Kyoko groaned, hitting the “Off” Button on her alarm clock as she stretched in bed, yawning while trying to open her eyes and focus her vision. Once her vision stopped becoming blurry, she turned her head to her right to see the form of Makoto Naegi, clad in his admittedly childish blue and yellow star footie pajamas. His face was currently obscured by her neck due to him having snuggled up against her during the prior night, the memory and sight making the former Detective smile. She took a moment to run her right hand through his messy mop of brown hair, his head nuzzling deeper into her as she scratched at his scalp. Kyoko couldn’t help but giggle at his sleepy pleasure groans before withdrawing her hand.
“I should probably get up; one of us has to make breakfast after all, and Makoto tends to get irritable the longer he goes without his morning meal.”
Kyoko reached with her left hand and reached for the drawer her alarm clock was sitting on. Opening the drawer, she reached inside, only to be greeted with emptiness. Frowning, she started to feel around some more, only to not find anything. Starting to panic, she frantically pawed around the inside of the drawer.
“Come on come on come on! Where are they where are they where are they?!” It was then as she started to withdraw her hand that the lavender glow of her engagement ring shone, making her remember the events connected to it.
“Oh…right…I burned them…” Kyoko’s cheeks burnt as red and hot as the flames she tossed her gloves into that day as she reasoned “I have worn those gloves for years, so it’s not going to be easy to suddenly adjust to not wearing then at all…”
Her monologue was interrupted by the sound of Makoto groaning. She turned her head to see him slowly lifting his head from her body, rubbing the sleep out of his eye.
Giving a cute yawn, Makoto greeted “Good *yawn* Good Morning, Kyoko.” As he blinked the sleep out of his eyes, Makoto looked at his wife’s face, frowning at her red cheeks as he inquired “Are you okay, Kyoko? You’re blushing; is something wrong?”
Shaking the blush from her face, Kyoko too quickly replied “It’s nothing; I didn’t even realize it was there.”
Looking at his fiancée suspiciously, Makoto asked “Are you sure? I don’t mind talking about…”
“You must be hungry. What would you like for breakfast, sweetie?”
Makoto could see that her eyes just screamed “Drop it”, so despite his urge to get to the bottom of her feelings, he let it go for now and answered “Um…Rice and Tamagoyaki with some Green Tea?”
Nodding, Kyoko started to slide out of bed. As Makoto moved to get up as well, Kyoko eased him back down with her hand, keeping him on his back.
“I’ll bring you breakfast in bed; you just stay put, okay?”
…Yep, something’s wrong…
Nevertheless, Makoto respected his fiancée’s privacy, settling back into the pillow as Kyoko walked gracefully out of their bedroom. Kyoko immediately strode over to the kitchen, opening their fridge to get out their leftover rice as well as their eggs, mirin, and soy sauce. She then opened the nearby cupboard in order to get out their sugar and saltshaker. Grabbing a pan, she placed it on the stove burner, turning the dial to “4” and letting it heat up.
As she waited for the pan to heat, she got out an empty mug and a fork before cracking open two eggs and emptying their yolks along with some soy sauce, mirin, salt, and sugar into the cup. She placed her left hand on the mug to steady it as she beat the contents with her fork. As she continued mixing the ingredients for Makoto’s breakfast, she stared at the lavender ring that adorned her finger, reminded of the embarrassing episode she woke up to.
“It’s for Makoto, and it’s worth it. Losing my gloves, exposing my scars…it’s for Makoto, and it’s well worth it to show the world how much I love him!”
Luckily after that episode, Kyoko took greater care to remember not to panic when she couldn’t find her gloves in the morning. As such, there was no blush or obvious expression for Makoto to pick up on, so he largely forgot about the original incident, much to Kyoko’s relief.
It was some time later that the couple was strolling through the local mall; with Makoto and Kyoko both set to become Headmaster and Vice-Headmistress once Hope’s Peak had been reconstructed, they decided that they both needed a new set of uniforms for their day jobs.
