Another dull thud resounded against the flaking walls around them. It was enough to finally drop the smaller boy to the floor, slumping on the ground with a groan. The larger man’s foot crashed into his side, causing the beaten boy to cough, uniform scraping against the dirty ground. This was usually where it ended, but it seemed his aggressor was particularly hungry for violence. Lifted to his weak legs by muscular arms and thrown again to the floor once again. Kicked over and over while he lay limply, hits punctuated by small gasps of air. Those who wish to be seen as strong were the greatest cowards.
A few moments had passed from the last hit, he wasn’t usually left in suspense so it seemed safe to assume it was over. Eyes fluttered open and palms pressed against the ground below for support, he saw the man holding his black budget smartphone between his thumb and forefinger, regarding the device with a strange look. The small felt black and white mascot charm dangled tauntingly from the corner.
“Monokuma?” the taller grumbled more than asked, giving the phone a shake to keep the bear dancing through air. Narrow eyes flicked from the phone to his victim with vague interest. “You’re into Danganronpa?”
The way he emphasized ‘you’re’ made his meaning clear. Someone like him watched a show like that. Someone as weak, as frightened as he was couldn’t possibly enjoy some brutal murder show. Or maybe it was more along the lines of surprise, someone as meek as him would so openly display that he watched something like that.
Danganronpa was almost universally beloved, even those who cried out against the violence and inhumanity of it all still watched behind closed doors. There was just a morbid curiosity within all humans that could not deny interest in legal and broadcasted killing and torture. It just ticked all the boxes for massive views. Yet despite the peoples’ love of the series, it was looked down upon in public. No one wanted to admit they held something so awful precious. They were the liars, yet those who were honest were the villains. No one could stand truth in this world.
He debated on an answer, whether to answer simply ‘yes’ or bite back with something more like ‘you’re not?’ with innocent surprise. The ache throughout his body reminded him that he shouldn’t make any bold moves. He settled for just shifting himself into a standing position wordlessly. What did his answer matter, anyway?
He could not hide the surprise across his pale features however, when the phone was held out in front of him on the other’s large open palm. Hesitantly he reached out his own hands to take the item from the other, turning it over to check for damage and tucking it back into the pocket from which it had fallen.
“I’ve got a friend into that shit,” the normally endlessly aggressive man continued, not meeting his eyes. Ouma’s own eyes remained locked on the other, watching his expression as he let out a huff. Magenta eyes slowly made their way back to the smaller male’s face, staring him down unreadably.
“And?” Ouma finally urged, bored looking into the other man’s face for reason.
“I’ll bring him here, meet him, share his interest so he stops bugging me about that crap and I’ll let you off,” he explained simply, shoving his scraped fists into the pockets of his school jacket.
“You’ll let me off?” Ouma echoed, attempting to weigh the pros and cons in his throbbing head.
“No more beatdowns and your lonely ass gets a buddy. Win, win,” and with that he left, not waiting for an answer. He didn’t need to. The answer was obvious, he had to at least try.
He had enjoyed the few days of uninterrupted journeys home, at least, as much as could knowing where he was going. But all good things had to come to an end.
“Oi!” the rough voice boomed from next to the alley that usually housed their vicious meetings.
Two people this time, the normal muscle head bully and what must have been his friend. A boy with a much slimmer frame, no ounce of the strength that the other held. His dark brimmed hat partially obscured his face from a distance. He approached the pair quickly. He heard a small noise from the new person as he reached them, it was an odd noise to make upon meeting a stranger, almost like recognition.
“This is Shuichi Saihara," he pointed a thumb towards the boy in question at the short introduction.
“Kokichi Ouma,” he reciprocated just as curtly.
“You two take the same train, right?” Ouma’s ears perked at the odd statement. Ouma would always leave after the other, after the beatings, so how would he even know that he took a train at all? “Go talk Danganronpa or whatever weirdos. I’ve done my part,” he gestured vaguely as he spoke, turning tail and heading off in another direction as if he couldn’t get away soon enough. Perhaps this ‘friend’ wasn’t as much a friend as he may think. Or maybe he was intimidated by people who were fascinated by that beyond mere punches.
“We do take the same train, right?” the new boy, Saihara, quietly spoke. The atmosphere was tense and awkward around them as they confirmed that they did indeed take the same line.
“So, you like Danganronpa?” Ouma started the conversation as they began to walk, he knew that by starting the conversation with his hot topic it showed a mutual interest, and basically gave the other permission to rant. At some point Ouma found himself completely lost in the other’s words, he was so eager to talk about Danganronpa that he seemed to be emptying his mind in its entirety through his mouth. They were almost carried into the train amongst the other travelers, inevitably no seats were available so they stood near one another. Saihara grasped the handrail above while Ouma held onto a cold metal post near the door, yet the other’s words never ceased to flow.
Being closer to the new boy, and shorter than him allowed Ouma to get a look at Saihara’s face under his hat. Despite his somewhat smart appearance he was really quite unkept. Grey toned skin, sunken dark bags beneath his murky eyes and blue-black hair darkened with grease and dirt hung lifelessly around his face. He was barely listening to the boy’s frenzied words as he examined him, white spit gathering in the corners of his mouth from the excitement of sharing his obsession. A disgusting person in every sense of the word as he hurridly gushed over blood and suffering.
“Oh, Momota-kun said your stop is the next one,” he suddenly announced, glancing at the visual display. Momota must be the name of the man that frequently terrorized him. And again, strange, Momota would have no reason to know where he lived, that he used the train or where he got off at, yet Saihara was correct. Suspicious, but nothing about this situation wasn’t.
“Ah, it is,” he realized he needed to respond, and not just stand blankly, lost in his own thoughts.
“I feel bad, you barely said anything,” his eyes dropped to the floor along with his confidence it seemed.
“It was more fun to listen to you,” he replied brightly. He had ignored most of what he said, it was probably for the best since the rambling Saihara was likely the type to repeat himself. Momota’s deal still rang through his head, though he didn’t want to have any further contact with this wreck of a human, it was in his best interest to. The words reach Saihara’s ears and perk him back up.
“Really?” he bashfully asked, not waiting for a response before continuing, “let’s meet again! Same place, Friday, for the new season? It starts Friday. W-we can watch it at mine,” he spoke quickly, barely able to put his words in the right order, attention shifting all over the train, anywhere but Ouma. It was almost endearing.
“Sure,” he nodded, gripping his bag tighter in preparation for leaving the crowded train, “same place, Friday.” The vehicle screeched and slowed to a stop, Ouma shuffling off with another group of commuters leaving Saihara with that promise.