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Another Life

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Shuichi’s eyes were hooked to the screen as the death of the Ultimate Dollmaker had him at the edge of his seat. The girl’s lifeless body sat upright in front of an eerie altar at the back of the room. She suffered no external injuries other than ligature marks on her neck, and her limbs were wrapped up with multitudes of red string that seemed too difficult to untangle or cut out of. The death was assumed to be from hanging or strangulation.

“Aww, she was such a fan favorite,” Shuichi disappointingly said. “Too bad they just had to kill her off.”

“Hm? Who’s that?” Kokichi looked up from his school notes and pretends to be interested in watching the blood wrenching show.

“She’s the rival for this season,” Shuichi replied whilst his eyes still focused on TV. “Basically they pick out a protagonist, deuteragonist, and a rival―the potential antagonist. It’s kind of formulaic, but that's what makes the audience get so attached to the killings.”

“So she’s technically the ‘enemy’,” Kokichi made air quotes to indicate his lack of knowledge on the subject.

“Not necessarily. The rivals are usually the ones with the more distinctive, misunderstood personalities but they can bring out good intentions for their actions at the end,” Shuichi inched a bit closer to the screen. The camera was zoomed out enough to display the full crime scene, alongside with four other people coming in on it off-screen. The protagonist of the group had a stern, but disappointed look on her face.

“Upupupu, a body has been discovered!” Monokuma let out his infamous laugh on the monitor.

The ominous atmosphere, the looks of terror on the characters’ faces witnessing their beloved friends die, distrusting bonds against one another, gruesome executions that left nothing but hopelessness and guilt...

This show is ever so utterly hopeless it set Shuichi’s heart pounding with glee! It’s hope that keeps the audience steadily determined to uncover more despair that awaits!

Meanwhile, Kokichi felt his stomach wring just by mentioning that show’s specific title.

Danganronpa.

In what alternate reality would he be living in without his friend not mentioning that damn show? It was Shuichi’s defense mechanism, his life source, his everything! The only thing that practically made him look forward to living!

Kokichi stared at the walls plastered with posters filled with various characters from the series. He felt like they looking down at him, indirectly taunting him to watch said show. He could probably interpret what messages they could be sending. Such as, Feel the despair within your veins! The wrath of Junko Enoshima strikes again! Hope and despair will never, ever die!

Silly little boy, only an idiot like you would never experience the blood-rushing excitement Danganronpa has to offer!

Suddenly, Kokichi started to feel queasy. Mostly from the imaginary voices echoing inside his head making him dizzy, but also the desperate need to excuse himself for a moment. Or rather for the rest of his life.

“H-hey, I think I should get going now. Almost past my curfew,” Kokichi said as he glanced at the Monokuma-styled clock hung on the wall. It read 6:30 PM. Did he really stay over for that long? Nonetheless, it was a wickedly excellent time to be leaving.

“Man, and it was just getting to the good part,” Shuichi said in defeat as he watched the scene further transition. Now the Ultimates witnessed what appeared to be another casualty―the death of the Ultimate Toxicologist. His petite body laid sideways on the floor from behind the altar. Prominent damage was shown from the back of his head, assuming the death was caused by blunt force trauma. A very large hammer splattered with blood was discreetly placed right in front of his demise.

“Well, bye Saihara-chan,” Kokichi packed up his belongings and headed straight out the door. “See you tomorrow then.”

“Bye,” Shuichi lazily replied and waved to him as he was about to make his departure.

Once Kokichi was in the living room he took a quick survey of it’s precise interior. Looking around, it was a perfect fit for two residents, Shuichi and his uncle. Shuichi’s uncle was absent at the moment due to late work shifts, but that didn’t bother Shuichi since he (obviously!) took that as an advantage to watch Danganronpa much longer. Kokichi wondered if Mr. Saihara was ever aware of his nephew’s strange addiction to the show, though he’d quote “strange addiction” to be the biggest understatement of the year. Hello? The kid’s life revolved around the very existence of the show, for God’s sake!

Kokichi noticed a jar full of tiny wrapped peppermint candies sitting on top of the kitchen counter, the ones you could find as complimentary gifts in restaurants. He knew it was unethical to take things from people's homes without permission, but he took a small handful anyway and stuffed one in his mouth before heading out. He figured he’d want a little more sugar, spice, and anything nice to lighten up his otherwise, drab life.

And no, Danganronpa was not an option he had in mind.

Chapter Text

“Hey Octopi!” exclaimed Kenshiro, one of Kokichi’s prominent bullies in his class. “Got any more lunch money left over?”