As they walked through the semi-crowded building and scanned the signs looking for a business clothing store, Kyoko ‘s gaze wandered down to her hands, admiring her lavender ring against the burnt scars on her hands. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, Kyoko felt her hands start to shake.
What’s…what’s wrong with me? I can’t go panicking now! Take a deep breath, Kyoko. It’s for Makoto, it’s for Makoto…
Yet for all of her internal mantras, her hands wouldn’t stop shaking. Glancing down at Makoto’s right hand, she quickly grabbed his right hand with her left while wrapping her right hand around the inside of his forearm.
“Kyoko? What are you doing?”
Makoto looked at his fiancée with concern, a blush spreading lightly across his face at the impromptu and public gesture of affection.
Hiding her eyes behind her lavender locks, Kyoko murmured “I’m just holding your hand. That’s acceptable, right? We’re engaged, after all; is there a problem with being affectionate towards you?”
Makoto’s eyebrows furrowed in worry; Kyoko had indeed been more physically affectionate with him, in the privacy of their apartment. But prior to this, she had been extremely reluctant to even hold hands in public. This out of character gesture made Makoto even more concerned for the woman he loved.
It’s like she’s clinging to me out of desperation…She must be really scared if she’s latching on to me like this in public… Makoto wanted to prod, to find out what was troubling his darling Kyoko, but recognized that such a conversation needed to be in the privacy of their home; filing the thought away for later, he simply patted her head with his free hand and assured her “If that’s what you want…”
Kyoko sighed in relief; traditional Japanese culture may have frowned upon couples who held hands in public, evidenced by the numerous disapproving stares coming their way from other passerbys, but Kyoko found in that moment that having Makoto keep her anxiety and self-consciousness away by letting her latch on to him was worth it. Continuing to scan the mall with her eyes, her eyes finally settling on a black sign with white lettering reading “Futari no Shigoto”. Her eyes lighting up, she lightly tugged on Makoto’s arm and started walking in its direction.
“Come on; this looks like a good place.”
Makoto nodded, keeping pace with Kyoko as they entered the establishment, relaxing and smiling a little bit as she quietly released his forearm, happy that she had apparently calmed down.
“Makoto, what do you think of this?”
Kyoko held up three articles of clothing for Makoto to see; a long-sleeved white Y-Shirt, a reddish-purple jacket, and a dark-purple skirt that seemed to be an exact replica of the one she wore during Junko’s original killing game.
Struck with a mixture of adoration and nostalgia, Makoto smiled, blushing as he exclaimed “It looks beautiful, Kyoko. Is that going to be…”
Nodding, Kyoko confirmed “Yes, since you said you like it, this will be my uniform.” She went back to the rack, picking up four more of each article before dropping them all in the cart Makoto was pushing and suggesting “Now, let’s find a uniform for you. Have you found anything you liked?”
Scratching his cheek, Makoto confessed “Well, the truth is…I have no sense of fashion. You remember how all my personal tastes and hobbies were just whatever was popular at the moment, right? Well, that extended to my wardrobe too.” Kicking his heel with the tip of his toe, Makoto admitted “I think you’re a better judge of what would make a professional uniform than I am…”
Kyoko blinked before smiling at her fiancé, placing her hand on top of his as she replied “Alright, if that’s how you feel.” Turning around, she announced “Alright, let’s get moving. I’ve never actually picked out a man’s uniform, but I’ll do my best.”
That much was true; the Future Foundation didn’t exactly have much in the way of variation in the way of professional clothing, so nobody could really complain about someone else’s lack of fashion sense. Treating the new objective as a challenge to overcome, Kyoko started walking towards the men’s section, Makoto following closely behind her with the shopping cart. Her eyes scanned the racks until they settled on a set of black dress slacks and a similarly white Y-Shirt.
Hmm…Makoto probably doesn’t like to stand out too much, so something flashy probably wouldn’t be good for his daily uniform. Black and white is probably a safe bet. Still, it looks a little…intimidating for Makoto’s personality. He probably wants the students to be able to approach him with ease. Let’s see…what can make this look slightly more casual?
