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Nagito Komaeda Gets Under Everyone’s Skin and/or Clothes

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“The base rate is only for bad fortunes,” Hagakure says. “If you pay double, I can tell you some good stuff.”

“Does that mean the people who pay more actually have brighter futures?” Komaeda asks.

“Well, they’re rich,” Hagakure says, “so... yes?”

“I’d be interested to hear good and bad fortunes,” Komaeda says. “I’d like to compare them.”

“Can you pay?”

“I don’t have the money with me right now,” Komaeda says, “but I can afford it.”

“Hmm,” Hagakure says. “I can’t give you the full reading until I’ve got the money, but I guess I can give you a preview.”

“I’d be grateful,” Komaeda says.

Hagakure closes his eyes for a moment. Opens them again.

“Bad fortune,” he says. “Some seriously messed-up stuff is going to happen to you.”

Komaeda could have predicted that himself. “And the good fortune?”

“Good fortune,” Hagakure says: “it’s gonna get you laid.”

-

“I know it’s rude to eavesdrop,” Komaeda says, “but I couldn’t help overhearing.”

Enoshima looks over at him, kicking her heels against the wall she’s sitting on. “Oh? What’s this? What’s this, what’s this?”

“I know you have plans for this school,” Komaeda says. “I know you intend to make your classmates kill each other.”

“Oh, are you going to thwart me?” Enoshima asks, apparently delighted. “After all the planning? When I’m so close? Because that would be incredible.”

“I’m not—”

“That is one hundred percent not ‘just happened to overhear’ material, by the way,” Enoshima says. “You’re definitely a desperate fanboy who’s been crawling around at my ankles. I’ll give you my autograph, but only if you let me tattoo it on your face.”

“I’m not going to stop you,” Komaeda says.

“Ugh. Really? You could at least try. It’d seriously be so much work down the drain.”

“I’m not going to be the one to stop you, I should say,” Komaeda says. “These are talented people. If they face despair, I’m confident that they’ll obliterate it with the light of hope.”

“Oh, right, it’s you,” Enoshima says.

“I want to be inside the school when it begins,” Komaeda says. “I want to see that hope.”

“You sure?” Enoshima asks. “’Cause I’ve got plans for your class as well. Nobody gets left out.”

“I’m sure,” Komaeda says. “I can’t miss this opportunity.”

Enoshima looks at him for a long moment, one leg crossed over the other.

“Fine,” she says at last, unfolding her legs. “Make me come and I’ll consider it.”

Komaeda hesitates.

“Oh, you’ll run head-first into a death game but you won’t fuck me?” Enoshima asks. “I’m going to be fucking you metaphorically anyway; might as well let me do it literally.”

His feelings for Enoshima and her sister are complicated. He desires them, he admires them, as he does any talented person. But they are agents of despair.

Still. She’s offered him hope, intentionally or unintentionally, by saying she’ll consider letting him watch things unfold. He doesn’t intend to let that pass him by.

-

“He looks a lot like Naegi-kun,” Mukuro says. “And they have the same talent. Are they related?”

“Oh, I know the answer to that!” Junko says. “It’s who gives a shit?

She lashes out at Mukuro with her lethally sharp heel. Mukuro evades it without conscious thought.

“You could always bang him and pretend he’s Naegi, y’know,” Junko says. “Naegi’d probably faint like the delicate maiden he is if anyone told him about sex. At least Komaeda knows what his dick is for. Even if he’s bad with it.”

Mukuro looks at her, startled.

“Oh, did I not tell you how he won his ticket to the party?” Junko asks, breaking into a grin. “I can tell you all the details. We can be just like normal sisters, talking about boys.”

“I, ah, don’t know if normal sisters tell each other ‘all the details’.”

“Okay!” Junko rubs her hands together. “Brace yourself: we’re getting uncomfortable. Are you wondering if he was circumcised? Because he wasn’t when we started.”

-

“Okay,” Kuwata says. “It’s not a gay thing.”

“Did I express concern?” Komaeda asks.

