going into the warehouse is always a funny experience for nagito.
sometimes, it’s almost like he can feel the poison burning his lungs, the knife in his hand and spear in his chest, the final synapses pulsing behind his glass bones and paper skin--and oh god, what a metaphor that one is, one that emphasizes the fragility and finality of his existence. other times, he’s so overwhelmed with guilt and the plain-faced truth that all he’d subjected himself to was for naught. in the end, it hadn't mattered. not when he was still able to come back to where it all happened.
so, maybe not a funny ha-ha kind of experience. the irony of ever returning there does make him laugh, though it usually comes out a dry, mirthless thing.
the air in the building is heavy with dust, making nagito cough at first inhale. he doesn’t mind how his chest aches when he coughs anymore, a forever reminder that he only has so much time left and god if the process could just speed up a little bit that would be fantastic. komaeda looks up at the ceiling, subconsciously noting his quickening pulse and instead choosing to focus on how the beams above cross in a lattice pattern. he admires their order but wishes more that one would come loose and bring the whole roof down with it. maybe, if he was lucky--he smiles at himself, because boy, he sure was--one would strike him in the head.
although an end that quick would be too kind to him. something reminiscent of a metal ball or bat or dumbbell, taking him out in one swift movement, would be too merciful. nagito was proud of his deathtrap back in the simulation because of how much pain he had felt before dying, not in spite of it. it was what he deserved. he wasn’t good enough to go out with a whimper, no, komaeda’s death needed to rival that of a bang. he had to feel it and it needed to hurt and it needed to mean something because if he couldn’t help them in life he sure as hell could in passing.
it only now dawns on nagito that he’s sunk to his knees, one arm wrapped around his abdomen in some contortion only accomplishable with his sickly frame. the other arm, the one with the new hand, has fingers tangled in his hair, and he can feel his breath coming short and hot on his metal wrist. he feels pressure behind his eyes and in his ears and in his throat. it takes all of his being to not bite his tongue off to hold off the tears begging to spill out. nagito thinks he’s going to get sick on the floor and contemplates if expiring in his own puke is befitting enough for such a creature as him.
he’s wearing sleeping clothes, because he’s supposed to be asleep, because it’s three in the morning and every other sensible soul on this god-forsaken archipelago is in dreamland. but he’s in his sleeping clothes, shorts and a too-many-times worn t-shirt, the linoleum floor cool against his knees. nagito resigns then to lying down on the floor fully because servant he was, the position actually kind of hurt (and he screams at himself in his head for letting himself have the luxury of comfort). he lies on his right side, the one with the old arm, because hinata-kun’s and souda-kun’s expert work doesn’t deserve to risk getting damaged all because he decided to break down and writhe on the floor like some wounded animal. he struggled to believe he was even worthy of such a gift--her arm would’ve been suitable and nagito deserved every drop of despair he would have felt whenever he looked at it. he didn’t deserve such kindness.
god, what did he do to deserve any of them?
surely at this point it’s all pity, every nice thing his classmates do for him. owari and nidai only spend meals with him because she is in recovery as well, the latter always with her, and nagito supposes any company is good company, no matter how wretched or repulsive. the only reason souda acknowledges his existence is to make repairs to his prosthetic, although sometimes the small talk the other tries to make during check-ups extends past that of mere acquaintances (and nagito would never admit it, it’s much too selfish of him, but he relishes in their conversations). tsumiki is arguably as fucked up after the years of despair as he is, and their relationship is one similar to his and owari’s--they’re trauma-mates, if you may, nothing more. kuzuryuu pays attention to him out of obligation, probably something with how if nagito acted up peko would be unhappy or something like that. even if the logic wasn’t sound, it was easier to believe than the alternative.
but something always stops him in his tracks whenever he thinks of how hinata treats him. how the person who went from nothing to everything, the embodiment of all of nagito’s most glorified ideals, is able to look at him with fondness. as if nagito even deserves a fraction of the affection hajime bestows upon him. it’s baffling, truly, and he hates how much he enjoys it. he hates feeling loved. he hates even more that its the best thing he’s ever felt.
what snaps nagito back to reality again is the bile that comes bubbling up his throat. he swallows hard, wincing at the bitter taste and silently regrets ever considering letting himself waste away in his own spit-up. he doesn’t know when he started crying, but his face is wet. nagito sits up and scrubs at his eyes with his hand, his real hand.
and komaeda laughs. it erupts from him all at once, and it’s a horrible sounding thing, a harsh amalgamation of a cackle and a choke. he laughs and laughs until his throat scratches like sandpaper and he swears his lungs are going to collapse. because it’s funny, it really is, that nagito komaeda is still alive and breathing. no matter how ragged and ill and fucked up, he is still here, and he’s so fucking lucky.
nagito’s consciousness slowly starts to fade, and he realizes now that it probably wasn’t the wisest idea to come here so late unprepared. his face is damp with tears, but the salty tracks are starting to itch, and his throat still burns with bile and overexertion.
all he wants is for the room to be ablaze again.