That was enough.
That was far enough.
Kurochi’s steps were brisk as he left his classmates down in the trial grounds. He gritted his teeth, balled his fists, and tension tore through his shoulders as he tasted bile on his tongue. Vicious and violent words echoed in his skull, some from his classmates but most from his own throat, though all of it was nothing more but a foggy haze in comparison to his current task; find Kokichi.
Find him, and pry the truth from that stupidly stubborn smile of his.
Kurochi’s pace quickened as he searched, knowing very well that he had to make up for lost time if he stood a chance of finding Kokichi before he thought of doing something reckless.
No, when he did something reckless. There was no doubt within Kurochi now. Kokichi was planning something horrid, something absolutely and entirely reckless. He had suspicions something about his brother wasn’t quite right after Kokichi stole the card key and made his mysterious reappearance. When he started acting more like a villain with no morals and pretended to only do things for his own entertainment more and more. Kurochi was so sure that he wasn’t the only one to notice Kokichi’s change in behavior, but apparently, their classmates had been stubbornly set in their own biased narrative for his little brother. The thought of his classmates made him snarl.
What a bunch of—
A twisted and strained laughter cut through the air and interrupted his thought, and Kurochi sharply turned to find the source of it not too far off.
A boy with an identical coat, scarf and hair, was kneeling on the ground and bent over something, his right arm and shoulder moving with vigorous and exaggerated movements. There was just a hint of a tremor in his limbs. The laugh broke, started up again, and repeated the cycle as Kurochi made a beeline to him. When Kurochi got closer, he swore he saw the light of the moon reflecting off of tears in the corners of the other’s eyes.
It was time to end this.
“Kokichi! There you are!”
Kurochi’s cry towards him caused Kokichi to jump and yelp, turning towards him with a black marker in his hand and a large stone beneath him. His grin, just as twisted and strained as his laughter had been, remained plastered on his expression as wide eyes stared into Kurochi’s in return. Wide, glistening eyes staring at him, petrified.
“I’ve been looking all over for you!” Kurochi cried out, immediately kneeling down and throwing his arms around his brother. “Thank God, I was so worried...”
Kokichi only remained frozen, still smiling and staring into space with those wide eyes. “Ah… Rochi…” His voice cracked. “… Nee-heehee. That’s a lie, isn’t it?”
“Well, I did have to roast the rest of our class first. That may or may not have taken up some of my time.” Kurochi sighed, the anger at the others briefly rising in his throat, before he swallowed it down and pulled away from his brother. “But I was worried. Are you okay…? You’re not hurt, right?” He immediately brushed some of his brother’s hair aside, checking his head for wounds.
“What, worried I stepped through another floorboard?” Kokichi’s grin widened. “That would’ve been nice, wouldn’t it?”
“Stop it,” Kurochi growled. “Don’t say things like that. Of course it wouldn’t have been ‘nice.’ That whole thing scared me half to death!”
“Haha, only half to death? C’mon Rochi,” Kokichi said in a teasing tone, toying with the nickname on his tongue. “I got you good then, we both know it!”
Kurochi stopped his fussing over Kokichi’s physical well being and glared at him, right into his eyes, and Kokichi’s cheer vanished. Soon after, Kurochi’s own expression softened, and he pressed his forehead against Kokichi’s.
There was a brief moment within their silence, when their expressions grew blank and mirrored one another, where they knew exactly what the other was thinking. A disgusting, bubbling thought that neither were quite ready to address, but they were both thinking the exact same thing.
Kurochi’s expression hardened once more, however, and immediately Kokichi pulled his face away, avoiding his brother’s eyes.
“You were lying back there, weren’t you?”
Kurochi’s words silenced the world around them and were not met with an immediate reply.
“Kokichi, talk to me,” Kurochi pleaded, bringing his left hand to cup his brother’s cheek and forcing him to meet his gaze. “Tell me the truth, please. You can’t lie to me, you can’t fool me like you can fool them.” Not that they needed to be fooled to begin with, Kurochi silently added, a bitter taste left on his tongue from the confrontation of his classmates prior. “I know about D.I.C.E., I’m a part of D.I.C.E.—I’m second only to you! And, I know who made those rules about D.I.C.E. being non-violent. I know the real you. What you said back there—“
“It was a lie.”
Kurochi couldn’t stop himself from pulling his hand away, startled by his brother’s words. “… What?”
“It was a lie,” Kokichi repeated, a soft and oddly gentle smile on his face. With the way Kokichi hung his head, his bangs blocked out any and all light from his eyes. “All of it.”
“All of it…?” Kurochi’s brows furrowed. “Everything back there, you mean—“
“Oh, no, everything I said after the trial wasn’t a lie,” Kokichi clarified. “I would never cry for Gonta! I really do love to see them all suffer like worms under a crow’s beak! I meant all of the other stuff. What you think you know about me. That was all a lie.”
