“…So nobody’s heard from Kiki all vacation?” Gonta asked worriedly as he stood in front of the school entrance with Tsumugi and Kirumi.
Both women shook their heads before the cosplayer wondered fretfully “…You don’t think she dropped out, did you?”
Kirumi hummed, contemplating Tsumugi’s worries. “It is possible that she might not be in the emotional state to attend classes.” She sighed and stared at her phone. “At any rate, we’re going to be late for homeroom. We should…”
“Gonta sees her!” Kirumi and Tsumugi turned with widened eyes in the direction Gonta was pointing. “Gonta sees Kiki!”
“You’re right, Gonta!” Tsumugi exclaimed. “And it looks like Saihara-kun’s walking with her!”
Sure enough, Kiki and Shuichi were walking hand-in-hand as they approached the others. “…Hey, guys…” Kiki greeted awkwardly, a remorseful frown on her face.
“Naegi-chan, it’s good to see you up and about.” Kirumi greeted.
“Kiki, where have you been? Gonta was worried about you!”
“Yeah!” Tsumugi nodded in agreement. “You wouldn’t even come out of your room!”
“…Sorry, guys. I’ve…just been in a bit of a bad place these past couple of weeks.” Kiki explained “I’ve…been going to therapy with my aunt and uncle after a case went sour.”
“I see…well, if you’re doing better, then that’s all that matters.” Kirumi replied.
“Gonta agrees!” Gonta smiled reassuringly at his former crush. “If you’re feeling better, then that’s all Gonta needs.”
Tsumugi nodded. “I’ll admit you had us worried when we came to visit. But at least you’re coming back to school, so I’m grateful for that.”
Kiki lowered her head shamefully, recalling how she had rebuffed her friends’ efforts to support her. “You guys are all so nice…even though I treated you like crap…”
“No, that’s not true!” Gonta retorted angrily. “You weren’t mean to us, Kiki.”
“I agree.” Kirumi smiled reassuringly at the traumatized girl. “From what we understand, you had just been through one of the most horrific experiences imaginable. None of us could rightfully blame you for wanting to be alone.”
“Ah, by the way…” Tsumugi interjected, her eyes focusing on Kiki’s head. “What’s with the hat? It looks totally emo on you!”
Kiki’s happy tears dried up as Kirumi shot the cosplayer a soft glare. “While I do not condone Shirogane-chan’s insensitive remark, it is surprising to see you wearing a hat. Especially since I’ve never seen you wear black before.”
“Oh…this…” Kiki’s cheeks flushed pink as she pulled the bill of the hat over her head to cover her face. “Saihara-kun let me borrow it. Wearing it…” The two aspiring detectives shared a soft smile before Kiki finished “…makes me feel safe…I can’t explain it, but it comforts me a little. On top of that, he’s even been accompanying me to therapy. I’m…not completely better yet, but…thanks to Saihara-kun…I’m healing, little by little.”
Tsumugi, Gonta, and Kirumi smiled knowingly, causing Kiki’s cheeks to flush pink.
“A-Anyway…” Shuichi stammered “L-let’s go inside. We’ll be late for homeroom at this rate.”
“Yes, you’re right.” Kirumi agreed as she turned around. “Let’s go, everyone.”
With that, the group of friends began to walk together. Kiki tightened her grip on Shuichi’s hand as they entered the halls and their second year at Hope’s Peak Academy began.
A year ago, I entered this school, filled with hope and excited for the future. What I wouldn’t give to have that kind of hope again. Can I…can I somehow get it back? Can I regain the happiness and optimism that Arthur stole from me?