He didn’t think much of it at first.
Jabberwock Island was peaceful once again after Monomi- no Usami erased Monokuma from the program. It was back to the usual track that the Future Foundation had set for the Remnants of Despair.
Except it wasn’t exactly the same. He was here now, existing alongside him. Hinata Hajime.
He didn’t remember writing something like this in the program, which meant that Alter Ego had done something. Either way he went along with it, introducing himself as another classmate of his. He took this as a chance to see if anything interesting would happen, though he doubted it.
But it did.
The heavy scent of seawater lingered in the air, a prelude to the gust of wind that sent his hair into a frenzy. The sun was just about to set, giving him a view of the evening sky with the sun sinking beyond the horizon.
“It’s a beautiful evening, isn’t it?” A familiar voice spoke from beside him, a voice so similar to his own, yet not.
“It’s always a beautiful evening here, everyday.” Jabberwock was always programmed to have cloudless skies and bright sunshine, with no chance of gloom nor rain. It’s was just another way to optimise the ‘Heart-Throbbing School Trip’, a perfect way for classmates to bond with each other and return home.
It was similar to how he was programmed to be the perfect beacon of hope to the world.
“Yeah, it always is. But soon we can return home.” He heard the shuffling of clothes and the sinking of sand as Hinata sat down beside him. “You’re the last one.” Hinata whispered, relieved, and maybe even a little tired that their long quest to return home was soon coming to a close.
“Are you forcing yourself to come talk to me?” He asks after a while, his eyes still trained to the setting sky that had now turned to a hue of dark blue. Truthfully, he already knew the answer. Yet he still wanted to hear it.
“Well maybe at first, but not now.” Hinata propped himself to lie down on his back, staring at the sky above, and at Kamukura too. “I genuinely want to understand you. I don’t know why but, I feel like we’re similar, somehow. That’s why I want to go home with you, and everyone else too.”
Kamukura remained silent, still staring straight into the night sky. His heart ached again. The dull pain would almost be suffocating if not for the fact that he was Kamukura Izuru.
He didn’t want to think about it. But now that their time together would come to an end, he had to.
From the moment where his heart thumped from Hinata’s smile, he knew he had fallen in love.
Nanami had noticed, and confronted him about it. She told him that he wouldn’t be able to return together with them, just like her. Her voice had the slightest hint of worry, and her expression had conveyed to him just how much she cared. All he responded at that time was “I know”.
His body fell backwards from the pull on his right hand, and he lied down on the sand beside Hinata. He could feel the warmth radiating from his body, a relief from the cold wind that brushed past. His eyes now stared at a smile he grew to love.
“...Please come back another time.” Kamukura let out, shifting his eyes away to calm his heart. But of course it wouldn’t be so easy to chase him away, and Hinata leaned over to make eye contact with him.
“No way. I know you’re being anti-social again.”
Hinata made it so hard to turn away, to play the bad guy, to take the easier route. It made it so much harder to reject his kindness, his warmth, his smile.
“I’m not. I need to think.” He answered promptly, turning the other way such that his back faced Hinata.
“That’s what I call anti-social.” A sudden coolness pressed against the back of his neck, and he reached to grab the orange juice Hinata offered. “If you have any problems you can talk to me you know? We’re friends after all.”
Kamukura stared at Hinata from beyond his shoulders, maybe even contemplating his offer, before sitting up to take a sip of the drink.
“Hey Kamukura,” Hinata sat up along with him, green eyes staring straight into his own eyes with such a serious gaze that he had an inkling of what the other wanted to ask about.
“Do you like me?”
Kamukura swallowed the juice with ease despite the growing lump in his throat. He knew Hinata was observing him, looking out for any sort of abnormality that would give his answer. The orange juice was all a part of his plan as well, a sort of catalyst to help Kamukura mess up and show his true feelings.
Hinata truly knew him. And that made his heart thump a little faster.
“Yes.” He answered truthfully. There was no reason to hide it any longer with what little time they have left, and Hinata deserved the truth. The whole truth.
Hinata let out a small hum, shifting around to make himself comfortable again. Before the other could speak, Kamukura cut him off by handing back the orange juice, then spoke. “I can’t return with you.”
As soon as those words left his mouth, he felt a heavy weight lift off his shoulders, and his heart. There was no going back now, and he decided to face Hinata’s stare straight on.
“Nanami, Usami, Jabberwock… and I. We’re all part of a program known as the ‘Neo World Program’. We’re here to make sure everyone gets along.” He watched as Hinata’s face contorted to one of confusion, and he knew all these information would be hard to digest all at once. But even so, he pressed on.
“We’re not real. We don’t exist.” Not anymore, he thought, and he waited in silence for Hinata to accept that fact. “No that’s wrong. There’s no way you’re not real.” Hinata was clearly flustered, then he reached out and cupped Kamukura’s cheeks. “See? It’s real.”