It was then Kokichi lifted his head back up, his soft smile turning twisted, and he laughed.
“D.I.C.E., the stupid ‘no violence’ rule, all of that—” Kokichi continued to laugh, a sick and twisted laugh that was oh-so strained. “Ha! Did you really think that was all real? All of it was just a lie! One huge lie so I could sneak around and bring about pain and misery to others right under your nose!”
Kurochi was taken aback by the sudden outburst. “K-Kokichi—“
“It’s true! With how much you hated our father and how he hurt us, I couldn’t just get away with it while you were around!” Kokichi chirped, closing his eyes and smiling happily. As if he wasn’t saying the most foul words Kurochi had ever heard. “I had to lie! I made D.I.C.E. so you wouldn’t know the truth, of course! While you were distracted by those i-idiots—”
A slight crack in the mask, a quick stutter. One Kurochi immediately picked up on before Kokichi could sweep it under the rug fast enough. Even so, he continued; “Those absolute buffoon, petty-as-all-hell thieves and pranksters, I was out killing cats and dogs, just to get my hands dirty! Then, the real fun was when I found this poor little old woman living under a bridge, and I—”
Kokichi didn’t have another moment to spew out whatever crazy story he had concocted. Kurochi’s hand struck his face, hard, and left a burning sting on his cheek.
“Stop it!” Kurochi snapped, gritting his teeth and cheeks wet with tears. He could feel the lingering sensation upon his hand, how it stung from slapping Kokichi to his senses. “It wasn’t a lie! None of it was a lie! You’re lying right now, you’re—“
Kurochi interrupted himself when he finally focused on Kokichi’s expression, on his eyes. Those big, wide, purple eyes that stared at Kurochi in horror as his fingers grazed upon his smarting cheek, his mouth agape. As Kurochi stared and stared, he saw those eyes swell up with tears, and silently, those tears spilled over and dripped down his face. When Kurochi saw an ever so slight tremor in his brother’s hand, he sobbed once.
“Oh, oh my god—” he wheezed. “Kokichi, I’m—I’m so sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, I’m so sorry!”
Kokichi didn’t respond. He didn’t say a word as his brother threw his arms around him again, hugging him tightly, repeating his apologies over and over.
Time passed, and soon, Kokichi spoke again. “Why are you… why are you like this?”
Kurochi only whimpered a soft “huh?” before pulling away to meet his brother’s gaze. “Wh-what do you…?”
“You’re always like this,” Kokichi muttered. “You shouldn’t. You should just forget about me, so you can get along with the others.”
Kurochi’s eyes narrowed and his brows furrowed. “I would never do that to you.”
“Exactly!” Kokichi snapped. “No matter what I do, no matter how horrible I am, you’re always by my side! Don’t you get it?! That’s why they all hate you too! It’s because you’re always defending everything I do and always defending me, and they all hate me, so they all hate you!”
A sob escaped passed Kokichi’s lips, and his voice cracked. “I’m already perfect for the role of the villain, but you? You’re not! You’re too nice! Way too nice—so nice, that you belong with them! Don’t you get it?! If you keep defending me, you’ll just end up alone! Why don’t you get that, why won’t you just hate me already?!”
Kurochi’s expression softened and his lips pursed together in a frown, light bouncing off of his tears as they came back and flooded his vision. “Kii-chi...”
“Don’t you ‘Kii-chi’ me!” Kokichi was borderline screaming, harsh and fierce. Just like when he screamed at Gonta to fight for his innocence. “You can’t say I’m a good person anymore, Kurochi! I killed people today! Don’t you get that?!” His facade crumbled, his shoulders quivered, and all of his heart exposed itself like a raging river. Now that the dam holding it all back was broken, it was all spilling over. “I killed Miu! I killed Gonta! Gonta, the most kind and gentle person in this living Hell, and you expect me to believe that you’re okay with that?!”
Kurochi only stared at his brother with a soft frown, making no attempt to reply. Kokichi waited, and waited, but the more he waited, the more furious he became.
“You’re not that stupid,” Kokichi breathed. “No, you’re not that stupid—you can’t be. Kurochi you’re too smart for this! You’re too smart to not realize that I’m the reason they’re dead, that I sacrificed them for my own selfish reasons! That I, that I even—I even thought, I thought…!”
Kokichi started trembling even worse, hiccuping and sobbing, even choking on his own breath. Kurochi could hear him gasp for air and wheeze, and it pierced his chest and stung. However, he didn’t respond. Not in between the sobbing or the tears. Not when he knew his brother needed to speak.
Not when he knew his brother needed to say it.
