanks to that, I did something I can never take back…!”

 

Owada… He was normally so aggressive, so angry… He hid his weak side away from everyone. That was his secret… A weakness that lived in a heart like his...and it turned him cold-blooded….Goddammit!

 

“Ahh-hahaha! Look at him! You see? You’re all just like him! For a secret from the past, for a memeory… For that, he killed another living human in cold blood! He couldn’t cut free of his regrets from the outside world. He doesn’t know what true strength is. Do you see hope anywhere in there!? Cuz I sure don’t!” Monokuma barked out with nerve grating laughter.

 

“You...bastard!” Ishimaru shouted, shocking everyone by cursing, “Just shut up, you son of a bitch! Go ahead, say that again, I dare you!”

 

“Okay! I’ll say it as many times as I want! But my furry butt’s just itching to get Owada’s punishment underway, we’re startin’ to run outta time,”

 

“P-Punishment? No! You can’t! This was a mistrial! It has to be! I won’t let you execute him! I won’t!” Ishimaru was hysterical, clinging to Owada with all his strength, hoping to prevent the inevitable by sheer force of will.

 

“I’m sorry bro,” Owada’s words were soft and tender as he looked down at Ishimaru’s face. His expression was pained, but through it all, the strength he came to be known for, shone through.

 

“I’ve prepared a very special punishment for the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader, Owada Mondo!” Monokuma cheered.

 

“Please, please don’t leave me,” Ishimaru whispered, a choked sob racking his trembling body.

 

“It’ll be okay, Ishi. Now you gotta promise me you’ll stay string and get of here, okay?” Owada leaned down and pressed a loving kiss on the other boy’s forehead before he was jerked backwards, much like Kuwata had been.

 

And like before, a small room, this time looking out on a circus themed stage, opened up and all the students were directed into it. Asahina and Fujisaki stood as Ishimaru’s side, both hoping to offer some form of comfort. Celeste stood off to the side with Kirigiri, neither looking even marginally put off with what was about to happen. Yamada was trying to hide at the back of the group, while Fukawa, or Genocider Syo, stood right up front, a sadistic glee glinting in her eyes. Ogami stood by Asahina, a comforting arm wrapped around the swimmer’s waist. Naegi had made sure he wasn’t next to Togami, after hearing what the blond had done, he didn’t even want to look at him. Togami didn’t seem to mind this, staying on the opposite side of the group to the brunet.

 

Once they were all settled, the execution began. Owada and Monokuma appeared at the far end of the room. Owada with his hands tied behind his back as he sat behind the bear on a decked out motorcycle. Monokuma revved the engine before letting the bike shoot forward towards a spherical cage. Moments before the bike entered the contraption, Monokuma was ejected from his seat, evading joining the biker in his final moments. When Owada entered the cage the door closed, locking him in as he went around in circles. If possible, it seemed the bike sped up, going faster and faster. But that wasn’t the end of thing, because why would it be with Monokuma running things? No, just as Owada reached top speed, only a blur of colour to some, to others a streak of grey, the cage lit up with electricity.

 

As this happened Ishimaru fell to his knees, his heart broken screams nearly drowning out the sound of the motorcycle. Suddenly Ishimaru began to claw at his eyes, his screams now affecting everyone to some degree. Even Togami was giving the boy an apologetic look. The light from the electricity had reached it’s peak, and then it stopped. After the motorcycle came clattering to it’s side in the empty cage, only Ishimaru’s screams filled the air. Owada was nowhere to be seen. Seconds later a ding rang out, and the machine that produced it popped out a tub of butter labeled, to everyone’s horror, ‘Owada Butter’.

 

“NO!” Ishimaru screamed, hands still clawing at his eyes as he wept uncontrollably.

 

“Ishimaru?” Asahina asked hesitantly, not sure why the boy was trying to rip his eyes out.

 

“H-He was my soulmate! My SOULMATE! And you took him from me!” he shrieked, directing his anger at Monokuma.

 

Gasps rang out from the other students, Kirigiri and Togami being the only two who didn’t appear shocked bey the outburst. The only way Ishimaru could have known for sure that Owada was his soulmate, at this point, was if his vision had reverted back to black and white.

 

Asahina, with the aid of Fujisaki, helped Ishimaru to his feet as everyone returned to the trial hall. Only Ishimaru’s sporadic sobs and sniffles echoed off the walls, no one wanted to say anything, there nothing to say that would make it better. So, of course, Monokuma had to pour, not only an overly generous amount of salt on the wound, but also a waterfall of lemon juice.

 

“You’re lucky you only need a majority vote Ishimaru, as you were one vote shy of a unanimous decision. But if you want to kill everyone go ahead, oh, wait you can’t, ahahaha! Too bad! Now get out of here! It’s almost nighttime and I don[‘t need any of you passing out from lack of sleep!” the bear said.

 

“I have one question before we go,” Kirigiri spoke up.

 

“Oh? And what might that be?”

 

“What did you do? What did you...do to me?”

 

“What!?”

 

“Answer me. What did you do to my body?”

 

“Uwaaah! Oh man, oh jeez… Oh man, oh jeez! What do you mean, what did...do!? I-I have no idea…! I don’t know anything about it…!”

 

Silence followed the response.

 

“Okay, things are getting kinda awkward. I think it’s about time I got out of here… Meanwhile, you guys can go on enjoying your school life. If you get lonely, gimme a shout! Not that I’ll do anything about it, of course! Puhuhu… See ya!” and then he was gone.

 

After Monokuma left the elevator doors opened up. The remaining ten students filed into it and let it return them to the first floor. Everyone went to their rooms, all hoping to get at least a few hours of sleep after the day they had had.

 

As Naegi got ready for bed he could only hope that Ishimaru would be alright. He also had to wonder what Kirigiri had meant by her question. It just added to his ever growing list of questions about the girl. On top of all that, Fukawa turned out to have a split personality that was a notorious murderer, so now he had even more reason to avoid the novelist. With a melancholy sigh Naegi pulled his blanket tighter to his body and closed his eyes, letting sleep take him.

Chapter Text

Walking into the dining hall the next morning, Naegi was surprised to find everyone present, he hadn’t expected to see Togami there after what he did. Fukawa was still Genocider Syo, and she wasn’t even trying to be subtle as she ogled Togami from across the room. Ishimaru, on the other hand, was almost catatonic, while he was physically present it was clear he was definitely not mentally there.

 

“Great! We’re all here!” Asahina said, taking the charge since Ishimaru was in no state to do so.

 

“Umm, before we go see what’s opened up on the third floor, I have something I need to tell all of you,” Fujisaki said, his voice shaking as he looked around the room, eyes coming to rest on Naegi in a silent way of communicating what he was about to do.

 

“Yes?” Celeste asked, curious as to what the normally soft spoken programmer could want to tell the group.

 

“After yesterday and seeing what our secrets lead Owada to do, and since we don’t know how long we’ll be trapped in here, I think it’s best to come forward with what my secret is,”

 

“Are you sure you want to do this now? You know you don’t have to,” Naegi said, eyes widening as he realized what Fujisaki was going to do.

 

“Yeah, I’m sure. The longer I keep this hidden the harder it’s going to be when I admit the truth, and I think everyone deserves to know,” Fujisaki explained, to which Naegi just nodded in understanding, “I’ve technically been lying to you all the whole time we’ve been in here. You all think I’m a girl, but I’m not, I’m a boy. I started dressing like a girl when I was younger because people kept teasing me about how girly I looked. I always aspired to be stronger and once I achieved a more manly body I would tell people the truth, but I’ve learned that strength isn’t just physical, it’s also mental. I’ve come to accept that I may not ever be the strong man I’ve always aspired to be, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be who I’m meant to be,”

 

The silence that followed the admission was deafening as everyone processed what was just said.

 

“So you’ve been cross-dressing this whole time…? That… is so HOT!” Genocider blurted out, breaking the quiet that had settled over the group, “Nnng, now I actually want to kill you,”

 

“A- A guy!?” Yamada shouted, “I don’t belie--”

 

His remark was cut short by Celeste slapping her hand over his mouth, “Thank you for telling us, it could not have been an easy decision to do so,” she said, over shadowing Yamada’s blatant disrespect.

 

“Yes, it takes a truly strong person to be able to admit something like that. I admire that in a person,” Ogami said, her gentle support calming the nervous boy.

 

Togami simply nodded when everyone turned to see his reaction, he didn’t actually care, but he wasn’t going to stop the boy from having his moment. Asahina grinned brightly at him, inviting the programmer to join her and Ogami for tea later. Ishimaru didn’t react, it was unclear if he even understood what was going on around him.

 

“Is that all?” Kirigiri asked, seemingly annoyed that they were wasting time having this discussion, “Good, then we can move on to more pressing matters. We need to search the third floor for any clues as to a way out of here and who did this to us,” With that said, she turned heel and left, leaving many astonished expressions in her wake.

 

“That was...” Asahina began.

 

“Cold?” Celeste supplied.

 

“That’s one way to put it,” Genocider laughed, the shrill piercing sound echoing the malicious gleam in her eyes.

 

“So… the third floor?” Naegi said, diverting the conversation away from dangerous territory.

 

“Yes, we might as well go check it out,” Ogami agreed.

 

But before they could all exit the dining hall a small sneeze met their ears.

 

“Wh-What happened?” Fukawa stuttered out, back to the personality they had all come to know and...tolerate.

 

“So she changes back when she sneezes?” Yamada asked in disbelief.

 

“Y-Yeah, so what if I do? You got a p-problem with that?” Fukawa snapped.

 

“N-No! N-Not at all!” the large boy squeaked, trying to hide behind Celeste.

 

Fukawa sneered at him and then stalked out of the room, braids trailing after her as she left in a hurried pace.

 

“That...was weird…” Asahina said.

 

“Yes, well none of us are exactly ‘normal’,”Ogami said, looking around at the group of unlikely companions.

 

“I’m pretty sure Naegi is the most normal one here,” Asahina tried to joke.

 

“Is that supposed to be a good thing?” Togami quipped, glaring at the others.

 

“Well, it’s not a bad thing,” she countered angrily.

 

Togami scoffed at that and took his own leave, having no reason to stay around the commoners that the other students were.

 

“There’s nothing wrong with being normal, Naegi, just because you don’t have a special talent doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be here as much as the rest of us,” Asahina reassured.

 

“Yeah, I know,” Naegi said, doing his best to mask the hurt he felt from Togami’s words.

 

Sure he didn’t have a true ultimate talent, he only got into the school by a random drawing, but that didn’t mean he wanted to be reminded that he wasn’t on the same level as his classmates. He tried not to let it bother him as he followed everyone up to the third floor.

 

The first thing they came across when they reached the top of the staircase was a door to a… rec room. It was at that point the group split up, Asahina and Ogami went off together, while Yamada and Celeste went their own ways, leaving Naegi, Ishimaru, and Fujisaki to do as they pleased. After finding absolutely nothing of use in either of the classrooms, Ishimaru went off on his own, though his movements seemed robotic as he waled away.

 

The remaining two boys continued their search, finding Celeste in the rec room. She admitted that while their was still bleak, it was nice to have a room to relax and play games in, as there a pool table, a dart board, an Othello board, a shogi board, even a slot machine. Fujisaki teased Naegi into trying the slot machine since he was the ‘Ultimate Lucky Student’, and when Naegi did give it a go, he had to suppress his exasperation when it landed on triple sevens. Celeste and Fujisaki laughed at this, neither were surprised by the outcome. Naegi grumbled his agitation as he and Fujisaki left, making their way to the art room, where they found Yamada scrounging through art supplies. The large boy was so focused on his task he hadn’t noticed the other two enter the room.

 

Fujisaki and Naegi let him be as they went to search the repository. It was there they found what was undeniably the biggest clue they had come across so far. Laying on the floor was a photograph. A photograph of three of their late classmates. Smiling back at him was Hagakure, Kuwata, and Owada. It looked like it had been taken in some classroom, with the sun shining brightly in through the window.

 

“Is this real?” Fujisaki whispered, not believing what he was seeing.

 

“I don’t know… How can it be? There’s no way this is real,” Naegi said, more to convince himself than anything else.

 

“You’re not real!” Monokuma snapped as he appeared and ripped the picture from Naegi’s hands, “Sorry, you weren’t supposed to see that. It’s mine, I accidentally dropped it, but now you’ve found it for me so I’ll just be taking it,”

 

He was gone before either of the boys could even think to protest. Other than that, there was nothing too interesting in the art room. Fujisaki and Naegi wandered through the halls, eventually coming to the last room on the floor, the physics lab. The door to the lab looked like something out of a sci-fi film, and what they found inside did little to quell those thoughts.

 

A huge machine that couldn’t be identified as a first glance took up the majority of the space. It’s continuous hum resonated loudly off the linoleum, making it hard to hear oneself think. Ishimaru was standing near the machine, still looking more like a robot than a teenage boy. Before going to see how the dark haired boy was, Naegi poked his head into the storage room and was immediately assaulted with the overwhelming smell of formaldehyde. He quickly shut the door and walked over to where Ishimaru and Fujisaki were. Fujisaki was fidgeting with a cheap looking camera, and when Naegi looked closer he thought he recognized the character printed on the front.

 

“Ishimaru? You doing okay?” Naegi asked the taller boy.

 

“It’s gone…” he replied in a barely audible whisper, “All the colour is gone...”

 

“Oh,” Naegi said awkwardly, not knowing how best to respond.

 

It was no shock that that was what was troubling Ishimaru, he had just lost his soulmate in a sickeningly gruesome manner, without actually knowing that they were soulmates. Naegi had no idea what the red-eyed was going through, and he hoped he never would, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to help Ishimaru get through it.

 

“So what is this?” Naegi asked, motioning to the machine.

 

“Watch out!” Monokuma shouted, popping up in front of the three boys.

 

“Wh-What--?”

 

“What, you wanna do some quantum leaping!?”

 

“Quantum leaping? You don’t mean?” Fujisaki asked.

 

“Right-o! That’s a time machine! Pretty awesome, right? It was designed by a student right here at Hope’s Peak! The Ultimate Physicist… Although, they don’t go here anymore. They died during the Tragedy!”

 

“A time machine…? Seriously…? So...it can go back in time…? Okay, then...let me get in there… If I can go back to the past…then I can… This time I’ll stop Mondo for sure--!” Ishimaru exclaimed, it was the most he had said since the previous day.

 

“Oh, sorry, not possible. This particular machine can only go back one minute. It comes in handy when you, like...leave your pizza bagels in the microwave one minute too long,”

 

“One minute…?”

 

“Hmmm… You sound disappointed. But actually, I was lying about the whole thing anyway. There’s no such thing as time machines!”

 

“Actually...” Fujisaki mused, thinking hard about the technology required to actually create a time machine, “No… he’s right… It’s just not possible in our current state of technical advancement,”

 

“What…?” Ishimaru asked.

 

“Honestly, it’s an air purifier,”

 

“Air purifier…?” Naegi repeated.

