Kyoko shot up in bed, gasping for breath as she held her palms to her mouth, silencing the terrified scream that was building in her lungs. Once she had regained the slightest degree of composure, Kyoko felt her face, confused to find her cheeks slick from sweat and her eyes dampened from streams of tears.
Suddenly, she recalled the nightmare she had that night, suddenly feeling queasy as that terrible, traumatic scene played on repeat in her mind.
“NO! I’M NOT GUILTY! I’M INNOCENT! KYOKO! KYOKO, HELP ME! PLEASE, I’M BEGGING YOU!”
With a cheshire cat-like grin that put even the Joker to shame, Junko Enoshima dragged Makoto by his ankles as he tried to claw at the floor in vain for some leverage to stall his impending fate. After crying, Kyoko ran up to try to catch up to them, only for double iron doors to slam itself in front of her, iron chains wrapping around them to deny her entry. Kyoko grit her teeth and yanked at the chains with all her might, but no matter how hard she tugged and yanked, they wouldn’t budge a bit. Finally giving up, she moved away from the door, gazing sadly through the fence to see Junko tying the tearful Makoto to a desk before walking away from him to a podium with a giant red button.
Giggling, Junko loudly proclaimed “IT’S PUNISHMENT TIME!” before slamming her hand on the button, activating the conveyor belt Makoto was on, as well as the giant trash compactor at the end.
Kyoko couldn’t stop the tears from falling as the compactor rhythmically pounded, Makoto getting closer and closer as the countdown to his death kept running in her mind. It wasn’t long before he got to the end, his purple face the last thing she saw before it ended with one final slam, his blood splattering the floor and his various limbs strewn about.
Kyoko’s last thread of composure finally snapped; she fell to her knees and sobbed, chanting “I’m sorry. I’M SORRY!”
So lost was she in losing the one person who believed in her that she failed to notice the metal doors swinging open, the clickety clack of the hells of the Ultimate Fashionista getting louder and louder until she leaned down and whispered in her ear, making the Ultimate Detective shiver in fear and guilt.
“Congratulations Kiri. You killed him. How does it feel becoming the blackened?”
Kyoko tumbled out of bed, kneeling over her trash can as she vomited up her dinner from last night. Mushed remains of rice and tofu ejected from her mouth, sliding down her esophagus as the traumatic memory literally made her sick to her stomach.
When it was at last over, Kyoko gasped for breath, pushing the stained waste basket out of her line of sight. She slowly started to stand up, her knees wobbling as she fought the urge to crumble again, shakily walking to her door and turning the doorknob.
“I…I need some air…”
Kyoko opened the door and immediately stared back at the silver nameplate reading “Naegi Makoto” in katakana. The plaque across the hall seemed to stare at her, teasing her, taunting her. Before she could process what she was doing, she found herself stumbling across the hall, turning the doorknob which to her surprise gave in, the door winging open without even a hint of resistance.
“…Even after it nearly gets him killed, he still forgets to lock his door at night. Makoto, you really are unbelievably careless.” Kyoko whispered under her breath, tiptoeing inside to see Makoto turned on his side on the mattress, clutching a spare pillow as though it was a stuffed plushie. Kyoko smiled, no longer questioning it when her mind traveled to how cute and cuddly he looked while asleep, his footie pajamas only further influencing her opinion.
She walked over and kneeled next to the mattress, close enough that she could watch him sleep up close, his blissful snores playing beautiful music to her ears while he turned to lay on his back. While most would think of a man’s snores as obnoxious, to Kyoko it only added to his cute factor, and quickly became the most soothing sound in the world to her.
Proof that there’s at least one thing still right in the world…
Gazing at Makoto’s happy, slumbering face, Kyoko soon found herself delicately crawling into the bed, settling next to him, silent tears flowing down her face again. Completely surrendering to what her body seemed to be doing without her mental awareness or consent, Kyoko leaned down, settling her head on his chest and embracing him just lightly enough to satisfy her craving for his touch without disturbing his sleep cycle. It was then that she began to whisper words that she hoped he would never hear while he was conscious.
“I never expected you to forgive me. I don’t expect you to forgive me. I know this was all my fault. Despite what you said back there, I just can’t accept that you don’t hold an ounce of resentment towards me for sacrificing you…for abandoning you. You probably said all that stuff to be nice, because you’re a nice guy, Naegi-kun.”
Kyoko had to fight back her sobs and restrain her volume before continuing.
“No matter what I do, I can’t erase my guilt for what I did, how much I traumatized you. All I can do is protect you from here on out, and to keep apologizing for what I did.” Kyoko sniffled quietly before whispering over and over “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“…’s not your fault…”
Kyoko’s eyes widened at the whisper, blushing as she gingerly raised her head from his chest to look at Makoto’s face. By all accounts, he was still fast asleep, so there was no way he had actually heard her.
Is he…mumbling in his sleep again…?
Kyoko flashed back to the two times at Hope’s Peak when she saw him mumble in his sleep, the first two times she deemed him cute, before she felt Makoto’s sleeping form lazily wrap an arm around her back, gently securing her and pulling her close as if his first instinct was to protect her.
“…It’s not your fault, Kyoko. I forgive you. It’s not your fault…”
Kyoko felt her tears of guilt transform into tears of happiness, beaming at Makoto’s barely audible sleep talk as she felt his thumb lightly caress her spine. Basking in the fact that Makoto obviously forgave her, she lightly snuggled up to the boy, letting his drowsy chants and protective gestures lull her back to sleep.