Kyoko scanned the racks some more, searching for the right accessory to complete the “Headmaster Naegi” set, until she saw the item in question. Her eyes glowing, she ran up and grabbed a black, sleeveless vest, a single zipper running down the middle.
Grabbing it and running back to grab the slacks and Y-shirt, Kyoko approached Makoto and asked “What do you think of this? The black pants and white shirt are pretty safe dress attire, and wearing the vest over your shirt should make the uniform just casual enough to make you look less intimidating to the students. We can also grab a black jacket for professional meetings.”
Although Makoto wouldn’t count himself as anywhere near intimidating, he found himself extremely impressed with Kyoko’s thoughtfulness.
Smiling lovingly, he affirmed “I knew I made the right choice when I agreed to marry you.”
Blushing, Kyoko stammered “G…glad you agree.” Running back to grab four more of the clothing articles, plus five black jackets of his size and five single-color ties, she walked towards the checkout, urging him “Let’s go.”
Once they had finished checking out and paying for their clothes, Kyoko grabbed the shopping bags and told him “I’m going to run these out to the car. Why don’t you go grab lunch for us at the food court while I’m gone?”
As Kyoko walked out of the store, Makoto was about to take his first step out of the establishment, until his eyes drifted, settling on a lavender pair of gloves, studs matching those on the ones she had previously worn…
“Can we take a moment to talk?”
They had walked into their apartment five minutes ago and gone to their bedroom. Kyoko had just opened the door to their closet and was just about to hang up their new clothes when Makoto had opened his mouth to ask that question.
Her eyebrow raised in curiosity, Kyoko closed the closet door and walked over to him, sitting down on the bed next to him and placing her palm on his cheek as she asked “Of course; is something wrong?”
Makoto took a deep breath before removing her hand from his face, enclosing it between his palms as he asked “Is something wrong? You’ve been acting a little…out of character lately.”
Kyoko froze, her face going pale as she stammered “What…what do you mean?”
“Well…a couple of weeks ago, that morning you made me breakfast in bed, I saw that the drawer near your side of the bed was left open ajar. I heard some bumping and rocking noise that woke me up earlier that morning, so I assume that was you looking for something…possibly a little frantically.”
Her face heating in embarrassment, Kyoko murmured “…You catch on quick…” Kyoko looked her fiancé in the eyes as she confirmed “Yes, that was me. I had…gotten used to putting on my gloves in the morning and in my sleepy state, I…temporarily forgot about the promise I made when you gave me my ring. I was…embarrassed.”
…Ah, so that’s what that was about. Then today was… “Then…was today…about your gloves too? When you latched onto me, were you…”
“…Feeling self-conscious?” Kyoko finished for him.
“…I was going to say scared…” Makoto admitted.
Kyoko looked down, her eyes hidden behind her hair as she confessed “You’re not exactly wrong, to be honest. It’s completely and totally irrational, but I am honestly self-conscious and scared.”
Makoto’s eyes softened as he took in his fiancée’s suffering; he cradled her face in his palms as he asked “…Why do you feel scared, honey?”
Overcoming the lump in her throat, Kyoko confessed “When I disposed of my gloves, I knew that it would be an adjustment. I had worn those gloves for most of my teenage years, so it wasn’t going to be easy to shed them permanently. That being said…I…underestimated how painful it would be. When I couldn’t find them that morning, I panicked until your ring reminded me of the promise I made. And earlier today, when my hands were in public…I couldn’t get them to stop shaking. It was like I had no control over myself!”
“…Latching on to you, feeling your touch made it go away. It distracted me, made me feel like everything was all right.”
Kyoko started to shed tears at this point, crying a little in front of Makoto who was now extremely worried for her health.
“And it hurts, because I made you that promise, and believe me, I do want it, but now I feel like I have no control over my emotions anymore and I feel like I’m letting you down because I’m too scared to hide my scars without you holding my hands!”