“It’s not.” Kamukura stated again, which served to annoy Hinata as his grip became tighter.
“Stop fooling around! We’ll all go home, Nanami, you, and everyone else here- we’ll definitely…!” Kamukura pulled Hinata’s face towards him, and he stared straight into his eyes once again.
“I’m not fooling around.” Kamukura affirmed. His blank eyes managed to let the other remember-Kamukura never lies. Hinata’s eyes widen in shock.
“You’re… not….” It was Hinata’s turn to look away, and he desperately covered his wet eyes with his arm. “Hey, do you think I like you?” A shaky breath followed after, and Kamukura answered. “Yes.” A hollow laughter followed after, and Hinata stretched his arms wide, revealing his tear-covered face. Kamukura considered wiping it away, but looked away instead. “Even if we are the same person.”
“Yeah, it’s stange isn’t it? First it was an obsession with your talents. You had all I ever wanted, and I idolised you.” Hinata raised his index finger up, then slowly released his middle as he continued. “Then I started to notice you as a person. You had no motivation in life, and no one to entertain you. You were the perfect beacon of hope for the school, no, the country, yet you weren’t doing anything. I was pissed off.”
He let out a little laugh, and Kamukura let him gather his thoughts as he inhaled to speak again.
“Then I realised you were like me. Alone, with no one to confide to. It was like no one understood you, no one understood your decisions. You know, everyone wondered why I even tried for the reserve course.” Hinata remained silent for a while, tracing the outline of the stars with his fingers, before speaking again. “They just didn’t understand. No one did. And maybe it’s the same for you too. So I gave it a try.”
Suddenly, Hinata’s body was touching his, and his fingers slipped into his own and intertwined. “I think I’m getting the hang of it.”
There was that cheeky smile again, and Kamukura resisted the urge to pull him close and never let go. “Why are you telling me all this?”
“I don’t know, but I just wanted you to know how I feel. Now it’s your turn.” Hinata urged him, squeezing his hand gently as a form of encouragement.
“... Won’t this hurt even more?” Kamukura inquired, but Hinata only shook his head. “I don’t want to… forget you.”
“... Hinata is boring.” Kamukura started, and Hinata winced slightly at that. “And yet, you continued to pester me even if you were changing your opinion of me every few days. Maybe your pestering worked.” He clutched his own chest, and he could still feel it, a warm, fast thumping that he had never experienced before. “I don’t know what these are. I know it’s love, but it’s unusual. So, please wait for me… to understand more about myself.”
“Hey, you did it!” There was a nudge from the side, and he let out a small grunt. “I don’t want to wait for you. I’ll walk beside you, and help you understand yourself, and me, along the way. Isn’t that better?” Hinata’s face suddenly changed to a sad smile, then he whispered. “We don’t have much time left anyway.”
“Hmm.” Kamukura let out, before jostling up, almost knocking Hinata’s balance off.
“Hey, what’s that-“
“How did you know you were from the reserve course?” Kamukura asked, finally realising a puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit.
“Oh.” Hinata sighed, then gave an awkward smile. “Actually, Usami gave us back our memories. Apparently Nanami requested for it a few days back. She said we’ll get through it…”
She did it for me. Kamukura sighed at her unnecessary meddling. This would explain Hinata’s unusually fast acceptance of the earlier facts about the program. He let out a breath.
“You should be harsher on me. I was the catalyst of what happened to the world, an Ultimate Hope that spreaded despair. I was the one who did that to your friends, your family, your country-“
“And I was the one who made that decision that resulted in you. In a way, I made you… suffer.”
Kamukura didn’t think he suffered. But he made Hinata suffer just by them sharing the same body. The memories of what he had done, his bloodied hands, all for the sake to achieve something interesting were now burdens he too had to bear.
Why don’t you hate me?
“It was tough at first but, I made a decision.”
Hinata sat up and said, as if hearing his thought, determination oozing out as he stared on straight at the now full moon.
“I’m bringing everyone back. As long as I don’t forget the memories I had here, I’ll be able to bring everyone back. And that includes you.” The full moon shone brighter than ever, a truly beautiful sight for the closing scene. “Even if you’re not physical, your past actions, your thoughts, your… love will live on in me.”
Kamukura looked on ahead. The routes that he had planned out and thought of were all thwarted, and a new path, forged by Hinata himself, emerged from it.
“So that is your answer.”
The familiar beep of the e-handbook rang, notifying them that the last hope fragment had been collected.
It was time to go.
Hinata got up, and he smiled at the other.
“I won’t forget you.”
And when the world turned back to black, to a familiar scene of green binary numbers, he let out a sigh. He clutched his chest. The pain was gone.
He really didn’t want to think about it, to admit it, but he truly and deeply loved Hinata.