“Damn it Kurochi!” Of course, he was stubborn. Stubborn as always. He didn’t want to say it. It was the last piece he managed to hold on to, the only thing he could hold back. “Say something, say you hate me! Say it!”
“Say it! Say that you hate me! For killing Miu and Gonta! Say it, say that you hate me with every nerve in your body! That I’m j-just like Monokuma, that I’m worse than Monokuma!” Kokichi spat the words out, trying to provoke a reaction from Kurochi. To get his brother to speak.
“Say it! Just say it!” Kokichi started screaming, much louder than before, much louder than he ever had. “Tell me you hate me!”
“Why don’t—why don’t you hate me?! Is killing two people really not that big of a deal to you?! Is that it?!” Kokichi’s voice cracked again. “Hate me! Hate me so you won’t be alone anymore! Just, just tell me you hate me already!”
… He didn’t.
“God, damn it!” Kokichi hadn’t realized how tightly his hand was gripping the marker until he heard it crack, and as if it was the cause of his suffering, he stabbed the marker into the dirt beneath him.
He panted and wept, and yet Kurochi didn’t move. Kurochi didn’t speak a single word, and yet it spoke volumes all by itself.
“Why d-don’t you hate me…?” The anger, the raging river of emotions that had stormed through the air had quieted down, and now, Kokichi’s voice was broken. Barely a whisper. “You r-remember what I said, don’t you…? What I was going to… what me and Gonta, what we—what we agreed on…!”
Kurochi remained silent still. He desperately wanted to speak and comfort his brother, but sat in place with his hands on his lap. Waiting. Still waiting.
Kokichi looked up into his brother’s eyes, wheezing, before he finally gave up. Before he finally let go.
“W-we—no, I—I was going to kill you…” he croaked, and his sobbing deepened. “Don’t you… don’t you get that? You, Shuichi, Kaito—all of you…! I wanted to kill all of you...!” Though Kokichi started to raise his voice, it cracked and broke, and he started wailing. “I wanted to kill you! I wanted you to die! I actually wished you were dead! I tricked Gonta and sacrificed Miu, all so I could kill you!”
As Kokichi broke down into incoherent sobs, Kurochi finally moved, collecting his younger twin into his arms and holding him tightly to his chest. His own tears were still dripping from his chin.
“I t-tried to kill you…!” Kokichi cried out, and despite his own words, he began to clung onto his brother’s jacket. “I tried to k-kill everyone, so you should—you should hate me the most! You hate violence, you hate this killing game, so y-you should hate me! Why don’t you hate me?!”
As his brother continued to wail in his arms, Kurochi found his fingers running through his hair, trying to bring Kokichi even the slightest bit of comfort as he cried. Kokichi didn’t need to say any more, the tears said it all.
Kokichi cried, hard and loud, for a long time before he finally started to wear himself out. He was tired, so tired. Tired from lying, from telling the truth, from everything. Tired from his walls being torn down by the everlasting silence his brother gave.
Soon, however, Kurochi finally broke that silence. “It’s not your fault, Kii-chi...”
Confused and bewildered, Kokichi stiffened, but he couldn’t dare to look up at his brother. He didn’t have the strength to look at whatever expression he was giving him.
“Those guys… if they can excuse Gonta for killing Miu because of the secret of the outside world… then they have no right to blame you for anything that happened, because you were in just as much despair as he was.” Kurochi tightened his embrace, and nuzzled his face in Kokichi’s hair. “You both saw something so horrible, that it made you wish you were dead… and you both agreed that everyone was better off dying ignorant. No matter how they try to spin it, Gonta was the one who killed Miu. You might have planned it all for him, but he was the one who killed her.”
This was enough to stir Kokichi, enough for him to look at his brother in further bewilderment. His expression made it clear he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“You didn’t trick anyone into doing anything. The secret of the outside world… That secret wasn’t a lie you made up out of thin air. You tried to steer Shuichi away from Gonta during the investigation, you tried to steer the class trial to make you the most suspicious... It’s real, and it hurt you—and, and I should have noticed it sooner.” Kurochi’s voice wavered as he spoke softer. A part of him blamed himself, but he didn’t dare voice his own insecurities.
As he spoke, Kurochi continued to run his fingers through Kokichi’s hair, occasionally nuzzling him. “If I had just noticed how bad you were hurting, if only I had said something… but it doesn’t matter now. What matters is, that if the rest of those jerks are going to treat Gonta like he did nothing wrong despite him actively choosing to end a life… then I’m going to turn around and choose to forgive you for planning the murder of everyone else here, including myself. I’m going to forgive you for everything that happened today.”
