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Purple Locks And Red Stockings

Chapter Text

Kokichi's little heart thwacked as he scurried down the hallway, keeping his gaze pinned to the tiling below. He clutched his bag to his chest with trembling, clammy fingers, breath coming harshly and hissing through the slight chasms amid his teeth. Swimmingly passing through the blurry figures surrounding him till he felt he was on the brink of a hill, he made a dash for the school's exit, where the light from outside was peeking through.

At last, freedom was in sight!

The malnourished boy had managed to avoid all the distasteful teasing and harassment he came up against nearly every day of his school life; hiding into bathroom stalls like a mouse, avoiding the cafeteria at all costs and merely doodling in his turquoise notebook what seemed to fascinate him and catch his attention. Though he was quiet as a phantom, Kokichi was always aware-- of people, of his surroundings, of people's ill will toward him or anyone else. Those big, round eyes watched silently through their clear showcase and made an evaluation of the current environment enclosing around him. He always knew when something was about to go wrong, or so he thought.
That is why he was in such a frenzy when he finally reached his destination and saw sun's rays peer at him from behind thin clouds, seconds before he was hauled by the collar of his uniform and crushed against the school's exterior wall. The boy let out something akin to a strangled squeak, his school bag falling from his grasp, all of its contents scattering on the ground. Kokichi found himself unable to breathe as the physically intimidating boy before him held his neck in a grasp that resembled a lion's maw.
And, oh, how had Kokichi hoped that he would have been able to escape today without being abused by his peers, without being turned blue and purple, without having the same gang that tortured him every day spit on him or rip his drawings apart.

"You've been hiding from us, haven't you, rat?" The blond clutching at Kokichi's doddering throat seethed, grinning wickedly from ear to ear. A girl behind him snickered, and Kokichi recognized her as the one who had ripped his drawing notebook from his grasp and began tearing out each and every sketched page that one time. The smaller boy desperately gripped and scratched at the hand strangulating him, cheeks begging to flush from the sudden lack of oxygen.

"T-Terrence, stop." Kokichi coaxed through a gasp, eyes beginning to abound with tears of horror and despair as he attempted to fight back, yet to no avail. The cement against the back of his cranium had him believing that if Terrence were to use any more force, his skull would crack open and limn grey with scarlet. At this point, the assault was going to leave a cruel aftermath of dark bruising upon Kokichi's milky skin, one he would have to find an excuse for when people began asking. His attempt to cry out for help came out as a muffled gag, the fright hammering within his frantic heart coercing bubble tears to course down his rosy cheeks. Kokichi thrashed around pitifully and his face contorted inhumanly as he sobbed, the lack of air making him delirious and afraid, so very afraid.

"Yeah, Terrence, stop," Taunted a guy's voice, his boisterous laughter indicating that it had to be Vince, Terrence's apprentice and supposed best friend. However, that was of no concern to Kokichi, who couldn't even tell the people trapping him still apart. "Look, he's crying already. Don't make him black out yet; not before we have teach the rat some manners for avoiding us so rudely."

Abruptly, the mesh around his neck was loose, and the small boy slid down the wall in a daze, gasping and wheezing in a panic as oxygen once again ran freely within his clamped airways once again. Bony fingers crawled up his protruding collarbones, which he recognized as his own, fingertips brushing against his reddened skin in a pathetic attempt to soothe the throbbing ache. Kokichi shut his weary eyes momentarily, breathing out heavily and finding some relief, but alas the moment was short-lived.

The tormented soul was seized by his dark tufts and brought up to his feet, legs doddering, heart in his throat as he exuded a shrill shriek of agony, hands involuntarily reaching up to his pained scalp. He was keenly aware of the bystanders dashing by the scene, hands over their mouths and eyes wide with terror as they looked away, not wishing to be part of it in the slightest. He knew, he always knew. Kokichi always had knowledge of the people watching him sadistically as he got beaten to pulp, people he would sometimes exchange greetings with or be paired up in class with for a project. Those people acted like nothing was wrong, like nothing about Kokichi's situation was purely disgusting-- and yet, they never met his gaze, never had the courage to speak to him. They knew they were in the wrong, they knew this was unacceptable, and yet...

No one stood up for him. No one was on his side. No one tried to defend him. They just watched. They watched, only watched. Not once did a single person from the bunch try to put a cease to his endless torture, not one of them even spoke up to the abusers. Kokichi was left all alone, like he always was, trying to defend himself in any way he could; yet failing miserably each time. He felt the palpitations course painfully across his skull, the hair nearly being wrenched by its roots, the excruciation of it all the only thing keeping him awake-- and Kokichi figured that maybe watching was the only thing they were good for.

His eyes blinked open, hazy and pulsing in the cores from the tears still escaping them with no purpose, with no will. A fist collided with his cheek - the left one, the side of his face that had just healed from the beating of the previous week - and it hurt so much he wanted to pass out, but at the same time a part of him could feel nothing as hit after hit came in contact with his frail body. His face, his torso, his stomach, his legs; they all produced a soreness that now seemed so distant when it became so repetitive. But, he wouldn't give up. Perhaps these crude bullies could break his body, but never his mind. Though he cried every day, Kokichi refused to give up. Because his body might be weak, but his spirit is a burning flame.

One day, he would prove them all wrong. One day, he wouldn't be a ragdoll, simply to be toyed with and later destroyed. One day, he would show them he was more, more than all this...

"Could I sit and watch what's happening?"

And then, just like the sun coming out from underneath a blanket of clouds, it all stopped.

Kokichi's eyes opened slowly, tired from clenching shut every few seconds, before they had decided to close all together. He gazed up in slight confusion, viewing as the faces of his abusers were now slightly pallid and their eyes holding a mix of irk and bewilderment. Craning his neck, he looked past them, at the lone figure of a person standing before them, and let out a soft gasp, barely audible to his ears.

A girl stands before them, clad in her school uniform, though the button's of her shirt aren't done all the way up, her black tie is loose around her collar and the black jacket is slung over her shoulder, along with her bag. The vacant eyes and the bright red stockings reaching the tops of her thighs indicate immediately the identity this person possesses.
"Wha..what the fuck is L/N doing here?"

Terrence's fist frees Kokichi's collar and the latter is left lying down on his back, eyes shifting nervously as he tries to take in the situation. Y/n L/n is standing there, right in front of him, in all her infamous sublime. The girl tilts her head in amusement, taking a stride closer. Y/n L/n, one of the most notorious candidates in the school, arrant for skipping multiple classes, having feud with anyone who dares question her morality and well-known for being a member of one of the most famed gangs led by teenagers. Once, Kokichi recalls, she had beaten up Vince so bad he missed a week of school and bruised up Terrence in a recent dispute that had sparked between them. The group of delinquents had deemed Y/n worthy of their mistreatment, but their attempt was shut down quickly the first and last time they thought it was wise to mess with someone like her. They realized themselves, through blood, tears and contusions, that crossing her and her gang's path was anything but smart.

"Are you deaf, you bloated sow?" Her voice comes out brash and unwavering, devoid of all life. Terrence gulps at the comment and shrinks back, eyebrow twitching along with his erratic heartbeat. "I asked you if I could sit here and watch you guys.. going at it. Or am I a distraction?"

It truly is a rare moment, to see the particular group of people share the same feeling of alarm when being in the presence of a certain person. The soles of her shoes tap softly against the asphalt as she ventures closer and puffs out an annoyed sigh, shaking her head. "Honestly, I thought that even a dumb-fuck like you actually had balls. I am repulsed.. though I can't say I didn't expect something like this from a coward like you, Terry."

Kokichi hated to admit it, but seeing a proud egoist like Terrence get a taste of his own medicine and stand like a well-trained dog before her had some kind of placation to it. The boy snorted at the view, turning his head to the side and spitting, making a small gush of blood and a tooth fling from between his lips. His tongue curiously lapped at the place where the tooth was no longer existent, and he gave small exhale of bother at how messed up they had really made him. Kokichi made to look up once more, and his breath hitched at the back of his throat, his heart nearly screeching into a stop when he found Y/n was already fixing him with a prying gaze.
Kokichi was never really frightened by Y/n, though he certainly felt intimidated and knew better than to ever approach her. He knew better than doing anything that would displease her, afraid her wrath would be directed toward him-- and he wanted to avoid that at all costs, so he chose not to even lay his eyes upon her. Though he was aware she was not the kind to prey upon the weak, he deemed that it is better to be safe than sorry, a thing he learnt the hard way throughout his slow, sad life. He swallowed the thorn poised at the confines of his throat when she squinted at him, examining his tattered uniform and battered body. And just as soon as she looked, she pried her attention elsewhere, offering a wide, stretched grin.

Y/n dealt a hard shove at Terrence's shoulder and he recoiled as though he'd been shot, eyes so wide they nearly bulged out from their sockets. The boy's face was so many different shades of angry red; varying from resembling her bright stockings to taking after the blood smeared upon Kokichi's lower lip. And everyone was sure, that if this were any other person, they would have been attacked with bone-crushing strikes at this point, and yet... this was not just anyone.

This was Y/n we are talking about.

"Scram."

Her wish was anyone else's command, and they wouldn't dare refuse it. And so they listened. Left in a humiliating silence, the pitter-patter of their shoes as they shamefully took their leave music to her ears. She ignored Terrence's childish mutter of 'you will pay for this' and sighed in tedium, watching with acute eyes as they slowly disappeared from her sight. She absolutely loathed cowards who would harass small, innocent people, who had little to no means of fighting back. It seemed utterly and awfully useless. What did they get in return, really, she wondered. How can it bring you any satisfaction if the opponent isn't worthy and capable of the fight?
The sound of clattering brought her back to reality, and she blinked slowly as she watched Kokichi's little hands frantically reaching for his belongings and shoving the items into his bag. The boy was now onto his knees, shuddering from the treatment he received earlier, shakily reaching out for his favorite, turquoise notebook, only to realize Y/n had inquisitively picked it up and was examining the colorful contraption. The boy let out a tremulous gasp and flung forward, the words rushing out of the fleshy threshold of his mouth before he was even able to control them.

"Please don't!"

The strangled plea made Y/n slightly flinch and Kokichi clasped a sweltering palm over his aquiver lips, heart thundering in horror as he abided for her reaction to such a crude demand. Their gazes met and for a long, tense moment, Kokichi really wondered if this is where he would die. Y/n's sharp eyes softened and she took a few steps forward, the action making the cowering boy shrink back into the wall behind him, where his head was being so harshly pressed against a few minutes ago. He shut his eyes tightly, the muscles in his eyelids twitching from the strain, arms going up over his face in a meek attempt to shield himself. Who's to say what she was going to do? Was she going to ram his head against that same wall till his skull became liquid? Was she going to set fire on his pretty little notebook and then put the lighter to his hair and watch him burn alive? Was she going to--

...

A second went by, then two, then three, then four. Kokichi was overwhelmed by confusion, yet shaking like a leaf underneath the burning orbs staring right at him. Slowly, uncertainly, he lowered his thin arms and peered over his knuckles, his heart skipping a beat when he saw Y/n had only knelt down before him and was offering him his belonging. His lips were ajar and his eyes were broad, beside himself, as he stared at her in a slight shock, chest pounding as he tried to calm his rabid breathing. Reluctantly, he reached out to take it-- desperately attempting to neglect the voice in his head telling him she would simply draw back and laugh at him-- and a wave of relief washed over his pummeled form when the tips of his slender fingers came in contact with the smooth cover of the notebook. Kokichi's throat bobbed as he gulped down all his agitation, lashes batting wearily. He wasn't used to situations that didn't involve his ridicule or mockery.

Y/n said nothing, however, merely standing up and barely sparing him a glance as she began ambling away, toward the school's iron gate. Kokichi found himself staring with separated lips as she strutted confidently, without even sulking once, her coat over her left shoulder as she held her bag over the right. Such pride, such confidence...
He blinked stupidly for a few seconds, before hurriedly shoving his notebook in his bag and scrambling to get up. He nearly lost his balance at first, as his legs felt like they didn't belong to his own body anymore, but clumsily limping forth, trying to catch up to her wide stride.

"H-Hey, hey, wait, please!"

Kokichi found himself sprinting a bit, or as much as he could, anyway, in order to reach her. Why did he want to reach up to her anyway? Is he really asking for it? What does he hope to achieve by calling after her and attempting to speak to her? Y/n whirls around in an instant at the call of the boy's voice, and he nearly collides into her in his hurry. They come chest to chest --even though she is taller than him-- and when Kokichi glowers up into those chaotic, glistening eyes, the words he wanted to utter die upon his lips in an instant. He is left gaping up at them in unmistakable admiration and he unconsciously shivers, finding that they weren't as rough as honed stone, as he had imagined; up close they could even be considered beautiful, like smooth, carved gems that glistened when the sun abounded its rays within them. At least, Kokichi's artistic soul thought so...
"What is it?" Y/n asks in a calm, cold tone, making the boy's shoulder jump and his feet shift nervously. "What do you want?"

"I...I-I wanted to..um.." Kokichi curses at himself for appearing so meek with his stuttering, but he simply can't help it. In one hand, he has his school bag dangling from his tight first, and the other has its fingers tightly clasped over his braying chest, his eyes shyly cast downward. He doesn't have the strength to look her in the eye for long. Not yet, at least. "I-I.. wanted to thank you for, you know, helping me...T-thank you, very much, I can't even begin to tell you how--"

"Don't thank me." Says the girl simply, holding up one hand to put end to the boy's agitated blabber. Kokichi is slightly taken aback, fingers nervously tugging at the brim of his sleeve, and he's staring at her with big, confused eyes and a fluttering stomach, before Y/n speaks up again, a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips. "I don't want you to thank me because I didn't do it to help you."

Kokichi's doe eyes blink dumbly at her words, mouth slowly closing and tense shoulders dropping. His ears flush in embarrassment and his brows slant with bemusement, his breath stopping for a moment as he passively gazes down at his soiled shoes. And for a moment, the poor boy feels stupid. He had clearly misunderstood her intentions, it seemed. Warmth pooled into his rosy cheeks at how silly he must look. Of course, that had to be it; there's no way anyone would ever want to help Kokichi out of the kindness of their heart. He starts to sulk a little, becoming a stuttering, blushing mess, shrinking back into himself and toying with the skin of his fingers in an attempt to soothe his haywire nerves.

He flinches when he feels an inkling of warmth at the top of his head, and his knees nearly give out when he comes to the realization that the one and only Y/n L/n is gently petting his head as though he were a starved kitten mewling on the roadside. And Kokichi looks up at her with wide eyes, hating the fact that he enjoyed some sign of affection from her. But, oh, if the circumstances were any different, he would have nuzzled her palm and cling to her wrist because he craved for more.

"Hey, cheer up, purple-head," Y/n says softly at the cute boy, ruffling his violet locks and making a shudder run down his spinal column-- and he just wants to melt into it. Unfortunately for Kokichi, she withdraws her hand just as fast as she had settle it upon his unkempt hair, and he almost want to take it and bring it right back to coddling him like a small, spoiled animal. The girl sighed softly, seemingly unaware of Kokichi's rosy cheeks and jittery hands, and looked away, shaking her head slightly. "I just don't like these kinds of people."

The girl says nothing more, but Kokichi can hear the waver in her breathing as she begins to turn away. She gives him an even stare and waves, turning her back and commencing her departure. Kokichi can't pry his gaze from the black skirt hugging her waist gracefully, a stark contradiction with the fiery red swathing around her calves and kissing up her thighs. He stands still like a gleaming statue of ice, as though his feet have been nailed in place by some unknown force. He watches as she walks away, his cracked lips smiling shyly and his hands clasping the leather of his bag in excitement. Heat pools in the mounds of his cheeks, and Kokichi finds himself giggling softly as he replays the feeling of her hand through the tangled mess he calls hair.

"Heh.. heh..." Kokichi slowly begins his own outgoing, grinning shyly to himself, his step faltering as he slowly but surely closes the distance between his spot and the gate. The tired boy smile transforms into a frown, however, as he recalls what hellish people await him home, people he has to explain his wounds to, people who won't hesitate to hurt him either. Hopefully, mother will be in a good mood today... and hopefully, she won't lock him in the damp, cold basement again. According to her, he makes a lovely addition to the dark room with the dripping ceiling, as he and the rats dwelling down there are one and the same.

Hopefully, the thought of someone petting his head in the slimy moisture will soothe the aching pain of his heart and dry some of his silent tears. He just has to picture it and everything will be fine. Yes, it will all be fine, as long as someone touches him with care and consideration, and Kokichi will smile brokenly instead of cry. He will lean into the hand caressing his face, his tufts, his hands-- lull him to sleep, even if it is only in his imagination.

Chapter Text

The sole thing congesting Kokichi's ears was the autumn air passing through his bed-head and the scribbling of his pencil upon paper. His full attention was collected upon the figure he was sketching against the pinkish sheets of his notebook, his tongue poking out of his mouth a little as he tried to imagine and get all the details right for his new piece of drawing.

When the school bell had rung, signaling the commence of the longer lasting break of the day, he had sprung up from his seat as though he been sitting on spikes, snatched his bag hurriedly and scurried out of the class to the back of the school. He did catch a glimpse of Terrence and his gang, but they made no effort to torment him today, simply turning their gazes elsewhere with an annoyed sigh. Which, if Kokichi is being honest with himself, was one of the oddities he will recall forever. They had spared him, it seemed. They all seemed cowardly and reserved when they saw him. How weird. But, anyway, Kokichi wasn't going to start messing with his luck just when it began meliorating with such surprising results.

Sitting at a large tree in the back garden of the school, which was quite a distance from the building, seemed like the wisest way out just in case the delinquents decided to look for him and have some fun. It was a sakura tree, the kind to bloom when spring came by, and leaning his sore back against its bark, he felt a bit at ease. In moments like these, he favored being alone than being tossed around like a helpless gazelle caught and toyed with by its predator.

The sketch was almost done, and yet Kokichi couldn't contain the excitement bubbling up inside him as he rummaged through his bag, in search of his pencil case where all his markers and colorful pens hid. He absolutely loved coloring his creations, with care and precision, though sometimes he didn't spill color upon the entire piece. Things that piqued his curiosity were shaded in the colors that had caught his attention in the first place; bright colors, pastel hues, dark pigments-- Kokichi liked them all individually and couldn't wait to put them to use.

Taking a marker amid his fingers, he popped the cap of with his mouth, before putting the vibrant brim to the paper, and watching in awe as it produced one of the most brilliant and garish reds he had ever planted his eyes upon. The result was surely splendid, only fitting for the person he was doodling in his burst of sudden inspiration. It had been a long while since Kokichi had created something so stunning, and a small, prideful smile tugged at the corners of his lips as he sat and took a long look at it, his body radiating waves of glee.

"..Is that supposed to be me?"

As soon as the words reached Kokichi's ears his heart swelled up with fright and he shot away from its source with a shriek so loud, if anyone were to hear it they would have thought his nails were being pulled out. He managed to jump a good three feet away, chest rising and falling rapidly along with his frantic panting. His calm demeanor was now long gone, his eyes big and wide and staring with the merge of shock and fear embedded within them. The first thing they landed upon was the bright red on the lower half of the person's body, and he gulped with the realization; this was the same person he had been drawing so earnestly. His hesitant voice sparked up, tremulous and breaking at the edges as he tried to form some words, trying desperately to put together a sentence.

"Wha-- How-- Why--How did you -- What...?"

Y/n let out a snort at the boy's reaction, leaning her shoulder against the bark of the old tree, patently entertained by how jumpy he appeared to be. "Wow, easy there, purple-head. Didn't mean to give you such a fright. This is my hanging spot, though. I would expect you'd be in the cafeteria." She raised a brow, giving him a good look over, noticing his pallid cheeks don a pink hue as he slowly sat up on his bum again with crossed legs. She watched as he meekly reached for the turquoise notebook that had clattered so ungraciously to the thinning grass -- she recalls he didn't seem very fond of the fact she had tried to browse through its contents two days prior. "Why were you drawing me, anyway? Don't get me wrong, I am flattered... maybe you have a thing for my stockings?"