Kyoko gently closed the door behind her, sighing with relief as she was once again alone in her room.
“Somehow I managed to avoid getting caught. Thank goodness Makoto’s a late sleeper.”
Once the survivors of Class 78th had adapted to their lives in the Future Foundation, they had gradually fallen back into regular sleeping patterns, no longer on edge that one of their comrades might decide to kill them in their sleep. While Kyoko’s sleep pattern was largely unaffected, as she had always functioned well with minimal sleep as a detective, Makoto enjoyed sleeping in and took full advantage of the peace and quiet, much to the annoyance of some of his colleagues whenever it made him late to meetings. It was precisely for this reason that Kyoko was able to avoid waking him up and having to give an embarrassing explanation. When she woke up, she reluctantly shimmied out of his grasp, smoothing out any wrinkles in the blanket she had made during her stay before leaving, her gaze wandering to the snoozing boy one last time before quietly closing the door behind her.
It was sometime later that Kyoko finally stepped out of her room, her composure completely regained and dressed in her traditional business outfit. Stepping out into the kitchen to grab some green tea on account of her upset stomach, she noticed Makoto, sitting at the table and eating a small bowl of rice and egg. Seeing her over at the stove, Makoto smiled and waved her over, wordlessly inviting her to sit next to him.
Once she had grabbed her tea and sat down, he cheerfully greeted “Good morning, Kyoko.” Noticing the change of beverage in her hand, Makoto asked “I thought you were a coffee person. Why the change in routine?”
Opting to tell him a partial truth, Kyoko replied “I contracted a stomach bug and threw up last night, so I needed something lighter to help my stomach.” As Makoto was about to interject, Kyoko held up her hand and continued “I promise, I haven’t been hiding any symptoms, and I’ll take it easy with the paperwork today.”
Makoto sighed in relief; ever since her fainting spell after overworking herself, Makoto seemed to be constantly analyzing her physical health at every waking moment, ready to play the part of part-time nurse the second something was off. It left Kyoko feeling coddled and more than a little claustrophobic, but she never objected to the attention.
I more or less brought it upon myself after all. And besides, his heart’s in the right place. It wouldn’t be right for me to make him feel bad for looking after me.
Changing topics, Kyoko asked “So, did you sleep well?”
“Yeah, but I had this strange dream last night. It wasn’t a nightmare or anything, but for some reason I was dreaming about somebody crying and apologizing to me over and over. Their face was obscured though, so I couldn’t tell who it was…”
Kyoko inwardly breathed a sigh of relief at Makoto’s obliviousness to her late-night escapade to his bed.
“Oh, but there was one thing I wanted to talk to you about.” Kyoko practically froze in her seat as he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a strand of lavender hair.
“When I woke up this morning, I noticed this strand of your hair on my pajamas. Nobody else has lavender hair, so I figured it must belong to you. Kyoko, you…”
Kyoko steeled herself, preparing for the most embarrassing interrogation in her life when Makoto continued.
“…you came in to wake me up, didn’t you? So that I wouldn’t be late for another meeting and get a tongue-lashing from Byakuya and the others, right?”
Kyoko felt all her mental fortitude crack, shattering into a million pieces as she processed just how lucky she was for Makoto’s flawed deduction.
…so dense… Nodding, Kyoko lied “Yes, that’s exactly what happened.”
Looking at her guiltily, Makoto rambled “I’m so sorry, Kyoko! You shouldn’t have had to come in and try to wake me up. I really need to learn how to get up earlier and be on time for these things.”
Silencing him by waving her hand, Kyoko assured him “It’s fine. Though, you did leave your door unlocked again. You’re still unbelievably careless.”
Chuckling while scratching his cheek in embarrassment, Makoto replied “Well, I figure it’s just the six of us here, and nobody here wants to kill us, so it just hasn’t really crossed my mind is all…”
Shaking her head in amusement, Kyoko advised “Still, better safe than sorry.” Downing the last of her tea, Kyoko got up and explained “I’m headed to the office to get some paperwork done before our meeting. See you later, Makoto.”
As soon as she walked into the hallway and out of Makoto’s view, she came to face a grinning Hina and a smirking Koichi Kizakura. Sighing, she continued walking away as the two shippers followed her.
“You guys really need to stop dancing around each other and just get married already!” Hina protested.
Koichi tipped his hat and teased “I still have that Ultimate Priest on speed dial. Just say the word.”
Kyoko groaned, but otherwise didn’t even try to refute them. The depth of her feelings towards Makoto was still very much up in the air, but she had already tried countless times to get them to stop their teasing and had long ago given up on persuading them to stop.
As she continued their trek to her office, Kyoko flashed back to how she had snuggled up to Makoto somewhat of her own free will, and confessed to herself I suppose…it wouldn’t be the worst outcome, if we were to…
Shaking the romantic young girl side of her out of her mind before she could play any fantasies, Kyoko finally separated from her shippers as they went to separate divisions. Stepping into her office she started to work on paperwork. Not long after, Makoto stepped in, taking his usual seat next to her and removing some of the paperwork from her mountain of a pile, smiling at her before clicking his pen getting to work. Kyoko smiled, grateful for his help, both as her employee, and as her closest confidant.