“It’s just a normal, manly thing that normal, manly guys do if they haven’t been laid in a while,” Kuwata says. He glances around. “Like... a week, or two weeks, or, you know, months.”

“You really don’t need to persuade me,” Komaeda says. “I’d be happy to sleep with you.”

“Okay.” Kuwata points at him. “That? That’s not cool. Nobody’s sleeping with anyone. It’s just two guys, giving each other a hand.”

Komaeda laughs. “I’d be happy to give you a hand, in that case.”

“You’ve got long hair, anyway,” Kuwata says. “You’re basically a girl.”

Komaeda doesn’t entirely understand why this preamble is necessary, but, if it makes Kuwata happy, he’s prepared to endure it.

“So,” Kuwata concludes at last, unbuckling his belt, “we’re doing this, and we’re not gonna talk about it, and you don’t get to complain if I call you Maizono.”

“I understand,” Komaeda says, politely refraining from mentioning that they’ve been talking about it for at least twenty minutes already.

He moves in to kiss Kuwata.

Kuwata holds him sharply back with a hand on his shoulder. “Holy shit, no. You don’t get this at all.”

-

Her throat tightens up when the doorbell rings.

It’s Komaeda, of course; who else would it be? “Maizono-san,” he says, smiling. “What did you want to talk about?”

In the next few minutes he’ll be dead.

She doesn’t have a choice, does she?

Her friends could be in danger. The world is forgetting her. She’s made so many sacrifices already to get where she is; she can’t just stand back and watch her life crumble.

“Komaeda-kun,” she says, taking a step back into Naegi’s room. “Please, come in.”

Komaeda obligingly does, closing the door behind him. He looks around, hums a little. “Is Naegi-kun not here?”

She freezes. “Why would Naegi-kun be in my room?”

“Hm? Ah, no reason, I suppose.”

Does he suspect a trap? She has to do it now.

“You’re the only person I want here, Komaeda-kun.” She places one hand on his chest, grasps the knife with the other. “I’ve been thinking about it since we first met.”

He sees the flash of metal and realises what’s happening a second before she strikes, she can see it in his eyes, and she puts more force into it at the last instant to overcome his resistance – but he doesn’t resist and her lunge is so ferocious it knocks him to the floor. The knife only grazes his chest as he falls.

She goes down on top of him, and in an instant she’s caught her balance, rearranged herself to stay in the position of power, straddling him, holding his wrist down with her free hand. She has him pinned down between her knees, has him completely at her mercy—

—and Komaeda’s laughing, eyes bright and cheeks flushed and hair fanning over the floor.

What...?

“Ah, Maizono-san!” he says. “I was afraid I’d have to help things along myself. I should have known Super High-school Levels wouldn’t need my help!” He shifts underneath her, and she tightens her grip on his wrist – but he isn’t trying to escape; it’s more like he’s settling in. “And I’m still fortunate enough to play such a significant role!”

What is he talking about?

It doesn’t matter. She can’t let him keep talking, or she’ll lose her resolve.

“Would you like to talk through your plan with me?” he asks. “I can help you, if you want to make sure you’re not caught. But I suppose you might want to carry it through now, if you’ve already started.” He tilts his head back against the carpet, exposing his throat. “Really, I’m fine with whatever you decide!”

Is this some kind of trick? She touches the edge of the knife to his throat, watching for fear, for some kind of reaction that she can understand, but he only lets out a little fluttering sigh. He won’t stop smiling.

“Don’t try to use reverse psychology or – or whatever this is; it won’t work.” She’s trying so hard not to cry. “I’m sorry. But I have to do this. I don’t have a choice.”

“But you do have a choice, Maizono-san; that’s the beauty of it!” Komaeda exclaims. “You’ve made this decision to take your destiny into your own hands! It’s truly admirable. Please don’t underestimate yourself; you’re doing a wonderful thing, for yourself and for all of your classmates.”

She’s breathing too fast, and every inhale catches like a sob. It seems like he’s forgiving her before she’s even done anything to forgive. Why does it feel like he’s turned the knife on her instead?