Kokichi fixated his gaze on a corner of the classroom, not wanting to make eye contact with the bully.

“Aaaaaanswer meeeeee you cuuuuuck,” Kenshiro echoed through the shorter student’s face. His breath reeked of greasy hamburgers and leftover garlic, alongside with unhygienic teeth and chapped lips to top off the view. It took everything in Kokichi’s body not to shove a breath mint down his throat.

“L-look, I don’t have any with me right now,” Kokichi replied, but in reality he was just lying through his teeth. He was definitely not in the mood to deal with this crap just because some puny kid refuses to bring his own lunch from home at least thrice a week and expecting free cash in return of his blatant forgetfulness.

“Ugh, then give me some of your lunch then!” Kenshiro jerked forward and with his pudgy fingers he grabbed two salmon rolls off of Kokichi’s bento and went back to his seat.

“H-hey!” Kokichi was about to call him out further but he decided not to. The kid probably needed it more than he did, and he didn’t have the guts to speak up to anyone physically larger and stronger than him.

Kokichi got up and threw out his remaining lunch into the trash can. It was contaminated with whatever germs Kenshiro had beforehand and was half-eaten anyway so he didn’t mind.

Lunch was over and class was about to resume once he got back to his seat. He looked over at the empty desk next to him―Shuichi’s desk to be exact in which he was absent today for whatever reason. Kokichi stared at the wooden desk for a while, wishing that Shuichi was in his presence so that he’d feel less lonely.

Kokichi doesn’t know why or how he was attached to that raven-haired boy. It just happened that they’d somehow “click” with each other during class one day and suddenly become close friends. Was it because they were major outcasts? They were dubbed as “freaks” by the people in their grade after all. Were they easy targets for getting picked on? Taking those into consideration made him think they were all of the main reasons.

Nonetheless he didn’t mind though, Shuichi was the first person he’d see as a true, genuine friend in a long time. Even with that show in the way that was slowly devouring him Kokichi couldn’t possibly bring himself up to hate Shuichi, right? He wouldn’t dare to hurt his poor little feelings, right?

The teacher was about to start up her lesson on the basics of trigonometry as she pulled down the tab of the Smart Board to showcase a pre-made digital presentation. Kokichi knew this was going to be one of the most boring 50 minutes of the day, but he secretly popped a peppermint into his mouth in attempt to stay energized.

~*~

Kokichi typed in Danganronpa into Google and clicked on the first link that was shown on the results. Once clicked, a spinning Monokuma appeared at the center of the screen with LOADING... written in large, bubble letters placed above it.

He took a gulp out of the grape Panta sitting on the desk and checked his phone. 7:55 PM, no new messages or calls. Usually around this time Shuichi would’ve updated him with the latest scoop on the show’s murder investigations so far and then go on a mini ramble debating over who would be best qualified as the blackened.

Kokichi took a deep breath and slouched down on his chair, feeling crippled to the bone. Why exactly was he doing this again? To see if he could brainwash himself into the infamous despair the audience craved for? He couldn’t believe the world stooped that low to watch a group of talented high school students forced to kill each other in a secluded academy as a newly founded form of entertainment.

But it was fine, right? The people who sign up for it know what they’re getting into, risking their precious little lives into this Russian Roulette type of set just for the cheap viewers watching get a kick out of it. Brilliant.

Kokichi almost jumped out of his seat when a noisy ringtone coming from his cellphone abruptly lingered the once dead silent room. Speak of the devil, it came from the one and only Shuichi Saihara!

“Hello?” He answered with a touch of grogginess in his voice.

“Heyyyy, guess whaaaaat?” Shuichi echoed across the phone. The background noise through his line suggested the sound of papers being gathered around and a conspicuous scream coming from a nearby TV. That show again.

“What?” asked Kokichi. The website finally booted up on his computer then he scrolled through the contrasting black-and-white styled page thoroughly. He caught nauseating glimpses of edited pink blood and screen caps of lifeless bodies that was enough to feel the urge of vomiting.

“Trial six of season 52 is streaming right now and Amami-san’s about to be chosen as the Ultimate Survivor!” Shuichi exclaimed happily. “Also they found out that Shirogane-san was the mastermind, but she was honestly such a plain character I forgot she even existed up until that point.”

“She really put the ‘ordinary’ in extraordinary, don’t you think?” Kokichi added to make it look like he was still interested in the subject, followed up with Shuichi giggling at his witty remark. “Where were you today at school anyway? You don’t sound sick.”

“Oh, I’m not actually sick. I...snuck out of the house.” Shuichi nervously chuckled in defeat of his true confession.