Not only for your stockings, Kokichi wanted to say, and his throat quivered with the urge to spew them. But he knew better. He nodded in slight embarrassment, giving her an uneasy smile. To his great surprise, the girl returned it with a teasing grin, one that wasn't menacing, but still made his heart thump with uncertainty.

"I do have other pairs, you know, and in other colors." She mumbled absentmindedly, "I even have a purple pair. If you like it, I could lent it to you, since it would match your.. aesthetic, so perfectly. It would be a shame to watch them mold in that drawer, just because I don't wear them."

"W..why don't you?" Kokichi questioned in a quiet voice, running his tongue over his parched lips before reluctantly settling his gaze upon her. What kind of question was that anyway? And how creepy did it sound? God, Kokichi really wasn't used to talking with others, especially with this girl standing so flamboyantly before him.

Y/n laughed softly at the innocence laced within Kokichi's voice; she could just ruin this boy if she wished to. Leave him breathless and his skeleton turned to jelly as he trembled like he always did; yes, she could ruin him, in more ways than one. "Well, I always liked red better. But you didn't answer me, purple-boy, why were you drawing me?"

"I-I..." Kokichi found it really hard to keep staring at the fading patches of grass sticking up from underneath his polished shoes when her orbs were burning cavities at the top of his skull. Instinctively, he wanted to look right back, wished he had the courage to do so without cowering like a mouse surrounded by feral cats. "I just draw things I like, or catch my attention.. I really like the presence of color in everyday things l-like the red you wear every day.. Your main feature is that color, because, you know.. everyone can tell who you are just by quickly glancing at you and I thought it was p-pretty.. So, I.."

"Caught your attention, huh?" Y/n echoes, making Kokichi's shoulders and round eyes flinch. Her voice is a bit deeper than his, he conclude, but it does little to bother him. He knows he probably shouldn't let the feeling spread further, but he can't help but feel rather charmed by the brash girl. "To catch the attention of the one and only Kokichi Ouma.. what a great honor to have."

Kokichi stares up at her in bewilderment, beside himself, blinking in confusion at the words she uttered-- how can someone like Y/n L/n, the most well-known student in this school, though, perhaps for not the greatest deeds-- have any knowledge of Kokichi's pathetic, little existence? This must be some mistake, but it was his name she voiced just a second ago, and he can't help but wonder how she got a hold of it. "H-how.." He begins with an involuntary whimper, "How do you.. how do you know my name?"

"Just like how you know mine, purple-head." Y/n retorted, slowly bowing down and seating herself down beside him. She stifles a giggle at how cutely confused he appears to be, stuttering for a few seconds before managing to find the right words.

"B-But that's not the same!" Kokichi cries in protest, bony fingers tightening their mesh upon the notebook within their hold. "Everyone knows who you are because... w-well.. you're you! Everyone in the entire city knows who Y/n L/n is..."

"People know me because I beat people up and am a part of a gang, Kokichi." Y/n speaks, and her sudden change of character makes a chill journey up his spine and spread through his protruding shoulder blades and nape. She is looking at him with a glare now, eyebrows furrowed over blurry eyes, her bitter tone putting a copper taste within his mouth. Kokichi swallows the thorn lodged at the back of his throat, the muscles in his shoulders beginning to ache from how tense his body is as he abides for her next move -- hopefully, it won't be any aggressive physical move toward him. Hopefully.

But Y/n soon shows an easy smile, leaning her head back against the tree as her eyes flutter into a closure. "Everyone knows who you are because you receive the worst treatment I've ever seen in my life. The whole school talks about you often, you know, and how you are tortured every day by Terrence and his duplicates."

Oh. Oh, God, no. The whole school? Kokichi can already feel the heat kissing up his neck and coursing to settle in his pale cheeks. He looks down in shame, shrinking back to himself and bringing his knees to rest against his aching chest. Everyone is probably mocking him behind his back, even the people he considered acquaintances, even his teachers; everyone pities the pathetic boy who is so physically weak he can't even defend himself. It's not his fault he was born like this. It's not his fault he's not fed anything but leftovers or the crumbs that fall from other people's meals. It's been years since the poor boy has had a decent meal, before his father lost his job and moved out and his mother's anger issues reached their peak. It's been years since he's been held by someone. Years since he has felt even the tiniest amount of affection aimed toward him. It's not his fault he's like this. It's not his fault...

Y/n opens her eyes at the sound of the drawn-out silence that follows her words, and her lips part in slight shock when she sees it; Kokichi's face flushed with chagrin, brows slanted over sad eyes that are brimming with saltwater to the limit, small hands gripping his knees with such ferocity they begin to start shaking violently. The boy looks like he's about to burst into tears and Y/n's attempts to comfort people whose feelings are wounded are usually fruitless. This is a far cry from what she is used to.
And for the first time in forever, Y/n doesn't know what to do.

"Hey, Ouma," Her voice comes out so soft and gentle; she hates it. Involuntarily, she goes to squeeze his hand in a bid to console him, but as soon as she makes to touch him, she falters, her fingers twitching with the hesitation she is feeling."Hey, don't cry. It's okay, they're not going to hurt you anymore, you know. It's alright. I won't let them."
Her own words sound foreign to her ears, as though she is not the one voicing them. I won't let them? She thought she didn't care. No, no, she didn't care about him, or if he cried, or...

Kokichi sniffles and ascends a hand to wipe his tears away before they spill, lowering his head so that his dark tresses conceal his bloodshot eyes and ugly expression from her seeking gaze. He can't cry. No, not now. Suck it up, Kokichi, you can do it. Don't. Cry.

Through his overwhelming emotion, he lets out a broken laugh, his lower lip trembling as he coaxes himself to calm down, so that his voice won't fail him like other times when he needed it the most. "I know you probably don't like admitting it, but," He pauses, inhaling shakily, closing his glossy eyes in an attempt to steady his unstable breathing, "You're a good person, Y/n-san. You care about others." Raising his fleecy head, Kokichi shows her a wide smile, in spite of the visible tears forming rivulets down the expanse of his cheeks. "Thank you."

Y/n's eyes soften as she stares at the smaller boy before her, her mouth slightly open, words she's trying to put together failing her and leaving her speechless. Usually, she delivered very well in her responses, varying from playful, to serious, to humorous, and yet... Kokichi had stunned her so much with his heartfelt discourse that she felt as though the air had been knocked right out of her pulsing lungs. As she found herself looking into the amethyst gems of his teary eyes, it seemed that her voice just refused to come out due to its fluster.

What an odd boy.

And, when she finally found the right words to expel, opening her mouth further to speak, the school bell rung loudly, asking from its attendants to gather in their classrooms in a few minutes' notice. The peal appeared to have stirred something within Kokichi, because he tore his gaze away from her in an instant, face damp yet burning, and was scrambling to get up and while heaving his bag from the ground where it rested upon. The boy stood on his feet, his ribs and back throbbing balefully from yesterday night, but he strived to ignore it with a forced smile.

"A-anyway.. um.." Kokichi stumbled over his own words, seemingly back to his old, timorous self. How cute. "I-i have to go to class. You should, too, Y/n-san... It's not nice to see you in detention for skipping classes."

Y/n said nothing, merely waved back at the departing boy who started weakly sprinting so he could reach the building in time. She hoped he wouldn't have to face any other trouble on the way there. She felt sorry for what Kokichi had to go through. And, though she didn't tell him, she saw the bruises and contusions around his wrists, knowing very well they weren't from two days ago when she put an end to his malicious beating. Just what did this boy had to go through at home? Y/n couldn't help but ponder as she silently watched his figure slowly blurring, till he was a black spot in her vision and later fused entirely with the hues of the horizon.

The girl made to stand up herself, yet something caught her eye as she stood and began smoothing out the wrinkles in the material of her skirt. A turquoise notebook lay beside her shoes, with childish scribbles on the cover and the name 'Ouma Kokichi' written in pink ink at the bottom in messy handwriting. She bent and curled her fingers around it, letting a soft sigh push past her lips. Y/n figured the boy must have been both too flustered and, coupled with the fact he was in a hurry, must have forgotten he didn't put in it in his bag when he departed. The girl curiously opened the notebook, on the page where his inspiration appeared to be her own self and examined the drawing silently.

The details in the frizzles of her skirt, the stray hairs of her bun he had doodled, the loose tie, the bright red in the thigh highs.. It appeared that Kokichi truly was a dedicated artist, possessing a talent Y/n was almost envious of. Almost. Above all, she was adulated by the way he sketched her. His drawing skills clearly made up for the child-like handwriting he occupied, and Y/n smiled in fondness at how sensitive and delicate he seemed to be. She would have to give it back to him, which meant seeing the quirky male once more and, God, did she look forward to that encounter. He was just too fun not to be around.

"You really are an odd boy, Ouma."

Chapter Text

Kokichi winced as the front door he was trying to close creaked, biting at his lips and looking over his shoulder in a slight panic. No one stood at the end of the hallway, much to his relief, and he let out a drowned sigh, taking off his shoes and quietly venturing toward the staircase. He stopped at the opening which led to the living room, heart skipping a beat as he peered over the edge and the back of his mother's head emerged as she sat on the large armchair settled in front of the television. The woman was snoring, patently having fallen asleep as she watched some documentary Kokichi didn't know a lot about. Thank God, she hadn't heard him enter and awoken.~
The boy held his breath as he walked past the room, careful of his steps, only setting his tip-toes upon the places on the wooden floor he had memorized, where the old timber wouldn't produce much noise. He let out a tattered exhale, heart pounding, a small smile pulling at the corners of his lips. Had he really done it? Was he going to have a bit of peace for a few hours of the day? It would probably be enough so he could finally finish some homework and turn in the assignment he hadn't managed to complete because his mother had locked him in the basement. His fingers reached out to take a hold of the railing installed in the wall next to the staircase, and the cold metal made a shiver course up his forearm and he made to climb up the steps, but--

"Kokichi?"

Kokichi's heart nearly dropped through his body at the sound of her voice, and he felt as though he was about to begin sobbing right then and there. He was close, so close to getting away-- but it seemed like his luck had run out. Hesitantly, he turned around, keeping his head bowed and his gaze lowered to the colorful socks wrapped around his feet. He clenched his school bag at his side, shoulders trembling slightly, chilled by the woman's presence.

"Yes, m-mom..?" Kokichi responded softly, not daring raise his voice any further than a whisper, flinching bodily as his mother took a step closer and lay a hand upon his shoulder. She could feel the bone extruding from his skin, hurting her palm, and narrowed her slanted eyes at her son.

"You're so skinny, Kokichi, darling." She mused silently, clamping her grip down upon Kokichi's shoulder till he could feel her nails delving through his uniform and scathing his tender skin. The boy trembled, brows knitted together in a rankled expression at the pain her clutch produced. "Haven't you eaten anything? Do you expect everything from your mother? If I do everything for you, how will you survive on your own out there? Everyone will just gobble you up till you're nothing but bones. Not that you aren't already."

Kokichi whimpered in defeat; his skin bruised quite easily, and if her grip persisted any further, there was no doubt he would have a dark, purple contusion speckle his shoulder. "I-I ate something at school," He rushed out the words, lying right to his mother's face, yet wishing nothing but eluding from being punished again. He couldn't bear it. "A-A friend gave me a bit of her lunch, and--"

"Kokichi, darling." His mother's voice interjected, other hand reaching down to squish his cheeks between her thumb and remaining digits to shut him up. Kokichi's lips were deformed uncomfortably, yet all he could do was stare with large, hopeful eyes up at her-- hopeful that she would grant him his escape. She leaned down to his eye level, touching his forehead with hers, and quietly whispered to him. "You don't have friends, darling. And you know I hate liars."

Kokichi's eyes widen in realization-- the comprehension that he is fucked-- seconds before he's knocked back on the molding ground, fallen on his bruised side, clutching his aching cheek. His mother has dealt a smack on his face, so powerful that it was enough to make him lose his balance; after all, Kokichi didn't have the physical strength to endure much, and a simple strike could shake him to his core. The boy had slammed his head against the ground when he descended, and the blow had him feeling light-headed as he touched his stinging face-- but only for a moment. He swore his stomach constricted when his mother snatched him by the hair and began dragging him on the floor, heading for the direction that led to the underground room. She was taking him to the basement.

A pained scream erupted from Kokichi's aching throat, the tears he tried to withhold for the entire day now spilling down his cheeks, little hands desperately clutching at his mother's relentless hold, his legs kicking in every which way and his entire body twisting and flailing in a panic.

"No! Nonono!" His voice came out hoarse and broken, his balled up fists hitting maliciously at her forearm, short nails digging so far into her skin that the woman was forced to let go. But only momentarily. Kokichi made to dash for an opening, eyes wide and crazed with the mere will to live, brain telling him that if he didn't manage to get away he was going to be done for. And maybe that was the truth. And Kokichi didn't want to die. No, no, he didn't want to die, not in the hands of this hellish person that was ruining every day of his life! He refused to give up so simply.

"Don't touch me, don't touch me, DON'T TOUCH ME!" Kokichi shrieked the words over and over, hurtling toward the front door, neglecting how much his shaky legs wanted to give away, ignoring how much his heart wanted to give in and make his blood run cold. The pain and fear pulsing through his entirety made him physically sick, his stomach palpitating with the urges to throw up and consume food at the same time, his temples throbbing cruelly and making his eyesight a confusing blur. Kokichi tried, he tried, he did, but it was all to no avail. He couldn't overpower his mother, he couldn't never escape from her. He attempted it every time and each time he failed miserably, the punishment he received worse than the former. Again and again and again.

His mother grabbed him with ease, heaving the frenzied boy over her shoulder and holding him there, despite his screaming and crying, clambering down the steps that lead to the basement; to his demise. Who knows for how long he will be constricted within the confines of that dark, leaking chamber?

"No! Please, please, mom, I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go! PLEASE!"

It made him physically ill that he was forced to call her mother.

Each step the woman took boomed against the frame of the staircase, thundered clamorously within Kokichi's ears. The walls compassing him gradually darkened with mildew and mold, and through the constraints of his delirium, he could hear the sound of metal grazing the worn door frame as the hatch to the underground opened. Kokichi had grown pursy, eyes stinging painfully as the air around him became thick and heavy; he could practically smell the pungent decay laying hefty in the atmosphere and weighing it down. He could hear the small squeals of the rats sheltered within the humid walls; even the small creatures appeared distraught by the presence of his mother.

Kokichi let out a wheezing gasp when she threw him on the floor, his back crashing flat against the soiled floor and crushing the air in his lungs with the force. For a moment, the impact upon his spine had left him paralyzed. It felt as though his internal organs had ceased their labor, and the wrecked boy was left lying on the ground with broad, sodden eyes, the shock travelling through the periphery of his skull in an excruciating wave.

"I hate liars." The demented woman spat before slamming the metal door shut and twisting the lock four times.

Kokichi felt detached from his own body. A battered, damaged shell that contained his soul, which flickered like the last flames against timber before the fireplace went dark. It hurt. His body was doused in so much pain that it had gone nearly numb, his heart forced to undergo so much suffering that he thought it would burst right within his hammering chest. His eyes were rife with tears, but they couldn't escape. He didn't even have the strength to cry anymore. Kokichi wanted to call for help, but his throat hurt so much he couldn't even manage a grunt. He wanted to rest. He wanted to sleep. The boy coughed a few times, throat on the verge of bleeding, and closed his worn eyes; his vision obscured in red.

All he could see was red.

Red.

Kokichi made to let out a pitiful laugh, but the laughter instantly curdled into a merciless coughing fit, making his nose wrinkle as he hissed through clenched teeth. He slung his forearm over his eyes, breathing shallowly from his mouth in sharp pants. Red trickled from a small scratch next to his cherry lips, flushed from all the malicious yelling and crying, and his mouth twitched briefly into something that resembled a smile.

Red...

Just like what she wears.

"Hah... ah.. haha..." Kokichi must be insane. Even in such a circumstance, he finds it in his devoured heart to laugh. The boy turns on his side, the corners of his eyes twitching along with the pain the action produces, and curls up upon the dusty floor, barely able to see anything in the dark veil shrouding the room which towered over his skinny form and shaped into a cell. His tousled tufts and lashes are powdered with dust and grime, and his school uniform is coated in soil. ~
Another uniform ruined.

The boy shielded his eyes from view once more, breath hiccupping as emotion began bubbling up inside his chest, pushing up between his lungs and forcing itself up his throat. What can make him feel better? He doesn't know, he can think of nothing besides... Y/n's face appears on the back of his eyelids, her eyes gentle and soft, an easy smile has seated upon her lips. She's carefully petting the top of his head, touching him with no ill will, and Kokichi feels conflicted. He barely knows her.. practically a stranger, she is.. and yet...

She's the only one who never looked at him like a lesser. The only one who has ever talked to him with her own free will. The only company he's ever had, the only thing closest to friend. Seated beneath the sakura tree, talking with her, being around her; it wasn't so bad as he once thought. He could have a friend, the thing he wanted most all his life-- to have a friend, to be cared for, just once.

"Ha..ha..Y/n..san.." Kokichi panted breathlessly, his spurious smile slowly withering. He knows she will leave him too. She has had her fun when being around him, and now Kokichi must go back to spending all his free time alone. But, that's okay. He's used to the emptiness beside him when he sits down. He's used to the loneliness, the loneliness he's had to put up with all his life. He knows he's not good enough for anyone, anyway.

It's okay. Kokichi will go back to being alone just fine. It's what he is best at.

Chapter Text

The next two days, Kokichi didn't attend school. It was a frightening record, he concludes, keeping him in the basement for over forty-eight hours. Never had his occurred to him before, as he was usually let out before a full twenty-four hours were completed or shortly after. He had had a small shred of hope, he recalls, praying to some unknown God so he could at least get something to eat, but alas, God didn't seem to pay heed to Kokichi's pitiful pleas. Kokichi doesn't blame Him, though. He probably has better things to deal with than an underdeveloped teenage boy begging Him for a mouthful of food.

Kokichi would have probably been kept there longer if he was a stranger to lock-picking. He thanks the universe for lending him that ability; the only friend he had in elementary school was the class clown, and would pull pranks on everybody, including one where he locked the school's faculty members into their office. Kokichi had been in awe with the boy, and the latter offered to teach him how to be the greatest prankster there ever was in return for Kokichi's company. And, although he deemed it a bit silly back then, he will never not be grateful for possessing such a skill. If you even could call it that... He was lucky, as he had kept the needles on him, just in case. Kokichi never could predict what life would throw at his face.

He had sneaked out at five in the morning, changed his school uniform with one of the spares he had, cursed at himself for a few moments as his back was livid with pain. The boy had checked in the fridge, in search of something edible-- he could take anything at this point-- and yet, it was empty. He had sighed and soothed a hand over his belly, shivering when he had felt his ribs poke him from underneath. When was even the last time he ate? Despite being dazed and light-headed from the famine, Kokichi had grabbed his school bag and rushed out of the house, reaching the big, school gate far too early and abiding for it to open and let him inside.

It had been a very tiring few days for Kokichi. But, nothing he wasn't used to, so far. In the back of his head, swam the notion that today he could see Y/n again, and along came the abrupt urge to smile; had she worried about him a little, he wondered. It wasn't like Kokichi to be absent from school and mostly everyone was aware. But, no, he can't be thinking of Y/n right now. He has to stop being around her and calm his excited heart, which is squealing in glee at the thought of making a friend. Kokichi knows he will just be hurt and abandoned again, and he doesn't think his fragile body can handle any more sorrow. He fears if it does, it will be his last.