“Don’t... don’t look at me,” she whispers. “Close your eyes.”

For a moment, the look of unsettling ecstasy wavers. “Really? I’d like to see your face as I die, if I can, but... if that’s what you want...”

“Just do it!” she snarls, pressing the blade harder against his throat. She can’t... she can’t kill him if he’s staring at her like that. She won’t look into his eyes as he dies.

He sighs. A little blood is starting to seep up around the edge of the knife. “Well, if that’s your vision for this moment, I suppose it’s not my place to question it.”

He closes his eyes.

Maizono swallows. Hesitates.

“I can’t,” she says. She’s shaking. “I can’t do it.”

“You can, Maizono-san,” he says, opening those unbearable eyes again. “Believe in your own ability.”

She shakes her head, gets unsteadily to her feet, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand.

“It was a good plan,” Komaeda says, sitting up. “I suppose Naegi-kun would be the one to take the blame?”

She shakes her head again, even though he’s seen straight through her. He must have paid attention to where their rooms were, before she switched the plates.

“It would be a shame to waste it,” Komaeda says. “I can think of someone who would happily take the bait.”

-

“I’m very concerned that you aren’t applying yourself to your studies, Komaeda-kun.”

“My... studies?” Komaeda asks. “Ishimaru-kun, we haven’t had any lessons. We’ve been imprisoned.”

“My apologies,” Ishimaru says. “I’m concerned that you’re not applying yourself in general.”

Komaeda is more than a little offended. Did he not take steps to ensure the first murder would take place, when Maizono seemed to be wavering? He may not be talented, but he’s certainly making an effort.

“You’re constantly putting yourself down in comparison to others,” Ishimaru says. “I believe you claimed you were born worthless.”

“I’m not one of the talented,” Komaeda says. “Hope’s Peak claims my luck is a talent, but I’m not a truly talented person. The world is divided into those born with talent and those who—”

“Nonsense!” Ishimaru says, so fiercely that Komaeda falls silent. “The world is divided into those who make the effort to improve and those who do not.”

Komaeda pauses.

“If you practise a trade enough, you will become more skilled,” Ishimaru says, his gaze strangely intent. Komaeda doesn’t deserve such attention from someone of his level. “Do you deny that?”

“You may,” Komaeda admits, grudgingly. “But only to a certain extent. Only the talented can reach a place of any worth. I’ll never swim like Asahina-san or write like Fukawa-san, no matter how much I practise.”

“Do not compare yourself to Fukawa-san,” Ishimaru says, clapping his hands sharply together. “Compare yourself to yourself, your past self. Strive every day to improve.”

Komaeda shakes his head. “I appreciate your concern. It’s more than I deserve. But I was worthless yesterday, and I will be worthless tomorrow.”

Ishimaru folds his arms and looks at him sternly. “Komaeda-kun, there is no malice in this decision, but I am going to hold you in detention until you start taking your future more seriously.”

“In... detention,” Komaeda says, after a moment. “So you’re not going to let me leave school.”

“It’s what I feel is best for you. I hope you understand.”

Komaeda glances at the metal plates over the windows.

“I understand,” he says.

-

“Your art’s amazing, Yamada-kun!” Naegi exclaims, flicking through Yamada’s sketchbook. “My sister’s really interested in manga; she’d probably love to talk to you about—”

He kind of chokes and stops talking. He’s just hit a full two-page spread of nude drawings.

Nude drawings of someone he recognises.

“Um,” Naegi says. “Does Komaeda-kun... know you were drawing these?”

“Of course!” Yamada exclaims. “Komaeda Nagito-dono very nobly modelled for me.”

Naegi is trying very hard to look away. He can’t.

“His build is hardly heroic, of course,” Yamada says, “but the everyman hero is also popular. Muscles and breasts are essential, but one must have more in one’s repertoire.”

Naegi turns the page, hoping the next one will be less embarrassing. It’s still Komaeda, and it’s worse.

“Are those... tentacles?”