“No ‘buts,’ Kii-chi,” Kurochi whispered. “I’ve made up my mind. You can’t change it. Everyone does horrible things sometimes… but that’s the difference between you and Gonta. Even if you didn’t do it with good intentions, even if you only did it because you were so angry... you still told the truth and saved everyone when they were convinced you were the culprit. You didn’t kill anyone, even if you convinced Gonta to kill Miu, you still chose not to kill us, and that’s so brave of you.”
Kokichi was stunned silent, trying to interject and argue against his brother’s claims and logic, but his voice had already become too broken and raw.
Despite his brother’s astonishment, Kurochi continued. “I know you don’t think so right now, Kii-chi, but choosing to live and let us all live… that was the right thing to do. Gonta could have chosen not to kill Miu in the same way. When she went to kill you, he could have just stopped her without hurting her. He took the steps and committed the murder you planned, but because you planned it, everyone else is pushing the blame onto you. They keep saying how stupid Gonta was, that you manipulated and tricked him… but he still chose to end a life with his own hands, and you didn’t.”
Finally, Kurochi pulled away from his brother once again, to give him a gentle and warm smile. “So until those guys realize that… I’ll forgive any and every sin you commit. I know you will never kill anyone, and I know you never wanted to hurt anyone. If they can’t see that… then I’ll just see it for them. If they hate me, then fine. Let them hate me. I don’t want to be liked by people who’d forgive a murderer so easily anyway, all because they hate you so much that they’d rather put all the blame on you rather than realize Gonta was his own person who made his own choices.”
Finally, satisfied with his words, Kurochi released his brother and glanced over to the rock beside them. “...‘This world is mine – Kokichi Ouma.’ You really were planning something, weren’t you?”
Kokichi hung his head, still astonished and stunned by his brother’s pure belief in him and his kindness, but he was more than happy to change the subject. “Well, I found the original message there, and… I guess I wanted to… It was originally just, to taunt the real mastermind, but… I thought, maybe if they really do see me as the villain, I could...” his voice trailed off, but by how Kurochi frowned, he could already guess his brother understood what he was saying.
“Jeez, to drive you that far… those guys are the worst, aren’t they?” Kurochi took the broken marker from Kokichi’s hand, slowly and carefully, before he started to scribble out the graffiti.
Though Kokichi was taken aback by his brother’s scribbling, though a hand reached out to grab Kurochi to stop him, he only remained frozen in place. “What are you—?”
“You don’t need to unite them against a common enemy, Kii-chi,” Kurochi spat. “And I’m not going to let them do this to you any more. The original message was ‘horse a,’ right?”
“Then that’s all they will see.” Kurochi made quick work of the graffiti, only leaving the original clue left on the rock, and made sure to leave everything else illegible.
“Horse a...” Kurochi read the clue out loud, humming to himself. “I wonder what the meaning of this is...”
“Well, I think I saw more graffiti near the manhole,” Kokichi added. “It said ‘twins b.’ It sounds like a puzzle, or a code.” Finally, Kokichi flashed his brother one of his signature grins, and almost as if nothing had happened, he beamed at the other. “I bet the mystery’s got your brain in all sorts of knots. What do you think it means?”
“Don’t tease me, it makes it worse,” Kurochi whined, though he sat up and pressed his index finger and thumb against his chin, hand balled into a fist as his lips moved silently in contemplation. “I have a couple of theories, but… really, these two clues have absolutely nothing in common. Twins, and a horse? Clearly this has to be some kind of code… maybe it leads to some kind of password. Two parts to a password, and there could be more too...”
“Hmm, who knows?” Kokichi giggled. “Maybe it means nothing, maybe it means everything...”
“Guh! You saying that only makes me feel worse! I’m never going to get to sleep, I need to know what this means...” Kurochi took the marker and immediately started doodling incoherent charts on the clean parts of the stone, whining. “What does it mean, what does it mean…?”
Kokichi shrugged, still with that mischievous grin plastered onto his face. “Maybe it’s just graffiti, though...”
“No! Stop it, stop teasing me! We both know this has to mean something!”
Kokichi laughed, giggled, and wrapped his arm around his brother’s shoulder. He tried to continue his teasing, to make Kurochi’s mind reel with possibilities and with decoding the truth behind the graffiti, but he wasn’t able to force any of his words out through his laughter.
With a soft smile, Kurochi gave his brother a quick yet playful nuzzle to his cheek, chuckling and shaking his head. Sure, the graffiti puzzle was slightly driving him crazy, and he desperately wanted to solve it, but he couldn’t help but to be satisfied with the success he already had won over that night.
After all, his baby twin brother was Kokichi Ouma, the Ultimate Supreme Leader. A master of lies and deceit. Kokichi would always be an enigma he had to solve. Not that he minded, at any rate.
There was a reason why he was called the Ultimate Cryptographer.