He wants to see her again, though. She's one of the few people in the school that aren't boring and predictable, and he knows for a fact she isn't as bad as everyone deems her to be. It would have been interesting to get to know someone like her and be in her good books, and the stimulation human contact brought upon Kokichi when they talked felt terrific. It probably was unhealthy to a degree, as well, but could you really blame him? But, no, he can't be thinking of this again. He'll just remain alone, sitting quietly and hiding from any people who might try and harass him. It's how he's been surviving his entire life, it won't be a hard task for him. Not after all he's been through.

And, as a means to top off his bad luck, he can't seem to find his turquoise notebook anywhere!

And so, Kokichi sits silently at the roots of the old sakura tree at the back garden, biting at the end of his pen as he tries to solve the math homework due for Monday. He deduced it wouldn't be wise to attempt and study at home, so he decides to stay after the school hours had reached their fin and study here, where it's quiet and no one can bother him. He's not concerned by the fact the school gate might close; he knows well that some clubs stay after school and so the gate remains open until they all have left. Kokichi shakes his head a bit at himself, exuding a weak chuckle. What kind of teenage boy stays in the school grounds to study, specifically on a Friday? He really is weird, he concludes with a snort, watching as the blue tip of his pen budges along with the motions of his hand. Thankfully, he was never bad at math, so this wouldn't take long if he concentrated. If he concentrated.

The headache and emptiness within his chest and stomach didn't help either.

But, nevertheless, he was going to try his best. He was already halfway done, and if he kept up this pace, he would even be able to study some history for the test next week. Kokichi let out a soft sigh, briefly wondering how nice it would be to have someone sitting beside him -- he didn't care if they talked or not, the mere company they would provide him with would be enough to soothe him a little. But, his luck couldn't help him out this time either, it seemed, because how could anyone want to find themselves around someone so unpleasant and cowardly as Kokichi? Why would anyone even want to talk to him in the first place? Who would have been this peculiar person that would actually try and understand someone like--

"Ouma?"

Kokichi was so absorbed in his train of thought that the sudden burst of sound next to his left ear made him cry out, his heart booming with such haste it nearly strangled him, and his back tensed up only to collide against the tree bark behind him. Right where it hurt the most.. What bad luck. The boy froze up for a moment at the pain the strike produced, the air knocked out of his lungs, grumbling slightly under his breath as the muscles in his shoulder blades throbbed from all the abuse they had to undergo over the past few days. Kokichi whirled his head to the side, wanting to glare, wanting to look mad; but all he managed was an expression of fatigue with hints of slight surprise.

"Please," His voice came out small and breathy as he stared up at Y/n, the dark circles limned underneath his lower lash-line a stark contrast to his milky skin. "Please.. Don't scare me like that."

Y/n tilted her head to the side, standing before him and concealing him from the setting sun's vision. The enormous star lathered her back and legs with warmth as she glowered down at the washed-out boy, his face drained of all color and his eyes starless and heavily hooded. Kokichi looked like an absolute wreck.

"Sorry," The girl retorted with a scowl, her voice sounding so distant yet so pacifying to Kokichi's stained ears, he couldn't help slackening of his taut shoulders. "Wasn't my intention. Just haven't seen you in a while and wondered what you're doing out here in my tree all alone. Classes are over, you know."

"I..I know," Kokichi murmured dubiously, his hands nervously clasping and twisting together as he swallowed dryly. "I just.. I wanted to finish some homework. You know, the semester tests are in less than a month, so... I-I don't want to be behind in the lessons."

Kokichi's breathing began to get heavy and his temples were damp with cold sweat. He wasn't feeling good. His heart was pounding, his lungs were pulsing and his head felt so hefty that he thought he'd drop down if he didn't rest it somewhere. His neck and shoulders couldn't bear to withhold its weight anymore. Still, a tiny smile pulled at the corners of his mouth as Y/n seated herself down beside him, eyes racking over the numbers written all over his sheet of ivory paper. The girl set her bag down and leaned over inquisitively, chest pushing against Kokichi's bicep; and he thought he was going to faint right then and there both from the close proximity and his malaise. He wasn't used to being this physically close with someone unless he was about to get hit or sworn at, and it was making the blood rushing through his veins burn.

"Ew," The girl made a spiteful face at the subject jotted down in Kokichi's notebook, her nose pursing in slight disgust. "Are you fucking serious? Math? Jeez, no wonder you look so worn out."

"Oh?" Kokichi blinked dumbly at her words and set his blue pen down upon the smooth paper, momentarily reposing his head against the sakura tree, eyelids leaden with toil. He neglected her comment on his seemingly weakened display, not wishing to be questioned further about it. "You.. don't like it?"

Y/n snorted at the boy's remark, prying her shoulders and resting her chin against her palm. "Honestly, what is there to like about it? The basics are easy, but everything else really isn't. The exercises are just a fuck-ton of numbers, and every time I try to solve one, it always ends up being the wrong thing." She huffed, evidently upset, her face burning with exiguous shame. "Then they say it's my fault for skipping class whenever there is a test.."

"You probably shouldn't skip classes if you really want to understand, Y/n-san," Kokichi said with a meek giggle, his laughter sounding like a kitten's mewling, watching as she put a hand over her sternum, a playfully offended utterance settled upon her facial features, trying to stifle the amusement wanting to stretch her mouth into an entertained simper.~
"Wow, okay!" Y/n exclaimed, tone laced with feigned annoyance, "I can't believe even you are laughing at me, now!"

"I-I'm not laughing at you!" Kokichi blurted immediately, in a slight panic, the heaps of his cheeks glowing with an abashed rosiness, "I-I'm just saying... If you really want to understand something that confuses you... you should probably attend that class and pay attention to what the teacher says! I'm sure that if you..u-um.. if you try your best, you will be rewarded for your efforts!" Kokichi heaved his head in placid determination, a faint smile perching upon his grayish lips. "I..I'm sure that if you try, you'll do great, Y/n-san."

Y/n stared at him in slight bewilderment, taken aback by the genuineness spored within his wobbly voice. Jeez, what is this guy's deal? Why is he so supportive? She resolved to ignore it, and strived to neglect how bubbly and joyful he looked when he smiled like that, shaking her head with a slight laugh. "It's easy for you to say that, purple-head. You've had one of the best scoring at math every single year, since middle school. Everyone knows how good you are at it. Overheard this girl that had a crush on you when you were helping her for the math exam last year."

"..Huh?" Kokichi's lashes batted perplexedly as he looked at Y/n, his entire body going rigid when the peal of her laughter echoed upon viewing his reaction. It was true, Kokichi had aided a girl who didn't have a good relationship with math, and with his assistance, she had barely managed to pass the class. He knew she couldn't have made it otherwise, and was glad he could help someone for once, but.. a crush? He had never thought of it like that.

"Yeah," Y/n continued, grinning from ear to ear at how red Kokichi's face had gotten, "She liked you, but was offended that you never hit on her. So, naturally, she assumed you were gay."

"Huh?!" Kokichi's mauve eyes grew as wide as platters, jaw dropping at the revelation and complexion chafing vividly with his bafflement. He puffed out his cheeks, shaking his head ferociously and swaddling his face in his hands in embarrassment, voice coming out muffled as he exhaled hotly against his palms. "Nothing about that is natural, Y/n-san!"

Y/n snickered softly, reveling in Kokichi's excessively extravagant demeanor, reaching out and gently petting the head of the red-faced boy in an involuntary attempt to calm him down. She felt a little bad, because he was melting away in shame and she was having the time of her life upon perceiving the fashion in which he acted. It was superfluous, silly, over the top; and she loved every second of it. Kokichi visibly recoiled when he felt the touch upon him, drawing his hands away from his glowing visage and accepting it with a faltering expression and shakily shut eyes. "Chill, little guy. I'm just fucking with you. And even if you are, it's nothing bad, you know."

"A-ah! It's really rude to assume things like that, Y/n-san.." Kokichi's eyes fluttered open and he frowned kittenishly, feigning anger, but he couldn't help it and bent beneath the deluging compulsion to part his lips and laugh. And the feeling was so alien to him, that for a moment, his heart swelled with uncertainty. What pushed past the threshold of his mouth was a hearty burst of laughter, which sounded so foreign he was barely aware it came from him. For once, he felt like a kid, poking fun with a friend and having some much needed fun. Friend? Fun? Kokichi wasn't even aware his giggling was so loud and he attempted to clasp a hand over his mouth to put a cease to it, only to fail miserably. His head now felt light, hauled up by the comfort bubbling up within him when being around Y/n. For the first time in forever, Kokichi felt safe in the presence of another.

It had been such a long time since Kokichi felt safe.

"Heh.. You know, Y/n-san.." Kokichi started, gently taking the hand that had just slid away from his messy hair and clasping it amid his smaller palms, his face glowing healthily with the innocent beam adorning his lips. "I..I realized a long time ago that loving someone has nothing to do with their gender, for me. I-I mean.. who cares as long as two people love each other, right?"

Kokichi ascended his gaze so their eyes met and he showed her a smile so gleeful that it made her chest ache. Kokichi barely smiled. And when he did, it was always quiet and uncertain, almost forced. It had been so long since he had felt like this, and staring within the prying ponds of her eyes so earnestly made his heart shrivel up with a feeling he couldn't quite wrap his head around. Whatever it was, it was causing him to experience the most wonderful helplessness that had ever wracked his body. He could barely sense the feeling of his smile slowly fading as he looked at the person before him, unconsciously tightening his loose grip around her hand in an attempt to placate the sudden anxiety hurdling in bouts through him. Y/n was staring right back, blinking unhurriedly and breathing calmly, and Kokichi momentarily wondered if she could hear how loud his heart was beating as it battered against his eardrums.

"Right." Her voice came out serene and steady, almost a whisper, holding a bit of strange nostalgia and a spiky lump grew in Kokichi's throat at the sound of it as it caressed his ears. Why was he so nervous out of the blue? He didn't like it, but at the same time he had never felt this alive before; a part of him wished he could stay like this forever.~
For a fleeting instant, those pretty eyes that radiated with sincerity flickered to glance at her lips, and it was then that Kokichi realized that he had slightly leaned forth and he was holding her hand still, reposing against his clothed thigh. The boy snapped from his trance and the first thing in his field of view was her hand retained between his sallow fingers, and his ears flushed at his former forwardness; what the hell was he doing?! In an abrupt moment of self-reflection Kokichi released her from his grasp, bodily quailing and withdrawing his arms so they rested against his sides once more.

And just like that, the tender moment came to a rapid halt, with Kokichi bowing his head and clenching his eyes skittishly -- fearing that if he looks a second too long for his own good, he will act on impulse and do something he really shouldn't. "S-sorry, I.. I didn't mean to.. I-I.." His voice cracks slightly at the edges, seconds before it falls silent and curdles into nothingness. He doesn't know what he's trying to say exactly; is he trying to utter an apology? If yes, an apology about what? Had he done something wrong? Kokichi doesn't know what other people deem immoral anymore, so all he can really do is ask for their forgiveness. His features contort as his face screws up, eyes creasing at the edges, nose wrinkling and lips pursing as though he ate something bitter; looking as though he's mentally preparing himself for a punch or a slap. And for a moment, he genuinely believes this will be the treatment he receives, listening silently to the zephyrs of wind gently brushing his lengthy fringe away from his face and whispering softly as they buss his cheeks and neck.

Kokichi waits, but the impact never arrives. He hears the light crunching of grass adjacent to him and his expression calms, thistle hues uncorking curiously at the noise. Y/n has merely stood up from her sitting beside him, placing the scarlet strap of her bag over her shoulder and flashing him her infamous, lopsided grin. Kokichi's gaze instantly falls upon the red stockings enfolding around her legs, yet again, and he notices their expanse stops at the middle of her thighs, sealed with a little bow, a couple inches below the ridge of her raven skirt. His gaze momentarily travels higher and he becomes keenly aware of the fact that he is literally looking up Y/n L/n's skirt, the girl that could easily crack his skull between her legs if she wished. Kokichi gulps at the mere thought, a rivulet of sweat kissing down his temple, and quickly averts his eyes with an abrupt turn of his head. There's the patent reddening of his cheeks, and he concludes she really wasn't joking when she told him she liked red.

Y/n notices, of course, and a part of Kokichi knows she does. Thankfully, she saves him from the shame of confronting him about it by not bringing the matter up, and a shard of Kokichi's shattered dignity is rescued.

"I'm heading home," She announces with an easy shrug of her shoulders, catching the seated boy's attention once more. "You should, too. Honestly, fuck math; get some rest. You look like you've been held hostage and tortured by the mafia."

A meager sting at Kokichi's razed self-esteem, but he decides to make light of it, merely snickering at her remark. If he starts taking every little thing seriously, this world will devour him whole and gnaw at his bones, he figures. "You're so mean, Y/n-san."

The girl raises her brows at the sudden change in the boy's attitude, the left corner of her mouth raising into a devilish smile. Y/n stands upright and extends an arm, offering Kokichi her help to rise and stand beside her. "It's what I do best."

Chapter Text

Today had been completely colorless for Kokichi. Sat quietly at the back of the class, he rested his cheek against the heel of his hand, looking tediously out of the window. The teacher's palaver was nothing but a muffled nudnik to his ears, causing him to become drowsy and sleepy with boredom. Last period of school on a Monday-- Kokichi hummed inwardly as he recalled he'd have to do the same things tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day post the other two. But, was it really that bad? Did it really have such great significance for the weekdays to go by and the weekend to welcome him with open arms? It wasn't like he got any rest on the weekends or holidays with the person he lived with. And, on the rare occasion he did, he would just sit in his room with his door locked twice, bored out of his mind. Maybe if he could find where he put his turquoise notebook he would at least be able to pass the time in a pleasant way. It still was nowhere to be found, however, so all he could do was be patient and doodle on the blank spaces his books didn't occupy with monotonous, black letters.

Kokichi's breathing wavered as he exhaled through his nose, lips tightly pressed together into a fine line, his heart slightly aching as he drew small, pink hearts all over his math book. Coupled with being boring, this day was also quite lonesome for the boy. He had briefly debated earlier in the day whether or not he should go to the cafeteria, as his needy belly was growling for some food, but half-heartedly decided against it. He wasn't very fond of the idea of being shoved in a trash can and smeared with food again. He had learnt his lesson the first and last time he set foot in there. His classmates had given him zero attention today, save for merely staring at him with an unreadable expression for a few seconds before averting their eyes to the board the teacher was writing upon.

The boy hadn't caught a glance of Y/n anywhere, either, when in search of some company, so he had settled for staying in his little corner hidden from view on the third floor. Maybe she had gotten bored of him. A little voice in Kokichi's head refutes that theory, reminding him that they had gone home together at the end of last week, and had had quite a laugh while on the way to their destinations. It was a foreign change, but not an unpleasant one. As long as he remembers, he left school when the final bell rung, hanging his head low and sighing in melancholy as he watched the duos and groups of friends walking away together. He wanted that too; it was one of the things his little heart craved for more than anything; to feel like he belonged with other people, to have a friend.

That doesn't matter, another voice in his head peeps in, limning the lovely memory black and making Kokichi's heart spike with chagrin. You never were good enough for anyone before, so why now? What's different? Nothing, that's what. Stop clinging to people that don't like you in the first place.

Kokichi wanted to oppugn his own mind's accusations, he really wished he had the strength to carry out his burning desire, but he found himself wordlessly sponging up the words that echoed through his head. You're not good enough and you never will be. And the worst part of all was that he knew it was true. He's just a meek, little thing, with no personality. He's plain. He's boring.

His pained eyes momentarily flutter shut and a sad smile worms its way over to his wan lips, the tips of his fingers gently tapping against the thinning flesh of his cheek.

You're alone, Kokichi. And you always will be.

And just as Kokichi was devoting himself to his pitiless self-loathing, the sound of the bell rang all throughout the school, signaling the finish of the day. He snapped out of his train of thought with a slight shake of his head, hastily taking his pen and jotting down the homework the teacher had given out with a small sigh. He wasn't fond of having to do schoolwork at all, but since he had nothing better to do in his free time, what harm was it going to do? Would it deprive him of his friends or damage the social life he didn't have? The boy hurriedly slid his book into his bag, slinging it over his shoulder and being cautious as not to bump into anyone on his way out of the classroom.

It would have been a normal day for Kokichi. Nothing eventful, nothing interesting. He would leave the school grounds, go to the bakery across it for a loaf of bread -- since it's cheap enough to afford -- and go home, where he would sprint down the hallway and dash up the stairs to bang his door shut and lock it before his mother got a hold of him. To him, it sounded like quite the plans. And it would have been a normal day for him, one he would wipe away from his memory on a dime.

However, when Kokichi reached the corridor outside his classroom and stared at the sight lying before him, he realized his day would be far from normal.

Students he didn't recognize, along with ones that attended his class, had collected to form a dense mass around the middle of the hallway, appearing to be viewing a mutual spectacle. Some were scrambling to get the phones they had in the school bags while others merely watched, their eyes broad in shock and fright. A few other pupils seemed to show only indifference to the matter that looked to be embedding surprise in the hearts of the others and Kokichi gaped at the crowd before him with anxiety rolling off him in waves. A particular sound made the boy flinch where he stood, a noise which resembled one of skin aggressively clashing with skin. Kokichi's breath hitched and he rose on his tip-toes to try and catch a glimpse of what was happening, attempting to peer over the shoulders of other students. His legs ached with their strain to lift him higher, and the boy fell back down on his heels with a huff, momentarily cursing his short stature. If only he was a few inches taller, he would be able to see... The quiet boy was well aware of the people murmuring to each other all around him, sharing distraught and worried expressions, and tried his best to tune in to their words in an endeavor to understand the situation he found himself within. Just what the hell was going on?

"You fucking waste of space," Barked a ferocious voice and Kokichi's round eyes shot upward at the sound of it. Everyone else fell silent, and Kokichi could almost feel the cold sweat coursing down the expanse of their backs. This voice didn't belong just to anyone, he realized with a silent gasp, and his heart constricted with concern and dread, rendering him breathless. Apprehension lapped up his frozen body and made his innards throb dolefully, lips parted with the confusion spilled upon his face.

"..Y/n-san?" His own voice found him abruptly, eluding in the form of a soft whisper as it swept past his lips in disbelief. There is no way he misunderstood, it was unmistakably Y/n's voice that had just talked so harshly. But how and why? Who was she addressing so crudely? Kokichi dryly swallowed down his demur, his heart pulsating with such speed it nearly strangled him as he tried to ignore the restless feeling frothing up within him. Without even realizing it, Kokichi ventured forth in his agitation, putting his lithe build to use and swimmingly slithering past the students blocking his path. To his surprise, it was quite an easy task, and he had to make sure to remember it for future purposes.

Merging behind the final line of students before him, the boy glided right in between two of the tall candidates and was soon met with a sight that smashed into him like a concrete wall, transitorily making the air within his airways curdle to ice. There stood Y/n, her gathered hair a mess, the collar of her white shirt slightly ripped, a fleck of blood dripping from the corner of her mouth. Her eyes had a wild, crazed look lodged within them, her teeth clenched and bare, the knuckles of her clamped fists scathed and bloody. Beneath her lay a blond, physically intimidating boy, his bulky body shaking like a leaf swirling in the wind, face barely recognizable beneath the sheen of the blood that had cascaded out of his nose and smudged all over his complexion. All that could be heard through the deafening silence was his pitiful, tremulous sobbing and Y/n's erratic breathing.

Kokichi couldn't believe his very eyes. That boy, laying so passively beneath her like an antelope ready to be ravaged by a lion, the one whimpering so clamorously in pain, was none other than Terrence. Kokichi briefly recalls that one time he had been beaten to pulp by Terrence one day after school, and was left there, lying bleeding and unconscious at the school's front. Nobody had offered their help to him. Nobody had even checked if he still was alive and breathing. And, although a part of Kokichi basked in the sight of Terrence bleating like a sheep bitten by a wolf, another part of him made him feel sick in the stomach at how wrecked the other had gotten-- what Y/n L/n was truly capable of. Kokichi loathes Terrence, hates him with all he has, but seeing even someone so brash and haughtily confident was..