“Ah, I’m glad you’ve taken an interest,” Yamada says. “I think that’s my finest work from that session. It took a while to perfect his expression, but I told him to think of hope, and I was able to capture exactly the look I needed. You see, it’s important to understand the passions of one’s model in order to capture true passion in one’s art.”

It’s really well-drawn. It’s really, upsettingly well-drawn.

Well, it looks like there’s a bright side to Monobear keeping them locked in here: if they never get out, at least Naegi will never have to introduce this guy to his sister.

-

There’s not a great deal to be said for Komaeda; there’s not a great deal to be said for anyone at this school. Togami himself excepted, of course. But at least Komaeda knows his place.

“The hell is this?”

Oowada. A lowlife thug. Really, he shouldn’t be allowed in the library; he’s invariably loud, and it’s hard to imagine that he can read.

“I’m reading,” Togami says, not glancing up from his book. “It’s something I prefer to do without distractions.”

“You’ve got your feet on the weird guy,” Oowada says. “That’s not distracting?”

“He wished to be useful to me. I told him he would serve as a footstool.”

“Hey,” Oowada says, stooping to look into Komaeda’s face. “Don’t let this fuckhead use you like this. It pisses me off to see it. You’re a man, right? Stand up for yourself.”

“Technically,” Komaeda says, “I’m a teenage boy. Or I suppose you could call me a footstool, at the moment.”

Footstools do not speak. Togami digs in the heel of his shoe a little further, as a reminder.

Oowada makes a disgusted noise.

“I’m sorry to have annoyed you, though,” Komaeda says, apparently failing to grasp the message. “What’s the best compromise to strike? If Togami-kun would like me to be a footstool, and Oowada-kun would rather I weren’t...”

The blow comes suddenly; Togami, his attention still half on his book, isn’t prepared for it. He’s knocked from his chair and tries to catch his breath, furious, his arms braced on the library floor.

“I’ll cut off this asshole’s feet,” Oowada says. “He won’t need a footstool any more. Problem solved.”

“You will not,” Togami snarls.

“There’s no need to harm Togami-kun on my account,” Komaeda says, still on his elbows and knees. “If you happened to wish to murder him for your own sake, however, I do have some suggestions.”

“What the fuck is wrong with both of you?” Oowada demands.

-

Komaeda doesn’t say anything, and Fujisaki can’t bring himself to look at him, so he can’t read his expression. The suspense is worse than an outright rejection. He can feel his chest beginning to tighten up.

“I’m... I’m sorry I lied to you. And I’ll understand if you’re angry, or...”

“Hm? Why would I be angry?”

Fujisaki looks up.

There’s no disgust in Komaeda’s face, or even pity. He looks at Fujisaki in the same way he always does. As if this doesn’t change anything at all.

“You don’t think I’m a coward? Or a, a freak?”

“Well, you’re not normal, if that’s what you mean,” Komaeda says, “but why would you want to be? You’re a supremely talented programmer; you’re better than normal people. The way you dress doesn’t change that. Does this mean I should call you Fujisaki-kun now?”

Fujisaki laughs in relief. “I think maybe it’s best to stay with -san until everyone knows, but – thank you! You’re the first one I’ve told – the first one in this school, I mean, my parents already – thank you, thank you! I think... I think maybe I can find the courage to tell everyone else now.”

But Komaeda has started to frown, and Fujisaki can feel the uncertainty creeping back up.

“Um, is... is something wrong?”

Komaeda’s expression clears suddenly, and he laughs. “Not at all! I was just wondering why you’d approach someone like me with your secret first, but I understand now: it’s because I’m so insignificant, isn’t it? My response doesn’t matter, so it’s an easy first step.”

“That’s not it!” Fujisaki exclaims.

“Huh?” Komaeda tilts his head. “I’m sorry; I was being presumptuous in assuming I could reason on your level, wasn’t I? So what was it?”

“Well, um...” Fujisaki fidgets with the hem of his skirt. “I – I was afraid people would look at me differently. And I hoped – I thought maybe it wouldn’t make a difference to you. Because you admire us for what we can do; it doesn’t matter who we are or what we look like. And I think that gave me the hope – the strength,” he corrects himself, quickly, “to – Komaeda-kun, are you okay?”