At this, Makoto couldn’t take it anymore. He embraced Kyoko, holding her fragile form against him, her face buried against his shoulder. Gasping once, she gave in to her emotions, sobbing into his hoodie as she clawed to grasp at his back.
Once she was settled on his lap, Makoto began to rock her back and forth, rubbing circles on her back with one hand as he cooed reassuringly “It’s okay, Kyoko. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to feel self-conscious. But it’s not okay to subject yourself to this kind of psychological torture, honey.”
Sniffling, Kyoko weakly retorted “I… *sniff* I promised you though…”
“And I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was when you said you’d make that sacrifice for me. But it doesn’t make me happy if you hurt yourself trying to do it. You don’t need to jump in the proverbial deep end like this. It’s okay to take your time until you’re ready. I’m more than happy to wait for you, Kyoko Naegi.”
Her tears subsiding, Kyoko sniffled and asked “So…what do you recommend I do, then? I burned my old gloves, remember?”
Silence passed between them before Makoto reached into his pocket before tapping her shoulder with his other hand, making her look at him. Her eyes widened in astonishment as a pair of gloves appeared before her, Makoto smiling.
The young man holding her smiled and revealed “When you left to put our bags away, I saw these in the store. I had a bit of a hunch that your change of behavior had something to do with your hands, so I bought these, just in case you might need them…”
Still smiling, Makoto told her “They should be able to fit over your ring, so you can slide them on without difficulty. It doesn’t mean you need to wear them forever, just until you feel comfortable showing your hands in public. You don’t need to rush things…just go at your own pace, okay?”
Still awestruck at Makoto’s perceptiveness, Kyoko squeezed her beloved tighter, though even as she took the gloves from him and placed them in her drawer, she still felt a little down from her rollercoaster of emotions. Makoto noticed this, racking his brain for a way to get her to show her cute smile again, before a recent memory came back to him, one that made him blush.
…Well, it worked for me, so why not her?
Makoto caught Kyoko by surprise as he started to push her down onto the mattress, readjusting them so that they were lying straight on it.
“Ma…koto?” What are you doing? She thought as a blush entered her cheeks.
Smiling nervously, Makoto asked “Do you remember when I was feeling down about your grandfather, and you cheered me up?”
…Oh, right, that… Kyoko gulped and asked, “So you’re…thinking of doing the same thing to make me smile?”
Shyly nodding, Makoto confirmed “Only if it’s okay with you, and only as long as you’re comfortable. If you consent, you tell me when to stop, and I’ll stop.”
Touched by Makoto’s consideration of her comfort level, Kyoko nodded, consenting “I…agree to your terms…”, secretly curious to see if he could make her smile and laugh as much as she was able to for him.
Nodding, Makoto nervously slid his hands just under her T-shirt, feeling her bare skin on his fingers before he began lightly scratching at her soft belly. The effect was instantaneous; Kyoko’s lips twitched into a smile-smirk, giving breathy chuckles as she started to slightly twist.
Grinning at the sight of the success of his plan, Makoto moved his hands to spider down her sides, hearing her barely audible guffaws elevate to much more audible chuckles as he teasingly cooed “Coochie coochie, Kyoko Naegi. Coochie coochie coo…”
Having her own verbal teasing used on her, combined with the spidering of his hands alternating between her sides and stomach seemingly at random made her volume spike, her belly bouncing up and down out of reflex. His eyes wandered for a moment, focusing on her bare feet. Getting an idea, he let up for a minute, letting Kyoko gasp for breath as she slowly slid down until her feet were within his grasp. Looking down at him curiously, Kyoko found herself giving full belly laughs as Makoto spidered his fingers on her soles and under her toes. Her weak spot having been found, Kyoko wiggled her toes, accepting her fate as she continued to let Makoto tickle her. Makoto smiled, happy that they had managed to make each other smile on their worst days through an…unconventional activity.
It may be unconventional, but as long as it makes us both happy…I think we’ve found the perfect de-stressor for us…