The Kamukura Project failed.
In an attempt to create the Ultimate Hope, they implanted all known talents into one untalented person, and for that part they succeeded. However, they couldn’t follow through with the whole plan. Due to some unforeseen factor, they couldn’t erase the subject’s personality.
It was an unnecessary variable to HOPE and so the project was marked as a failure.
However, it couldn’t be denied that the subject was still talented beyond comprehension. After flawlessly passing all the tests concerning his talents, there was nothing else left for them to check on and they haven’t agreed yet as to what to do next with him. So it was decided that he’d be placed under observation for now.
That was how Izuru Kamukura got transferred to class 77.
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Izuru Kamukura. I’ll be in your care from now on.”
He received a mixed reception ranging from curious glances, inquisitive questions, plain indifference, and rude comments about his weird name. But he took it all in stride. After all, Hinata– no… Izuru was finally living the dream. Here he was, talented enough to be surrounded by other talented people he had only dreamed of before.
And as he made his way to the vacant corner seat for him, it’s only then that he sees her.
“…Nanami?” The name leaves his lips before he finishes the thought.
Her fingers stop instantaneously and then she glances up, “Yes?”
Suddenly, all of his breath has left him as he stood there frozen in indecision. He remembered her and he remembered that it’s been 6 months since he last saw her, since he suddenly went up and disappeared on her. Thoughts, feelings, and words, all fought inside of him as he struggled on what to say to her.
He wanted to tell her that it was him that he was here now.
“Nothing.” He ended up saying instead.
No matter how talented he was now, he was still a coward.
He briefly looked away since he couldn’t handle the guilt he felt under her gaze. But he didn’t want it to end like this. So he gathered what’s left of his courage and then politely smiled at her.
“That’s Gala Omega, right?” He asked and igniting within him a sense of deja vu.
Her eyes widened in surprise and her face shone in excitement. “You know about it? It’s a classic, right?”
Of course he knew. They’ve played it together more times than he could count.
They continued this conversation during break and it’s then that he realized just how much he’s missed this. He’s missed her. The lunchbreak conversation just wasn’t enough and he could tell that she had more to say so he expected that they’d talk about it more after class. But when he brought it up, he was surprised to have her turn him down. She said she needed to be somewhere else after and so he obliviously let her be.
Only to find her waiting at the entrance.
Waiting for Hinata.
The next day, Izuru doesn’t let her wait alone.
“Ah, I won again.” He said in awe, still somewhat amazed that he was able to do so when not too long ago he always lost to her.
Oh, how the tables have turned.
“Hmph! One more!” She pouted at him in frustration.
“Okay, okay.” He laughed. He forgot about her competitive spirit.
They played more than just one game after that but it’s not like they were keeping score.
As they started their nth round, he finally gathered enough courage to ask her, “Say, Nanami. Just who are you waiting for here?”
He knew that this was cheating. He already knew the answer to that. He’s not quite sure why he’s asking in the first place. He just feels guilty over it and he knows he’ll feel worse once he hears it from her. Maybe it’s his punishment to himself for making her go through all this and worrying her. He’s not entirely sure. He just braces himself for her answer.
“No one.” She flatly said.
Huh? That wasn’t right. Her answer had taken him by surprise. “But wait. Then what are you doing here?” He asked with a puzzled expression.
“Hmm… playing games, I guess?” She hummed, still fully concentrated on their game.
“But why at the gate?” He asked incredulously.
The sounds explosions burst forth from the game and breaking the tense silence between them.
“You’re misunderstanding.” She let out a long sigh. Whether it was because she lost again or because of the conversation, only she knew. She dropped her console onto her lap as she looked up. “I guess you could say I was waiting for someone…” She paused.
A cold breeze blew through them and in that moment, it felt like they were far apart. Six months apart to be precise.
“But not anymore.” She finished with a distant look in her eyes.
A sharp pang took hold of his heart at her words. It was so painful that he had unconsciously clutched at the tie over his chest as he gritted his teeth, just barely forcing the words to come out of his throat, “Why… not anymore?”
And then her eyes fall onto his. And she does something he doesn't expect.
And there’s another pang over his heart but it’s not pain he feels this time, it’s something else. Something lighter. Something better.
“Because they’re already here.” She knowingly said.
This time it was his turn to be surprised as he sputtered, “W-What?”
“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Hinata?” She tenderly said with a faint blush dusting her cheeks which matched her small yet warm smile.
Nanami knew. She knew that Izuru was Hinata.
He just stared at her in shock, slackjawed. “How long did you know?”
“Hmm, I guess I was suspicious of you since you knew my name before I even introduced myself. Although that’s hardly enough proof.” She triumphantly grinned at him. “Today just confirmed it though.”
So that’s it. His secret’s out.
“Well? Aren’t you going to ask me questions?” He goaded her, he felt like it was only fair since he’d been hiding all this from her.
But it looked like she wasn’t interested in that.
“Not really.” She shook her head and then leaned toward him with an angry glare. “I’m still mad, you know. You could have at least told me you’d be gone. Do you know how worried I was?” She scolded him.
“I’m sorry, Nanami.” He said, ashamed of his actions.
“You better be.” She huffed and then flicked him on his forehead.
“Ow!” He yelped and then he rubbed the sore spot. “What was that for?”