 

“It can produce clean air no matter where you’re at. With that thing, you could even live on Mars! But what with the discombobulating gravity and deadly low temperatures, you prolly don’t wanna live on Mars. Anyway, this machine is the reason you guys have all this delicious air. So don’t go messing with it! You break it, and it’s your butt!” and with that warning he was gone.

 

“Ishimaru…? You okay…?” Naegi turned to the taller boy.

 

Ishimaru had reverted to his near catatonic state, having Monokuma tease such a thing, then to instantly crush the boy’s hope, it was just horrid.

 

“I’ll talk to him, you take this and go meet with the others, we’ll join you in a bit, okay?” Fujisaki said, handing the camera to Naegi.

 

“Alright… Come find me if you need something though, okay?” Naegi said hesitantly.

 

“I will,”

 

Naegi gave them one last look, then left them alone. Camera in hand, Naegi returned to the dining hall where most of the others were already gathered. Fukawa wasn’t there, mot likely locked in her room to avoid people, and unsurprisingly, Togami was also absent. What was shocking, to some extent, was that Kirigiri was missing too. The girl tended to go off on her own a lot, sometimes disappearing for hours on end, she never told anyone where she went or what she was doing, it was just assumed she was looking for a way out, but so far it hadn’t been a problem so no one really questioned it.

 

“Where are Fujisaki and Ishimaru?” Asahina asked Naegi when he arrived alone.

 

“Fujisaki is trying to get Ishimaru to talk about what happened, he had a bit of a breakdown after Monokuma showed up,” Naegi explained.

 

“Is he okay?” she asked, genuinely concerned.

 

“Honestly? I’m not sure…”

 

“He did just lose his soulmate, who he could not even remember being his soulmate. The fact that he left his room and came to the breakfast meeting this morning, is quite impressive,” Celeste said.

 

“She’s right. The best thing we can do for him right now is to give him space, but be ready to talk and support him when he is ready,” Ogami said.

 

“He needs to get over it, he’s just making a target of himself. I’m not saying that to be rude, it’s just the simple truth,” Kirigiri’s voice came from the doorway.

 

“While you are not wrong, he did, as I previously stated, just lose his soulmate. That’s not something you just ‘get over’, so to speak,” Celeste said.

 

“Whatever, did anyone find anything that could help us get out of here?” Kirigiri asked with a roll of her eyes.

 

“Well, it doesn’t help us get of here, but I learned that the machine in the physics lab is just a giant air purifier,” Naegi offered.

 

“Oh! That’s what that was?” Asahina asked.

 

“That’s what Monokuma said,”

 

“But why would we need an air purifier? Especially one so large?” Ogami inquired.

 

“I have no idea,” Naegi shrugged.

 

“That’s all well and good, but did anyone find anything actually useful?” Kirigiri pressed.

 

“I found a camera, well Fujisaki found it, but he gave it to me to show you guys,”

 

“Hey! That’s the super rare prize that was given away at a bingo contest at a big anime convention… You have any idea how much I had to pay that guy to get my hands on it!?” Yamada shouted, “Wait… that’s my camera!” he snatched the camera out of Naegi’s hands, “Where did you find it!?”

 

“In the physics lab...”

 

“It was one of my most prized possessions. I brought it here with me, but I lost it the first day, along with my phone,”

 

“Why would it have reappeared in the physics lab…?” Celeste pondered.

 

“Agh, but look at it! It got all messed up! Like when someone steals a sticker from your collection, or you buy a secondhand shirt… Well, that’s it…”

 

“Huh? That’s it...?” Naegi asked.

 

“It’s not in mint condition. I don’t need it anymore...”

 

“You don’t want it just because it’s a little dirty…? But you were just saying how much it meant to you!” Asahina said.

 

“Then...may I have it? I might be able to find some sort of use for it. If any of you would like to borrow it, please feel free to ask,” Celeste said, taking the camera from Yamada before he could answer her.

 

“Well… I can’t really imagine any of us are gonna need to take any pictures or whatever… but whatever,” Asahina replied.

 

“Yeah, true...” Naegi agreed.

 

“So besides all that, no one found anything useful?” Kirigiri asked.

 

“Well, the nurse’s office is no longer locked,” Ogami said, “Though it lacked any protein or even vitamin supplements, only headache medicine and a few over-the-counter things,”

 

“What did you expect us to find? We’re just teenagers! Not some duper detective force!” Asahina snapped.

 

“Obviously,” was the short remark, “Oh, Fujisaki, have you finished decrypting the files yet?”

 

“Uh… not yet, it’s not like it’s something that will happen overnight, it’s a complicated process,” Fujisaki said as he and Ishimaru entered the dining hall, “But I have started on it,”

 

“Good, come get me the minute you find something of importance,” Kirigiri said, then swept out of the room.

 

“Seriously, what’s her problem? It’s like she thinks we don’t care about getting out of here just as much as she does,” Asahina grumbled.

 

No one had an answer, not even a speculation, to that question. Not wanting to deal with Kirigiri, Genocider, or Togami, the remaining students spent the rest of the day in the dining hall, chatting and getting to know each other better. Ishimaru sat quietly off to the side, occasionally whispering something to Fujisaki when the programmer asked him a question. Ogami and Asahina made dinner for the group consisting of sushi, miso soup, and udon noodles. They all closed the day off by enjoying a bowl of green tea ice cream before each leaving to turn in for the night. Naegi watched Fujisaki guide Ishimaru to his room before returning to his own room for the night. Naegi truly hoped the Ultimate Moral Compass was going to be okay, he hated seeing any of friends in such a state. Heaving a tired sigh, Naegi locked himself into his room for the night, hoping his luck would provide a better day in the morning.

 

Chapter Text

The breakfast meeting came and went with no abnormalities, leaving Naegi with a whole day to do as he pleased. There was one thing he wanted to do, but at the same time he really didn’t… He was still debating with himself over whether or not to go through with it as his feet took him to where he wasn’t sure he wanted to go.

 

The library was just as dimly lit as it had been before the trial, but unlike before, it was now uninhabited. ‘Huh? I would’ve thought Togami would be here?’ Naegi thought to himself, closing the library door behind him, ‘Maybe he’s in his room?’ And that’s how the brunet found himself standing outside the blond’s room, arguing with his inner voice about whether or not to ring the doorbell. He finally mustered the courage, pressing the cool plastic button and waited in anxious unknowing.

 

“What could you possibly want?” the silky timbre of Togami’s voice jolted Naegi out of his internal musings and back to the present.

 

“I wanted to talk to you about the trial,” Naegi said, doing his best to come across as confident and not the nervous wreck that he was inside.

 

“And what makes you think I want to talk with you about that, or anything for that matter?” the sneer was harsher than usual, “Oh, wait, let me guess, you want to know why I tried to frame Fukawa? Am I right?”

 

“Yeah...” Naegi said in a small voice, eyes dropping to the floor, but catching sight of the bow that the heir held in his right hand.

 

“I’ll tell you so you will leave alone,” he began coolly, emotionlessly, like the voice of death, “I did it because it made things more interesting. That night I was in the library as usual, as the night grew late I decided to return to my room. Which is when I stumbled upon him… I spotted Owada leaving the boys locker room, bloody dumbbell in hand. After he’d gone, I looked inside and saw the corpse. He was such a fool. He didn’t have the slightest idea that I’d seen him. I thought it would liven things up if I were to... lend a helping hand,”

 

“You did all that… to ‘liven things up’!?” Naegi gasped out.

 

“I did,” he stated, looking Naegi right in the eye, blue piercing into green, “And I was able to preform an interesting experiment. Once I do decide to become blackened, I now know who I’ll have to watch out for,”

 

“Wh--!?”

 

“You wanted my reasoning, now you have it, are you satisfied?”

 

Togami didn’t give Naegi a chance to answer, shutting the door in his face before he could reply. Naegi sighed, that had not been the answer he was looking for, and it certainly didn’t make him feel any better. Maybe a bath would calm him down…

 

He was surprised to find both Fujisaki and Ishimaru sitting together in the locker area when he set foot in the bathhouse. Ishimaru looked, better wasn’t the right word, but he didn’t look worse, so that was a plus, Naegi thought.

 

“Hey guys, what are you doing in here?” Naegi asked.

 

“Hey Makoto, I was just showing Ishimaru the AI I programmed, wanna see it? I finally got him completed,” Fujisaki answered, patting the seat next to him.

 

“Sure,”

 

Naegi sat down next to the small boy so he could see the laptop resting on his lap. Ishimaru remained silent during this, but he watched Naegi out of the corner of his eye.

 

“This is Alter Ego, he’s a highly intelligent AI I programmed. He’s designed to think a person and process any mental task a human can,” Fujisaki explained.

 

“That’s amazing,” Naegi said.

 

“Thank you, master has worked hard to create me,” the computer said, the voice almost identical to Fujisaki’s only more robotic in nature, “Are you Makoto? Master has said you are someone he trusts completely,”

 

Fujisaki and Naegi both flushed at that, and Fujisaki began typing furiously.

 

“I am sorry, I did not mean to embarrass you,” Alter Ego apologized.

 

“It’s alright,” Naegi laughed, “Have you started on the files yet?”

 

“I have, but whoever did the encryption knew what they were doing. I should have the first few files done by tomorrow if my calculations are correct,”

 

“That’s great! Maybe that will get Kirigiri off your back,” Naegi said, directing the latter part to Fujisaki.

 

“Hopefully,” the small boy said lightly, “What were you doing anyway? Were you looking for me?”

 

“Oh, no, actually, I was going to take a bath. I had another encounter with Togami and thought a bath might be a good way to calm down and relax,” Naegi said, “Do you guys want to join me?”

 

“A bath sounds wonderful! Don’t you think Ishimaru?” Fujisaki replied with a bright grin.

 

Ishimaru nodded slowly, a look of confusion wrinkling his face, not sure why his opinion mattered. With that decided the three boys stripped down, exchanging their clothes for fluffy white towels wrapped securely around their waists. Fujisaki locked the laptop in a separate locker from his clothes, but making sure sure it wouldn’t go into sleep mode first. After that the trio entered the bath and settled into the steaming water, now cleaned of any lingering blood and the dumbbell.

 

“How are you doing?” Naegi asked Ishimaru, hoping to get a verbal response from the teen.

 

Ishimaru shrugged and averted his gaze as tears prickled his eyes.

 

“I’m sorry about Owada,” Naegi continued, wishing there was some way to help the morally righteous boy feel better, but knowing there was nothing could help with the loss of ones soulmate, “Maybe once we get out of here, and we will, we can have a proper ceremony for him, and the others we’ve lost,”

 

“That’s a great idea, and if you want, I can help you find his family, or I guess the gang, and you can be the one to tell what happened, if you want?” Fujisaki added.

 

“We’re both here for you, whenever you need to talk, or just need someone to be around, okay? Don’t feel like you have to deal with this by yourself,” Naegi said.

 

“Thank you,” Ishimaru managed to choke out between quiet sobs.

 

He didn’t say anymore, but he seemed less closed off in his body language after that. Fujisaki and Naegi moved on to lighter topics, the lucky student offering to let the programmer borrow some of his clothes so when Fujisaki was ready, he could stop wearing the dresses and skirts that currently filled his closet. To that Fujisaki agreed, and they then fell into a companionable silence, finding they didn’t need to fill the void with idle chatter. Once their skin started to prune it was mutually agreed that they should get out. Fujisaki suggested that they all go get something to eat as it was around time for lunch. After changing back into their everyday clothes they joined Celeste, who was paging through a fashion magazine and enjoying a small salad, in the dining hall.

 

“Ah, Naegi, I wonder if you would be willing to indulge me in a game of shogi? I would very much like to pit your ‘lucky’ talent against my own talent as the ‘Ultimate Gambler’, just for fun, what do you say?” Celeste inquired, looking up from her reading.

 

“Uh, sure? Let me get some lunch and then we can go up to the rec room,” Naegi said, nervously rubbing the back of his neck.

 

“Excellent,”

 

Celeste returned to her magazine while Naegi made himself a cup-of-noodles and slurped it down. When he was done, Celeste lead him up tot he third floor, Fujisaki and Ishimaru following behind, intrigued to watch the game that was about to take place.

 

It was well known that Celeste had never lost a game, thus earning her ‘Ultimate’ title. But Naegi’s talent was much more unknown in it’s practical application, so there was an odd chance that the short boy could just luck his way into a win without even trying.

 

Asahina and Ogami saw the unlikely group as they were passing the locker rooms, and out of curiosity, the two girls also joined up. When they reached the rec room Celeste set up the shogi board and allowed Naegi the first move, foregoing the traditional method of deciding who was to go first.

 

Naegi had played a few casual games growing up, so he understood the basics of how to play. Celeste, on the other hand, clearly knew what she was doing. It wasn’t a long game, but Naegi was able to hold his own for a good while. He did lose in the end, but considering who his opponent was, he was proud to have survived as long as he did.

 

Celeste put the game away, but instead of leaving, she brought over the Othello board, a game the brunet was truly horrid at. But with everyone looking so excited to watch the two play another game, he couldn’t resist the urge to keep them happy. This was a much shorter game, Naegi lost spectacularly, but he just laughed it off, happy to see his classmates having a good time.

 

“Thank you for indulging me, Naegi, if you ever wish to try your luck again, I will more than happy to assist you,” Celeste said with her small smile.

 

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Naegi said, laughing when Asahina said he should play her in a game of poker.

 

Naegi settled in the chair he was sitting in, watching Ogami and Fujisaki play a game of pool. Celeste was browsing the magazines and Ishimaru sat next to Asahina as she she chattered away about the best kind of donut. It was a relaxing afternoon, and for a moment Naegi could almost forget that they were trapped in the school and being forced to kill each other. Almost.

 

Kirigiri was all too happy to remind them of their situation when she found them lounging around.

 

“I see you all don’t feel the need to try and find a way out of here,” she said, looking down on Naegi specifically, as she did.

 

“We were just having a little fun, is that so wrong?” Asahina replied.

 

“Not at all, I just thought more of you would be trying to escape,” she said nonchalantly, “But if you’d rather spend your time with meaningless trivialities, be my guest,”

 

The group watched the lilac haired girl leave, all stunned silent by her words. What was her deal? Why was she so insistent on finding a way out? It wasn’t like the others didn’t want to get out, but there was only so much they could do.

 

“I should probably go check on the laptop, see how the decryption is coming along,” Fujisaki said, breaking the silence.

 

“You don’t have to go, Kirigiri can’t force you to do that if you don’t want to,” Asahina said, defending the small programmer.

 

“I know, but I’ve already started on it so I want to make sure it hasn’t run into any problems,”

 

“I believe I shall be going as well, I have a few things to tend to in my room,” Celeste said, getting up from her seat and returning the magazine to the rack.

 

Ishimaru followed Fujisaki when he left, leaving Ogami, Asahina, and Naegi alone in the rec room. The two girls sat down across from the brunet boy, looking expectantly at him.

 

“What?” he asked, confused by the looks.

 

“Nothing, nothing, just wondering if you’ve made any progress on figuring out who your soulmate is,” Asahina said.

 

“Oh… I haven’t really been trying to figure out who they are...” Naegi admitted.

 

“But aren’t you curious?”