“I just,” Komaeda says, between oddly shallow breaths, “I just – to know that my love for you could be useful – maybe that’s too strong a word – but to know that I could help in any way...”

Fujisaki would usually find an excuse to leave quietly when Komaeda gets like this, but this time he pulls up all the courage he can find and tells himself he’s going to stay. He clasps his hands behind his back and gives Komaeda a hesitant smile. Komaeda may be a little strange sometimes, but he accepted Fujisaki without question. Maybe he needs someone to accept him in return.

-

“Shut the fuck up, you piece of shit—”

It’s too fast for Naegi to react, Oowada grabbing Komaeda and slamming him against the wall of the courtroom. Even if he’d seen it coming, what would he have been able to do to stop it?

“Someone is dead,” Oowada snarls into Komaeda’s face. “That kid is dead, do you fucking understand that? And you’re talking about hope—”

“Fujisaki-san’s death is terrible, certainly,” Komaeda says, his words a little strained with Oowada’s hand against his throat, “but if it can give birth to a greater hope—”

“There is no hope!” Oowada yells. “It’s too late! I can’t do anything, we can’t do anything! That kid is gone!”

“Oowada-kun,” Naegi says, softly.

“But you can survive,” Komaeda says, his eyes on Oowada.

“He’s right,” Naegi says. “We can find the culprit, we can all live through this. Please, Oowada-kun, help us.”

You can survive, Oowada-kun,” Komaeda says, never looking away. “It’s that hope that keeps you fighting, isn’t it?”

Oowada recoils, letting go of Komaeda like his hand’s been bitten.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Komaeda says. “If Fujisaki-san’s life could buy that beauty, her death has value for all of us. I hope you’ll let me see that hope burning until the end.”

Oowada looks around the room.

“Stop the fucking trial,” he says, his voice shaking. “I got something to say.”

-

“Hey, Naegi!”

Naegi turns as Asahina runs up to him.

“Hey,” she says, “I just wanted to say I’m sorry I asked you to be my practice boyfriend. I’m really embarrassed.”

Naegi laughs, feeling himself flush. “That’s okay, Asahina-san. I’m... I’m glad you were comfortable enough to ask me.”

“Well, anyway, I got Komaeda to say yes, so I won’t have to ask you again.”

“Ko... wait, Komaeda-kun?” Naegi asks. “Komaeda-kun?”

“Yeah! So I’ll totally get the hang of this, I’ll figure out what people want in a girlfriend, it’ll be great.”

Somehow, unless the answer to ‘what do people want in a girlfriend?’ is ‘exclusively hope’, Naegi doubts that.

“Um,” he says, “I’m glad you’re excited, but... maybe you could ask someone else?”

“Someone else?” Asahina asks. “Like who?”

“Maybe...” He tries to think. “Maybe you could talk to Oogami-san? I mean, she wouldn’t be able to be your practice boyfriend, but you’re obviously close, and she might have some ideas.” She’d almost definitely know more about what normal relationships are like than Komaeda.

“I can’t ask Sakura-chan!” Asahina exclaims. “It’s supposed to be practice.”

Naegi has no idea what that means.

-

“I’m honoured to be invited here,” Komaeda says, looking around Celes’s room. “What did you want to speak about?”

Celes sits calculatedly on the bed, steepling her fingers in front of her mouth. “You said you’d like to offer assistance.”

“I would like nothing more than to be of use to you,” Komaeda says.

It’s an excellent answer; it stirs something in her abdomen. But her expression never wavers. She has, of course, a flawless poker face.

“Did you want me to help with a murder?” Komaeda asks.

Eventually, perhaps. His talent makes him the perfect accomplice; she is well aware of the value of luck. But she knows better than to show that card now. It’s essential to lay the groundwork first, to keep Komaeda close, to establish whether he is truly prepared to help.

And, if she happens to indulge her fantasy of being waited upon in the process, where’s the harm in that?