“Stop looking so sad.” She harshly reprimanded him and then spoke in a gentle tone, “I don’t really understand what happened or why this happened. That’s entirely up to you if you want to tell me.”
She then placed her hand on top of his.
“But for now, I’m really happy to have you back.” She smiled warmly at him just like how she always did with him.
He turned his hand and returned her hold.
“Thank you, Nanami.” Hinata said with his voice breaking with emotion and there were tears in his eyes. “I’m happy to be back too.”
They spend the rest of their time just enjoying each other’s presence as they did some proper catching up on what happened in the past months that they were separated. Time flew by quickly while they were having fun and now the sun had gone down and it was time for them to part ways. Even if they’ve only just reunited.
“So I’ll see you tomorrow?” He asked with a smile.
“Hmph! Last time you said that it took you 6 months.” She pouted at him.
“Ahaha, I know. I’m sorry.” He chuckled lightly and then in all sincerity he told her, “But this time I’ll promise on it.”
“Don’t you dare break it.”
They stare at each other for a minute but this time, there’s this underlying trust in their gazes. This time they knew for sure that tomorrow will come and tomorrow both of them will be present.
“Then, see you tomorrow, Hinata.” She waved him a goodbye with a grateful grin.
“See you tomorrow, Nanami.” He waved back and he also added with a sincere smile, “I promise you.”
The Kamukura project may have failed but because of this, Hinata successfully reunited with Nanami.
And this time, they’ll definitely see each other again tomorrow.
Chapter 2: SHSL Hope Turns Down SHSL Despair
When Hinata signed up for the Hope Cultivation Plan, he braced himself for a lot of things. But the last thing he expected was for his life to be so boring. Now that he had every talent within him, everything was just too easy and too predictable. At first he was thrilled with the tests they did and he was ecstatic over discovering his newly equipped talents. But after some point, it just got tedious. Whatever talent they tested, the result was always the same. He passed with flying colors.
And to make things even more boring, he was stuck here in this room with nothing to do and no one to visit him.
"Kyaaah! Kamukura, look at me!"
Or so he thought as an unexpected visitor trespassed in his room.
"Kamukura, nice to meet you! I'm Junko Enoshima from the 78th class!" She perkily introduced herself as she fangirled over him. "I've been thinking about you all this time. To think that you're shut in here. It doesn't suit you at all!"
Even this conversation was already boring for him since he already predicted her murder attempt.
"I mean for you, you could do anything!" She squealed and then lowered her voice along with her hand. "For instance..." She lunged forward with the blade as she yelled, "You could suddenly die, leaving everyone in despair!"
Only to be stomped on by him.
"Great. Not even murder attempts scare me." Izuru frowned along with his comment. Was nothing exciting anymore?
"Great! My situation is awesomely full of despair right now, isn't it? It's the best!" Junko shrilled as if she was on high. "But you know, Kamukura. I'm not the only one who needs despair." She levelled her gaze at him. "You do, too."
"Despair..." He raised an eyebrow skeptically at her. "I'm the SHSL Hope. Why would I agree to your despair?"
She smiled maliciously. "Because hope is boring. On the other hand, despair is unpredictable. Just look at me now, I'm having so much fun because of despair!" She urged him on with manic eyes. "Come to me, to my despair, Izuru Kamukura."
It didn't take an analytical talent to tell that this person was just trouble. No, not just trouble but danger as well. To be associated with this person was in more ways than one, illogical. And to willingly volunteer to join her in her cause was just suicidal. So the answer was obvious even before she asked.
"Is that all you have to say?" He calmly questioned her.
"Please say yes?" She asked him expectantly.
"...I refuse." He flatly turned her down.
"Ehhh?? Why not?" She whined in outrage. "It's not a bad deal. We'll have lots of fun together!" She then added in a conspiring voice, "Plus, don't you want to get even on the school that treated you like trash despite being the subject for becoming the world's hope?"
"Revenge is a petty motive with only predictable outcomes." He sighed. Won't she just give up on him and move along now?
"Yeah but if you refuse me now, you'll just stay here and live out a boring life." She was adamant on not coming back empty-handed.
This person, this Junko Enoshima, was utterly boring. And he knew better people to spend his time with.
"Just because I'm bored doesn't mean I have nothing better to do." He countered and then nonchalantly shrugged. "Besides, unlike you who has so much free time, I on the other hand have already made plans with someone else."
"WHAAAAT??? Say it isn't so!" Junko dramatically cried. "How could anyone beat me to you! Alright who's the little shit that I have to kill?"
Izuru assessed her words and her background and came to an alarming conclusion. "...You're serious."
"Of course I am! If I'm ever going to win you over then I gotta show you just how dedicated I am to you!" She proudly admitted. "Just think about it! It'll be your first taste of despair! I'll make sure to get your heart pumping just trust me, baby!! You'll have the time of your life!"
This person was truly despair's advocate.
"I see..." He sighed yet again as he lifted his foot off her. "Then I guess it should only be fair that I properly answer you."
"You will? Kyaaah! My heart's pounding in excitement!" She squealed.
In the next few seconds, Junko was knocked unconscious but not before hearing Izuru's words.
"I had to go through hell just to become hope and I don't plan on throwing it away on something as worthless as despair."