 

“I mean, yeah, who wouldn’t be? But there’s just been so much going on, it’s not like I’ve had a lot of time to sit down and think about it,”

 

“Understandable, but you also risk ending up like Ishimaru if you keep putting it off,” Ogami stated.

 

At that Naegi sighed, she had a good point. There really was no good way around this. If he didn’t figure out who they were and they suddenly died, he would be thrust back into a world void of colour, without ever being able to get to know them. But if he did find out who they were and then lost them shortly after, he didn’t know which was worse.

 

“We’re here if you ever want to talk about it, you know that right?” Asahina asked.

 

“Yeah, I do, thanks guys,” Naegi said as he got up to leave.

 

“Any time,”

 

Naegi left the rec room after that, using his e-handbook to check the time, it was about six pm. ‘Might as well get some dinner,’ he thought as he pocketed the device.

 

The dining hall was empty when he walked in, as was the kitchen where he made himself a sandwich, not feeling up to putting forth too much effort to prepare a full meal. As he was cleaning up he felt the cool sting of metal against the side of his neck. Swallowing the last of his dinner with an audible gulp, Naegi braced himself for a slow death at the hands of one of his classmates.

 

“Just what do you think you were doing bothering my white knight earlier?” Fukawa’s, no, Genocider Syo’s voice whispered into his ear.

 

“I-I was just asking him why he tried to frame you in the last trial,” Naegi answered, voice an octave higher than normal.

 

“Oh really? And why should I believe you? What’s stopping me from killing you right here and now?” she asked, sliding the the blade across his skin, drawing small beads of blood to the surface where she broke skin.

 

“Nothing? Except that everyone would know it was you, they wouldn’t even need a trial to prove you guilty. And then you wouldn’t get to see Togami anymore,” Naegi said, hoping to get the underlying threat across through his fear.

 

“Hmmm… You’re a sharp one, aren’t you? But~ you do pose a good point… You get to live today, but stay away from my white knight, I don’t need you ruining him,”

 

She was gone by the time Naegi turned around. After that happened, Naegi just wanted to go to bed, and that’s exactly what he did. Locking himself in his room, he stripped down to his boxers and curled up for the night.

 

~ ~ ~

 

Breakfast was dull affair, in a good way considering everything that could have happened. Naegi then did his usual wandering, chatting briefly with Yamada in the art room and then doing the same with Celeste in the rec room. It was probably the slowest morning Naegi had experienced since waking up in that classroom. Now if only he could stop his thoughts from drifting to the one person he was trying to avoid. Togami. The brunet wondered if the blond was in the library, or in his room again playing whatever instrument it was he used that bow for. Did he play the violin? The viola? Naegi doubted the heir played the cello or bass, he didn’t seem the type to play something that wasn’t normally the focus of a piece.

 

As he was heading back to the dorms, passing the second floor bathrooms, he was almost hit with the boys bathroom door.

 

“Ack!” Naegi cried out as he tumbled backwards onto the floor.

 

“Oh, it’s just you,” Kirigiri said, looking down at Naegi.

 

“Kirigiri? What were you doing in the boys bathroom?” Naegi asked as he pushed himself to his feet.

 

“Investigating,”

 

“In the boys bathroom?”

 

“Yes,”

 

“Why?”

 

“Why do you care? You seem content to stay here and let the killing continue. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check on Fujisaki to see if he has finally made any progress getting anything off that laptop,”

 

“Wait, what? You think I want the killing to keep going?” Naegi asked, angry and confused that she would think that just because he wasn’t spending every waking minute looking for a way out.

 

“Whether you want it to or not, you’re not doing anything to stop it,” she quipped before leaving to go find Fujisaki.

 

Naegi followed after her, worried she might start yelling at the programmer for not being as far along as she wanted him to be. That, and if Alter Ego had uncovered anything, he wanted to know what it was.

 

“You’re not going to find him in his room,” Naegi said, stopping outside the bathhouse while Kirigiri kept walking towards the dorm rooms.

 

“And how do you know this?” she asked, crossing her arms in staring him down.

 

“Because he’s my friend? And he told me he was working in the bathhouse to keep away from prying eyes,” he answered, glancing up at the camera while he said this.

 

Kirigiri didn’t say anything more, but her eyes narrowed as she passed Naegi to enter the aforementioned room. Much to her chagrin , Naegi had been right. Fujisaki was sitting on one of the benches, laptop on his lap as he clicked away at the keys.

 

“Kirigiri? Makoto? What are you two doing here? Did you need something?” Fujisaki asked, looking up from the computer.

 

“I want you to show me the progress you’ve made with the files,” the lilac haired girl said.

 

“Oh…? Okay… I just got finished decrypting the first couple, but it doesn’t look like they had anything useful in them,” Fujisaki said, handing the laptop to the girl.

 

Kirigiri took the computer and started going through the new information. After a few minutes she handed it back with a scowl.

 

“Is that all?” she asked, voice strained as she tried not to snap.

 

“At the moment yes. Decrypting these files takes time, some are more encrypted than others,” Fujisaki stated.

 

Kirigiri let out a frustrated huff and left the two boys, her heels clicking loudly on the tile floor.

 

“I don’t think she likes me very much,” the programmer said with an awkward chuckle once he sure she was gone.

 

“I don’t think she likes anyone here,” Naegi said with a laugh.

 

Fujisaki let a real laugh escape him at that.

 

“I don’t think she’s a bad person, she just doesn’t seem to know how to interact with others well,”

 

“I think you’re right, she just needs to lighten up a little, have a little fun,”

 

Naegi truly did believe that, he didn’t think Kirigiri was a bad person, she just had some skewed views on things. Maybe if things were different she’d be fun to hang out with. Oh well…

 

The rest of the day passed without incident, at least for Naegi, he couldn’t vouch for anyone else though. He took a shower before nighttime, enjoying the rush of hot water over his perpetually tense muscles. Making sure his door was locked had become a nightly ritual, so doing that and turning off the light were usually the last two things Naegi did before crawling into bed at night. As he slept that night, his dreams were filled with shades of blue and hints of blond.

 

He woke to the drone of the morning announcement, rolling out of bed in a tangle of blankets and limbs. The brunet shuffled through his morning routine, and soon joined everyone in the dining hall. Fukawa and Togami were both absent, as per usual. Ishimaru looked, well Naegi thought he might be doing better after the other day, but looking at him now, it was clear that he hadn’t been sleeping well, and probably hadn’t been eating right either. He had dark dark purple bags under his eyes his skin to look more pale than it had when they first met.

 

Before Naegi could greet anyone an announcement drew everyone’s attention to the monitor on the wall.

 

“Is everyone awake? Yes? Good! All students gather in the gym for a mandatory assembly!” Monokuma shouted at them.

 

“What could he possibly want this time?” Celeste asked, annoyed she was being forced away from her designs, she was almost ready to start making herself a new dress.

 

“It’s probably another motive, that seems to be the only reason he calls us to the gym,” Kirigiri said.

 

“A motive? So soon?” Yamada asked.

 

“Are you really surprised? It’s been three days since the trial, did you expect Monokuma to allow a long reprieve from the killing?”

 

“I guess not…”

 

“What do you think it will be this time?” Fujisaki wondered as they walked to the gym.

 

“What more is there for him to use against us?” Asahina asked.

 

“Well, whatever it is, I’m sure we can get passed it if we work together,” Naegi said as they entered the gym where Fukawa and Togami were already waiting.

 

“So you finally decided to show up?” Togami snipped when they entered, glaring at each one of them with distaste.

 

Monokuma prevented any comment, appearing in his usual spot, but bringing with him a large white board with everyone’s picture on it. Next to each picture was a blank sheet paper, just waiting to be removed.

 

“So… I think you all know what time it is, time for your next motive! Now I actually had a different motive planned for this round, but after what happened in that last trial, I just couldn’t resist using this one, right now!” Monokuma said as the students came to stand in front of the stage, “I hope you’re all ready, ‘cuz I sure am, for the long await, by me, soulmate motive!!”

Chapter Text

“Huh?” Yamada asked, “How can you use soulmates as a motive? None of us, besides Ishimaru, have any clue as to who are soulmates are. And some of us have probably never met them,”

 

“Yeah! How could you possibly know who our soulmates are when we don’t even know!?” Asahina said, backing up the fanfic creator.

 

“You really think I don’t know? That I don’t have my ways of finding out? Puhuhu! Well, let’s just see, shall we? I think this will be quite the enlightening experience for a few of you,” Monokuma said, “First up we have little miss Asahina! And if we remove this...” the bear grabbed the piece of paper that was opposite Asahina’s picture on the board, “We see that your soulmate is none other than…. Ogami Sakura!”

 

No one was too startled by that, both girls were already very close and had predicted this to be the case. That didn’t make the reveal any less impactful though.

 

“Not surprised?” Monokuma almost sounded disappointed.

 

“That doesn’t prove anything! You could’ve just made that up!” Asahina retorted.

 

“Oh really? You think I would stoop to such low levels as to make all this up?”

 

“Yeah! I do!”

 

“Well you’re wrong! I would never go as far as to toy with something as dear to each of you as the identity of your soulmate! Anyways, we gotta keep going! Mister Ishimaru! Your soulmate is… well was… Owada Mondo!”

 

To this no one reacted other than a few clenched fists, how could they respond to that? But this wasn’t doing anything to prove that the robot actually knew who all their soulmates were, it just seemed like he was making all of it up based on what he observed.

 

“Next up we have mister Fujisaki! Your dear soulmate is… Nanami Chiaki!”

 

“Who?” Fujisaki asked, confused, not recognizing the name.

 

“Nanami Chiaki, the Ultimate Gamer, from the 77th class, unfortunately for you, she’s dead. It was very tragic,”

 

“Then how can you be sure that’s Fujisaki’s soulmate?” Naegi argued.

 

“Because it’s true! I don’t have to explain myself to you brats, now stop interrupting me! We still have six other students to get through! Up next we have Fukawa!” Monokuma ripped the sheet of paper down, revealing a face that was oddly familiar to Naegi but he couldn’t place it, “Honda Tetsuhiro! Another who is dead! You guys gotta get better at keeping your soulmates alive,” Naegi then remembered why the name was so familiar, that was one of Genocider Syo’s victims, Fukawa had killed her own soulmate… but why?

 

“Moving onto Yamada! You… don’t actually have a soulmate… How sad, I guess 3d really isn’t for you. What about miss Celestia? Hmmm? Your soulmate is… Ikeda Ryuji!”

 

Celeste hummed in acknowledgment, having no clue who that was, but intrigued by the possibility of someday meeting them to find out.

 

“Miss Kirigiri, I know you must be quite interested to know who you are to spend the rest of your life with… So let me tell ya! It’s Shimazu Ayumi! Shocked? Surprised? Oh well! Not like you can anything about it locked up in here. Only two left… Who shall we do first? How ‘bout mister Togami? Your soulmate is… dun da da dun… Naegi Makoto! Didn’t see that one coming did you?” Monokuma laughed wickedly, “Welp, that’s all I got for ya! Do what you will with this new information, but remember, it’s all true!”

 

Monokuma’s last words rang throughout the gym. Was it really safe to believe the bear? There was no way he could know who everyone's soulmate was, that had to all be false, right?

 

“He’s obviously lying. How else would you explain him spouting that nonsense that Naegi is my soulmate? Utterly ridiculous,” Togami quipped, breaking the awkward silence that had fallen over the room.

 

“Excuse you! Anyone would be lucky to have Naegi as their soulmate!” Asahina snapped, raising a fist in anger.

 

“Please, lucky? In what way would anyone be ‘lucky’ to have him as their soulmate?”

 

The slight hesitation Asahina took to answer was all the blond needed as an answer, “You can’t answer that, can you? Because you know I’m right,”

 

The bickering continued on, oblivious of the storm of emotions brewing inside the subject of the argument. Naegi didn’t want to believe Monokuma, but something deep down told him the bear wasn’t lying; and when he really thought about it, it made sense. That fact scared the brunet. Did he really want Togami as his soulmate? A small part of him wanted to say no, Togami was an arrogant jerk who only cared about himself. But a larger part of him wanted to say yes. To break through the walls the heir had built around himself and get to know the real Togami, not the facade he wore for the rest of the world. It wasn’t going to be easy, but Naegi was ready to accept his fate, and accept that Togami was his soulmate.

 

Fujisaki broke him out of his stupor, gently shaking his shoulder. Naegi blinked a few times to reorient himself with his surroundings before turning a confused gaze on Fujisaki.

 

“Where’d everyone go?” he asked upon noticing the lack of bodies in the gym.

 

“They all left after Asahina and Togami stopped fighting. You spaced out for most of it, but it wasn’t that long. You didn’t miss much,” Fujisaki said.

 

“Oh… Do you know where Togami went?” Naegi asked, hoping to easily find the tall blond so they could talk about what was just revealed.

 

“No, sorry, I wanted to make sure you were okay, so I didn’t see where anybody went,”

 

“That’s okay,” Naegi replied, walking to the door, “I’m going to go look for him, I’ll talk to you later,”

 

In any other situation the response would have come off as rude, and distant, but Fujisaki knew that Naegi had more than enough on his mind to deal with at the moment. The whole soulmate thing was a something that everyone now had to deal with, before it was only a handful of students, but now… Now everyone, except Yamada, had a new reason to keep fighting to get out of here.

 

“Okay, be careful, he looked pretty ticked off when he left,”

 

“Thanks for the warning,” Naegi said as he left the gym.

 

Naegi didn’t know where to start looking for the blond, so he figured he would start by checking all the places the other boy usually frequented. The library was empty and there was no response when Naegi tried the heir’s room. Groaning in frustration, the brunet realized he would now have to start a systematic check of every room in the school. Thankfully it ended up being a short search, he found Togami sorting through a pile of things in the warehouse.

 

“I think we need to talk...” Naegi said, closing the door behind him and blocking it so Togami couldn’t leave without having to interact with him in some way.

 

“If you’re here to discuss the newest motive, let me save you the time. The chances of you actually being my soulmate are slim to none. Do you really believe that a common plebeian like yourself could ever be the soulmate of someone like me?” Togami asked, arms crossed over his chest and a sneer set firmly on his aristocratic features.

 

“Yes, I do,” Naegi asserted, “Soulmates are supposed to balance each other out. Why would your soulmate be someone who is equal to you? Where is the balance in that? Would you really want to spend the rest of your life with someone just like you?”

 

“Hah! Balance? Is that what you’ve been told? In an idealistic, dream world maybe. But this is the real world, the only reason we’re even having this conversation is because some crazed lunatic trapped us in this school and is using your emotions to get what he wants. If it weren’t for that we wouldn’t even be speaking,”

 

“Is your head really so far up your ass that you refuse to even consider the possibility of being my soulmate!?” Naegi shouted, he was quickly reaching the limit on his patience.

 

“Why should I waste my time on such blatant falsehoods? You are worth little more than-”

 

Togami was cut off by Naegi marching over to him, yanking him down by his tie, and pressing their lips together in a violently passionate kiss. It lasted no more than a few seconds, Togami pushed the shorter boy away with more force than was truly necessary, a swirl of emotions sweeping through cold blue eyes as he glared down at the lucky student. Mossy green orbs, bright with a vicious fire glared right back at him. What Naegi didn’t know was how much it actually hurt the taller teen to push him away like he had.