"I thought you knew better than to fucking mess with me again," Seethed Y/n, grabbing him by the collar and forcibly raising his torso so his face was nearly pressed against her own. Terrence's voice hiccupped, eyes closing in shame and pain, his bigger hands weakly gripping at her wrist.

"S-sorry!" He cried, snot and drool and blood fusing together into a mess he called face. "I-I'm so sorry! P-please, never again.. p-please, don't hurt me..."

"You better fucking be because next time you won't live to be sorry!"

Y/n's voice was so booming and enraged, growling like an infuriated animal, that Kokichi's heart was instantly intoxicated with fright, and the boy took a step back, cold perspiration oozing down the nape of his neck and dampening his hair. For a moment, he was almost afraid of her. Almost. Y/n would never do something like that to someone who didn't have it coming. She would never do something like that to Kokichi.

R-right?

"Fucking meat.." The aggravated girl spat at Terrence's face, gripping his collar so tightly the blood flow to her fingers was nearly cut off. With a snort, she suddenly let go, pushing his head against the ground and standing upright once more, smoothing out her clothing and neglecting Terrence's quiet crying as he curled up on the floor, hiding his face from the view of the shocked crowd of people enclosing around him.

Y/n stomped over to where her school bag had fallen when the fist fight had commenced and snatched it, throwing it over her shoulder and craning her neck to glare at the audience that had gathered around. She was breathing heavily, chest and shoulders rising and calming along with the frighteningly rapid pace of her heart. Kokichi could get a better look at her, now; brows slanting in meek worry at how worn out and hurt she seemed to be as well. He could see the slight limp of her right leg when she attempted to take a few steps forth, viewed as the girl hissed slightly and clenched her side as though she had been shot. She was in a great deal of pain, too, and the thought made Kokichi want to approach and help her right in that moment; but he wouldn't dare, dreading that if he were to make her mad she would burst in a fit of delirious wrath and hurt herself further.

For a fleeting moment, their gazes met in a tense lock that had Kokichi's little heart pounding like a maniac; sweaty palms tightening their grasp upon each other in a rabid attempt to placate the palpitating of the muscle drumming relentlessly within his chest. It felt as though everyone else beside them had vanished right in that instant, and Kokichi made to open his mouth to speak, yet his words managed to fail him in return. What could he even say?

Kokichi thought he caught a glimpse of softness within Y/n's glistening orbs when she ephemerally glowered toward him, but no sooner than he did, Y/n had already averted her nefarious eyes with a sharp turn of her head. The fiery girl opened her mouth, voice coming out hoarse and cruel, face shriveled up with disgust and pure, unmistakable fury; face contorting into a spiteful utterance at the first, unlucky people that entered her field of vision. "Fuck outta my way, ya pieces of shit!"

The students blocking her path hastily obeyed her foul-mouthed command, almost stepping on the people standing behind them in their panicked hurry. They all watched with huge eyes and tense shoulders as the brassy girl treaded heavily down the corridor, grumbling various profanities under her breath as she made her exit. Y/n was slightly hobbling as she went, her right leg shuddering every time she pushed her weight upon it, the sole of her shoe verging on merely brushing against the tiling instead of balancing upon it.

Y/n-san is hurt, too, Kokichi thought, a crestfallen frown overwhelming his features as the people around him slowly scattered and went their own separate ways. The boy watched grimly as Y/n managed to reach the end of the hallway, and made a left toward the flight of stairs that led below. She can't walk well and looks tired.. Oh, what if she falls down the stairs or something?!

Kokichi shook his head furiously at the thought, as though his ears were waterlogged, and felt his feet carry him forward on their own accord. The boy dismissed the weird looks people spared him when he hurriedly presumed after her, his dark locks visibly prancing about in the process and tickling his cheeks.

"Wait, Y/n-san! Wait!"

Chapter Text

Y/n scoffed audibly at the ring of Kokichi's voice echoing behind her, her step slightly faltering as she clambered down the marbled steps with evident strain. She was briefly aware of the smaller boy's footfalls softly tapping against concrete as he tried to reach her, her own legs suddenly giving out, nearly making her topple over. And she would have, -- fallen face first from the height of five steps and onto the harsh flooring below -- if two hands hadn't firmly grasped her shoulders in time and allowed her to retrieve her balance.

"Be careful," She heard him expel gently against her hair, and for a moment, she actually listened to his words, ceasing her motion and permitting herself to suck in a few, tremulous breaths. She was momentarily grateful the person was Kokichi and not somebody else, otherwise the conceited part of herself would have overwhelmed her and forced her to shove the pursuing person away, neglecting their good intentions. And, even a part of her screamed at her to set the cruel action in motion, the girl faltered and let her shoulders drop.

She couldn't find it in herself to harm Kokichi, and she wasn't fond of her hesitancy one bit. Y/n snorted at her own cowardice, injecting all the bitterness pulsing through her veins into the poison that dripped from her tongue when she spoke."Piss off," She said with a pained huff, the ache boiling against the skin of her side making her eyes shakily clench shut. Y/n desperately fought the waver that tried to slither in her voice, and attempted to hold her breath in the hopes it would be of some help. "I don't need your pity. Go find something better to do."

Although Y/n hated to admit it, she didn't want to really be all alone at that moment. Engulfed within an inferno of blazing pain and frailty, all she truly wished for was not to be left alone again. But she could never tell Kokichi that, or anyone else for that matter, so her foul words and hostile aura ought to do the trick and push him away, just like they had everyone else before him. Well, almost everyone else before him.

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Y/n-san," Kokichi responded easily, seeming hardly phased by her big talk, slowly letting his hands glide from her arms. She could hear the minuscule smile gracing his lips. "You're hurt and if you do anything reckless you'll just make it worse. Just.. just let me help you."

What a weird boy. How can someone as timid as him actually possess determination about anything?

"I don't want your help," Y/n grumbled under her breath, her fingers slightly trembling as she leaned her palm against the wall, "Leave me alone, Ouma.." The girl inwardly cursed the meekness of her tone, coaxing herself to take a few, cautious strides forward, until the soles of her shoes had reached the smooth surface of the landing. There was another flight of stairs below her, leading to the first floor corridor, and she gave a sound of tire and exhaustion at the sight of the lengthy staircase.

Y/n turned her attention back to the spot where Kokichi was standing patiently, cutely fixing her with those big, kind eyes, and she scoffed obstinately. Her insensitive heart clamped down at the inkling of hurt within the boy's twinkling orbs, and the girl exuded a remorseful sigh, opening her mouth and making to speak; anything to take off that guilt-ridden expression upon his face and batch his wounded feelings. Y/n swore the clingy boy would be the death of her.

However, as soon as her lips parted with her urge to speak, a pang of soreness rattled her skull, icy tendrils lapsing up the nape of her neck and squeezing harshly against her cranium. The sudden blow of pain caught the girl off guard, and the daze it produced didn't even make her mindful of the fact she had lost her balance and was about to plow into the floor below. Her field of vision whirled to the side and for a brief moment, she ascended her arm and tried to reach out to the person watching her collide against the earth with wide, dreadful eyes. The aftermath of her descent cost her head a sharp impact with the tiles underneath and the clash, combined with the fatigue and languor, was enough to limn the canvas of her world with black.

The very last thing she heard was Kokichi's nearing, panicked steps and his frantic voice calling out her name in horror. Y/n was momentarily aware of the boy kneeling down beside her and grasping at her shoulders in a moment of panic, his grip tight and frenetic upon her. There was a fleeting instant of silence as she slipped out of consciousness and then Y/n stopped listening all together.

 

*

 

"Is she going to be alright?"

Kokichi's voice was laced with nothing but worry as he eagerly stared at the woman before him, brows furrowed anxiously over his glossy eyes. The nurse softly laughed at the boy's concern, showing him a comforting smile and nodding her head.

"She will be fine. She just needs some rest and she's good to go," The woman explained with ease, attempting to soothe Kokichi's erratic nerves. The boy gulped as he glanced at the mattress beside him, where Y/n was motionless and sleeping peacefully, unable to rid of the uncertainty that nibbled at the corners of his teetering heart. "What did you say happened to her, again?"

"Oh, um!" Kokichi began nervously, clutching his school bag firmly with slippery, sweltering fingers. "Y/n-san seemed really tired and passed out while she was going down the stairs.. She hit her head pretty hard so I panicked and brought her here.. Well, kind of dragged her here, but.." His cheeks reddened in embarrassment, hands scurrying to grasp each other in need of some kind of bearing to brace themselves upon. Kokichi ephemerally thanked his youthful face and meek appearance; he could lie without appearing suspicious. The nurse gave a sweet giggle, slightly shaking her head at his reaction.

"You're a really good friend, Ouma-kun."

The boy blinked chastely at the word, trying to battle the inner turmoil writhing vividly within his chest. It wouldn't be a hyperbole to say that being addressed by that name caused an incontrovertible pride to emanate from Kokichi's very being. Being called someone else's friend.. Y/n's friend... it made his heart flit in such glee that he couldn't fight against the urge to smile. And so he did, showing a shy, toothy grin that sprung from its own, free will like a blossom emerging from below the asphalt. "Thank you."

"I must take my leave, for now; a student from the sports club has sprained his ankle, and requires my assistance until the ambulance arrives." Informs the woman in a quiet voice, as not to wake Y/n, gathering a first aid kit from the corner of the room and pausing her strides just before she exited the room. "I'll be back shortly; I trust you are more than capable of keeping a watch on her while I'm gone."

Kokichi makes to half-heartedly protest, but by that time, the nurse has already embarked on her journey to the injured student, having left the boy all alone in the room. The boy lets out a tattered breath, munching on his lower lip as he hesitantly nears the chair next to Y/n's occupied bed and sprawls down upon it. He sets his school bag beside his legs, clamping his bony hands around his knees and tensely rocking back and forth.

Hesitantly, he lets his eyes gander across Y/n's relaxed face, lashes fluttering slowly as he leans in and examines her closely. Her eyes are shut and her mouth slightly ajar, chest heaving and deflating along with her heavy breathing. Her messily collected tresses are in complete disarray, baby hairs flying every which way and bun slowly coming loose. There is the unmistakable stigma of darkened skin below her eyes, Kokichi notes, and realizes that this must be some well-deserved rest.

If only he could rest too, once in a while. Although, he figured the constant migraines and persistent nightmares didn't help his situation much. At least, the fact that Y/n was getting some much needed rest made him feel a bit at ease. At least, one of them got to have some sleep.. and she looked so tranquil when she rested like this. Kokichi smiled softly at her serene nature, extending his arm to brush some of the hair cascading over her nose away, but the motion of his fingers froze just before they touched her skin. He could feel the flow of heat diffusing from the pores of her complexion and warming his lingering hand, seconds before he drew it back with a small frown and let it rest against his thigh.

Did he have a death wish or something?

Probably.

Even if everyone thinks ill of her, I don't think Y/n-san is that bad. Her innocent looks sure can deceive and maybe she doesn't do the right things, but that doesn't necessarily make her a bad person. She wouldn't have helped me if she was a bad person, even if she says otherwise...

Absorbed in his absentminded thinking, chin resting against the palm of his hand, Kokichi doesn't realize that Y/n's blurry eyes have slowly opened, tediously taking in the environment enveloping around her. The first thing she views is the ivory ceiling and the polished, four walls of the nurse's office, before her heed is perched upon the drowsy, thin boy seated alongside her. She inquisitively squints her eyes at him, making a noise of slight discomfort as she shifts upon the mattress; the small sound making Kokichi perk right up in his seat.

"Y/n-san, you're awake!" The boy's voice was teeming with relief as he spoke, an alleviated beam adorning his glaucous lips. "That's good.. How are you feeling?"

"Like a train run me over," Muttered Y/n with a small cough, draping her forearm over her eyes and exuding a strained sigh. "My head's splitting apart... what in the fuck happened? Are you the one who brought me here?"

"Ah.. you did hit your head pretty hard when you passed out, so maybe that's why.." Kokichi mused quietly, leaning back on his chair. "Yeah.. I brought you here. Though, I had to kinda, you know.. drag you here. Heh.. I'm not nearly strong enough to have carried you." The boy momentarily lowered his gaze to the floor below, before elevating it once more, mouth cast into a small, faltering smile. He rose his brows with a slight shrug of his shoulders, displaying an apologetic expression. "Sorry."

Y/n blinked the sleepiness out of her weary eyes, staring at Kokichi with an unreadable utterance. Her brows had furrowed a bit, lips pressed together into a sullen scowl when she deterred her attention to the fan lazily veering on the ceiling. For a moment, Kokichi thought he had made her mad; watched nervously as she closed her eyes and pushed out hot air from between her lips. "Why.." There was the audible quaver in her voice, the visible bob of her lean throat as she halted her speech to dryly swallow. "Why did you bring me here?"

Kokichi merely tilted his head to the side, patently confused by the expression she wore. Was she mad? Was she sad? "W-well, um.. I couldn't just leave you lying there, you know? That's not hygienic at all, you could get sick.." That was funny coming from someone like Kokichi, who had to walk as quiet as a mouse just to reach the bathroom in order to shower; sometimes, not even achieving his goal and being left with oily hair and an aching body. His mother really wasn't all that kind.

"You could. You could have just left me there." Y/n croaked out throatily, turning on her side; face concealed from Kokichi's prying eyes, eyes that were now left to merely burn holes against the blank canvas of her back. And, though he couldn't see it, rivulets of saltwater had cascaded down her cheeks, throat trembling as she strived not to let her emotions take control. If she let them, everything would be destroyed. If she let them, it all would have been for nothing. She can't-- she absolutely must not permit them to take over. "You could have just walked the other way, you know.. It wasn't that difficult."

Ouma.. why couldn't you have just left me there? What the fuck is your deal?!

"You sound like you wanted me to leave you there, Y/n-san," Comes Kokichi's soft voice from behind her, abounding with something she can't quite put her finger on. He sounds so innocently worried and concerned about her well-being; it makes her sick to the core. There's authenticity hanging thick from his tone and she finds herself hating it, yet craving it all at the same. At that very moment, Kokichi reminds her of him so much that she nearly gives in to the urge of turning around and embracing him with all the fire that's left within her battered soul. Abundant tears course along the sides of her face and Y/n finds it very difficult to cease the doddering of her body as she curls up beneath the thin sheet swathed around her form.

"The truth is," Kokichi begins, resting his elbows upon his knees and making her breath hitch when she senses him draw closer, "I didn't want to just leave you there, Y/n-san. I was worried about you. You were hurt, and I know just how much it sucks when you are all alone and in pain." Y/n can hear the tremor in his voice, the unsteadiness of his breathing as he lowers his head and closes his eyes with a bitter smile. "When you woke up, you'd be confused and scared. Lying against a cold, hard surface with no one by your side. I know very well just how that feels. I wouldn't want you to learn how it feels. I didn't want to leave you all alone, Y/n."

I didn't want to leave you.

A part of Y/n wanted to laugh heartily. Had such a meek, cowardly boy really uttered all that with such confidence and solemnity? It was verging on ludicrous, on the brink of being called ridiculous; and yet, his gentle words had pulled at the harp of heart just right.

She wasn't accustomed to relying on someone, nor was she used to a person who went out of their way to offer their aid to somebody like her. Everyone was always scared of her, avoiding her, pointing and cackling mockingly. She never fit in with people, despite her best efforts, in spite of the fact she had almost lost her own self upon attempting to be one with the crowd. Who could blame her, after all?

Beneath it all, the big bad Y/n L/n was nothing more than a lonely, distant girl, wishing for nothing more than to be accepted by someone. She didn't care who it was, who they wanted to be; as long it was someone who understood her or, at least, tried to. Only one person had attempted to get to know her, to understand her in her entire life, someone who didn't set criteria upon her or judge her strange nature. But now, that person was long gone, vanished like sand set free against the wrath of the furious wind. No one else cared about her, no one else could ever care about someone like her. No one would help her when she needed it the most. No one would talk to her at school. No one would deem her anything more than an aggressive person with anger issues. No one would make her dull life a bit brighter.

Not since he left.

Y/n had learned soon after that; being alone is the only way she would ever be, the only way she could ever be. She had made peace with the one and only truth; she could only exist as the outcast no one ever wanted to be associated with. She had come to terms with the fact that no one wanted her, that no one would ever want her. That she would have no friends and be forced to spend her time all alone, cross-legged and seated beneath that sakura tree; her only comfort the literary book she would hold within her grasp. No one liked her. No one wanted to be around her.

So what did Kokichi want from her? Why wasn't he scared? Why wouldn't he just leave her alone? Why was he staying?

Did he have a death wish or something?

The girl furiously rubbed at her wet cheeks before feebly sitting up, the springs of the bed groaning silently as she sat with crossed legs, hands trembling from their tight hold upon the sheet draped over her body. She craned her neck and peered at Kokichi through the thin valance of her lashes, brows angled in an uneasy fashion and breath swirling unsteadily from her flaming nostrils. She wanted to glare, she wanted to be mad and swear at him so he would go away, but when she tried to speak, she found a spike had lodged itself in the back of her throat, cutting off her flow of words in an instant. All she managed was a small sound of complaint when her lips parted, heart on the verge of bursting into a mess of flesh and blood inside her chest.

Kokichi stared right back at her quivering eyes, taking in the chaos rupturing beneath their glassy epiphany and spinning crazily within the rings of color. All that lay before him was the cracked shell of a fragile person, hesitantly peeking at him through the crevices. The aura enclosing around them was tense and heavy and made a brook of cold sweat glide down Kokichi's nape. He viewed the tremor of her neck with the ferocity of her heartbeat, saw as the crumbling harshness within her gaze slowly dissipated into emptiness. The boy showed a small smile, taut and nervous, but wishing to appease her seemingly haywire nerves. He feared that if he didn't, she would erupt like a volcano from all the emotion she held bottled up and that its aftermath would tear her down further.

"It's okay, Y/n-san," He said softly, keeping his head low and his eyes attached to her own. Her body visibly stiffened at the mere allusion of his voice. "I..It's not bad to be in need of help, sometimes... So you don't have to beat yourself over--"

In one, swift motion, Y/n had pushed back the covers and stood up from the bed. It all happened so fast, a blur that had befallen right before Kokichi's very eyes, that he didn't realize when his chair had been pushed back and a hand had firmly wrapped around the perimeter of his dainty neck. The hold was unwavering, not enough to cut off his air supply, but sufficient in immobilizing him and pinning him down to the wooden contraption. Kokichi's flimsy fingers involuntarily flew to Y/n's wrist, purple hues gaping up at her in a slight panic.

He would be labeled a liar if he said he expected such a reaction.

The girl above him was breathing heavily through bared teeth, their faces so close that Kokichi could feel her exhales brush against his cheek, that their noses nearly brushed against each other; his features flinching at the closeness. Her hold around his neck was loose enough so the boy could breathe with no difficulty -- after all, her desire had never been to cause him any harm. Y/n had only aimed to simply intimidate him, in the hopes that if she did, he would clamber up from where he sat and sprint away in a hurry. That, at last, he would abandon her just like everyone else had before him. They were so close in proximity that it made her feel a bit light-headed; she was breathing right beside his mouth, her chest nearly pressing against his, the pad of her thumb weakly pulsing along with Kokichi's erratic heartbeat.

"I could beat you to pulp right now, do you understand?" Her voice was a low whisper, a shaky murmur that caressed the side of Kokichi's mouth. Y/n watched the big, doe eyes staring up at her; not polluted by fear or dread, but merely deciding to look in awe, in wonder. As though he was enjoying this. The notion only served to make the weary girl more frustrated. "I could turn you blue and purple, right here, right now. Don't you get it?! I could make you sorry for even daring to cross me-- doesn't it make you scared?!"