“Goodness, no,” she says. “My clothing is a little complicated. I need someone who is willing to help me change in the mornings and evenings.”

“Of course,” Komaeda says. No hesitation, no embarrassment.

It irritates her. Is he refusing to be toyed with? Or does he not see her as an object of desire?

“It will be Night Time soon,” she says, standing. “Will you help me undress?”

Her outer jacket would be easy enough to remove herself, but she doesn’t intend to lift a finger if she doesn’t have to.

There’s nothing suave in Komaeda’s movements as he undresses her. There’s a certain reverence, but he is, after all, a teenage boy; he is not the cortège of highly-trained butlers she dreams of. More frustratingly, though, there is no tension in his actions. She wants him to desire her, and yet be unable to touch her. He seems unaware that this situation could be sexual.

He eases her dress free of her shoulders and down to the floor at last. She steps out of it, still in her stockings and heels.

“Did you also want...?” Komaeda asks.

It’s gratifying that he at least shows a little hesitation now that she stands before him in her lace undergarments.

“Are you the sort of pathetic, miserable man who leaves a job half-done?” Celes asks, in her most polite tone.

Perhaps, if he’s extremely obedient, she’ll allow him to touch her. Using one’s own hands can be such a chore.

-

“Y-you... really are disgusting; you’re... even more of a worthless freak than you say you are...”

“You’re right, you’re exactly right!” Komaeda exclaims. He sighs. “Ah, I’m so happy!”

Fukawa’s mouth twitches into a smirk. “H-happy? I always k-knew you were a pervert, but...”

Naegi doesn’t think they’ve seen him yet. He should leave. But somehow he’s still here, standing in the doorway to the library.

“Well,” Komaeda says, “forgive me for being presumptuous, but... doesn’t it show a sort of respect? Accepting what I say about myself, without fighting against it?”

She snorts. “I-it’s – anyone could see – it’s like agreeing with you when you say the sky is blue, it doesn’t m-mean...”

Komaeda is leaning back in his chair, smiling warmly at her. She falls silent.

“S-say it again,” she says, after a moment.

He tilts his head. “Say what again, Fukawa-san?”

“D-don’t – I know you know what I mean!”

Komaeda’s smile broadens.

“Fukawa-san,” he breathes, utterly sincere, “you’re beautiful.”

Fukawa lets out a long, shaky sigh, closing her eyes.

“N-not that it means anything coming from you,” she mutters, “but...”

Komaeda just watches her for a moment longer, far too fond.

“If it’s not too much for someone like me to ask,” he says, “could you say it again?”

She smiles, coldly.

“You’re revolting,” she says. “You’re a freak.”

Komaeda tips his head back and hums contentedly.

Naegi closes the door, as quietly as possible, and shivers.

-

“You’re planning to throw your life away?”

Oogami looks up from her chair. “Komaeda. I had not realised you had responded to my invitation.”

Komaeda is frowning at her. He is usually so openly admiring, so effusive in his praise; it feels strange to be faced with his disappointment.

“I asked you here because I wished to explain my intentions,” Oogami says. “I feel you may have deduced them.”

“You took poison from the laboratory.”

He was watching? “And I asked you to meet me here, and you know me to be a traitor. You didn’t fear I might plan to take your life instead?”

“Why would I fear it?” Komaeda asks. “It’s what I was hoping for. But I needed to know you had a plan for the trial.”

“So you hid,” Oogami says, “and you watched.” She means no judgement by it; she asks only to confirm.

Komaeda nods. “I’m not the target, am I?”

“I would live if I could,” Oogami says. “But my presence as the traitor can only create conflict. In the end, if this escalates, there will be a death. I have made the decision that it will be mine.”

“So you’ll die in the hope that it will save the rest of us,” Komaeda says, the harsh edge now gone from his voice. “I’m sorry. I hadn’t realised there was hope in your decision. I shouldn’t have doubted you.”

“There is hope in every decision,” Oogami says. “We take action because we hope the outcome will be better than if we did nothing. Could that be enough for you, Komaeda? Could you cease to encourage murder and be satisfied with the hope in smaller actions?”