 

“Fuck you, Togami. I hope Monokuma was lying about us being soulmates, because then I can hold out hope that my actual soulmate isn’t a heartless dick who only ares about himself,” Naegi said, though his voice was quiet, the malice cut deeper than the heir would ever outwardly admit.

 

Naegi left the blond alone in the warehouse after that, ripping the door open with all the weight of his anger, leaving Togami to stew in his own thoughts. Outside he caught Asahina, Fujisaki, and Celeste ducking around the corner to the dining hall.

 

“How much did you guys hear?” Naegi asked when he caught up to the trio in the dining hall.

 

“Enough...” Asahina admitted, guiltily directing her eyes to the floor.

 

“It seems that without any actual proof he will never accept that you are his soulmate, though I am not sure that even that would work,” Celeste mused.

 

“But how do we prove it? It’s not like that can go back to before they found their soulmates, poke each other, and see what happens,” Asahina stated.

 

“She has a point...” Fujisaki sighed.

 

“So what do you suggest I do?” Naegi inquired.

 

The two girls and Fujisaki pondered this for a moment, whispering between each other before turning back to the brunet.

 

“Leave that to us. You just make sure you get a good night’s sleep,” Asahina finally replied.

 

“Alright… I guess… Just don’t do anything that’ll make things worse, please?” Naegi pleaded, afraid to know what they were planning.

 

“Of course! Now go sleep, you’ve had a long day,” Asahina said, shoving a sandwich in his hands and directing him to the door.

 

Heeding her advice, Naegi went back to his room for the night. Even though it was already eight pm, it felt like it should have only been early afternoon, the day had flown by without him even noticing. He locked the door behind him when he got to his room, taking a large bite of his sandwich as he fell back onto the bed.

 

Was Togami really his soulmate? Even after telling the blond off, Naegi couldn’t be sure how much of it he truly meant. Why couldn’t Fujisaki be his soulmate? It would be so much easier if that was the case… But… if he could actually get through to Togami… Naegi just knew that they could make it work. Not to mention how great of a kisser Togami was…

 

At that thought Naegi’s brain took a sharp nosedive straight into the gutter. Despite how brief the kiss may have been, Naegi was able to tell that the blond was well skilled with his mouth, outside of just sarcastic comments. Sitting back down on his bed after stripping to his boxers for bed, the brunet let his imagination take the reigns, sending him into a vividly, hyper-realistic daydream.

 

Togami hovered over Naegi’s prone form, a lustful glint sparkling in his eyes. Naegi tried to reach out and run his hands over the perfectly sculpted chest above him, but the blond had the brunet’s hands pinned above his head. Togami smirked down at Naegi, letting his free hand teasingly brush against one of Naegi’s nipples, drawing a needy whimper from the lucky student.

 

Naegi did as the Togami in his fantasy had, letting one hand toy with his nipples as he lost himself to his primal desires.

 

Togami lowered his mouth to Naegi’s neck, pressing feather light, open mouthed kissed to the tanned skin. At the juncture of Naegi’s neck and shoulder Togami bit down; a low pleasured man was the brunet’s response. While he littered Naegi's neck with bright red marks, Togami slid his hand down from the smaller boy’s chest, gliding over sweat coated skin like it was the finest silk. The blond kept moving his hand south until it came to grip Naegi’s hard, weeping member. Naegi arched off the bed, pushing his hips up into Togami’s grasp.

 

By this point Naegi had his hand in his boxers, slowly stroking his quickly hardening member as his fantasy continued on.

 

Togami pulled away from the brunet’s neck to press a hungry kiss on Naegi’s lips. Teeth and tongues clashed in wet, heated passion. Togami brought his own hips down to meet Naegi’s, both teens moaning in pleasure at the contact. The blond wrapped his hand around their members, using the sweat and pre-cum that had beaded at the tip of each of their cocks as lube to easily slide his hand up and down. Naegi could no longer form a coherent thought, the glorious friction from both Togami’s hand and cock against his own was too much.

 

Naegi had shucked his boxers off, gripping his cock firmly as he sped up his strokes. Eyes were shut tight as he imagined it was the heir’s hand guiding him to completion and not his own.

 

Naegi had begun to buck his hips in a more and more erratic manner as the familiar tight coiling of heat grew in his gut. Togami’s strokes were no longer consistent, his own climax approaching fast. It only took a few more strokes and Togami whispering for him to cum in his ear, and Naegi was crying out Togami’s name, his orgasm tearing through him as he coated both their stomachs and Togami’s hand in his seed. Hearing Naegi call out his name, and seeing the smaller boy’s face as he reached the bliss of release, sent Togami over the edge. He came with a muffled grunt, burying his face in Naegi’s shoulder as he added to the mess between them.

 

Naegi was breathing heavily as he came down from the high of his orgasm, thankful the rooms were soundproof. He didn’t know whether or not to be disgusted with himself; on one hand Togami was a self-centered bastard that wanted nothing to do with Naegi, even if they were soulmates; on the other, they might actually be soulmates and Naegi didn’t want to lose his. He had long dreamed about finding his soulmate, of meeting that one person that was supposed to compliment all his weak points. He was so confused by the whole situation… He didn’t know what he was supposed to feel anymore.

 

With a forlorn sigh Naegi did his best to clean himself up without water, he would take a shower in the morning when it came back on. When he was done with that he tucked himself in and went to sleep.

 

~ ~ ~

 

After a long shower Naegi got dressed, slipping into a baggy pair of jeans and a light blue t-shirt, and pulled his hoodie on over top. He slid his feet into his tennis shoes and left his room, locking it behind him. He had barely made it to the end of the hall when someone forced a bag over his head and grabbed his arms, holding them in an iron grip behind his back. Naegi felt a second pair of hands come to rest on his shoulders, they guided him as he was lead to an unknown destination. He could hear his captors whispering with each other, but his mind was so muddled with panic that he couldn’t determine who the voices belonged to.

 

After the initial shock wore off Naegi realized he should probably try to fight back, or shout for help, or something, but it was too late. He was shoved forward, the nag removed as he stumbled into the...school store? The door slammed shut, and try as he might, Naegi couldn’t get it to budge.

 

“Don’t bother wasting your energy, they blocked it from the other side,” Togami’s voice said from behind Naegi.

 

“You guys need to work out whatever it is that’s going on between you two!” Asahina shouted from the other side of the door, “Once you do that, we’ll let you out!”

 

Naegi glanced over at Togami, the heir sneered back, then directed his attention elsewhere. Naegi sighed, they weren’t getting out of there any time soon.

 

Chapter Text

Naegi spent the first twenty minutes or so looking at all the random knick-knacks and trinkets, wondering how some of them got there. Another small chunk of time was whittled away as Naegi spent some of his Monocoins on the MonoMono Machine. Togami had settled himself into one of the corners, reading a book he had found laying on one of the shelves. They sat in uncomfortable silence for another hour or so before Naegi couldn’t take it any longer. He got up and marched over to where the blond sat, ripped the book from the blond’s hands and tossed it to the other side of the room.

 

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” Togami asked, tone not one bit amused.

 

“Making sure I have your full attention,” Naegi replied, “Assuming Monokuma wasn’t lying, and we are soulmates, what’s so wrong with that? Am I really that undesirable as a soulmate?”

 

“That’s one to put it,” Togami said, “You’re just another nameless commoner to people like me. You wouldn’t last a day in my world. We would never work out. Do you really think I would ever want to be seen with anyone less than me in public? What will it take to make you understand that?”

 

“That’s bullshit, and you know it,” Naegi countered bluntly, “I can accept that being a small factor, but it’s not the whole reason. So just, for once in your life, swallow your pride and tell me the truth!”

 

Togami glared at the brunet, what right did he have to demand anything of the heir to the Togami corporation?

 

The tension was rising to near insurmountable levels, one small thing, and it would snap.

 

“Please, if you’re going to reject me, at least give me the real reason for it...” Naegi said softly, sitting down next to the taller boy.

 

The change of tone through Togami off, he let out a sigh, taking off his glasses and running a hand over his face in reluctant surrender.

 

“You want the real reason?” Togami asked, he sounded tired, defeated almost, “Fine. Fine, I’ll tell you, if only to get us out of here. If you recall I told you about the certain ‘obligations’ I have as heir to the Togami name?”

 

Naegi nodded, remembering back to what was one of their first days trapped in the school and Togami had explained that once he took over as head of the corporation he would be required to produce multiple heirs with exceptional women all over the world.

 

“Well, according to my father, that is non-negotiable. Besides that my family has very traditional views on relationships, and are very outspoken about relationships that aren’t between a man and a woman. They would never accept you as my soulmate. Not only are you a mere commoner, but you’re a man as well,”

 

“But shouldn’t your family love you no matter what? Shouldn’t they be happy for you for finding your soulmate?” Naegi asked, not fully understanding Togami’s predicament.

 

“Maybe if we were a ‘normal’ family, but we aren’t. There is much you don’t know about my family and it’s traditions, and those things are not easily changed,”

 

“But couldn’t you change them when you take over? Unless you agree with them?”

 

“I most definitely do not agree with them. But getting my family to be okay with the changes I want to make… I don’t know if that’s possible. I’ve been taught these things from a young age, they’re not just something you can move passed with no consequences,” Togami sighed.

 

“Like the relationship thing?” Naegi asked.

 

Togami nodded, a small movement of head.

 

“So what if I’m a guy? The only person that that should matter to is you,” Naegi said firmly, he didn’t care if his soulmate was a guy, a girl, or whatever they wanted to be, all that mattered to him was that they were able to love and care for him the way he loved and cared for them, “Does it bother you?”

 

“I- I don’t know...” Togami said quietly, “I’ve always been told that two men can’t be in a relationship, that it’s unnatural, wrong… But… But I never understood why. Not that it matters, my father would never allow it. He’d see to it that we never see each other again if he found out,”

 

“Well, he’s not here now is he?” Naegi asked, his usual optimism shining through the despair that surrounded the pair, “What can he do to you in here? If you want this, you should take the chance, we can deal with your father when that time comes,” Naegi said, placing his hand on top of Togami’s.

 

Togami stared at Naegi, taking in everything the brunet had just said. He had made a few good points, his father wasn’t here to stop him, and it wasn’t like he would ever know about Togami did while locked in the school…

 

“Well, you’re not the worst person I could have as a soulmate,” the blond said, a hint of smile on his lips as he slipped back into his ‘I’m better than you’ tone.

 

“At least I’m not Fukawa,” Naegi teased, causing a shudder to run down Togami’s spine.

 

“Don’t even joke about that. That woman terrifies me...” the blond replied.

 

“Me too. Did you know she threatened me to stay away from you? Well, technically, it was Genocider, but I’m not sure if that’s better…”

 

“I’m not surprised, she’s been stalking me from day one, but I wouldn’t take her threat lightly, who knows what she’s capable of,” Togami said, turning his hand over and lacing their fingers together.

 

They sat in silence for a few more minutes before Togami finally spoke again, “I think I’m willing to give this a try, if that’s what you want,”

 

“Only if you do. I’m not going to make you do anything you don’t want to,” Naegi answered.

 

“Not that you could, but, yes, I do want to try. I can’t promise it will be easy for me, but… it would be nice to have even a sliver of happiness in this hell,”

 

And with that Togami leaned over and pressed a gentle kiss to Naegi’s lips.

 

“If we’re going to do this, you should probably start calling me by my given name, not my family name,” Togami said when he pulled away.

 

“O-Okay,” Naegi said, face flushed a light pink from the kiss.

 

“And I suppose I should start referring to you as Makoto,” Togami said as he stood, offering his hand to help the shorter boy to his feet.

 

“That would make sense,” Naegi agreed.

 

“Now, to get out of here,” Togami questioned staring the door down with a critical gaze.

 

“That sounds like a good idea,” Naegi grinned, “Hey, Asahina?” he shouted at the door.

 

“Did you two work out your problems?” the swimmer asked in response.

 

“We did,”

 

“Now would you let us out of here, some of us actually have things we need to do,” Togami said, trying not to snap lest she decide to keep them in there longer.

 

“Fine, but you don’t have to be such a jerk about it,” she quipped as she opened the door.

 

“I’m not the one who locked someone in a room, so pardon me if I’m not in the most agreeable of moods,” Togami said as he walked out of the store, “Makoto, come with me, we still have things to discuss,”

 

“Makoto? You’re on a first name basis now? What happened in there?” Asahina asked as Naegi followed after the blond.

 

The lucky student shrugged, not wanting to keep his soulmate waiting, and jogged to keep up with the long strides of the heir. Togami lead them to his room, opening the door to let the shorter boy in first. Naegi stopped short once inside, shocked at how different the room was compared to his own.

 

The walls were decorated with expensive looking paintings, and from the door to the far wall was a red carpet. The small table that sat next to the dresser was covered with a simple blue vase that held a single yellow rose. His dresser held an ornate glasses case that had nine other pairs of his signature white framed glasses. At the table sat a fancy looking chair, and the light fixture overhead was also of a higher quality than what was in Naegi’s room. Looking over to the desk Naegi noted what appeared to be a coin collection and on the other end was a violin, resting peacefully in it’s case. Next to the desk stood a music stand, a piece Naegi had never heard of displayed on it.

 

“So it’s a violin,” Naegi said, more to himself than as a conversation starter.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Togami asked, not sure what prompted the brunet to comment on his instrument.

 

“Well, the other day, when I came to talk to you about the trial, I noticed you were holding a bow, I was curious as to what instrument you played,”

 

Togami made a noncommittal noise and sat down at his table, gesturing for Naegi to sit as well. The brunet did so, pulling the chair over to sit across from the blond.

 

“If we’re going to do this, it would be best if we knew, at least, the basics about the other. So I’m going to ask you a few questions, which I will answer as well, and if you wish to ask your own questions you may do so. Understood?” Togami asked once Naegi had settled into the chair.

 

“Yeah, seems simple enough,” Naegi said.

 

“Good, we’ll start with something easy, when is your birthday? Mine is May fifth,”

 

“Mine’s February fifth,”

 

“Hmmm, so you’re older than me, interesting, do you have any siblings?” Togami mused before continuing on.

 

“Just one, a younger sister, Komaru,”

 

“If she’s anything like you, I’m almost afraid to meet her,” Togami joked lightly.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean? And what about your siblings? Don’t you have any?” Naegi countered, annoyed by what Togami was implying about his sister, and also about him.

 

“Nothing you need to worry about. As for my siblings… I had fourteen half siblings,” the ominous underlying meaning sent a shiver down Naegi’s spine.

 

“Had? What happened to them? How do you lose fourteen people?”

 

“We didn’t lose them, they were ‘killed’,” Togami said like he was discussing the weather.