In contrast to Y/n's fickle breathing and irregular heartbeat, Kokichi appeared to be reserved and collected for once. Her touch was so careful upon him that it nearly made his mouth water. The boy gave a meek giggle, laying his wide palm over hers and fleetingly pressing down, till he could feel her clutch beginning push against his windpipe. Y/n exuded a gasp of surprise, making to draw her arm away, but Kokichi held her there, hazy eyes almost taunting her as they viewed her uneasiness and bewilderment.

"Then do it, Y/n-san." Rasped the boy's voice, throat vibrating with the flow of his words. He leaned into her touch like a puppy craving for affection; leaned into the hand poised to tear out his throat. "You wouldn't be the first. But.. if it's from you, it won't be that bad, right?"

Y/n's breath hitched, expression drastically altering into one of unmistakable guilt, and she retreated her hand hastily, taking a few, wobbly steps backwards. She stared at Kokichi with remorse, watching as his pale hand slowly slithered from his neck and fell limply against his side. He was looking at her innocently, yet again, tilting his head to the side, hair visibly caressing his glowing cheeks with the motion.

"D-Dumbass!" The girl stuttered nervously, gaze averting and face burning with shame. "Of course I don't want to hit you, stupid! I just.. I.."

Kokichi showed an apologetic smile, ascending a hand and scratching the back of his neck. "Hehe.. You sure had me worried there for a sec, Y/n-san. But, that's okay... I knew you wouldn't do it."

Y/n blinked, a puzzled expression twisting her facial features, taken aback by how calm he seemed to be at a situation like this. She was threatening him just a few seconds ago, how could he find it in him to smile like nothing had happened? "..huh? The hell are you talking about?"

"Ah.. Don't listen to lil' ol' me..." Kokichi began reluctantly, letting out a soft chuckle as he bowed his head. "I just knew you wouldn't hit me because I can tell you're not a bad person, Y/n-san.. Even though you try so hard to prove me wrong."

For a moment, there was the sound of abiding silence, and Kokichi worried that he had said something wrong. Y/n was offering no reaction, no movement, no sign that she had even actually listened to his heartfelt words; she plainly stood there before him, with loosely clenched fists and tightly shut lips. The boy heaved his head inquisitively, hastening to study her with parted lips-- and nearly felt his heart stop when he found Y/n was already looking at him, eyes calm and distant. They glowered at him with a strange nostalgia, as though she was staring right through him, as though the softness found within them wasn't entirely meant for him. She hummed softly, and Kokichi shifted his feet shyly with the immediate lowering of his head; it was funny how cheerful and yet how nervous this girl could make him.

"You really... really are an odd boy," Her voice echoed quietly within the four walls of the room, drenched in a benevolence he had never heard from her before. There was no doubt about the statement; Kokichi was considered abnormal by each and every single person in his life. Even so, the words didn't hurt his feelings, as they were spoken with such genuineness they didn't seem to be sparked by ill will. There was an uncomfortable sensation pulling at his lips, and Kokichi made to touch them, his fingertips tracing them curiously; almost shocked by the revelation he was sheepishly grinning.

He was momentarily alerted when Y/n bent and grabbed her school bag, which rested beside the bed she had previously been laying upon, and dag a hand within its contents, seemingly looking for something. The boy blinked, watching in a spirit of inquiry as the girl pulled her hand out and produced a bright, turquoise notebook.

She extended her hand, offering it to him with a nod of her head, and Kokichi nearly squealed in delight at the sight. A bright smile overwhelmed him, his hands shaking as he stood and reached out, relief coursing through him when he felt the smooth cover of it upon his fingertips. He had been looking for this everywhere!

"W-Where did you.. How did you find--"

"You left it behind when you run off to class," Y/n interjected the boy who was bustling with excitement and overflowing with glee, watching with a small smile as he joyfully clasped the notebook in his grasp. "Little fuckin' nerd."

Kokichi gave an elated titter, looking up with those big, glistening eyes, that were teeming with gratitude.

"Thank you, Y/n-san!" He said cheerfully, voice slightly cracking at the edges. Kokichi spoke quietly and with reserve most of the time, afraid he would anger his peers and family, and raising it even briefly above average would cause his voice to come out broken as a result. It sounded almost comical and made him a bit embarrassed, but he chose to neglect it in his moment of overwhelming happiness. "See? I told you you're not a bad person!"

"Shut up," Y/n dismissed with a playful snort, slinging her bag over her shoulder and venturing toward the door of the office. She peeked her head out and examined the corridor, confirming that no one was roaming around to see them. "Let's go, purple-head. We've gotta jet before the nurse returns."

"H-Huh?" Kokichi turned his head to the side, scrambling to shove his notebook in his school bag and pursue behind her steps. "But, Y/n-san.. What if she needs to see how you are doing or give you some kind of medicine? Maybe you shouldn't go yet..."

"I'm not going alone," Y/n declared with a sharp turn of her head, looking at the hesitant, shorter boy abiding her answer. "You're coming with me. If she finds you here all alone, you'll be in trouble as well. You don't want to be linked to my suspension, do you?"

Kokichi chewed on his lower lip, swaddling his hands together as he processed her words. There was a large probability he would be taken to the counselor's office, as well, being accused for letting Y/n go when she had gotten into such a large fight with another student just a few hours prior. And while he didn't want to be tangled up in this mess as well, he wasn't fond of the idea of Y/n baring the punishment all on her own either. Why had she been so ferocious with Terrence, though, he wondered. He must have told her something that made her angry; very, very angry.

"Shit, shit!" The girl whispered furiously, bursting Kokichi's bubble of thought and catching his attention. "She's coming back, I can see her.." She looked around the nurse's office for a short moment, before looking at the boy with wide eyes and taking one of his hands in hers. "Fucking gun it, little dude."

"Wha--"

Kokichi was interrupted by his own screeching as Y/n began running out of the office and down the corridor, her grip around his sweltering hand tight and hauling him along. He made to protest, but he couldn't manage a word, almost losing his balance twice on their way down the hallway. He momentarily thanked his light body that allowed him to keep up with the girl's rampaging stride, before cursing himself for the mess he found himself within.

Chapter Text

Kokichi rubbed the fluffy towel against his fleecy head, clenching his eyes shut as he wrung out his long hair. The boy let out a soft sigh, putting the damp washcloth away and lowering his arms till his palms rested against the bleak, ivory marble of the sink before him. The cold momentarily numbing his hands made his dainty body shiver underneath its wake, making the wan skin covering his arms and torso birth gooseflesh. With a sigh, he rose his head and took a good, long look at the person staring tiredly back at him from within the mirror.

God, he really looked like a mess.

The sallow light bulb of the bathroom lathered his complexion, causing it to seem more pale than it already was, a far cry from the grey hue limned beneath his hooded eyes. The boy tediously eyeing him from within the looking glass was unhealthily skinny, collarbones and ribs protruding through his skin as though they wished to tear free from their constraints and elude from his body. His cheekbones were prominent against the sides of his face, creating hollows that cast harsh, dark shadows to his visage and made him seem like a badly drawn cartoon. Kokichi ascended his hand, shivering as he viewed it was thinner than before, the tips of his bony fingers gently caressing over the dents of his cheeks.

His bare chest flat as a freshly set tomb, his sides and knuckles bruised, the bones in his hips jutting outward. He really was a mess; a worn out, starving mess. At this point, his organism didn't only want food; it absolutely was in need of consuming something, anything.

Kokichi couldn't live like this anymore. At this rate, he was going to be found dead at the base of the fridge in the kitchen, having fainted while in search of food before vanishing for good from the face of earth. Maybe, that would have been much easier than desperately lapping at the bones of the chicken his mother had cooked for herself; leaving only a few of the soft parts she detested and the sharp bones. Kokichi had poked his gums, his tongue, the top of his mouth; made them bleed while his teeth hungrily gnawed the tender flesh off.

At this rate, he was going to die.

The boy ignored the old scarring around his lean neck and scowled, looking away from the reflective glass and closing the light on his way out of the small room. It had been a nice change, having a long-lasting bath while his mother was absent, away for work. But, only for now. He had plenty of time left, however, deciding in a moment of fatigue and tire that melting in the warm water until his entire body pruned up was cathartic. And it was, the hot water a relief for his sore muscles and aching body.

Kokichi had almost fallen victim to his need of slumber with his head poking out of the bathtub, hair coated in a cloud of fragrant shampoo and his body curled up as though he was being cradled to sleep. He needed to do this more often, he concluded; he was feeling a lot better after all, every step he took as light and easy as though he was walking on feathers.

With the tips of his dark tufts still dripping against his nude neck and shoulders, the boy ventured to his small refuge, his room, in search of some clothing that would be both presentable and comfortable enough to walk out of the house. Opening his drawer, the boy quickly snatched a purple hoodie and a pair of black jeans, hurriedly throwing the shirt over his head and squeezing his legs through the openings of the pants. It wasn't a hard task, since he was so thin, and Kokichi put on his only pair of footwear, - the only other one he had besides the ones he wore to school - a couple of grey converse shoes. He has had them so long now that the material of the soles had slightly melted, numerous crevices splintering the cloth and plastic, but Kokichi figured he didn't care. He'll have an opportunity to get new shoes when he begins living on his own.

All he cares about right now is going out to buy some food with some of the money he has kept hidden away. It wasn't a lot, but certainly enough to buy a bag of candy, or something.

He had asked his mother in a shaky voice earlier in the day if he could have some money to get something for dinner, but the only thing he earned was a smack to the face with the newspaper she was reading and a diversity of various profanities thrown at him. So he did the only thing he deemed appropriate and possible; decided that he would take some money from his own savings so that the famine doesn't get the better of him and go out of the house, for once in his dull life, to get some food. That was his plan, and he was intending on sticking to it.

Kokichi tapped on his cell phone, checking the time as he tied he shoelaces. 8:29, plenty of time to reach his destination, buy some junk food and return home. He would even get some time to himself; his mother wouldn't return from work till late at night. Thankfully.

The boy rose to his feet, shaking his head and ridding his hair of a meager amount of water, before grabbing his phone and keys and venturing out the front door. He locked the door twice - not that they had anything valuable someone could steal, but if something went missing he would have to shoulder the blame, and he would rather avoid the consequences of that if possible. Kokichi skipped down the steps before the front door, disheveled, slightly wet hair bouncing along with the faint bound of his strides as he walked down the pavement, headed for the supermarket a few blocks down.

He jammed his hands in his front pockets, humming softly at a tune that had crammed itself within its head from a song he had listened to earlier in the day and gazing up at the overcast sky. The vast expanse was coated with dark clouds, concealing the setting sun from view and making the atmosphere seem heavy and unpleasant. Kokichi didn't mind, though. He was fond of gloomy weather and rain; the sounds of thunder and the gentle pitter-pattering of the falling beads of water always put his mind at ease. It helped him sleep when he was swirling sweaty and restless in bed, unable to get some shuteye due to his nightmares and intrusive thoughts.

Kokichi breathed out a strained sigh. The past few days had been blander than sand poured upon one's tongue; uneventful and incredibly boring. Time at school had passed by painfully slow when he wasn't studying for the upcoming semester exams, he didn't dare set foot in the cafeteria, in spite of his innards-twisting hunger , and he had found himself alone at recess, since Y/n had been suspended for the rest of the week once the headmaster discovered her violent feud with Terrence. As a result, the girl hadn't attended the school for the past few days, leaving Kokichi to be smothered by the two titans that were his loneliness and boredom.

The boy wondered how she spent her free time when not attending school, hoping that she wasn't cursed with the same sum of dullness and solitude that he was made to put up with his entire life. The sky grumbled silently along with his train of thought, as though some unknown deity was scolding him for his selfishness from above.

What was louder to Kokichi, however, was the growling of his belly, chiding him for leaving it vacant of food for four days in a row, the sole thing keeping him alive being the water and carbonated drinks he had stacked and hidden away underneath his bed in case of emergencies like this. He was well aware such a diet, if you could even call it that, was extremely unhealthy and could cause irreversible damage to his body, yet at this point he couldn't afford to care. Kokichi's health, physical and mental, was never in good condition in the first place, so what would change now?

Upon viewing his destination enter his field of vision, Kokichi sprinted toward the entrance, not wishing to be caught in the scud of rain that was bound to start spilling from the sky any minute now. He hadn't even brought an umbrella along with him; if he didn't want to be doused with cold water, he would have to hurry up.

The boy snatched a small, plastic wrap that enveloped his favorite candy - after all, he always had a sweet tooth- and ventured to get a bottle of grape fanta. He had heard others mock and be distasteful of the drink, but couldn't understand what the complaints were for; he found it a great combination of sweet flavor and fizz and would dismiss the weird looks he got whenever he would drink it. Kokichi extended his arm, slender fingers waving slightly as he tried to reach for the bottle. It was two shelves higher than what he was accustomed to and Kokichi gave a huff of annoyance; was the staff of the store trying to make a fool out of him or something?

Jeez, why can't I be three inches taller?

Even when on the tips of his toes, the tips of his digits were barely brushing against the bottom of the plastic container. He could make it drop, but being used to making a mess out of everything he lay his hands upon, Kokichi fell back on the heels of his feet with an exasperated sigh. It was as though this was done on purpose; a plan to gang up on him and make him feel silly once more.

How rude.

Kokichi was left glaring at up the bottle which remained just out of his reach, standing prideful and purple, as though it was taunting him. Suddenly, however, his eyes fell upon a hand that reached over his head, grasping the thing with ease and bringing it down to his eye level. The boy turned his head to look at the person who had so swimmingly grabbed the item he wanted, lips parted at the growing smile upon the other's face.

"Grape, huh?" Teased the voice, the familiarity of its tone making Kokichi's fleecy head perk up in surprise. He nearly didn't recognize her when not clad in her school uniform and bright, red stockings.

"A-Ah!" Kokichi gasped in sudden realization, finding himself smiling shyly without even registering it. "Y/n-san! What are you doing here?"

The girl merely giggled at his reaction - his reactions were always the best- and rose a brow at him. "Oh? Am I not welcome here? I was just looking for something, but it seems like they don't have it here.. how unfortunate.. and how very heartless of you, purple-head. Do I bother you that much?"

The boy's cheeks flushed in slight embarrassment, but their scarlet glow was mostly due to the abrupt rush of joy that coursed through him in constant bouts. He shook his head at her playful accusation, hastening to respond. "No, no, just..." He paused for a second, lowering his head slightly to hide his gleeful smile from view. He didn't like the way he looked when he would smile so genuinely. "I haven't seen you at all these past few days and I guess you being here is a bit..." He bit on his lower lip, his foot tapping against the tiles as he tried to look for the right word. "Overwhelming."

"Hmm?" Y/n hummed softly with a tilt of her head, eyes gentle and half-lidded as she stared at him. "Were you lonely without me?"

Kokichi rose his gaze once more, taking a look at her glowing face and smiling lips. Her hair was gathered into a bun at the top of her head, as it always was, small tufts sticking out and glued to the sweltering skin of her neck. There was a plaster adhered to the left side of her forehead, and he momentarily wondered where the injury emanated from. He hoped she hadn't gotten in any more trouble than she already had. The boy nodded bashfully at her question, a small, quiet giggle pushing past the cushions of his lips. Just what the hell has gotten into him all of a sudden?

"It wasn't that nice without you there, Y/n-san," He admitted, the small bag of candy he was holding crinkling audibly as his fists clenched nervously, "You left me all alone, you know? That's so mean."

Kokichi displayed a half-hearted pout at the girl before him, his heart fluttering when her burst of laughter echoed and reached his blushing ears. Y/n ascended her hand and gently ruffled the boy's tousled tresses, making his eyes flinch into a closure and his shoulders tense up at the indicator of the touch.

She took note of the way he seemingly grew anxious and uneasy whenever she made to touch him, viewed the way his breath booked in a state of cloaked fear. Her smile left her mouth as she looked at him through the drapery of her lashes, watched as one of his skittish eyes opened to look back at her in timid confusion.

He was so frail, so small, so scared; but when their eyes met, the dread that always boiled within Kokichi's very being would dissolve like snowflakes upon warm skin.

And Y/n couldn't help but marvel as she slowly retreated her hand from his soft locks; just what did this boy have to go through behind closed doors? Would she ever find out?

"Sorry about that," Y/n's voice came out so calm and serene that it settled a shaken expression upon Kokichi's face, a reaction he tried to conceal with the furrowing of his twitching brows. He wasn't fond of feeling so vulnerable like this, and yet a part of him secretly loved laying bare. He swore that if she would pet his head like that again he was both going to have a panic attack and start purring at the same time.

"Here," The girl said, extending her hand and offering Kokichi the purple bottle he was trying to get in the first place. Y/n showed a meek smile as the boy stared at it for a moment, then hurriedly took it from her, wary eyes not leaving her face for even a second.

"Thank you," Kokichi spoke silently, nodding his head as a means to demonstrate his gratitude. He watched Y/n cautiously, lips nervously pursing together into a fine line.

"You should pay for those," She uttered easily, eyeing the items within his hold. She was wearing one of her infamous, wide grins, trying to seem cool and collected, yet Kokichi could see the faltering tremor at the corner of her mouth. She avoided eye contact with the shorter boy, waving her hand as she turned away and headed for the exit. "Don't take too long," Her voice called out over her shoulder, and he could hear the smile slowly dying upon her lips. "I'll be waiting for you outside."

"W-wait, I..." Kokichi tried, but his voice caught at the back of his throat, hand raising in a bid to reach out to her. He watched quietly as Y/n waltzed right between the store's sliding doors, hands delved in the pockets of her red jacket, disappearing from view as they shut behind her. He closed his parted lips, the warmth pooling within the mounds of his cheeks making him feel hot under the collar. He let his arm fall limp next to his side, catching himself involuntarily smiling like a moron.

It certainly felt celestial; having made an acquaintance who could grow to be a friend. It felt better than anything Kokichi had undergone before; being valued, being acknowledged, being viewed as an equal.

Kokichi had never felt this way before. And, knowing very well it wasn't going to last, he decided to make the most of it while he still had it, before it was too late. And for the first time in forever, Kokichi wasn't so scared anymore. For once, he wasn't left to deal with everything on his own. He wasn't abandoned or neglected, just like every other time.

For once, Kokichi wasn't alone.

And with Y/n by his side, life didn't seem to be as cruel anymore.

"..Nishishi.~"

Chapter Text

"You do boxing, Y/n-san?"

Y/n looked over at the curious boy with a raised brow, almost snorting at his excitement. She gave a curt nod, fingers absentmindedly toying with the brims of her sleeves.

"Well, yeah," She retorted easily, shrugging her shoulders, "Gotta keep some assholes like Terrence in check, you know? I'd rather be found dead than knowing I didn't beat a bitch up when I had to. Like hell I'm gonna become some asshole's guinea pig."

Kokichi listened thoughtfully with a hum, taking a sip from the last drops of his drink and letting the liquid sweetness flow down his throat and fill his stomach. His entire body perked up at the hint of something to at last digest, as if wordlessly thanking him for the treat, albeit it wasn't much. He had downed it quite fast too; it was his favorite, after all. He kept his gaze pinned forward pensively, giving a small, self-deprecating laugh as he made to speak.

"I probably couldn't fight back to save my life," He mused with a chuckle and, though the sound seemed jolly, it was congested with all his fear and hesitation. His conviction that he was useless. His thin lips pressed together into a forced, half-smile, as though pitying himself any further would do him any good. "I mean, look at me... even a pile of sticks could fight better than me. How can I match up to guys like Terrence when I'm so weak?"

"A weak body can be altered, you know," The girl responded, brows collected over her eyes in a questioning frown, "But a weak will can be fixed with a lot of difficulty, if even at all. The truth is," She paused, sucking in a determined breath as a small droplet of water hit her forehead from above, "You can try changing yourself for the better, but if you keep thinking you're not good enough or that you'll never make it then that will be your outcome as well. I know from experience that if you put your heart and soul into something you truly want to change, then you will."