He gives her an apologetic smile. “Hope can only truly shine in the darkness. But perhaps, in your honour.”

“Do you say perhaps only so I will hope for it?” Oogami asks.

His smile grows stronger. “Of course, if you view both my presence and yours as a danger to the others, you could kill me and allow yourself to be executed in the hope of securing their safety.”

“I will not kill,” Oogami says.

“Isn’t it kinder to die a murderer, if you intend to die either way?” he asks. “In betraying Asahina-san’s trust, you would take away some of the pain she feels from your loss.”

“Do you truly believe that?” she asks. It’s such an alien thought, that ripping apart the image of her that Asahina holds will cause her less pain. “Or do you say it only to manipulate me?”

Komaeda shakes his head. “I could never presume to have that sort of power over you.”

“I will not kill,” Oogami says, again. “I apologise if my final act is a disappointment to you.”

He puts a hand on her arm and stoops a little to kiss her on the temple, gentle, his lips dry. A strange act. She will not have long to contemplate it.

“Don’t apologise,” he says. “I admire the lengths you’re going to.”

“You are the only one who knows my intention, other than our captor,” Oogami says. “I fear the mastermind may try to mislead Asahina. Will you tell her I died without bitterness?”

Komaeda smiles. “Perhaps.”

-

For a moment, looking through the student records, Kirigiri thinks Komaeda isn’t a Hope’s Peak student at all. If he’s an impostor who’s made himself appear to be one of them, he’s a strong candidate to be the mastermind.

With more searching, however, she discovers him in the records for the year preceding theirs. Less suspicious, perhaps, but still suspicious. Why would only one person among their number be from a different class?

It almost seems too obvious. If he were the mastermind, why would he show his delight in the situation so readily?

She hunts him down.

“I discovered something strange in the student records,” she says. “All of us are from the same Hope’s Peak class. Except you.”

“Ah, that explains a lot,” Komaeda says. “I kept track of who was scouted to Hope’s Peak before I came here. You’re all magnificently talented, of course, but you weren’t the classmates I was expecting.”

“Do you remember being at Hope’s Peak for a year before we were locked in?” Kirigiri asks.

Komaeda shakes his head. “I suspected I was missing some memories. I suppose that confirms it.”

“Are you the mastermind?”

Komaeda laughs. “Well, I don’t remember, so I can’t be sure!”

Kirigiri looks at him for a moment.

“You’re no fool,” she says. “You could help more in the trials, rather than obstructing us. We’re short on coherent arguments.”

“It’s not my place,” Komaeda says. “My opinion isn’t worth anything. I’m just an observer.”

“You’re intelligent enough to know I don’t believe you,” Kirigiri says. “You’ve had a hand in murders before. I’ve no doubt you’ll influence them again if you have the chance.”

Komaeda smiles. “Ah, you’re wonderful, Kirigiri-san. I’m lucky to have you take an interest in me.”

-

There’s a long silence after they watch Enoshima die, a long is it really over? silence, and eventually Naegi becomes aware that someone is speaking to him.

“I never paid enough attention to you.”

Komaeda is kneeling in front of him. That’s... that’s disconcerting.

“I was fooled by your official talent,” Komaeda says. “I thought you were someone as undeserving, as unremarkable as I was. But someone with the talent to bring people hope...”

Honestly, Naegi shot Komaeda a nervous glance during the trial, when Kirigiri called him Super High-school Level Hope. Komaeda had been looking straight at him, and Naegi hadn’t really been able to handle the intensity of his gaze.

“I have absolute faith that you will bring hope back to the world outside,” Komaeda says. Something about his breathing doesn’t sound right. “I’ll help in whatever inferior way I can. My assistance, my body, everything I can offer belongs to you.”

“That’s really...” Naegi swallows. “That’s really okay.”

Komaeda kisses both of his shoes.

Naegi stares desperately at Kirigiri, trying to ask why did you have to call me that? with his eyes. Kirigiri looks evenly back at him, with the barest trace of a smirk.