 

“They might as well have been. You recall what I said about the head of the family having multiple heirs with multiple exceptional women around the world?” at Naegi’s slow nod he pressed on, “Well, once the youngest heir in the group reaches a suitable age, all the heirs compete against each other to be crowned the soul heir to the Togami Corporation. There were fifteen possible successors in my generation, myself included. After a long week of not only physical and mental trials, but also emotionally tasking events, I came out as the victor. It was the first time the youngest child ever won,. The others were disowned and exiled by the family, they may as well be dead,”

 

“How – Why – How old were you when you had to go through that?” Naegi finally asked, still reeling from the information given to him.

 

“I was eight,”

 

“That’s – I don’t… And you’re okay subjecting your own children to something like that?”

 

“I never said that. I’m not. But as of right now I can’t do anything about it,”

 

“Well, maybe we can change things, together, once we get out of here,” Naegi suggested, his persistent optimism shining through the bleak situation.

 

“That’s assuming we can get out of here. But for now, let’s get back to our little game… What do you like to do in your spare time?” Togami asked, moving the topic away from sensitive subject matter.

 

“Before we were trapped in here, or what I do now? Because those are tow different answers,”

 

“Both,”

 

“Oh, okay, well, before all this, when I wasn’t studying, I liked to read, mostly manga, I would watch anime with my sister, and occasionally hang out with friends. Other than that, I didn’t really do anything all that interesting. Now, if I can’t find anyone to talk to, I tend to doodle in my notepad,”

 

“You draw?” Togami asked, surprised by this little tidbit.

 

“Sort of? I’m not that good or anything, but it’s something to keep my mind off of what we’re being forced to do,”

 

“I’d like to see these drawings, go get your notepad so you can show me,” Togami stated.

 

“Now?” Naegi squeaked, startled by the blond’s sudden interest in his doodles.

 

“Why not? Just run over to your room, grab the notepad, and bring it back, it’s quite simple, really,”

 

“Alright, I guess I’ll be right back...on one condition,” Naegi bargained.

 

“And what could you possibly want in return?” Togami asked with all poise of a well trained business man.

 

“I want to hear you play something,” the brunet said, pointing over to the violin on the desk.

 

“I can agree to those terms,” Togami said with a short nod.

 

Naegi smiled brightly and made his way to the door. He didn’t get very far outside of the room though. He was pinned to the wall with such force it knocked the wind out of him. After his vision stopped flashing, he found a pair of crazed red eyes glaring death at him.

 

“Well, hello there, Naegi,” Genocider Syo greeted in a creepy singsong way, “Did you already forget our little talk we had the other night? About you staying away from my white knight?”

 

The girl emphasized her point by jabbing her scissors into the wall next to Naegi’s head.

 

“I- I didn’t forget,” Naegi whispered, nerves screaming at him to get out of there as fast as he could.

 

“Oh really? Then why are you leaving my white knight’s room? Surely you weren’t doing anything that would make me mad? You wouldn’t like me when I’m mad,” Genocider said, tracing invisible patterns on Naegi’s chest with another pair of scissors, “Master Togami will be mine. I don’t care if some idiotic robot bear says you two are soulmates. You don’t deserve him! Do you even know what his company does? What makes you so special? Huh!?” her voice rose as she said all this, she was practically screaming at him by the end.

 

“Uh… Well...” Naegi began, but he never got to finish his thought.

 

“Nothing! There is nothing special about you!” Genocider raged, bringing down the pair of scissors that had been dancing over his chest and lodging them in the brunet’s outer, left thigh.

Chapter Text

The pain was overwhelming, had Genocider’s other hand not wrapped around his neck, cutting off his oxygen supply he would have dropped to the floor. A sound, that had they been outside could have been easily mistaken for a wounded creature about to be devoured by it’s predator, ripped from Naegi’s throat, muffled only by the lack of air and access to his vocal cords. Unfortunately for him there was no one around to hear his cry, or so he thought. The last thing he saw before falling into the dark abyss of unconsciousness was a fist fly towards Genocider’s face, effectively releasing him from her grip.

 

Asahina stood in front of Naegi, fists poised to take down the serial killer, her eyes hard with anger and adrenaline. As Genocider lunged towards the swimmer, Asahina ducked out of the way, fluidly twisting her body and extending her leg to send the other girl flying across the floor, face meeting linoleum in an artless floundering. This also gave Asahina a moment to slam the doorbell of Togami’s room, hoping to alert the heir that something was amiss.

 

Before Genocider had fully recovered from the fall and could launch her next attack Togami’s door opened, slowly at first, as he thought it was Naegi just being polite and not walking right in, but once he took the sight outside his room he flung it open and stepped out into the fray. The glare he sent Genocider, to say she would have been six feet under would be an understatement to top all understatements. She froze, paralyzed by the intensity of the pure loathing behind the icy blue eyes.

 

“What is going on out here?” he demanded, the tone, not one to go against lest a slow, painful end was what one wanted to meet.

 

“Master Togami! We were just… having a little chat...” Genocider tried to explain, but before she could go on a sneeze escaped her, reverting her back to Fukawa.

 

“What’s g-going on?” she asked.

 

“You tried to kill Naegi!” Asahina shouted, pointing to the unconscious boy on the floor, a small pool of blood growing around his leg.

 

“You did what now?” Togami asked, the utter calm behind the question dropping the temperature a few degrees.

 

“N-No! That wasn’t me! D-Don’t blame me f-for anything that she d-does,” Fukawa snapped.

 

“And why should we believe you? It’s not like you haven’t been stalking Togami ever since we got here, how can you prove that you wouldn’t have done the same thing?” Asahina accused, “Ugh, we don’t have time for this! We need to help Naegi,” she said to Togami.

 

Togami nodded curtly, he would deal with Fukawa after he knew Naegi would be okay. He walked over to the prone form of his soulmate and lifted him up with ease, following Asahina to her room where she kept a first aid kit at the ready. He set the brunet down on the bed after Asahina had spread an extra sheet to avoid too much blood getting on her bed. She then proceeded to scurry around her room grabbing various supplies she would need.

 

“Okay, I’m gonna need you to remove his pants after I take the scissors out, I can’t see how bad the injury is if his jeans are still in the way,” Asahina instructed, readying her hand over the handle of the weapon.

 

Togami nodded and began undoing the button and zipper so he could quickly slide the pants down once the scissors were gone. With a silent nod from the blond Asahina pulled the scissors from Naegi’s thigh and Togami tore the jeans down slim hips enough to where Asahina could press a washcloth to the wound, applying pressure in hopes of staunching the bleeding.

 

“All right, okay, can you keep that there?” Asahina asked, breathing heavy from the nerves running wild in her body, “I’m going to go get Sakura, she has more experience with this kind of injury than I do,”

 

Togami didn’t get the chance to reply, the swimmer had placed his hands on the towel and then raced out the door.

 

“Dammit Makoto, aren’t you supposed to be lucky? Because I’m really starting to question if you deserve that title...” Togami teased dryly, no real emotion behind his words, too busy trying to figure out how this could have happened, “You seem to attract more bad luck than good… But then again, you were able to convince me that a relationship with you wasn’t a complete waste of my time, so that must count for something…” the words just rolled out, the heir too shocked to stop his inner monologue from becoming verbal.

 

Togami stared down at Naegi’s face, watching for any signs of consciousness, not sure if it was actually a good thing that he was out cold. A deep growl rumbled from his chest, why hadn’t he taken more of an interest in the medical side of his family’s company? Part of him hoped that the brunet would remain unconscious until Asahina had returned and cleaned and dressed the wound, because there was no way that it was going to be a painless process.

 

Genocider was lucky that the heir hadn’t had the time to tear into her; when he saw her again, because there was no way she could avoid him forever in this hell, he would… No, he couldn’t… He wouldn’t subject Naegi to what Ishimaru was going through, even if he still wasn’t entirely sure of his feeling for the smaller boy, and no matter how much he wanted to exact his revenge, something was holding him back.

 

“How’s he doing?” Asahina asked, snapping him out of his thoughts, as she returned, Ogami and Fujisaki both close behind.

 

“Nothing has changed,” Togami replied.

 

“Good, then he’s still stable, and it’s unlikely she hit any vitals points,” Ogami said, walking over to the bed.

 

“What happened?” Fujisaki asked, a worried look crinkling his brow as he looked at his friend out cold on the bed, “Asahina said he was stabbed?”

 

“He was. And when I get my hands on that woman she’s going to regret ever coming within fifteen feet of him,” Togami snarled.

 

“You can let go of the towel, Hina and I will take it from here,” Ogami said, gently pushing the blond’s hands away from Naegi’s thigh.

 

Reluctantly, Togami let her take over, moving only a few paces away where he could still keep a vigilant eye on what the girls were doing.

 

“You mean Fukawa did this?” Fujisaki asked, whispering to not distract the girls from their task.

 

“Syo,”

 

“Oh, that makes more sense...” the programmer said.

 

Silence fell upon the room, only whispered instructions between Ogami and Asahina occasionally broke the thin veil of quiet. The bleeding looked to have slowed, no longer flowing as freely from the puncture wound. But the gash was still decently large, Togami couldn’t see how they were going to keep it from reopening every time Naegi moved.

 

“So you and Makoto worked things out?” Fujisaki inquired, breaking Togami’s focus away from his soulmate.

 

“We did, not that it concerns you in anyway,”

 

“Makoto is my closest friend in here, we talk a lot, you’re one of his favorite topics,” the short boy chuckled softly, “I’m just glad to, hopefully, never listen to him complain about you again, there’s only so much a guy can take. But it’ll also be nice to see him happy, he deserves it most,”

 

Togami couldn’t argue that, Naegi was the one who worked the hardest to keep everyone happy and keep their minds off the killing. He had brought the programmer out of his shell, entertained Celeste by playing games with her, chatted with Yamada about manga and anime, did his best to keep Ishimaru from falling deeper into depression, done his best to keep up with Asahina and Ogami when he joined them in workouts from time to time, he had even tried to help Fukawa be less self-depricating. Naegi had forced his way into all their lives, bringing his own brand of joy to each of them whether he had intended to or not.

 

“After we know that he’s going to be okay, I have something I want to show you,” Fujisaki said, but didn’t expand, keeping it to that, wincing slightly as he watched Ogami start to stitch the wound closed, making use of her sewing kit for the first time.

 

Togami hummed, not feeling like that justified a verbal response, returning his full attention to his soulmate. Ogami was tying off the final stitch, and then Asahina took a cotton ball soaked with an antibacterial liquid and wiped down the stitches and did her best to clean the area around the wound. The last thing they did was wrap a large bandage around his leg, covering the injury as best they could without going over board.

 

“We’ve done all we can, he’s going to be okay, but he’ll be a lot of pain when he wakes. I’ll check the nurse’s office to see if I can locate any pain killers, and maybe a crutch, he shouldn’t put much, if any, weight on that leg,” Ogami said, turning to Togami.

 

“But he will be okay? She didn’t do any permanent damage?” Fujisaki asked.

 

“Not that I could tell, but I can’t know for sure,”

 

“For Makoto’s sake, thank you. Now will he be okay if I move him to my room?” Togami asked, tone short, but after everything, he had every right to be.

 

“That should fine, so long as you are careful,”

 

Togami acknowledged that by moving to Naegi’s side and gently lifting him off the bed. The brunet wasn’t that heavy, something Togami noted earlier but didn’t dwell on. Fujisaki had moved to the door, holding it open so the heir wouldn’t have to deal with that while carrying Naegi. The programmer sent Asahina and Ogami a grateful glance, if they hadn’t been around who knew what would have happened to Naegi, then followed after his friend and Togami.

 

Togami was waiting in front of his door, not able to open it without risking irritating the injured boy in his arms. Fujisaki was quick to catch up and swing the door open for them. He followed the blond inside, watching as Togami carefully laid Naegi on his bed and made sure he was comfortable. If The short boy hadn’t been watching as closely as he was, he would have missed the small smile that ghosted over the heir’s lips as he brushed hair out of his face.

 

“You care more about him than you let on,” Fujisaki observed as Togami made his way back over to the door.

 

“Your point?”

 

“Nothing, nothing, just making an observation,” the programmer defended himself.

 

“Tch, just show me whatever it is you must show me,” Togami waved the other boy onwards.

 

“Right, of course, this way,”

 

With that Fujisaki lead the taller teen to the bathhouse. He removed the laptop from it’s designated locker and sat down on one of the benches, patting the seat next to him so Togami could actually see the screen.

 

“Welcome back, Master!” Alter Ego greeted cheerfully.

 

“Master?” Togami questioned, surprised not only by the fact that the computer could recognize Fujisaki, but also that it referred to him as it’s ‘Master’.

 

“Oh, uh, yeah, this is Alter Ego, an AI I programmed to help me with the files. He’s capable of processing any mental task a human can, and he’s designed to think like a person,” Fujisaki explained as he typed away on the keyboard, “It’s because of him I’ve been working in the bathhouse, I don’t want Monokuma to figure out exactly what I’m doing. I think he might know that we’re trying to access the files on the laptop, but I don’t know if he knows how much progress I’ve actually made,”

 

“That’s decently impressive,” Togami said, already thinking of ways Fujisaki’s creation could help advance his family’s corporation further ahead of the competition, “I might have a place for you someone of your skill in the technology side of the Togami corporation, once we get out of here that is. But that doesn’t answer why it calls you ‘master’,”

 

“Ah, that, um, well that’s because… well, um, it’s kinda just what I programmed him to say,” Fujisaki said, fumbling over his words because of the underlying meaning of the title, “Here’s what I wanted to show you!” the embarrassed teen said, shoving the laptop into Togami’s hands before the conversation continued down it’s current path.

 

“This is...” Togami was stunned. The information on the screen was a detailed list of the students who had been trapped here and who their soulmates were, whether they were alive or dead, and if known, where their last known location was; all of it confirming what Monokuma had said during his motive speech. The file even contained pictures of the known soulmates, not that they were much use now, it was doubtful the two who had yet to meet their soulmates would get the chance if Monokuma had anything to do with it.

 

“It’s all true. I double checked the file for any sign of corruption, or signs that it might have been tampered with, I only found evidence of one page being deleted,” Fujisaki said.

 

“And can we actually believe this is real and not just something Monokuma planted? For all we know he expected you to find the laptop and discover this,”

 

“It’s not entirely impossible, but from what I can tell, these files have been here for a while, it’s unlikely he went through all this trouble for something he couldn’t even be sure I would find,”

 

Fujisaki had a point, there was no way Monokuma would have known Fujisaki would survive long enough to even find the laptop.

 

“So, Makoto is, indeed, my soulmate...” Togami whispered, mind reeling as he processed this new information.

 

“He is,” the small boy confirmed.

 

“Thank you for showing me this. Come get me the minute anything else of importance comes to light,” Togami said, handing the computer back to it’s owner and rising to his feet.

 

He left the bathhouse without another word, to preoccupied to deal with frivolities such as goodbyes. Before this he had simply indulging Naegi, letting the brunet have his moment of happiness before things took a turn for the worse, under the impression that Monokuma had made the whole thing up. He had planned to leave Naegi once they got out, if the brunet did somehow manage to survive, but now… Now… Togami had a lot to reevaluate for his future plans, including if he was truly was okay having Naegi as his soulmate due to gender.