Y/n's stride faltered as she walked alongside him, her eyes fierce and burning with a sort of passion Kokichi had never seen before. The look was enough to make the breath he inhaled hitch at the back of his throat, enough to leave him blinking mutely at the certainty and confidence laying thick within her tone. If only he was a bit like her, then maybe he would be able to wake up and face life; if only he was a bit like her, if his spirit was as strong and fearless as hers... It was as though the person before him dreaded nothing and no one.

But little did he know, that was far from the truth.

"The real question is, Ouma, is this what you would really want?" She asked with an even stare, locked within the pores of her eyes an odd nostalgia he swore he had seen swimming within them before. "Do you really want to change?"

Kokichi wanted to answer, he wished more than anything else that in that moment he would have a retort ready to deliver. He wished he was stronger than merely standing there like a gleaming sculpture of ice, than being on the verge of tearing up at any moment, even now. He opened his mouth with a hopeless hope, but the only thing eluding from between his parted lips was a bleak, peaceful silence that resounded more profoundly than any of the loud, booming voices that had always yelled at him so relentlessly, made him curl up and cower and pray that he would be dead by dawn.

The sky looming over them growled like a ferocious animal hunting for its prey, opening its gates wide and allowing the clouds to start their mourning; their tears the crystal rain that began razing the earth like daggers, their clamors of anguish the thunder that echoed through miles and miles beyond. Their affliction was so great that the beads of water that would normally fall gently and harmlessly were now beating down on the ground like sharp shards of glass.

Within a moment's notice, Kokichi had gotten soaked from the ferocious flow of the water and he felt his free hand be grasped, the sudden warmth wrapped around his fingers hauling him along to a place of shelter. Through the clouds of mist and the veil of the rain he couldn't really make out where Y/n was taking him, but he chose to follow after her rushing footsteps. She led them under the roof of a parking of a near block of flats, the thick layers of concrete above shielding them instantly from the weather's antics.

They both had gotten drenched, however, and Y/n exuded a noise of irritation as she looked down at herself. "Great.. Now we're gonna get pneumonia or something." The words were an obvious jest, a mere annoyed reaction of hers by wandering around with wet clothes in such a chilly atmosphere. She didn't catch a cold that easily, but if she didn't get a stuffy nose by Monday then that would be a miracle.

Mostly, however, she was worried about Kokichi, who was standing quietly with his head lowered, unspeaking and seemingly distant. Droplets of water had stained his clothing and were dripping from the tips of his hair, but he didn't appear phased by the fact at all. Y/n raised an inquisitive brow and poked him in the arm with her finger, watching as his formerly lidded eyes went wide and his relaxed body tensed up at the inkling of the touch, as though he had been pierced by a needle. The girl had grown used to his nerve-racked reactions to being touched out of nowhere, the corner of her mouth quirking as she viewed the slight reluctance within his broad eyes. "You alright there..?"

"I'm okay," Kokichi said softly, gaze still strictly kept to the ground.

His entire form was shivering; from the cold, from his thoughts, from Y/n's words still echoing loud and clear within his head. They swarmed over his mind like a cluster of carrion birds looking upon a battlefield of dead soldiers, preparing to dive in and devour their lifeless bodies. He felt cornered, trapped by his own thoughts, with no escape in sight. He was swathed by darkness, reaching up, begging for a shred of light to come through and guide him, to make him burst the surface of his doubt and begin breathing anew.

Ensnared by his own self, his fear, his loneliness; dragged down to the depths by all the catalysts that had formed into a heavy weight wrapped around his ankle. He wanted to live, but the cold was numbing his mind, blurring his logic-- and Kokichi figured that dying from asphyxiation wasn't going to be so bad. Its sweet release was going to be cathartic; he was killing himself slowly, his lungs constricted, his heart black and broken and he couldn't breathe.

"Ouma."

Kokichi heard the familiar voice calling out to him, felt the hand that lay over his trembling shoulder, trying to stir him awake, but his mind shooed it all away. It didn't want her help. It wanted to fade. It wanted to die. That's what he kept telling it for years; 'I want to die, please, make it stop, I don't want to live, not like this.' So was it really a surprise that his own self was trying to get rid of him? Was it bizarre that Kokichi was slowly strangling his own self till his lungs gave out?

His breathing was erratic, now, he was panicking, he wasn't okay; he felt as though his innards would shatter from the pressure, that he would burst into a mess of flesh and blood, exploding like a firework upon the night sky. He couldn't, he couldn't do it on his own! He didn't have the strength to stand on his own two feet, he couldn't do it, not all alone. He needed someone -anyone - to help him, to help him stand, to pull him out of the water he was suffocating within, to cease his waves of destructive thinking. But, with no one to love, with no one to love him, who was going to be that person? Who was going to save him when he couldn't even save himself? Who was going to putting band-aids over his wounded heart, who would--

"Ouma!"

Kokichi was grabbed tightly by the shoulders, snapping out of his trance as he was shaken bodily, the empty, plastic bottle in his grasp clattering loudly against the ground by the force. His head rose, left him gaping with big, horrified eyes at the person watching him; gaze teeming with nothing but worry. The concern in Y/n's eyes was so genuine, so heartfelt as she looked at him. It made him sick to his stomach. He couldn't bear looking at her, he couldn't stand her regard for his well-being. He didn't want this; he couldn't stand that he wanted to be helped, to be saved -- especially by someone like her. She was a thug, a delinquent, a brash girl who did whatever she pleased without caring for the consequences. She wasn't good, far from it in actuality, so sarcastic and caustic and mean that it almost made him want to pull away from her hold and run off.

But, then, why did he find himself unwilling to step back? Why did he smile like an idiot every time they were together? Why the hell did he want to be near her when she was supposed to be so bad?

Y/n was mean. She was sarcastic, impetuous, careless-- and Kokichi found himself loving every second of it.

Beside his own self, he let himself calm down as he stared within her chaotic eyes, irregular heartbeat slowing into a tranquil, unhurried pace. Kokichi blinked at her in a daze, hands twitching involuntarily at the thought of reaching out to touch her, and he found himself breathing again. He could breathe. He was going to be okay. He was going to be okay...

Your eyes are so pretty, Y/n san.

"You're always so strong, Y/n-san," The boy uttered quietly, watching Y/n's expression turn into one of slight surprise as she let her hands slide away from his shoulders. "You're strong and confident and you always know how to deal with others. You do whatever you want, you're not scared of anyone.." Kokichi showed a small smile, fingertips nervously tugging at the edge of his lengthy sleeve. "I wish I could be like you.."

The girl stared mutely for a moment, mouth a bit ajar as she let Kokichi's words sink in. For a split moment, Kokichi swore he saw something peculiar dance behind the glass of her eyes, as though she was momentarily reminiscing, but before he could get a better look, it was already gone. Y/n cracked an amused grin, shaking her head slightly as she pushed her fingers into the openings of her pockets.

"I don't think you should look up to somebody like me," She said with a small chuckle, though Kokichi could tell it was fake just by simply glancing at her. It was evident she had recalled something that triggered emotion to spark from within her; she just wasn't going to let it spill. The boy could easily view the bittersweet sadness swirling in the color of her eye, no matter how big she smiled, no matter how loud she laughed. No matter how happy she seemed sometimes it still was there, embedded into her very being and never leaving, never even wavering, not even one bit.

Just what is making you so sad, Y/n-san? Just what is it? Who is it?

Kokichi could only wonder.

"I'm not strong just because I can tune someone up, you know. I never even knew how to fight in the first place." A small smile graced Y/n's lips as she spoke, her gaze cast away to stare at the violent rain never ceasing its fall. "A good friend of mine taught me how to before I started with boxing. A group of students were being assholes to me at the time and he offered to beat them up for me and then teach me how to do it myself. What a time to be alive, huh?"

Kokichi watched intently as her smile slowly faded and turned into a thoughtful scowl. Something must have happened with that supposed friend of hers, the boy concludes. He put his brightest beam on display, eyes crinkling at the alteration of expression. It was spurious, but if it would lighten her seemingly downcast mood a little bit, Kokichi decided that the strain would be worth it. "He must have had a soft spot for you if he did that, Y/n-san."

"Huh?" Y/n turned to Kokichi with wide eyes upon hearing his sugar-coated speech, and her unexpected reaction has the latter baffled. The girl gapes down at him in bewilderment for a few seconds, breath having abandoned her for that short moment where nothing but the sound of rain and thunder echoed between them. She was partly lost in her flickering memories, partly drawn in by how cute Kokichi looked when he smiled. Y/n showed a sheepish, tiny smile in return, feeling warmth crawl up the expanse of her neck and chafe the tips of her ears with the lightest hue of pink. She was still unsure whether it was because of her clashing recollections or due to the endearing boy standing before her. "I.. suppose he did."

As did I.

For a few seconds, the two remained silent, keenly looking into each other's eyes. Kokichi's dark hair was still a bit damp from the rain that had railed against his head, Y/n noted, the tips drooping and brushing against his nape and shoulders. He kept staring at her with those big, doe eyes of his, looking like the aftermath of a kitten that had fallen in a full bathtub and pawed its desperate way out. Y/n stifled a chuckle at the thought, to which Kokichi tilted his head in slight confusion, former smile vanishing from upon his lips.

"I can teach you some moves, sometime," The girl stated easily, prying her clothed shoulders and glancing over to see if the rain had stopped. As if to answer her questionable look the sky gave a ferocious rumble, making her flinch a bit and the boy beside her exude a shrill shriek and cower bodily, bringing his hands up to cover his face. She giggled softly, watching as Kokichi peered at her from between the crevices of his bony, shaky fingers.

"T-teach me?" His meek voice stuttered, his hands hurriedly lowering to his sides.

"Yeah. Anyone can learn, you know? And besides," Y/n paused for a moment, eyeing the slim boy's build over before resuming, "You are small and thin. It'll be very easy for you to dodge an attack and with your agility taking your opponent by surprise will be a piece of cake. From what I remember, you are pretty fast, aren't you?"

"I-I don't know.." Kokichi rubbed at his forearm, gazing back up at the girl with unsure eyes and an uneasy smile. "Maybe?"

"Suit yourself. You can take the offer at any time, I don't have a problem." Y/n said nonchalantly, raising her hand and gently petting the boy's damp hair with a soft snicker.

Kokichi doddered wholly, brows twitching slightly as they slanted over his nervous eyes. He stared up at her hesitantly, as though he was an injured puppy seeking for refuge, and it took all Y/n had not to squish his cheeks inside her palm. His strawberried cheeks were afire, a stark contrast with the cold gales of wind blowing back his hair and creeping cruelly beneath his clothes.

He absolutely hated to admit it, but being touched so fondly without being hit or mocked made him dazed in the most wonderful way possible. If he possessed the courage, which he frankly didn't, he wouldn't have hesitated to take her by the wrist and guide her hand lower, so that she would be cradling the side of his face. He was uneasy when it came to physical contact, usually leaning away even though he was as touch-starved as it could get. Simply put, he was never one-hundred percent trusting of anyone as his past experiences with people taught him that having faith in someone was going to come back and bite him in the ass later. And, though Kokichi allowed Y/n's touch upon him, he was still mindful of the fact any situation could get ugly really fast.

He reluctantly chose to let a part of himself enjoy the short moment of affection, letting his shoulders relax, whilst never letting his guard entirely down. He was smarter than that.

"Your hair's soft," Y/n blurted quietly as she withdrew her hand, the pleasant sensation of the curly tufts still lingering against her palm. "You're like a little kitty-cat.. If I ever get a cat, I'll name it after you."

Kokichi blinked dumbly. He had been called multiple things thorough his lifetime. A lot of not so nice things. From his family, from his peers, from his own self. He'd been called gross, weird, creepy. The only thing closest to an animal he'd been addressed as was 'rat'. What an irony; aren't cats supposed to eat rats?

"..Aren't cats supposed to be cute, though?" Kokichi questioned with raised brows, his cheeks and ears burning as though he had a fever-- he really wasn't used to circumstances like this. It'd be much more preferable if she started calling him distasteful names, rather than this.

"Exactly!" Y/n chirped excitedly, showing a wide, toothy grin and clasping her hands together. She let out a soft chuckle and Kokichi felt as though he'd been punched in the gut.

Oh. Oh no. He wasn't used to this. What was he even supposed to say? What the hell do you respond with when someone compliments you? No one had ever given his words of praise before, no one had ever wasted their flattery upon him and so he didn't know what he should respond with in return. If it were a crude remark, it all would have been easier; he would have simply hung his head in shame or muttered a half-hearted apology with the promise he would do better next time. Being called something nice... being called cute.. Even though a part of Kokichi was head over heels for it, he found himself hating it just because he didn't know how to handle it.

He really wasn't fond of how flustered it was making him. It was something of trivial importance, something he should just simply shrug off; but his dither along with his low self-esteem wouldn't let him live it down so easily.

Upon viewing the blush that was heavily powdering his face, Y/n grinned devilishly, lightly nudging him with her arm. "Come on, now; don't be a pussy about it, Ouma-chan."

Kokichi's head rose instantly, startled eyes blinking up at her prideful smile. The joke was so bad, if you could even call it one, that the boy felt a burst of involuntary laughter make his chest quake. He finds himself giggling slightly, unable to help the smile that pulls at the corners of her lips when he sees her bustling with joy at the dumb jest she had uttered. It wasn't necessarily because he liked it, - though he had to admit its corniness appealed to him- but because when she smiled like that her entire face and the world around her glowed so vibrantly that he almost couldn't suppress his own feelings. Almost.

Wait, feelings? For her?

As Kokichi stared at her twinkling eyes and gleeful expression, he found the possibility to be more than likely. But, of course -- he didn't like her like that. Never like that. Kokichi had never really harbored feelings for someone else unless those were hate, anger or fear. But he didn't hate her. He didn't want to hurt her. He wasn't afraid of her. The thoughts swirling inside his head nearly threw him into a daze, made his heart skip a beat.

If it wasn't any of the above, then what was that feeling gradually growing within him each day that passed by? What was this pleasant feeling that would come to life inside him whenever they were together?

Kokichi didn't know.

And he didn't know whether he wanted to find out or not.

"And here I thought you actually had a sense of humor, Y/n-san," The boy said with an entertained smile, snickering quietly to himself when she wore a playfully offended utterance and scowled at him, feigning irritation.

"And here I thought you weren't a little asshole," She said with a scoff, crossing her arms over her chest and sticking her tongue out at him.

Kokichi exuded a delighted laugh, eyes crinkling at the edges and teeth visible, cheeks glowing healthily when the sound of his tittering echoed. Y/n let out an easy sigh at the sight, simpering warmly as she watched the usually silent, downcast boy experiencing a cathartic moment of cheerfulness, even if she knew it wasn't going to last for long.

She noted he had a very characteristic laugh, one which didn't sound unpleasant but was still a bit odd. It was as though he was an old, broken doll whose joyful song had slightly decayed in quality over the years. Even so, that didn't cease the jovial sound from putting a small smile upon her chapped lips. The girl momentarily glanced over, observing that the vigorous rain that was previously railing down on the ground had at last halted its hasty current.

"Rain's stopped," She declared, catching Kokichi's attention anew and causing him to shift his gaze to where she kept hers pinned to. "We should get going before it gets completely dark, don't you think?"

The warmth embedded within the depths of her eyes put Kokichi's hurdling mind to ease, and the boy nodded meekly; a part of him chiding himself ceaselessly because he knew that by now his mom was certainly home. Waiting to make his life a living hell once more. At the mere thought, his heart began hammering beneath his ribs, pounding against his eardrums and making his skin quiver.

He didn't want to go back there. He wanted to go home-- not a mere house that contained the person on this earth that hated him the most. Kokichi would curl up in his bed, - that is, if he even made it to his room- press his palms against his ears to shield his mother's screaming from outside the room, shedding silent tears and abiding with a shaky frame until she was gone.

He would much rather stay here, in the cold and humidity, with Y/n. He wanted to stay with his friend a while longer. The notion was comforting, pervaded Kokichi's heart with an odd sense of tranquility-- however, it was soon drowned out entirely by the voice that reminded him where he must to return to.

Y/n had already began walking away, and he felt compelled to stop her right there; tell her what he's going through, tell her he doesn't want to go home, tell her he doesn't want to be alone. Tell her that if she was there with him, it wouldn't be all that bad. Multiple words were scratching at Kokichi's throat, strangling him from within and rendering him breathless, begging to be unleashed -- and when he shakily opened his mouth to speak, only a curt breath managed to go through.

He couldn't.

He couldn't tell her.

Kokichi simply follows behind her, eyes glossy and almost leaking with sorrow, etching cavities through her red jacket and all across her back. He keeps his head lowered, breathing out a tremulous sigh as he warms his cold fingers within his pockets. His gaze is tacked to his shoes, watching tediously as they pass by puddles of water and drag down the damp road. He is pitying himself, so absorbed in thought that he's not even aware of the fact Y/n had stopped her stride, only realizing when he nearly walked into her and bumped against her back.

The boy heaves his eyes inquisitively, blinking in confusion and watching as Y/n offers him a small, reluctant smile. She keeps silent for a moment, seemingly thinking her next words, before sheepishly averting her gaze.

"You know, you should smile more, Ouma-chan," She utters, voice soft and gentle. "It looks good on you."

The girl's bright grin stirred something within Kokichi; a thing he couldn't quite distinguish. He was left merely looking, bewildered and flabbergasted, as Y/n turned on her heel and slowly began departing, the smile never leaving her face, the tenderness never deserting the beads of her eyes. She had left Kokichi confounded and flustered, like she always did, peacefully unaware of the effect each and every one of her words had upon him.

Kokichi had frozen where he stood, lips dry and parted, brown lashes standing proudly over wide, unblinking eyes. He rose a slender hand up to his face, fingertips ghosting over his mouth and gaze pinned to the retreating figure before him. He cupped his bony, flushed cheeks in the palms of his hands, sighing dreamily and biting on his bottom lip as he smiled from ear to ear; grinning like a damn idiot. The violent palpitating of his heart made his chest rise and fall tremulously, and at that moment he swore he was going to melt right there upon the pavement.

Hurriedly, he began skipping toward her withdrawing form, almost toppling over a few times in his haste before finally standing beside her once more. Kokichi felt the adrenaline and joy rush through him in bouts, making his frame tremble with unmistakable excitement.

As he walked beside her, it was as though nothing and no one could harm him. He was going to be okay, and with Y/n by his side like this, he felt like he could face anything in the world.

It was a good thing Kokichi was happy now, because it wasn't going to last for long.

Chapter Text

History class.

History class was Kokichi's absolute worst. While he was an ace in math and decent with physics, history class would tangle his mind, and its teacher would butcher Kokichi's grades in return. Though the boy tried his best over and over again, his efforts appeared to have no effect, because as soon as he caught a glimpse of a test's question before him, his mind went blank. He just couldn't remember all those weird names, numerous chronologies and occasions.

Due to his restlessness and hunger, remembering a cluster of black letters wasn't an easy task.

Kokichi let out a scoff, sleepiness tugging at his hooded eyelids as he stared at the white paper within his grasp. He studied it silently, trying to drown out the students' voices all around him asking each other how high they scored in the history test. The palaver growing in volume around him was making him dizzy. Or was that his need for some food?

"Oi, oi," A guy's voice snapped him out of his trance, and Kokichi looked up tediously with tired, bloodshot eyes. The person before him made a spiteful face at Kokichi's wrecked appearance, but quickly dismissed it, raising a brow and asking smugly, "Ouma, how much did you score, dude?"

Kokichi shrunk back against his chair, clasping the paper so tight in his frustration it began forming wrinkles. The student, Hideki Kuroki - the best student in the class in all subjects- snorted as he saw the smaller boy's grade, and Kokichi swore he could hear him stifle a laugh. The standing male gave a harsh pat on Kokichi's back, causing him to nearly shoot forward, face-first into his desk. "Jeez.. At least we have you to remind us that there's always worse, right, Ouma?"