“W-Wait, you snuck out?!” Kokichi’s usually timid voice projected into a surprising shout. “To where?”

“I took the train to Tokyo where Team Danganronpa was holding auditions to sign up for the 53rd season!” Shuichi beamed radiantly, like a kid whose parents told them they were going to Disneyland. “I mean, they don’t actually start until a few weeks later. I just wanted to sign the application really early for my spot. But you won’t believe the looks on the hosts’ faces once I show them my fabulously designed schemes of murders and executions that would fit the potential Ultimate Detective!”

Through the eyes of the purple-haired boy he felt like the world reached a sudden stopping point. Time froze, the air turned thicker, his body stiffening like a statue, and his skin turning even paler than a ghost. Kokichi was petrified, beyond mortified by what he just heard.

Danganronpa? Surely he could register that term perfectly in his sleep but the bit about “signing up” for it was a frightening, foreign concept he’d never thought of hearing let alone doing.

“H-hold on,” he stammered whilst tightly gripping his phone in shock. “You signed up for Danganronpa?”

“Hell yeah I did!” The raven-haired boy cackled. “There were a bunch of other people from different schools on the train, so I figured they were all sneaking out of class as well. Truth is, I was right and it took me about two to three hours to finally claim a spot, but it was worth it!”

“Ugh, that's not the point,” said Kokichi, clearly agitated over his friend’s mindless action. “Just why would you do that? Do you realize what you’re getting into? You’re basically guaranteed to suicide!”

“Okay, so what? At least I’ll die doing what I desire for,” scoffed Shuichi. “And what’s better is that it’ll be broadcasted throughout the entire world so millions of fans watching would be able to witness my plans in action! That is, if I was chosen as the blackened of course but still, it’s a win-win situation!”

A moment of silence emerged between the two of them, leaving only the infamous screams of terror coming from the TV in Shuichi’s room. Kokichi knew it was too good to be true. One day they were just hanging out together after school like normal teens would, then the next day his one and only friend was set out to kill someone or himself recorded live for the sake of being remembered by loads of bloodthirsty viewers as their so-called entertainment. It was too much to suck in, too much!

“Hellooooo Ouma-kun? Are you still there?” called out Shuichi as he tuned the TV’s volume up louder, impatiently waiting for a response.

“S-sorry, I’ll call you back later-” said Kokichi, but right before Shuichi was about to respond he had already hung up. He didn’t need to hear anymore delusional nonsense being spewed out of that dirty mouth of his.

Kokichi attempted to wipe the tears streaming down his face, but to no avail they just kept going and going, forming a small puddle of salt on the surface of the desk. He smeared it off with his shirt sleeve, letting the wetness absorb through his arm but that was the least of his concerns at the moment. What’s he supposed to do now? Mourn over the fact that his best friend was about to fulfill his dream in the most twisted and perverted ways possible? Kokichi then thought about the survivors during the killing games, and wondered if they really had to endure the grief of slowing losing their friends like it was some normal routine they did on the regular.

But that’s when he’d had enough. No more of that forged sympathy and fake pity! It was time he’d want to make a remarkable change! To set things straight with those undeniably brainwashed fans of the series!

And it had to start with doing the unthinkable.

Kokichi turned the computer back on again after some time of being left untouched. Once booted up he scrolled to the very top of the two-toned colored website and wrote down the address listed right next to the Danganronpa logo onto a sticky note.

This was it! The first step into creating his master plan! The second step was how he would be able to pull it off ingame.

Saihara-chan did mention something about “making yourself into a real Ultimate”, thought Kokichi. Like a fabricated personality…?

He brainstormed a few ideas in his head for about a minute. Maybe the staff would turn him into an introverted nerd who’d be useful for investigations? An outgoing guy adored by many girls? The sinister, creepy dude whose intimidating looks made others distance away from them? A combination of all three? Who knew what more possibilities could there be?

But in all honesty, it didn’t matter who he’d get picked. As long as he could scheme up a marvelous plan for the sake of ending this godforsaken killing game was just enough to dissatisfy the salty fans wishing for the opposite.
It was the first time in forever he’d actually feel confident in what he does.

Kokichi slammed the cover shut on the computer and folded the note labelled with the address into his pocket. He’ll prove them wrong, he’ll fight fire with fire with the masterminds of Team Danganronpa, whatever the hell it takes to shoot them down! Even if it were at the expense of his own precious life.

Kokichi let out a maniacal laugh, similar to a cliche villain from a children’s cartoon. It was cheesy, but it gave him a sense of superiority and dominance over others. Not that he'd mind though, an assertive leader type was something he’d never thought he’d yearn for.