 

His thoughts had consumed him so deeply he almost walked right in to Ogami who was waiting outside his dorm room, a set of crutches in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other. Togami greeted her with a slight sneer, but forced it down for Naegi’s sake, no need to upset the boy’s friends just because they were trying to help him. He unlocked the door without a word, both teens stepping in to find that Naegi was still passed out, a fact that only minimally relieved the pair. Ogami rested the crutches against the wall near the bed and went to check on the brunet.

 

“When he wakes up gave him two of these, and maybe find him some clean clothes, loose fitting pants would be best to avoid rubbing against the injury,” she said, handing the bottle to Togami, “I’ll come by before the nighttime announcement to check the wound once more, until then, don’t let him get up unless absolutely necessary,”

 

“Is that all?”

 

“For now, yes. There’s not anymore I can do at this point. Is there anything I can get for you before I go?”

 

“No,”

 

Ogami nodded and left, leaving the two boys alone. Without anything else to do at the moment, or at least nothing pressing, he would deal with Fukawa when he was sure Naegi would be okay alone for more than just a few minutes, he decided to go collect the things his soulmate would need for the next few days staying in Togami’s room. He found Naegi’s room key in the pocket of his hoodie and with that in hand made his way across the hall. The blond had no trouble locating the the things Naegi would need, grabbing a few days worth of clothes and the lucky student’s toiletries, as well as the notepad that sat innocently on the desk. Figuring he had everything he needed, the heir exited the room, locking it, and returned to his own room.

 

Naegi was just beginning to regain consciousness when Togami opened the door, blinking slowly as everything came back to him, including the pain. When that hit he clutched his leg and cried out in agony.

 

“Here, take two of these, they should help with the pain,” Togami said, setting Naegi’s things aside and quickly handing him the pills as well as a bottle of water he kept by his bed.

 

Downing the pills as fast as he was able, wishing they would start working instantly, Naegi was met with the realization that he wasn’t in his own room. He would have expected to wake up in his own bed, and not have a bandage wrapped securely around his thigh. The confusion he felt must have made itself evident on his face because Togami started to explain what happened.

 

“Asahina found you, got me, and then with the help of Ogami, patched you up. You will be staying here until you are able to move on your own and no longer risk opening the stitches,” the blond said, sorting through the pile of clothes he had brought over, looking for something suitable for the brunet to change into.

 

Naegi blinked owlishly, taking in the brief explanation as Togami decided on a pair of light grey sweat pants and a simple white t-shirt, he also snagged a clean pair of boxers for the lucky teen to wear. He handed Naegi the shirt, letting him change that first as that wouldn’t require any extra assistance, or put any strain on the injury. The rest of the ensemble was going to be a challenge, an awkward one at that.

 

Awkward was putting it lightly. Naegi could hardly look at Togami as he helped him change; while Togami was a perfect gentleman, at least on the exterior, his mind was a different story. Naegi wasn’t sure if the silence was helping his nerves or not, the lack of comment from the blond almost set him on edge, but once it was over he was glad for it. Togami moved the dining chair over by the bed once he was done, sitting down beside the brunet who had propped himself up on his elbows.

 

“So would you like to explain what you did to cause Genocider Syo to impale you with her scissors?” Togami asked, though it felt more like a command with the piercing stare that accompanied it.

 

Naegi flushed, and began recalling what he could from the time he left Togami’s room to when he blacked out. He told the blond about what Genocider had said about them being soulmates and how she didn’t care, how she believed she had more right to be Togami’s soulmate than he did. But he couldn’t remember much after being stabbed.

 

“That’s what I figured,” Togami said with a frustrated sigh, not that he was frustrated with Naegi, no, it was just the whole situation was starting to grate on him.

 

Togami then went into detail of what happened after, or what he was aware of that happened.

 

“Oh...” was all Naegi could say after the heir finished, how was he supposed to react after one of his classmates had stabbed him?

 

He sat there on the bed, staring off into space as the shock of what he had just gone through fully caught up with him. Togami noticed this and got up, walking over to his desk and taking his violin in hand. It was a beautiful Stradivarius, a gift for his thirteenth birthday. After he was satisfied that he was tuned properly, Togami took a deep breath, brought the bow up to meet the strings, and began playing Bartok’s Rumanian Dances. Naegi’s eyes widened as the music filled the room, the smooth notes and light-hearted melody soothed the brunet, bringing him out of his shock as he directed his attention to the music. He listened completely entranced by the ease at which Togami moved through the piece, as the song came to a close Naegi applauded enthusiastically, silently hoping the blond would play another piece.

 

“That was beautiful!” Naegi exclaimed, “Will you play another?”

 

Togami smirked, the corner of his lips twitching upwards in amusement at the smaller teen’s excitement, and brought the violin back up to his chin to begin a second piece that captured Naegi’s attention just as completely as the first had.

 

Chapter Text

As the music faded into silence and Togami returned the instrument to it’s case, Naegi began wonder what other talents the blond had hidden away.

 

“How long have you been playing?” Naegi asked once the heir settled back into the chair beside the bed.

 

“I’ve been playing the violin since I was four, piano since I was three, and have picked other instruments as the years went on,”

 

Naegi stared, gobsmacked by the revelation that Togami had been playing for that long.

 

“My parents made me take piano lessons when I was younger, but I could never force myself to keep playing, I wanted to spend my time doing something more active, that and I always struggled to play some of the more complex things, my hands were small and it was hard to reach all the keys. My sister was much better at it than I was, she got the musical genes, I just got lucky...” Naegi finished with a sigh.

 

He didn’t have a bad home life, not at all, but he never saw himself as special. When he got the letter saying that he had been admitted to Hope’s Peak, he thought it was a joke, or that they meant to send to his sister. When neither of those turned out to be true, well, it had been one of the happiest days of his life. Maybe he could find out what he was good at.

 

Togami had yet to reply, something keeping from making any comment that could possibly make the brunet’s mood worse. He could see that Naegi was losing himself to thoughts of hopelessness, of despair, and he knew if he was to try to make things better he had to be careful. Repositioning himself so he was now sitting on the edge of the bed, he lifted Naegi’s chin so their eyes were locked. Bright blue met mossy green. Naegi flushed and tried to look away but Togami kept a gentle but firm hold on his chin.

 

“If this was a few days ago I would have said luck isn’t a talent, only a title to make the painfully average student feel like they belonged, but you’ve proven that somehow, by chance or whatever you want to call it, that luck can be a talent. How else would you explain Genocider not killing you?” Togami said.

 

Naegi couldn’t think of a response, just stared up at the blond with wide eyes. Then, as if a magnetic force pulled him forward, both teens slowly closed the distance between them, lips meeting in a gentle press of skin on skin. It hardly lasted more than a few seconds, Naegi pulling away with a pained gasp when he tried to readjust himself and upset his injury.

 

Togami pulled back as if burned, had that progressed any further without Naegi making any indication that it was hurting him, who knew what would have happened.

 

“I think it’s best if we avoid delving too much into anything too physical while you’re healing. I don’t want to have to worry about causing you further harm when I can prevent it,” Togami said, an unreadable expression in his eyes.

 

Naegi sighed, he didn’t like it, he wanted to be able to get know Togami, not just through words… But he understood where the blond was coming from, “You’re right… So, what do we do now?”

 

“That depends on you, if you’re tired you should probably sleep, otherwise we can continue our conversation from earlier,”

 

“I’m not all that tired, or at least not enough to fall asleep, so we can continue, I don’t think you ever answered the last question anyways,” Naegi said.

 

That whole conversation felt like it had been hours ago, not what was more likely only one or two, what with all that had transpired.

 

“Well, as you have already gathered, I enjoy reading and playing the violin. Outside of that, when I’m not managing some of the branches of the Togami Corporation, I like to watch movies and play the occasional game of pool,” Togami said.

 

“You like to watch movies?” Naegi asked, stunned that someone who didn’t know how to operate a microwave would gain pleasure from watching a movie.

 

“Yes. Is that really so hard to believe?” Togami quipped.

 

“Well, I guess not, I guess I just didn’t think you would enjoy something so...common?” Naegi finished, not sure of that was the word he was looking for.

 

“Obviously I wouldn’t waste my time with the majority of the trash that gets produced now, but I do enjoy the classics,” Togami explained, and then after a moments pause asked, “Do you speak any other languages?”

 

“Well, kinda? I know a little English, but that’s it,” Naegi answered, “I’m guessing you speak a few?”

 

“I do, I’m fluent in French, English, Russian, Italian, and Chinese,”

 

“Woah, but I guess it also makes sense, being the business progeny you are, you would probably need at least a basic understanding of different languages, even if you did use a translator,” Naegi surmised.

 

“I’m impressed you came to that conclusion, most people, even in the higher positions at my companies, don’t realize how important it is too be able to communicate with potential partners in their native tongue. A translator is only so reliable, and that’s when they’re your own; I have watched too many deals fall apart because the translator misinterpreted something,”

 

Naegi nodded, a large yawn preventing a verbal response, the medication he took earlier having a drowsy affect on the teen.

 

“Tired?” Togami asked, he didn’t want to push Naegi too far after what eh went through.

 

“Yeah, who knew getting stabbed was so exhausting?” Naegi joked as he let out another loud yawn.

 

“Yes, well, blood loss tends to do that,” Togami remarked dryly, smirking in amusement at Naegi’s exaggerated yawn.

 

“Yeah...” Naegi said as his eyes fought to stay open.

 

“Get some sleep, I’ll wake you later so you can eat something, and Ogami will be by later to make sure the stitches are holding,” Togami said, getting up from his chair and helping Naegi get comfortable.

 

Naegi was out before he could make any sense of what was happening. After making sure the smaller boy wasn’t going to somehow hurt himself in his sleep – something Togami wouldn’t put passed him – the blond checked the time and concluded he should get some food and a few water bottles, that way if Naegi needed water or to take more pills after the nighttime announcement he wouldn’t have to swallow them dry. As he entered the dining hall, planning on making this a brief excursion, he was assaulted by Celeste.

 

“What is this I hear about Naegi getting stabbed?” she demanded.

 

“Why do you care?” Togami sneered, he didn’t need everyone knowing that Naegi was injured, it only put the brunet at a higher risk of being the next victim.

“I happen to care a great deal, now would you please explain what happened?” Celeste pressed.

 

Togami didn’t answer, pushing his way passed the gambler to get to the kitchen. Celeste followed, blocking the door so he wouldn’t be able to leave without interacting with her to some degree. Togami proceeded to ignore the girl as he gathered a tray of food and water that he and Naegi could share, only speaking once he was ready to leave.

 

“I suggest you move,” Togami said, the threat clear as day in his tone.

 

“And if I don’t?” Celeste inquired, raising an eyebrow in an unspoken challenge.

 

“I’m sure you can figure that out,”

 

“So you’re will to risk Naegi's life just because you refuse to tell me what happened?”

 

“If you wish to know so badly go ask Fukawa, she’s the one who created the problem,” Togami said, using Celeste’s moment of shock to push her out of his way.

 

“Fukawa?” he heard her ask as he left the dining hall, gone before she could press any further. Naegi was fast asleep, snoring softly, when the blond returned. He set the tray down on his table and went to make sure the brunet was resting peacefully – he was. Togami took this moment, undisturbed by others and without Naegi staring at him with those curious green eyes, to truly look Naegi over. He was short for his age, but Togami already knew that. What he hadn’t noticed was how lean the boy was, he wasn’t exactly muscular, but he wasn’t just skin and bone either. Lightly tanned skin, at least compared Togami’s own pale complexion, complimented light chocolate brown hair, pairing that with the mossy green eyes, Togami was reminded of the forest the lay beyond his backyard. Naegi had an earthy aura about him, not just in his colouring, but also in the way he was the world. Sure he was an optimist, but he was still grounded in reality, not believing in impossible daydreams while striving for the best outcome for everyone.

 

As Togami looked over his soulmate he let his slender fingers weave their way through deceptively soft locks of wild brown hair, earning a content sigh from Naegi, who curled closer to the touch. Something inside Togami fluttered with pride at Naegi’s action, pleased that the smaller teen sought comfort from him, even when unconscious.

 

“Dammit, Makoto, why did it have to be you? I don’t know how you managed to get passed my walls, how you somehow found a way to make me believe that this will work, but you did. And now… Now I have to rethink my whole plan, rework my entire strategy, because I refuse to let you fall victim to this senseless killing… I swear on my family’s name, you and I will both get out of here alive,” Togami said, determination shining brighter than ever in those blue eyes.

Chapter Text

Togami read while Naegi slept, sitting beside him and occasionally running his fingers through brown tresses as his attention was lost to the book. The sound of the doorbell startled the blond, frowning at the disruption, he checked the time on his pocket watch and found it was almost ten, the time Ogami said she would stop by to run one last check on the sleeping brunet. Togami sighed and rose to his feet, shaking Naegi awake before going to open the door. Both Ogami and Asahina entered the room, the larger of the two going immediately to Naegi’s side.

 

“Hey Naegi, how are ya feeling?” Asahina asked, doing her best to keep her tone light and upbeat despite her frazzled nerves from the days events.

 

“Huh? Uh… as well as can be expected I guess,” Naegi replied with a yawn and a weak smile as he rubbed the lingering sleep from his eyes, “Thanks for… ya know...” he gestured to where Ogami had pushed up the leg of his sweats and was changing the dressings on his thigh, flushing when he realized how close she was to his crotch.

 

“Of course! I couldn’t just let you bleed out, what kind of friend would I be if I just left you to die? Not to mention what Mr. Grumpy over there would do if I did that,” the swimmer said, jokingly pointing to Togami who sneered at the use of the unnecessary nickname.

 

“And I don’t need to have to go through a trial when I could have done something to prevent it,” Ogami stated as she finished wrapping the clean bandage, “Now do you remember how long ago it was that you took the pills?”

 

At this Naegi blushed once again, and then looked over to Togami, not knowing how long it had been.

 

“It was around three when he took them,” Togami spoke up, answering for the brunet who shot him a grin for the help.

 

“Alright, have you eaten anything yet?” Ogami asked, to which Naegi shook his head, “Eat something, then take two more of those pills, that should get you through the night,” she instructed, standing up from where she had knelt to change the dressings.

 

Togami nodded as he listened to the instructions, and moved to where he placed the tray of food and water from earlier. Handing them to Naegi, he turned to face the two girls who were moving to the door.

 

“Should anything happen that requires our assistance, we will be in Hina’s room tonight. If nothing occurs, he should take two more pills in the morning with breakfast,” Ogami said as she reached for the doorknob.

 

Togami gave a curt nod in reply, the only signal that he had heard what she had said.

 

“Thanks again guys, have a good night!” Naegi said around a mouthful of food.

 

“You too Naegi, and try to stay away from scissors, okay?” Asahina teased as she followed Ogami out the door.

 

“I’ll do my best,” the small boy laughed.

 

Once the two girls had finally left Togami locked the door and sat down on the edge of the bed to eat his own dinner. They ate in relative silence, the only noise coming from the occasional clink of chopsticks against the plates. When they were done Togami took the tray and set it back on the table, out of the way of the bed.