The gloating student took off to reach his friends again, snickering mockingly all the way and showing off his score proudly; 100%, the highest score in the class. Kokichi exhaled hotly from his nostrils, jaws tightly clenched together in pure anger. It wasn't like his grade of 39% wasn't enough, now he had one of the best students in the class ridicule him for it as well. If only Kokichi was a bit taller, if only he was a bit stronger.. he would have grabbed that stuck-up, conceited asshole by the collar and slammed his head against the wall.

Kokichi huffed in annoyance, leaning back on his chair and crossing his arms over his chest. Damn prick.

"That's enough, that's enough, now. Get to your seats and stop roaming; the period isn't over."

Professor Hanzaki's voice rung out throughout the classroom and there was the sound of slight scrimmage as the students rushed obediently to their assigned seats and settled down. The old, stout man pushed the black skeleton of his glasses back onto his face, putting a spurious smile on display. "Congratulations, class. Almost everyone managed to ace this test! I sincerely hope that your performance will not only be retained but will develop as well."

Kokichi really wanted to laugh. This man was so full of nonsense and despite his continuous demonstration of false happiness and pride, the boy could detect the ill-willed delight within him. A part of Kokichi hoped that maybe this time, Mr.Hanzaki wouldn't make a fool out of him in front of everyone. He still recalls that time he was sneered at by his own teacher for failing to remember a historical figure's name, the entire class joining in on the fun and snickering quietly while pointing at the shamefaced boy. He was made fun of before everyone, simply left to lower his head in order to shield himself from the piercing gazes of others, hands tightly clasping each other to comfort him in his struggle not to burst into tears right then.

He didn't know why Mr.Hanzaki hated him with such a passion.

"Almost everyone.." The overweight man mused with a knowing grin, eyeing Kokichi spitefully, looking at him as though he were the most disgusting thing he had ever lain his eyes upon. The degrading glance made Kokichi cower back against his chair, throat doddering as he tried to keep his cool. "That's alright, though. Everyone needs someone to pity so they don't become as bad as them. Isn't that right, Ouma?"

The boy flinched bodily at the mention of his surname, breathing starting to get irregular as everyone's attention was suddenly pinned upon him. He could feel their relentless eyes, unforgivingly carving holes across his back, his skull, his sides-- melting through the bone as though they were liquid fire.

"But, you should be thankful to your classmate. If it weren't for his grade, then you wouldn't have anyone to compare your amazing scores to and feel better. See, Ouma?" Mr.Hanzaki questioned, tone laced with mockery and vain pride. Kokichi didn't even attempt to rise his head to meet the repulsing man's beady eyes. His fists had clenched with such might against the wooden surface that his fingers were starting to feel numb. "Even someone as useless as you can be of use. Doesn't that make you feel so much better?"

Kokichi's teeth clenched with such ferocity that the skin of his neck began quivering along with his erratic heartbeat. He heard the snickering of the students echo hauntingly all around him, the murmurs about his looks, his weird hairstyle, his odd persona, his low grade. He felt as though the entire world had overlapped over him and was swallowing him whole. He was momentarily thankful of his long tufts, which hid his glazed eyes from view.

Humiliation converted into tears that spilled over the corners of his eyes and slowly glided down his cheeks, an involuntary whimper pushing past his lips. He put his head in his damp palms, clamping down his fists around his tangled locks so tightly that he thought he would rip them from the roots, fingers painfully digging dents into his skull. No, he wasn't going to cry. He couldn't cry, not in front of them. He wasn't just going to give them what they wanted, he was better than this, better than all this..

But Kokichi wasn't only sad.

He was tired. He was angry. He was done with all of this.

Kokichi suddenly stood from his seated position, his chair screeching against the floor with the motion. The taunting sneering ceased in an instant, all eyes staring in confusion and unease at the standing, motionless boy. All that could be distinguished was the light tremor that had overcome his body and his heavy breathing, before Kokichi snatched the paper upon his table fiercely and make it crinkle audibly within his grasp. With a frustrated snarl, he seized his bag and ventured to the classroom door, his feet stomping loudly and making everyone flinch where they sat.

Mr.Hanzaki was beyond taken aback, blinking stupidly behind thick glasses and scurrying to stop the seemingly careless boy. "J-just what do you think you're doing, Ouma?!" The man stuttered, his blabber making Kokichi halt his movements with his hand directly over the doorknob. The teacher was left staring daggers at the back of Kokichi's cranium, sweltering along with his frustration and anger. "Get back to your seat. Or I swear you are going to suffer the consequences. Sit down now or I swear--"

The fat man's chatter was cut short, as though he had been pierced by the blade of a knife. Kokichi had turned his head sharply to look at him over his shoulder, and the expression settled upon his face was unreadable. Unnerving. Deranged.

Mr.Hanzaki gulped dryly as he stared at the boy's eyes, which were so hollow and devoid of all light that it felt like staring at two black holes. And though tears had oozed down his pale cheeks, his face was so vacant of any sign of life that it made the teacher's blood run cold.

The mingle of Kokichi's pain and anger had fused into one; pure, unmistakable malice. All the professor could see was malice dancing in colossal flames within his gaze.

There silence that befell the classroom only lasted a few seconds; a few tense, excruciatingly slow seconds. Everybody was waiting. Abiding to see a reaction. Frozen in place and gaping with wide eyes between the two males, the older evidently shaken to the core, the younger offering no reaction. All he did was stare. Stare with those empty, leaking holes he called eyes. He could see the anxious sweat dripping down the man's temple, and he almost felt compelled to grin, in spite of his former chagrin.

Kokichi had the upper hand, for once in his life. He had intimidated someone. He had intimidated someone he loathed from the bottom of his heart, rendered them speechless with a simple alteration of his expression. A twisted part of him found the whole situation amusing.

The boy turned the doorknob of the wooden exit, turning his head away and slamming the door behind him as he stormed out. He left his classmates in utter surprise, glancing at each other in bewilderment, slung his bag over his shoulder and walked down the corridor with dropped shoulders as though it was nobody's business. Kokichi momentarily unfolded the wrinkled paper of his test, glaring at it for a long moment before folding it carefully and tearing it to hundreds of little bits. He left the small pieces fall on the floor, leaving them behind as he headed for the bathroom to pour some cold water on his face.

Kokichi had never acted like this before. He had never reacted to the degrading comments his teacher and classmates made about him. He would always cower and fight back the tears that found themselves teeming his eyes, lowering his head passively. Just where had this newfound courage come from, exactly? Why had his cowardice vanished for those short moments?

At that very moment, Kokichi found he didn't care. All he wanted was to confine himself somewhere and treat the splitting headache making his step falter.

He reached the boys' bathroom, pushing the door open and nearing the closest sink so he could wash his face. Kokichi mutely opened the tap, cupping his hands together and letting cold water pool within his hold, before bending down and tightly shutting his eyes as he rubbed his wet palms against his burning face. He repeated the process a few times, allowing the bleakness to soak against his wan skin and give him some strength so that he could continue the rest of the day.

The boy sniffled quietly as he closed the faucet, his head spinning. He heard his stomach growl at him like a ferocious wild animal, demanding some food. Kokichi breathed out a tattered sigh as he patted his belly, silently apologizing that he couldn't tend to its needs. The famine was making him tired, pushing his fatigue to its limit; legs and arms seeming as though they'd give out at any second, skull rattled by a horrible pain that he had been forced to endure for days now. He could hardly stand up. All he wanted to do was to lie down and close his eyes, be enveloped by the comforting veil of slumber.

He just wanted to rest.

He wanted to sleep.

Forever.

There was warmth cascading down Kokichi's cheeks, a far cry from the cold water he had formerly doused his pale complexion with. Tediously staring at the mirror, he didn't even register the fact he was shedding quiet tears, until his eyesight was completely fogged by the deluging emotion slowly kindling within his chest. He brought his hands up, wiping at his eyes and wet lashes and trying to calm the tenacious tremor of his weak frame.

You're such a waste of space.. you're useless, look at you. You can't even write well on a test you spent hours upon hours studying for. Kokichi hiccupped as a small sob made to escape from between his lips, but he held it back, fists clenched and eyes glistening with sorrow. Look at how ugly you are when you cry. Disgusting.

Kokichi rubbed furiously at his drenched cheeks, breathing out shakily as he bowed his head. He cleansed his sopping face with the brims of his sleeves, huffing out in annoyance. He was annoyed, annoyed with himself for being so fragile and frail and cowardly. It's times like this he wishes he could be stronger, that he wouldn't cry all the time like a wailing toddler who had their toy taken away. How sad, how utterly pathetic..

His mere existence was to be laughed at.

Maybe, he should just kill himself. Wipe his useless self from the face of earth; it wasn't like he contributed to anything, it wasn't like anyone would miss him. It wasn't like anyone would be sad if he died.

You've tried that before, sneered a voice within his pounding head, You've tried before and yet you failed. You failed at the simple task of doing everyone a favor and ridding them of your existence. Just how much more useless can you get?

Kokichi ascended a hand, shakily pulling down his collar and revealing the scarring that had etched itself upon the tender skin of his neck. His attempt seemed so distant now that he forgot about it when he was awake; and yet its cruel aftermath was always there to remind him of the pain he had endured in those short, excruciating moments.

Death probably didn't want someone like him either.

Kokichi didn't want to die. Yet, sometimes, it seemed like the easiest way out of the hell he dwelled within.

Quietly drying his eyes, the boy sniffed and let out a quivering sigh, trying to calm himself down. His dark eyes were bloodshot and tired and rubbing at them only served to make them even redder. He just had to keep his composure. It was as simple as that. As long as no one saw him cry, he would be okay. He hated showing genuine tears in front of others.

"Come on, you bitch! Give me back my damn money! Fucking tin can.."

Kokichi's expression converted to one of surprise at the sound of an enraged voice echoing. It was keenly loud, followed by the sound of a booming bang, as though something had clamorously clashed against metal. He blinked dumbly at himself in the mirror for a few seconds, listening silently at the muffled grumbling of the seemingly irritated person in the hallway. Whoever it was, they sounded angry.. well, more like an angry child that couldn't eat their favorite candy.

Kokichi inquisitively left his spot before the sink, stealthily tip-toeing to the bathroom's navy door and gently pushing it open, just a fraction so he could peek out. He poked his little head out, hair swinging slowly as he looked left, then turned his gaze toward the right. As he did, his heed fell upon the person that had caused the hustle; their hands crossed over their chest and their lips pursued together in evident bother. They were intently glaring at the vending machine in front of them, practically fuming at the ears.

"Little motherfucker.." Cursed the voice, sounding feminine and teeming with anger. "Gobbled up my money like it's nothing! What are you, a fucking politician or something?! Christ.."

The boy gaped at Y/n with bewildered eyes, watching inertly as she impatiently tapped her foot against the floor, spitting poison underneath her breath. He swore that if she were a cartoon, her face would have been as scarlet as her stockings, if not more. He briefly wondered if she ever got cold, seeing as her uniform was designed so that a big portion of her legs were left uncovered. He certainly would have been cold if he had to wear a skirt.

Y/n was so engulfed in her state of annoyance and irk that she was barely aware of Kokichi's growing presence as he approached and stood beside her. The girl couldn't exactly determine who it was from the corner of her eye, but she quickly grew tired of those big, inquisitive eyes staring at her and carving holes against the side of her skull.

"The fuck is it?" She whirled around in a flash, glaring venomously at the person before her, making Kokichi's small frame flinch underneath the hostility of her gaze and the harshness of her tone.

The meek boy gulped stiffly, watching quietly as the grating apathy etched upon her face slowly withered when she began taking him in, the boiling flames dancing behind the glass of her eyes calming briefly as she realized it was only Kokichi who stood beside her. Her sharp features softened, only so very slightly that if he had blinked he would have missed it completely.

But Kokichi saw it.

"Oh. It's you, Ouma-chan," She uttered easily, posture seemingly relaxing. She gave the boy a good look over, brows slanting questioningly as she realized just who it was and where they were. "Wait, it's you? What the hell are you doing here? Classes aren't over yet. Don't tell me; you grew some balls and skipped class? Is my 'wonderful' personality rubbing off on you already or something?"

"Ah.. no, no, nothing like that." Kokichi slightly shook his head, words coming out slow and weary as he spoke. "It's.. well.. doesn't matter. I'm just not in class.. is that really that surprising?"

"It really is. I've never seen you skip classes. Even back in middle school, everyone went on about what a goody two-shoes you are." Y/n paused, raising a brow and humming softly as she thought. "What are you doing out here?"

Kokichi felt his breath catch at the back of his throat along with his hesitation, his eyes averting to the side, trying desperately to avoid her prying gaze. His right hand tightly clenched the school bag over his shoulder, fingers trembling from the force. For a moment, he brought back to his mind what had taken place in the classroom a few minutes prior, but he quickly tried to wipe his thoughts clean of it; on the verge of breaking down just by recalling it. He didn't want to talk about it, either, at least not right now.

"I-I could ask you the same," Responds the nervous boy with a shaky voice, showing a nerve-wracked smile. "What are you doing out here, Y/n-san? Why aren't you in class?"

Y/n snorted in amusement at the questions, an inkling of a smile making her lips twitch. "Me? You're asking me out of all people why I've skipped class? Seriously? If I don't like the class, I skip it. Like hell I'm gonna be bored to death listening to the horrible teacher we have at physics ramble on and on." The girl let out a small snicker, her shoulders quaking with the motion. "Who do you think I am to have the patience to endure that, exactly?"

Kokichi would have half-heartedly scolded her if it weren't for the dizziness making his head spin. He glanced at the vending machine beside them, the seeming catalyst for Y/n's former anger in the first place. The boy emitted a drowsy giggle, turning to look at her with dull eyes."You guys.. having a disagreement over here? Is it something personal; should I close my ears or something..?"

Y/n shook her head, neglecting the caustic tone hanging thickly from the boy's voice. What a little shit."Yeah, this bitch stole my boyfriend so I'm settling this. Close your ears, pure children shouldn't hear foul words." The girl huffed at Kokichi's expression of slight entertainment, arms still firmly crossed over her chest. "What do you think happened, genius?! I put a coin up in this bitch cause I'm thirsty but the damn thing won't fall and it won't give me my money back!" She dealt another kick to the still machine, grunting in frustration as it remained the same, as if taunting her efforts. "Useless piece of trash..Ugh!"

"How rude of the vending machine, leaving poor Y/n-san thirsty," Kokichi mused, stifling a giggle when Y/n turned her head and gave him an unreadable look.

"Oh? You think this is funny?"

"A little bit, yeah."

For a moment there was silence; Kokichi grinning timidly and Y/n wrinkling her lips and blinking at the boy's sarcasm. Their eyes remained locked, until the girl huffed and turned her head away, mumbling under her breath. If it were anyone else, they would have thought she had gotten angry and grumpy, yet Kokichi could see the tiny smile pulling at the corners of her tightly shut lips. "Lil' shit.. Like you're one to talk. You never even answered my question."

At the reminder of the humility he had to endure, Kokichi's smile faded, its place taking a crestfallen frown. The boy lowered his head, heart beginning to thwack against his ribs as he tried to find something to latch his eyes upon; anything else but her. "Why do you want to know so much? It's not that big of a deal.." He murmured quietly, his voice coming out so weak and fragile that it labeled him a massive liar.

"Oh, is that so?" Y/n's voice had become cold and sharp now, the irk she was feeling evident onto her face. "Then why were you crying before?"

Upon hearing her words, Kokichi's head elevated instantly, panicked, wide eyes staring at her in shock. He could see the clarity within her gaze, prodding through his brain and reading him as though he were an open book. His lips quivered, throat pulsing along with the galloping of his aching heart. "H-how.. Did you hear..?"

"No, I didn't. But it doesn't take a lot of brain-cells to put two and two together. Your eyes and nose are red, you're trembling like a fish out of the water.." Y/n paused her speech for a second, the utterance she was wearing ridden with nothing but worry. "You can't expect me not to ask when you're looking like this. Just what the hell happened? Does it have to do with the fact you're not in class?"

Dammit, was she reading his mind or something?

Kokichi stood silently, breathing irregular and nerves going through the roof over his head. He had been caught and confronted, backed into a corner. What should he do? He can't, he can't just tell her about the emotional abuse he has been forced to undergo from Mr.Hanzaki since last year. He doesn't want his image to be tainted in her eyes any further than it already has. And, while his tangled mind was busy twisting itself to find a way out, his mouth opened on its own accord, unfiltered words escaping from between his lips out of their own free will.

"Do..do you know Mr.Hanzaki?" He questioned, voice small and fingers laced together in order to soothe his fueled anxiety.

"That fat-ass pedo that teaches history?" Y/n gave a confused look when Kokichi nodded frantically, lavender hues peering at her hesitantly underneath the veil of his lashes. "Yeah, I know him; dude's a real creep. What does that have to do with anything, though?"

Kokichi bit at his lower lip as he tried to search for the right words. What was he even supposed to say? 'Oh, yeah, that guy makes me look like a good-for-nothing piece of trash in front of everyone in the class'? 'Puts me down just to raise everyone else up'? Voicing such words would be humiliation in all its wicked sublime. Y/n was looking at him with her head tilted to the side, foot tapping gently against the concrete as she abided for an answer. He had to say something now that he had opened his big mouth.. but what, exactly?

"Wait, don't tell me.." The girl before him began, the softness in her pretty eyes converting to a glint of disbelief and then to pure spite. "Did that sleazy creep do something to you or something?"

Upon viewing the visible fury that began to bubble up within Y/n at the thought, Kokichi waved his hands in the air frenetically, stuttering as he scurried to answer. "N-No! I mean.. yeah.. Well! Sort of.."

The girl raised a questioning brow, face flushing and contorting into a malevolent expression. Out of the blue, she looked like she was a volcano about to erupt. Her eyebrows were angled angrily over her blazing eyes, nose and lips shriveled up as though she had seen a dead rat. Kokichi's words only served to confuse her more, only served as gasoline to the fire growing within her chest. "The hell are you talking about?"

"It's just that... Y-you know.. He.." Kokichi tried, but his flow of words was caught off almost instantly, hedged by the spike that had lodged itself deep within his throat.

When he made to open his mouth again, the school bell rung loudly, echoing throughout the corridors and signaling the end of the third period. The boy shrieked at the piercing noise, not because it scared him, but because it meant that all of his classmates were going to come pouring out of his class just a few doors down. They were going to see him, laugh at him, play with his feelings.. Mr.Hanzaki would appear as well, and Kokichi would rather much avoid the cold, taunting stare the man would give him every time they saw each other. It was a perfect excuse to leave, as well; he still didn't have the guts to tell Y/n about what had happened to him. Though, many would think it wasn't a big deal, he was so embarrassed that he'd rather chug bleach than tell her right now.

"I-I have to go!" Kokichi stammered, firmly holding his bag to his side and making to push past Y/n in a desperate attempt to flee. As soon as he tried, however, he was grasped by the wrist, stopped in his tracks and staring back at Y/n with wide eyes. The girl's irritated expression turned into one of shock when she saw the terror embedded deep within Kokichi's pupils, begging her for something she couldn't quite place her finger upon.

"Ouma, wait, what--"

"Let me go!" He cried, voice high-pitched and congested with nothing but pure emotional turmoil. "Please.. I have to." The boy croaked in a delirium, nervous eyes shifting ceaselessly as he faltered a little, before coaxing the courage to yank his arm from her grasp. Kokichi hated himself when he momentarily saw the flash of hurt and confusion limned across her face when he departed, briefly wondering if he should stop and apologize. However, his legs only hastened further away, heart nearly beating out of his chest as he hurried out of sight.

He couldn't stand the feeling of her prodding eyes upon him anymore. He needed to be alone right at that moment. He didn't have the guts to tell her, to embarrass himself so stupidly before her..

I'm sorry, Y/n-san. I just can't.

