Pale eyelids covering optimistic, green eyes, a mop of brown hair covering a young, boyish face, and a relieved smile etched onto his expression. Kyoko Kirigiri took one last look at the Ultimate Hope sleeping in the passenger unit, allowing a soft smile to grace her face for a split second before she put on her hardened mask again. She approached the cockpit and slid open the door, a single demand exiting her lips before she even set a single foot inside.
“We need to talk, Kizakura.”
A surprised, yet amused expression made itself known beneath Koichi’s fedora. He took a swig of the sake that was currently in his hand before replying in a joking manner.
“I take it you didn’t come to ask about the good old days with Jin, right?”
Kyoko’s nose wrinkled in disgust at the odor of alcohol coming from Koichi’s breath as she made a mental note to avoid conversation with him whenever possible. Seeing her unamused expression, Koichi chuckled and pulled out a spare chair, wordlessly offering Kyoko a seat. Nodding, Kyoko gracefully plopped down and got straight to the point.
“Koichi Kizakura; you introduced yourself as a member of the Future Foundation. You claimed that you fight against “The Remnants of Despair” and offered us secure shelter in exchange for joining the Future Foundation. And while we are…appreciative that you were able to rescue us so quickly, you have offered no specifics of what operations the Future Foundation asks its members to accomplish. You also have neglected to tell us who the Remnants of Despair are, nor have you elaborated what you would have us do as members of the Future Foundation.”
She looked back through the cockpit window, glancing at Makoto’s sleeping face before turning back to face Koichi.
“My friends and I just survived a hell on earth, and although my hand-to-hand combat skills are satisfactory, I can’t say the same for everyone else. Hiro is a coward who would rather sell his own friends’ organs than face danger. Toko is skilled with blades, but only as Genocide Jack, a personality who is unpredictable at best. I have no clue what level of experience Byakuya has in terms of hand-to-hand combat. Hina I have no doubt can learn to be a decent combatant with her athletic abilities, assuming she didn’t pick up martial arts already.” She glanced back at Makoto through the window, a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by Koichi before she continued “And Makoto Naegi…he has a unique strength as the Ultimate Hope, but his strength is not physical. If trapped in a fight, he would easily be subdued, and he wouldn’t take someone’s life even if it meant saving his own.”
A proud smile hiding under his fedora, Koichi asked “And why are you telling me this?”
Kyoko glared at him and hissed “Because I need to know if the Future Foundation intends to put us in harm’s way. I will do whatever I have to in order to protect my friends, even if it has to be from our rescuers.”
Koichi gave a smile of adoration to Kyoko, before shaking his head and answering “Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to discuss any of those.” Before Kyoko could give her signature glare of death, Koichi raised his hands in surrender and explained “I got off the phone with the Chairman, Kazuo Tengan just before you came in. He and his right-hand, Kyosuke Munakata, want to fill all of you in personally. I offered to explain to all of you myself, but they insisted on being able to welcome you to the Future Foundation themselves.”
Kyoko clenched her fists in defeat, recognizing that this was one battle she could not win.
Looking at her sympathetically, he consoled “I can tell you this, though. Whatever missions you and your surviving classmates undertake, we will completely train you first. We want to overcome the Tragedy, so it wouldn’t make sense to send our new recruits into death traps. You and your friends will be fine. I promised your father before he died that I would look out for you, and I promise to you that I will extend that protection to the surviving members of the 78th Class of Hope’s Peak Academy.”
Kyoko stared at him for a second before cautiously nodding and replying, “We’ll see if your claims hold true with time.”
Smiling, Koichi took another swig of sake before going on a complete tangent.
“But man…we have to PARTY when we get you situated. Jin would have loved it.”
“…Are you ill, Kizakura?”
“You know, Jin always loved a good party. I remember when he and your mother got engaged; it was like one big frat party.”
“…That’s nice, Kizakura…”
“I tell ya, the way he and the future Mrs. Kirigiri locked lips on the dance floor, that was something else!”
“…That’s nice, Kizakura…” I do NOT need to hear about my parents’ romantic escapades…
“That reminds me…you and Naegi-kun seemed to get along really well when I picked you guys up. Perhaps I was talking to the future head of the Kirigiri family…”
Barely hiding a blush, Kyoko denied “You’re reading too much into things. Makoto saved us, and I’m grateful to him, but we’re just friends.”
Seemingly ignoring her, Koichi slurred “You know, one of the Future Foundation employees just happens to be the Ultimate Priest. We could probably have him officiate a small wedding ceremony for the two of you.”
Having had enough of the drunk scout, Kyoko stood up and declared “This conversation is over.” She turned to the pilot and asked, “How long until we reach headquarters?”
“…Several hours at least. We only picked you guys up so soon because we happened to be approaching the school at the time.”
Kyoko nodded to the pilot, then turned her attention to the drunk Kizakura.
“I’m going to check up on my friends.” Turning on her heel, she finished “Goodbye.”
As she opened the door, she briefly flashed back to when Makoto hugged her in the garbage room and her father’s study, before shaking the flashback from her mind.
Why am I thinking about that now? Is Kizakura right? Do I really…love Makoto? I know I think of him as family, but what kind of family is he?
She shook her head before going through and closing the door, the thoughts vanishing from her mind as her gaze settled on the slumbering Makoto. Smiling, she walked forward to tend to the Ultimate Hope who saved her from despair.
Whether or not I’m in love with Makoto, whether or not I do actually want to marry him one day…I DO want to stand by his side. Staying with him, bringing hope back to this despair-filled world with him…I’m happy with that for the time being.