 

“Will you be okay for a moment while I get ready for bed?” the blond asked as he located his sleep clothes.

 

“I should be, it’s not like I’m going anywhere,” Naegi said with a lopsided grin.

 

Togami hummed in response and went to prepare himself for bed. Taking his pajamas, the blond disappeared into his bathroom to change and go through his nightly routine. He returned minutes later in a pair of black, silk sleep pants and a simple white t-shirt, the sight took Naegi’s breath away. Togami normally looked immaculate, with his perfectly tailored suits and business attire, but this, seeing the heir in such a casual state of dress, Naegi felt like the luckiest guy in the world.

 

“What?” Togami asked when he saw Naegi’s expression.

 

“I guess I thought of you wearing, or even owning something so casual,” Naegi said, flushing a deep pink.

 

Togami smirked at the confession, “Oh, and you think about what I wear on a regular basis?”

 

“Wha-! No! Th- That’s not what I meant!” Naegi said, thoroughly flustered by that point.

 

“Then what did you mean?”

 

“I- I just – well you see--” Naegi struggled to find the words to properly answer Togami’s question.

 

Togami chuckled lightly at Naegi’s struggle, setting his dirty clothes in the hamper before turning back to the brunet.

 

“Do you need anything before we go to sleep?” the blond asked, relieving the boy of some of the embarrassment he was drowning in.

 

“Well… uh...” Naegi hadn’t thought about it until just now, and realizing his predicament caused him to squirm and avert his gaze.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Um… well… I, uh...”

 

“Makoto, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong,” Togami said with an exasperated sigh.

 

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Naegi finally blurted out, not sure if this was more embarrassing than being called out for thinking about what Togami wore besides his suits.

 

“Is that all?” Togami asked with a blank look.

 

“Well… yeah,”

 

Togami gave a short nod of affirmation and then went to help Naegi get up. He was careful to make sure the small teen didn’t put any unnecessary weight on his bad leg as he guided the brunet in an awkward hopping to the bathroom. After making sure the injured boy wasn’t going to further injure himself, Togami gave Naegi his privacy to do what he needed. When he was done, thankful that he was to get that done without having to need help, Togami helped him back to bed, at which point Naegi raised another question.

 

“Where are you going to sleep?”

 

“In the bed, obviously, where else would I sleep in my room?”

 

“I don’t know...” Naegi mumbled into his chest.

 

“The bed is large enough for the two of us to both sleep comfortably, so I see no reason why I shouldn’t sleep in my bed,” Togami said as he crawled in next to Naegi.

 

“That makes sense,” Naegi squeaked out.

 

“Clearly, now take your pills and go to sleep,”

 

Naegi did as he was told, shuddering slightly at the vague medicinal after taste of the pills. Setting the water bottle down on the floor next to the bed, he pulled the comforter snugly around himself and settled in for the night.

 

“Good night, Makoto, sleep well,”

 

“Good night, Byakuya, sleep well, and thank you, for helping me with everything, and for giving us a try,”

 

Though Naegi couldn’t it, his words had brought a light blush to the typically composed features of the heir, as well as a small smile.

 

“Good night, Makoto,” Togami repeated in a softer tone, an underlying touch of affection bringing butterflies to Naegi’s stomach.

 

The two boys fell asleep shortly after that, unaware of how others were dealing with the knowledge of discovering who their soulmate was.

 

*

 

Togami was the first to wake the next morning, his body used to rising early. He let Naegi sleep while he got dressed, took a shower, and generally made himself presentable, not in that particular order though. When he was done he went to wake his soulmate, careful not to startle him too much so he wouldn’t jostle his injured leg. Naegi woke slowly when he came to, mind hazy and not fully functioning just yet.

 

“Byakuya? Wha?” Naegi said, voice groggy from sleep and confusion as the events from the day prior had yet to catch up with him, “How did you get into my room?”

 

“You’re in my room, Makoto,” Togami said, “Are you always this slow in the morning? Don’t answer that,” he cut the brunet off when Naegi opened his mouth to retort, “How is your leg feeling this morning? And how are you doing?”

 

“Ummm… Okay, I think?” Naegi said, rubbing the crusted sleep from his eyes as he let his brain wake up.

 

“You think? Makoto, you were stabbed in the leg yesterday, I would hope you would be able to give more than an unsure speculation as to how you feel,”

 

“Oh yeah...” Naegi said slowly, “Holy fuck! I was stabbed! Fukawa stabbed me! Fukawa stabbed me because we’re soulmates! Fuck! We’re soulmates!” he was wide awake now, and near hyperventilating as the memories came flooding back.

 

“Makoto! Breathe! Panicking won’t help anything. Here,” Togami handed the small boy a bottle of water, “Drink some water, once you’ve calmed down I’ll help you get ready for the day. If you’re up to it that is, and if you’re injury looks to be doing well, we can try to get you to the dining hall for breakfast,” Togami said, not knowing how handle the roller coaster of emotions that was seeping from the brunet.

 

Naegi took the water, drinking in deep gulps as he attempted to regain his composure, something about the way Togami kept his usual blunt, and almost apathetic tone helped ground him. He had been stabbed. Togami was his soulmate. Fukawa was willing to kill him to be with Togami. Togami had kissed him. Asahina and Ogami had saved him. He had slept with Togami.

 

Naegi’s thoughts were everywhere, which wasn’t helping him calm down. Togami must have realized this, as he sat down beside Naegi on the bed. The blond took the bottle of water, twisting the lid shut and setting it off to the side. Now Togami had never been all that adept when it came to dealing with other people’s emotions, he struggled to deal with his own at times, but for some reason, he knew what he needed to do when it came to Naegi.

 

“Makoto, look at me, you’re fine. I’m okay. I’m not going to let Fukawa, or Genocider Syo anywhere near you, all right? You’re going to be okay, just breathe,” Togami said as he looked deep into Naegi’s eyes and rubbed soothing circles between the boy’s shoulder blades.

 

Naegi nodded, finally calming down as he tried to match his breathing with Togami’s. A few minutes later he had finally regulated his breathing and corralled his erratic thoughts, looking up into concerned blue eyes with a weak smile.

 

“Better?” Togami asked, a mere whisper of how truly worried he had been.

 

“Uh-huh, sorry about that,” Naegi apologized, looking down to his lap.

 

“Don’t apologize, you did nothing wrong. After yesterday, I expected a much worse reaction, you’re taking this quite well, considering,”

 

Naegi was going to reply, going to say something, but before he could, the doorbell rang, startling both boys. Togami got up, an annoyed growl rumbling from his chest as he went to see who could possibly be disturbing them at this hour. He opened the door to find Asahina and Ogami standing outside, at least Asahina had the decency to look apologetic for coming over at such an hour.

 

“I assume you’re here to check on Makoto?” Togami asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Yes, how is he?” Ogami asked as she stepped into the room.

 

“He’s fine, for someone who get stabbed in the leg not even a full day ago,”

 

Ogami didn’t reply, just stared at Togami for a moment before going to see Naegi for herself. She was quick and thorough in her check-up, not wasting any time with unnecessary chatter. Asahina stayed behind with Togami, who pointedly ignored her, letting her soulmate do as she needed.

 

“Do you think you’re up to trying to use the crutches? You should be fine to try, if you want to,” Ogami asked Naegi, “You should also take another two pills, they should keep the pain at bay,”

 

“I’d like to try,” he said determinedly, putting his lack of pants behind him for the moment.

 

Ogami gave a short nod and moved to hand the crutches to Naegi. It was a little – well actually, it was incredibly awkward – to watch as the brunet bobbled to a standing position. Once he got standing, keeping his weight off his left leg, Naegi tried to take a few steps. The result was him almost face planting into Ogami’s chest.

 

“I think I’ll need some practice,” Naegi laughed.

 

“Yes, well, it’s not like you were all that graceful before,” Togami said flatly, coming over to help his soulmate regain his balance.

 

“Well, if you’re feeling up to it, and after you get some pants on, you should come to the dining hall for breakfast. I’ll even share some of my donuts with you,” Asahina said with a bright smile and a small snicker.

 

“Pants?” it was then that Naegi realized that he must have discarded his pants during the night and was now only wearing a t-shirt and boxers.

 

“I’ll get him some pants and then we shall join you for breakfast,” Togami said, subtly dismissing the two girls.

 

“Okay, see ya then,” Asahina said as she dragged Ogami to the door, “Hey Fujisaki? What are you doing here? You’re not wearing a dress, you look good! But why are you here?”

 

Fujisaki looked frantic, nearly jumping out of his skin when Asahina had opened the door he was about to ring the doorbell to.

 

“Are, are Makoto and Togami here?” the programmer asked, unsure because of Asahina opening the door.

 

“Yeah? Hey, Togami, Fujisaki is here to see you!”

 

“Yes?” Togami asked, appearing behind Asahina.

 

“I need you to come with me, and bring Makoto, it’s urgent,” Fujisaki said, hands ringing in nervousness.

 

“What is it?”

 

“It’s Ishimaru. Please, just come with me,”

 

Chapter Text

“Ishimaru? What happened? Where is he?” Naegi asked as he hobbled over to the group.

 

“He’s- I can’t… You need to see for yourself,” Fujisaki said, pleading desperately for the others to believe him.

 

“Alright, lead the way,” Naegi said, seeing the sincere desperation in his friend’s eyes.

 

Fujisaki said nothing more, leading the group to the bathhouse as fast as he could, which was surprising fast for the small boy. Expectedly, Naegi was the slowest, still just learning how to move around with the crutches. Togami stayed behind with his soulmate, aiding the brunet in his movement, in the end they just decided to leave one crutch behind and have Naegi lean on Togami for support. It didn’t do anything for the awkwardness of movement, but it did help speed things up as Togami was able to half carry, half drag Naegi through the halls.

 

They found the girls and Fujisaki waiting in the locker area for them once they arrived.

 

“In here...” the programmer said as he opened the door to the bath.

 

After the steam cleared, three shocked gasps rang out off the tiled walls. Laying face down in the middle of the bath was Ishimaru. His body unmoving and slightly bloated, the white of his uniform was soaked through, everything about the whole picture just felt wrong. Ishimaru had seemed so strong, and Naegi had thought he was getting better what with both Fujisaki and himself there for the Ultimate Moral Compass to talk to.

 

Ogami was the first to get a hold of herself, besides Togami who just stood there as Naegi clung to him. She moved quickly, reaching in to lift the dark haired boy out of the water and gently laid him down on the floor.

 

“He’s dead,” Ogami stated solemnly after checking his vitals.

 

“Dead? How can you be so sure?” Naegi asked, hoping she was wrong, but knowing, just by looking at Ishimaru, there was no way she was.

 

Who would want to kill Ishimaru? Why would someone want to kill Ishimaru? And then to leave him floating in the bath, fully clothed? Something wasn’t right about all this, something wasn’t adding up.

 

“There’s no pulse, and no signs of life,” she said, head bowed in grief.

 

Asahina moved to comfort the larger girl, while Fujisaki whimpered, trying to keep it together as he leaned against the door.

 

“If he truly is dead, why haven’t we heard the body discovery announcement?” Togami asked, eyes narrowing in suspicion.

 

“Maybe Monokuma doesn’t know? I mean there aren’t any cameras in here so how would he know?” Asahina suggested.

 

That made more sense than Naegi expected it to. As there were no cameras in the bathhouse, it stood to reason that Monokuma would have no knowledge of the goings on in said room. But if Monokuma didn’t know what happened, how were they going to have a fair trial? Up till now they had relied on Monokuma, as much as Naegi was loathe to admit that, to know the truth behind each murder. Was it even possible to reach the truth when the only who could honestly tell them what happened, was dead?

 

“I think we need to ask Monokuma… As much as I don’t want to… Even if he doesn’t know, we can’t just ignore the fact that Ishimaru is… dead,” Naegi said, bringing everyone’s attention to him.

 

“Naegi is right, and there is still a chance Monokuma knows who killed Ishimaru,” Ogami concurred.

 

“How so?” Fujisaki asked.

 

“Monokuma may not be able to know what goes on in the bathhouse, but he is still able to know who enters and leaves. He would at least know if anyone followed Ishimaru in,” Togami said, “You,” he pointed to Ogami, “Stay here and watch the scene, you can stay as well,” gesturing to Asahina, “I’m going to inform Monokuma so we can get on with the investigation and the subsequent trial. Makoto, you’re going to be helping me, let’s go,”

 

Naegi nodded, still holding to Togami’s side for support. Fujisaki followed the two boys as they left the bathhouse, not wanting to be around Ishimaru’s corpse longer than he had to. They stopped out in the main hall, Togami clapped his hands and called out for the robot, a bored expression gracing his features as he did so.

 

“You called?” the bear asked as he appeared before them.

 

“Are you aware that one of your students is dead?” Togami asked, getting right to the point.

 

“Huh? Whatdya mean? A lot of my students are dead, you even messed around with one of their bodies, or have you forgotten why you’re all here?” Monokuma answered, not quite getting Togami’s point.

 

“Clearly you have no idea what I’m talking about,”

 

“Listen here, you ungrateful brat, if someone died I would know, and the body discovery announcement would play. Since that hasn’t happened, obviously no one is dead,” the robot growled.

 

“Obviously? How sure of that are you?”

 

“As positive as proton. One hundred percent sure!”

 

“Then let’s make a wager, shall we?” Togami smirked.

 

“A wager? Hmmm… nah, too risky,”

 

“Then you admit you’re wrong? Because if you’re that sure, why turn down a wager you would surely win?”

 

“Fine, whatever. Now tell me, who bit the bullet this time? Because I highly doubt we would be having this discussion otherwise,”

 

“It’s Ishimaru,” Naegi cut in before Togami could further irritate their captor.

 

“Ishimaru you say?” Monokuma asked, tilting his head to the side, “Well, that’s interesting. I guess it’s time for this then...”

 

Ding dong! Bing bong!

 

“A body has been discovered...” the announcement played out, alerting all remaining students of what had occurred.

 

“Do you need anything else? Or can I go prepare for the class trial now?” the bear huffed.

 

“Unless you have a Monokuma File ready for us, which I doubt since you didn’t even know he was dead, that is all,” Togami dismissed.

 

Monokuma glared at the blond before leaving to do whatever it was he needed to do.

 

“Seeing as you were the one that found the body, what were you doing in the bathhouse so early in the morning? When exactly did you find him? What were you doing last night? We have to assume that Ishimaru was killed from anywhere between ten pm last night and whenever you found him this morning. So start talking,” Togami had turned his attention to Fujisaki as he began interrogating the small boy.

 

“I- I found him around eight this morning, when I was going to check on the laptop,” Fujisaki stuttered out, “Before that I was in my room,”

 

“Wait, you don’t think Chihiro killed Ishimaru, do you?” Naegi asked once he realized Togami’s line of questioning.

 

“As of right now, there are only two people I can say with absolute certainty, that didn’t kill him, and that is myself and you,” Togami replied.

 

“Him? Then it is Ishimaru who has fallen victim this time?” Celeste asked as she approached the boys.

 

Fujisaki nodded and filled her in on what happened.

 

“We should go back and look around the bathhouse, maybe Ogami looked over the body some more and found something,” Naegi said to Togami while the others were distracted.

 

 

The blond agreed and the pair returned to the bathhouse to begin their investigation. Togami did most of the examining and searching as Naegi was unable to do much with an injured leg. He didn’t find any clear signs of a struggle, and neither had Ogami. The only things on the body were his clothes, a water logged handbook, and his room key. Looking more carefully, the heir noticed a small, barely there, stain on the front of Ishimaru’s shirt. The only other thing that seemed out of place in the room was the door to the sauna, it was usually closed, but now it was wide open.

 

While Togami did his search, Naegi asked Ogami and Asahina if they had any clues as to what had happened. They didn’t. But they were able to solidify each other’s alibi; they had been together all night, only leaving Asahina’s room that morning to go do their morning workout then went to check up on Naegi.

 

“I have confirmed that the cause of death was drowning,” Ogami said once Togami had finished his search of the room, “It’s the only logical conclusion I was able to reach when I did a more thorough search of his person,”

 

“Drowning? But...” Naegi didn’t know what to say to that, it was one of the worst ways to die in the brunet’s opinion.

 

“Drowning…? Hmmm, interesting,” Togami mused, “Let me know if anything else comes to light; I’m going to search his room,” with that he moved to help Naegi off the bench the smaller teen had been perched on.

 

They passed Celeste and Yamada as they exited the bathhouse, the other two going in to look at the crime scene to gather their own conclusions.

 

“So why do you want to look in Ishimaru’s room?” Naegi asked as they approached said room.

 

“I believe there might be some clue as to what happened,” was all Togami offered in way of explanation.

 

He unlocked the door and turned on the lights before helping Naegi inside and over to the bed. He was able to see most of the room from where he sat so he didn’t complain about it. Not having been in Ishimaru’s room before, Naegi wasn’t sure what to look for, or look for what might be out of place. Though he was surprised to find Owada’s jacket poking out from under the covers of the bed.

 

Meanwhile, Togami had found two things and realized one. The two things he found consisted of a note and an empty pill bottle. And what he realized, was that a certain someone was suspiciously absent, and had been for quite some time now. Pocketing the items he turned to his soulmate who was pulling the biker’s jacket out from where it had been balled up.

 

“Are you ready to go?” he asked.

 

“Hmmm? Oh, yeah. Did you find what you were looking for?” the lucky student asked as the blond handed him his crutch and helped him tot he door.

 

“I believe I did, but I need to ask the others about something that had been bothering me, something I should have noticed earlier,”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Where has Kirigiri been this whole time? She is usually one of the first ones to begin investigating, but she has yet to make an appearance for this investigation,”

 

Togami made a valid point. Kirigiri was usually one of the first ones on the scene, so why ad she not arrived when the body discovery announcement played? On the other hand, though, Fukawa was also absent, but that was typical of the novelist. Fukawa hadn’t really been all that helpful in previous trials, avoiding doing much investigating and what not.

 

“I... I don’t know...” Naegi admitted.

 

“I didn’t expect you to, now let’s go talk with the others,”

 

“Um… can we get me some pants first?” the brunet asked, blushing in embarrassment.

 

Togami glanced down at Naegi’s lower half to confirm, that yes, the shorter boy was indeed without pants. He had planned to help the brunet get dressed, but then Fujisaki had shown up and distracted them with the news that Ishimaru was dead, and Naegi, being Naegi, had forgotten he lacked pants and followed his friend to the bathhouse.

 

“Of course,” Togami said softly, a small, amused smile playing at his lips.

 

“Thank you,”

 

They took a quick detour to Togami’s room, but were interrupted in their quest for pants by…

 

Ding dong! Bing bong!

 

“Alright you brats, time’s up! Gather behind the red door on the first floor so we can get this trial underway!” Monokuma said through the monitors, “And hurry up! I won’t accept any tardiness!”

 

“Guess that means no pants… I don’t think he’d find that to be a good excuse...” Naegi sighed.

 

“Unfortunately, you are probably right. Are you going to be okay to stand through the whole trial?” Togami asked, concern written all over his face.

 

Naegi nodded, wrapping an arm around the blond’s waist to steady himself as they left the dorm room. Togami gave him a disbelieving look but kept quiet as they joined the rest of the class in the waiting room.

 

Chapter Text

“Kirigiri!? Where have you been?” Naegi asked when he caught sight of the lilac haired girl leaning against the wall.

 

“Running a separate investigation,” she said.

 

“Oh?”

 

“Are we all here? Yes? Then let’s get this over with,” she said, ending any further conversation on that subject as she stepped into the elevator.

 

Everyone else shared an uneasy look, except for Togami who shot her a suspicious glare as he helped Naegi into the metal box. Once they were all in it began it’s descent. Something about the silence that filled the air this time felt different. Normally they were all, at least, somewhat sure of who the blackened was, but this time, the confusion about the case was near palpable.

 

“What happened to your leg?” Kirigiri asked, showing no emotion in her features as she eyed the bandage wrapped around the brunet’s upper thigh, “And why aren’t you wearing any pants?”

 

“Uh… well...” Naegi started to reply but was saved from having to explain the whole situation as the elevator shuddered to a stop.

 

“Get to your spots! No dilly dallying!” Monokuma shouted from within the trial hall.

 

Togami lead Naegi to his spot before taking assigned place across the way, hoping that the boy would be able to make it through the whole trial without problem.

 

“You all know how the trial works! So get on with it!”

 

“You seem put off, is something wrong?” Kirigiri inquired, not having time to examine the crime scene, she was trying to see if she could garner any information from the bear without directly asking.

 

“Wrong? Wrong!? Yes something’s wrong! But this isn’t about me, so I’ll keep my problems to myself while you determine who the blackened is,”

 

“Hmmm… All right,” Kirigiri said, locking that away for future reference, “The victim this time was Ishimaru, correct?”

 

“Right, he was found face down in the bath by Fujisaki this morning,” Ogami said.

 

“Were you able to determine the cause of death?”

 

“We concluded that he drowned,”

 

“Drowned?”

 

“Yes, when we found him, he was laying at the bottom of the bath, unmoving. It appeared he had been there for, what I can only estimate to be, about an hour,”

 

Kirigiri nodded, bringing her hand to her chin in thought.

 

“So what was Ishimaru doing in the bathhouse so early in the morning?” Asahina asked, “You and Togami searched his room, did you find anything that might give us a clue as to why he was there?” she turned to Naegi.

 

“Well, I didn’t, not really, I only found Owada’s jacket tucked in his bed,” Naegi said, holding onto the podium to keep weight off his injured leg.

 

“Ahh… that’s weirdly sweet,” the swimmer cooed.

 

“Sweet or not, it does not help us determine who killed Ishimaru,” Celeste said.

 

“No it doesn’t, I feel we should go over where everyone was between ten pm last night and eight am this morning, when Fujisaki found the body,” Togami said, glaring at Kirigiri specifically as he did so.

 

“You want us to go over our alibis again?” Ogami questioned.

 

“Yes, I believe there are a few of us who have large periods of time in which they are unaccounted for,”

 

Asahina nodded, “Well, like I told Naegi earlier –”

 

“I already know yours, both you and Ogami are in the clear, as far as I can see,” Togami cut her off before she could go on.

 

Celeste spoke up next, explaining that before the nighttime announcement she had been in the dining hall with Yamada, the two had been doing...something, Naegi wasn’t sure what exactly, but it sounded like something out of one of the fanfic creator’s mangas. They had both stated that they had seen Fujisaki leaving the warehouse, a tracksuit in hand, and go back to his room. Celeste had then gone to her room and stayed there until the morning, when the body discovery announcement went off and drew her out of her room. Shortly after that is when she and Yamada met up with Naegi, Togami, and Fujisaki in the hall. Yamada had a similar tale to tell, once again confirming that they had seen Fujisaki last night leaving the warehouse.

 

Fujisaki went after Yamada, nervously explaining how he had gone to get himself a tracksuit so he could start working out the following morning, which clearly didn’t happen, and then stayed in his room through the night. He said he woke up early so he could get a jump start on the day, going to grab a quick breakfast- a granola bar from the warehouse as it was technically before the morning announcement and the dining hall was still closed off- and check on his side project in the bathhouse. Fujisaki continued to explain how “something” in his gut told him to go look in the bath, and that was when he found Ishimaru.

 

“So you just had a feeling?” Togami pressed, not fully believing what the programmer had said.

 

“You could say that something told me I should go look,” Fujisaki said cryptically.

 

“I see. And what about you?” the blond snapped at Fukawa.

 

“I- I was in m-my room the whole night, I only l-left my room wh-when we were called down for the t-trial,” the novelist said.

 

“Hmph… alright, I’ll believe you, for now,” Togami said before turning to the girl he was most eager to hear from, “What about you? Where were you during all of this? You’re usually one of the first ones at the scene, but I didn’t see you anywhere near the body this time,”

 

Kirigiri regarded Togami with the same attitude one would give a spoiled toddler, “So you think I’m the one who killed Ishimaru?”

 

Togami knew the right answer to her inquiry, but he wouldn’t get anywhere if he answered honestly. He didn’t trust her, she had yet to come forth with what her talent that got into the school was. And the way she would disappear for hours on end… Something wasn’t adding up and Togami was determined to figure out what that was.

 

“I didn’t say that, I simply asked where you were. Everyone else has given their accounts, so why should you be exempt from doing so?”

 

“Not everyone. I see you have yet to give your own alibi, as has Naegi, and yet you feel the need to single me out?” she retorted.

 

“You want my alibi? Fine. I was with Naegi the whole night, as well as this morning. The only time we weren’t together was when I took a shower this morning while he was still asleep. And if you think, for one minute, that he is the one responsible, just look at him, he can barely stand on his own, thanks to Fukawa,” Togami said, venom dripping from each syllable.

 

“Then how did you find the body? I can’t see you taking Naegi to the bathhouse, so there must have been a reason for you to go there,”

 

“I’ll answer that when you tell us where you were,” Togami said, not letting her change the subject that easily.

 

“Please, Kirigiri, just tell us where you were, if you don’t we can only assume the worst,” Naegi said, pleading with her to be honest with them.

 

“If it will bring this pointless line of questioning to an end, I’ll tell you,” she started, “I was doing a separate investigation elsewhere in the school, I wasn’t able to hear the announcement, thus why I didn’t show up. I was leaving where I was investigating when the announcement to gather for the trial went off,”

 

“And where exactly was that?” Togami pressed.

 

“That’s not relevant to this case, so I don’t see why you need to know,” she said, an air of aloofness around the statement.

 

Togami stared her down, not liking her answer, where could she have possibly been to not be able to hear the announcement? There were monitors everywhere. But she did make a point, where she was, was not technically relevant to the case and Monokuma wouldn’t let them got too far off topic. He finally broke his gaze and reached into his blazer jacket to retrieve the two items that would bring this trial to a quick end.

 

“So it seems we all, well, most of us, have solid alibis for when Ishimaru was killed,” Togami began, “And there’s a reason for that. None of us killed him,”

 

The entire room fell silent, everyone had to rewind and replay when the heir had said, not quite sure if they heard him right.

 

“Wait, what?” Yamada was the first to speak up.

 

“Yeah, what do you mean none of us killed him? How is that even possible?” Asahina demanded.

 

“Read this and you should see precisely what I mean,” Togami said, passing the note to Fujisaki to hand to Asahina.

 

The swimmer took the piece of paper and read it over once, then read it out loud for everyone to hear, “I don’t know if anyone will find this, but if someone does it most likely means I was successful. Being without Mondo, after having to watch him die, and then learning he was my soulmate, was just too much. I couldn’t take the heartache anymore. None of you can even begin to understand what I felt, the constant emptiness eating away at my heart. But now I get to be with him. Please do not worry about me, this was my choice, none of you are in anyway responsible for my death. After Monokuma came forward about who everyone’s soulmates were, and the way he mocked me for losing Mondo just before, I couldn’t take it. I’m going to be with Mondo again, and I hope none of you come to join us for a very long time,”

 

Asahina was fighting back tears by the end of the note. Ishimaru had always seemed so strong, to learn that he had taken his own life… No one had words for it.

 

“So he drowned himself?” Yamada asked, trying to make sense of everything.

 

“I don’t think that was his original plan,” Togami said, raising the empty pill bottle for everyone to see.

 

“He planned to overdose,” Kirigiri said matter-of-factly.

 

“That’s what I surmised. The only thing I have to figure out is how he got to the bathhouse,”

 

“Maybe he went there on purpose?” Naegi proposed.

 

“On purpose? Why would he go to the bathhouse if he was planning on killing himself? Why not just stay in his room?” Celeste asked.

 

“Well, do you guys remember when Ishimaru and Owada came to breakfast like they had been best friends forever?” at everyone’s confirmation that they did indeed remember, he continued, “Well, the night before that the two of them had an ‘endurance contest’ in the sauna. That must've where they bonded, so maybe he went there because it was where they ‘got together’ so to speak,”

 

“He wanted to be close to Owada...” Fujisaki said sadly.

 

“So he took the pills in his room and then went to the bathhouse to..die?” Asahina asked.

 

“I think so...” Naegi said.

 

“Well, i-if that’s right, what d-do we do n-now?” Fukawa asked, “It’s not l-like we can have an ex-execution, r-right?”

 

Everyone turned to Monokuma at that, curious to see how he would react.

 

“What?” he snapped after a moment, finally noticing the group staring at him, “Are you done already?”

 

“We are,” Kirigiri said.

 

“Fine. It’s voting time. Use the lever in front of you to make your selection. Will you make the right choice? Or the dreadfully wrong one?” his spiel lacked the usual enthusiasm as he glared down at the students.

 

Naegi ignored it and cast his vote. Moments later the screen flashed with Ishimaru’s image.

 

“Looks like you got it right, goodie for you,”

 

“So what happens now?” Celeste inquired, “You don’t have someone to execute, so what are you going to do?”

 

“I’m going- why should I tell you what I’m going to do? Go back to you rooms! Go!” he shouted, pointing to the elevator that had opened back up.

 

He was gone before they could argue.

 

Togami came over to assist Naegi, letting the brunet lean on him as they made their way to the elevator, keeping a protective arm wrapped around the boy’s torso. He kept them at a distance, as much as he could in the elevator, from Fukawa and Kirigiri. Kirigiri picked up on this and gave the pair an inquisitive look, but made no remark. When they were deposited back to the first floor everyone went back to the dorms, Fujisaki separated, going to the bathhouse while the others went to their respective rooms.

 

Kirigiri watched as Togami lead Naegi to his own room, bypassing the lucky student’s room without a second glance. She continued to watch as the two disappeared into the blond’s room, plans forming in her mind. Once the door closed, the lilac haired girl turned heel and followed Fujisaki into the bathhouse.

 

With Togami’s help, Naegi got ready for bed, then watched as the taller did the same. They crawled under the silky sheets, because Togami would have nothing less than the finest quality sheets, and soon both boys fell into a relatively peaceful sleep. Naegi never did get pants on that day.