Y/n was left there, staring quietly at his retreating figure as the students came flowing out of the near classrooms. She gave a huff of irritation at the situation she found herself within-- but she hadn't given up, not even remotely. She would find out what happened. And, if it was required, the punishment would be what she deemed appropriate for what exactly had happened to Kokichi. Maybe the short boy was timorous and sheepish and wouldn't act upon it, hiding beneath a veil of lies that told him everything would be okay, but Y/n was keen on finding the truth.

For the sake of them both.

"Hmm.. Hanzaki, huh?" The girl muttered with a hum, forefinger gently tapping against her chin as she thought. The left corner of her mouth raised into taunting half-smile. "I'll rat out your shit, teacher or not."

Which class was Kokichi in, again? It couldn't be B-4, since that was Y/n's classroom and the two weren't in the same class. Not B-2 or B-1 either, since she passed by them regularly and caught no glimpse of him. She would have considered other options, too - after all, the school was a very big building- if it weren't for the fact she had met with him on the third floor and not somewhere else..Oh well, Y/n thought, B-3 it was.

The girl silently made her way down the corridor, viewing the signs above the rooms, examining them within her head till her stride ceased when her seeking eyes found what they were looking for. Class B-3, where the students had just commenced leaving. Y/n studied the exiting students curiously, leaning against the wall across from the open door with arms crossed over her chest and the sole of her right shoe pressed against the dyed concrete.

"Haha! Can you believe it?" A male voice rung out, instantly catching Y/n's attention and making her head sharply turn toward him. He had just left the class with his friend, it seemed, bickering and laughing along with what he had just said.

"Come on, are you sure you didn't read it wrong?" Questioned the girl beside him, stifling a small snicker, "39%? No one can be that useless, Hideki!"

As the students began walking down the hallway, Y/n slowly stood from her spot and made it her objective to eavesdrop on their conversation. It wasn't a hard task, since they were quite loud and rather shameless in their use of words.

"I'm telling you, I saw it with my own, two eyes-- I even confronted him about it!" Replied the supposed 'Hideki', a crude smile twisting his mouth gracelessly. "39%, the worst mark in the entire grade. I knew Ouma was trash at History, but damn-- Now I don't blame Mr.Hanzaki for making him the class attraction! With such bad results, it's only a fitting punishment."

Y/n brows furrowed at the boy's speech. Ouma? A class attraction? Facing a punishment of some sort? What for? What had he done wrong? She had a really bad feeling about all this.

"I can't help but feel a bit bad for him, though, Hideki." The girl said, a hint of sympathy emanating from her tone, "I mean, it's not like he has actually done something wrong, you know? Maybe he is bad at History, but does that really excuse Mr.Hanzaki's bullying him? Ouma's been forced to just sit there and take it since last year.. Don't you think it's a bit unfair to just pick on someone like him? Sure, he's creepy and a little gross, but he hasn't actually done anything so wrong to be treated like that.. Every time he looks like he's about to cry and I feel a bit bad for laughing at him.."

"Don't think too much about it," Hideki answered with ease, shrugging his shoulders, "Maybe it's a bit over the top, but.. I think Ouma kind of deserves it. Who cares what happens to him, anyway? He can just die in a hole, for all I care. Won't make any difference."

At the end of that mere sentence, Y/n ceased tuning in to the chat. People really loved gossiping in this school, didn't they? What stood out to her more, however, was the question; Did Kokichi really have to go through all of that because of his teacher? For over a year? And was he really on the verge of bursting into tears every time? The mere notion of Kokichi being in harm's way made Y/n's blood boil. This Hideki guy had only served to make her even angrier, talking so cruelly about Kokichi..

For a split second, the boy's smiling face flashed against the back of her eyelids, his cheeks glowing and eyes glistening with glee.

The notion made her face hot with annoyance and wrath; she simply couldn't comprehend what kind of sick joy somebody took out of tormenting such a sweet, quiet boy like Kokichi. Oh, well. It didn't matter. Because Y/n was going to give Mr.Hanzaki a taste-- no, a spoonful of his own medicine, if not more.

She didn't forget to deal a harsh shove to Hideki with her shoulder as she passed by,- karma for all the insensitive words he had spewed - his yelp of pain a lovely melody to her ears. He didn't dare try to swear at her, however, when he caught glimpse of who she was, but merely stood there with his worried friend beside him, clutching his side and making a spiteful face.

She'd need to do her research before putting her plan into motion and teaching that greasy, old, disgusting cretin a lesson..

She reached the end of the hallway, hidden from view from anyone who could possibly see her take out her phone and dial a number with nimble, quick fingers. She put the device against the side of her face, eyes shifting around continuously as she waited for a reply. Her lips had peeled into a wide, wickedly innocent grin as her imagination run wild. Yes, this should be perfect..

You are a real fool if you think I'm just gonna let you get away scot free with this, Mr.Hanzaki. It would certainly be a shame if I ruined your life a bit, wouldn't it?

"Hello?" Came a low, thick voice from the speaker held against the girl's ear. At the sound of it, she perked right up, face glowing happily.

"Osamu-chan!" She exclaimed excitedly, gazing out of the plastic window beside her and letting the sun rays lather her skin. "I need your help as soon as possible. No, no the others don't need to get involved.. I only need you to cooperate with me. Oh, I just want to ruin an asshole's life a little bit. No, nothing happened to me.. just to a friend of mine. Yes, I have friends! Now listen, I'm going to tell you exactly what I need you to provide me with, alright?"

At the sound of reluctant confirmation from the other end of the line, Y/n grinned broadly. "I knew I could rely on you, Osamu-chan. Now, you better listen very carefully to what I'm about to tell you, okay? So, what I'll need from you is..."

Chapter Text

Kokichi felt horrible.

He was beyond disappointed with himself.

He knew he shouldn't have acted so immaturely when Y/n had confronted him, and yet he still did. He had purposely hid whenever the breaks came through, keen on avoiding her and afraid of the fact she could be found before him at any given second. As a result, he hadn't seen her all day besides the encounter they had after he so rudely left history class, left all alone and in peace.

For Kokichi, being alone and away from everyone would have been cathartic. His sole companions the silence swathing all around him and the turquoise notebook he doodled upon. He had sat down in a quiet corner, taking out his pencil and sketching away the feelings he kept so securely bottled up within.

At least, he tried to. Normally Kokichi would draw ceaselessly till the bell rung again and called him to stop, but today had been different. As soon as the tip of the pencil connected with the rosy paper, his mind went completely blank. Devoid of all inspiration, imagination infertile and parched as though it were a barren wasteland. Something had pulled at the strings of his heart, a cold, distant feeling that meddled with his head to no end. There was something gnawing at the margins of the muscle within his chest, rendering him immobile and skeptical.

All that flooded his mind was the image of Y/n's sad, hurt eyes, that had stared at him with such confusion and affliction as he turned to run away. Run away from her. Why had he run away like that? Why couldn't he just pull himself together and talk to her? He had made her feel bad, jabbed at her concealed feelings with his carelessness.

God, why did Kokichi have to be so dumb?

Kokichi couldn't draw like this. Because he didn't want to be alone. He didn't want to hurt the feelings of the only person he considered a friend. He hadn't meant for any of this to happen in the first place. He hadn't meant to mess up this bad. And, with the feeling of remorse and shame travelling through his body in tides, with the blurry picture of Y/n's chagrin-ridden eyes, his hand had began moving on its own accord, dragging the pencil's brim against the paper. His gaze was keenly pinned on the sketch the grey lead left behind, brows furrowed ambitiously, tongue poking out through his lips as he concentrated.

After all, Kokichi found that with their intense emotion, sad eyes held an extraordinary beauty in their own, unique way. Anger, sorrow, anxiety; all coming out in the form of round, bubble teardrops, shining and sparkling.

He had spent the entire fifth break drawing, his focus only broken by the sound of the ringing bell. When he had snapped out his lengthy trance and looked down upon the paper, he saw a pair of round, colorless orbs staring right back at him; adorned with dark lashes and caped by brows that had slanted in worry. They were beautiful, holding the combination of heartfelt melancholy and pure chaos -- just like hers.

What a weird girl. What a weird, inspiring girl. She fascinated Kokichi more than anyone else he had met, but he would never admit that out loud.

"Kokichi!"

The boy flinched at the muffled call of his name, sitting up on his bed and looking at his locked door in horror. The sound of his mother's voice coming from behind the wooden contraption was followed by her clenched fist banging loudly against the door. Kokichi's eyes went wide and his throat dryer than sun-doused sand, his breathing coming fast and hot from his mouth. He involuntarily whimpered when the door handle began twisting ferociously; to no avail, since Kokichi had the smart habit of locking his door to escape from his mother's relentless rage and bitterness.

"W-what is it?" His meek voice questioned, body slowly and carefully rising from the mattress and venturing toward the door. He wasn't stupid, he wasn't going to open it. At least, not if it weren't for a good reason.

"Kokichi, darling," The woman's voice was sweet and gentle now, as though she really was the loving mother everyone so fallibly believed she was."I made some soup for us to eat. Chicken soup; your favorite. Come downstairs, I'll be waiting for you in the dining room. We need to talk about a few things, as well. Don't take too long, now, the food will get cold, alright?"

As his mother's footsteps slowly faded away when she ventured down the stairs, Kokichi was left standing there, speechless and baffled beyond words. What the hell was that about? The woman that would usually throw something at him for even daring to speak to her, the one who would lock him in the basement for days on end, the one who seemingly didn't care if he were to starve to death-- was she really the same person as the one who had so mellifluously talked to him behind the door? The one who wanted to have dinner with him? Who wanted to actually give him a bit of food?

This couldn't be right.. there must be some sort of ruse behind it all. The kindness and gentleness in his mother's voice.. It had been years since Kokichi last heard her voice so fond and selfless. It had been a long time since they ate together, like a family. He had missed it all so much. He just wished for a normal family life, not this. And, though he knows nothing good will ultimately befall him if he does listen to her, a plate of warm chicken soup right now makes his mouth salivate profusely and his lips tremble into a desperate smile; seems like heaven on earth.

He preferred being potentially physically abused than having to last another day without food.

Reluctantly, Kokichi dug up the key he had shoved in the pocket of his sweatpants earlier in the day, just for good measure, and placed the metallic edge into the keyhole. He twisted his bony wrist twice, unlocking the door and silently pushing it away from its frame, wincing as it squeaked against its hinges. He poked his head out just so that his eyes were barely visible, gazing inquisitively down the hall, the only sound that resonated within the house the slight clatter of the kitchen cutlery as they clanged against plates. His mother was probably preparing the table, he figured.

The boy stealthily left his room, closing the door behind him and quietly making his way down the short hall, clambering down the old, wooden stairs. The timber was rough and its texture grating underneath Kokichi's bare soles, the steps creaking each time he settled his weight upon them. Walking with hesitation and caution, he paused just before the opening that led to the kitchen, sucking in a tremulous breath. A bad feeling was fueling within his chest, pooling in his lungs and climbing up his throat; something was going to happen to him, but he didn't know what; the notion tearing itself within his brain and baring him not a single moment to feel at ease.

He had learned the hard way that he had to never ever let his guard down when being around his mother. Who knows what cruel scheme could be crawling within her head, snaking around like an electric eel ready to attack?

He had to be ready to flee at any given second.

Kokichi presumed to enter the small room, finding that his mother had just placed her own plate upon the table and was ready to seat herself. She showed him a wide, spurious grin, eyes closed in feigned glee as she settled down on her chair and motioned for him to sit on the one across her. The boy's skeptical eyes never left her as he lowered himself down onto the chair, discerning the hints of her true, abnormal self leaking through the thin cracks of her mask.

Maybe he wasn't good at history, but he certainly had a flair for identifying a liar.

"Kokichi, darling, eat up!" The woman said cheerfully, only serving to make Kokichi's doubts amplify in amount. "Your soup will get cold. You should at least be thankful enough I bothered to prepare some for you, too."

Oh. And just as he was beginning to think everything was going far too well for his own sanity. There was the sugar-coated, deprecating comment making him question why the hell he even agreed to this in the first place.

Kokichi said nothing, merely took the tablespoon beside his plate and scooped up some of the soup, examining it silently and hoping that she hadn't poisoned it. Gently, he blew some air upon the steaming liquid before putting the spoon between his lips and drinking. He let it flow down his throat and hit the bottom of his stomach, momentarily relishing in the taste of something edible before realizing that something wasn't quite right.

It took him two seconds to realize that the soup was teeming with salt, -- an overbearing amount, at that-- and the boy made a spiteful face, coughing continuously at the sourness that was burning his mouth. As he looked at his mother in a shock and caught a glimpse of the satisfaction within her eye, he could tell adding too much of the ingredient was purposely done; a cruel hoax to laugh at him.

The woman before him surely took note of that, of course, batting her lashes innocently. Kokichi could see the concealed malice radiating off her hooded eyes. "Hmm? What's the matter, darling? Do you not like it? You don't like it even though I spent so much time on it just for you.. You really hate everything I do for you, don't you?"

"No, no!" Kokichi blurted, the interior of his mouth still stinging as he spoke, but he would never dare stand up to his mother; not with that weak will of his. Wait, will? "I-It's great, really.. I just burned my tongue."

"Good." The word came out blunt and bitter, venom dripping from its every letter. "Eat up quickly, then; it's the only food you'll get. God, I can see the bones poking out of your cheeks; you look like a ghost. You wouldn't mind if I talked while you ate, would you?" The woman paused for a few seconds, watching with raised brows as meek, little Kokichi went to open his mouth to respond, but decided not to give him the advantage to do so. "Of course you wouldn't. Anyway.. A gentleman from your school phoned me and informed me that you caused havoc in your classroom today. He also let me know about your horrid grade of 39% at History, but we shall discuss that later."

Kokichi winced at the reminder of the incident, but his attention was mostly caught by the word 'havoc'. Caused havoc? Who, Kokichi, who couldn't even tie his own shoelaces till seventh grade? The boy gulped, setting the spoon down, not really keen on sampling any more of the soup.

"So tell me, Kokichi, darling," She began, quietly enjoying her meal while Kokichi only watched, glancing between her and his plate. "What is all this 'havoc' I heard about?"

"I-I never caused any havoc!" Kokichi exclaimed in a burst of injustice and bewilderment, brows furrowed over his hesitant eyes. He shrunk back against his chair when his mother's gaze sharpened at his change of attitude, passively lowering his head. "It's just.. the history teacher doesn't really like me and he was making fun of me in front of everyone because my grade wasn't as good as the others'..I got mad and sad so I just kinda.. stood up and left the class. B-But, I never caused any havoc! I never even said anything back, really, I would never--"

"That's enough!"

Kokichi's words died upon his lips and his breath hitched at the back of his throat at the booming, tearing words. A loud sound resonated within the room as the woman's hand harshly impacted against the wooden table, making the dishes clatter. The sudden ring of noise served to silence her son immediately, her cold orbs watching in boredom at his trembling form. She gave him a good look over, jaw clenching and the tips of her fingers tapping away against the table cloth.

"You're not eating, boy," She said, eyeing the spoon that lay by his plate, before returning her full attention on him and staring vacantly within his quivering, glossy eyes. " If you die of hunger then I'll be in a lot of trouble, you know ? If you don't eat, I'm going to force it down your throat, smash the plate against your head and shove the pieces in your mouth till you chew and swallow every single one of them. Stop being an ungrateful piece of shit and eat the fucking soup before I strangle you till your eyes pop out of their sockets--"

The woman interjected herself, eyes wide and crazed and breath coming out frenetic and heavy. She watched as Kokichi scrambled to get the spoon beside his plate and began eating, nose shriveling ever so slightly at the revolting taste of the food; but it wasn't like he could do any better at the moment, so he just kept slurping the soup down underneath the insistent stare of his mother. For a few seconds, she truly looked like she had lost all the sanity she had left and was verging on attacking him like a ferocious animal. However, she closed her eyes and exhaled shakily, forcing a stretched smile upon her face before turning to look at the frightened boy once more.

"Anyway. Don't leave class like that again, okay, darling? Since it's the first time you have acted so recklessly, I will do you the favor and let it slide. But pray that I don't find out if it ever happens again. You don't want to force mommy to be mean to you, do you?"

Her grin was so abnormally broad, nearly deforming her face, as though the complexion of her cheeks would tear apart at any given moment. The only thing Kokichi could do was submissively nod his head, big, scared eyes peeking hesitantly at her from beneath his fringe. "N-no," He lowed shakily, his mouth numb from the burning acid within the food he was being forced to guzzle down. "I won't do it again; I'm sorry.."

The boy momentarily wondered if the cruel woman was going to let him get away so easily. She wasn't the type to let her prey get away without at least scathing its skin, and Kokichi was well aware he wasn't going to get out of this unharmed. Normally, he would have never left the refuge of his room like that, but he was hungry, so very hungry; and the soup was filling him up so deliciously, even though its taste was acrid and bordering on disgusting. From the corner of his eye, he could see a loaf of bread laying a bit further away on the table, fresh and smelling like angels. Kokichi was dying to get his little hands on it, but he knew they'd just get unforgivingly swatted away by his mother's.

She never deemed him worthy enough to get a treat.

"You're such a good boy, Kokichi.." His mother reached out with her hand, brushing back a few strands of his hair and cupping his cheek in her palm. Kokichi flinched wholly, body tensing instantly at the contact, throat doddering. Though it could be considered an affectionate advance, the roughness and enmity her mere touch provided made the boy shift uneasily in his seat, lips quivering, eyes begging her to let go. A few, tense seconds passed, with Kokichi shaking like a leaf in the wind and his mother smiling wickedly, occasionally tightening her grip around his bony face. In a matter of a split second, her grin faded and her empty eyes burned with such hostility against his own that he couldn't look away.

"But not good enough."

Suddenly, she pulled away, painfully ripping her hand away from her son's face and standing, quietly venturing toward the kitchen cupboards. Kokichi was left sitting there, flabbergasted, sweaty fingers desperately clasping each other in their need of a brace. He watched mutely as the woman opened a drawer, wrapping her palm around something and taking out. Her back was turned to Kokichi, and the boy squinted in a half-hearted attempt to make out what she was holding within her grasp.

"However," She murmured quietly, head lowered; attention apparently keen on something other than her son."It's not the first time you've brought home such an awful grade, Kokichi, darling. But, I understood. We can't all be good enough." The words of pure disappointment made the boy bow his head in shame, shrinking back against himself and fiddling wordlessly with the brims of his long sleeves. His mother certainly had a knack for making him feel like he was the most worthless and useless being on this earth. "I let it slide once, I let it slide twice.. But this can no longer go unpunished. It wouldn't be fair for all those other children who are being praised for their grades, would it?"

Kokichi meekly gazed up when the woman at last turned around and felt the breath he was holding die at the back of his throat. His doe eyes broadened in a slight panic at the sight, his face draining of all color and his mind of all logic as he stared at the kitchen knife she was holding in her hand. His palms immediately went to the edge of the table, his feet firm against the floor; body ready to flee.

"Come here, Kokichi." The woman's dead voice sang, nearing him with slow, calculated steps. "If you be a good boy and stay still, this will only hurt just a little. Come here now or I'll come and get you myself."

Kokichi rose from his seat, holding his hands out frantically; trying to reason, trying to calm her down. It didn't have to be like this, it all could be simple, it could all be fine.. Nevertheless, his horrified hues never left the glistening blade of the knife, the only image repeatedly abusing his mind being the sheen of his own blood splattered upon it. "M-mom, no.. W-we're family.. Please, don't.."

A cackle. That was all he heard. A sick, twisted laugh that echoed within the small room and made Kokichi ill to the core. An awful sound that only served as evidence that she wasn't listening to him and wasn't planning to any time soon. A manic call that served as a fair warning, written in big, red letters; Run while you can. And for once, he deemed that listening to his brain screaming bloody murder would be the wise thing to do.

And so he did.

Kokichi ran with all the strength left within him. Dashed out of the kitchen and clambered up the stairs on his hands, knees, feet, palms-- anything he could balance himself upon in order to get away. His mother hot on his heels, brandishing the thick blade of the kitchen knife and gripping the black handle with such fury her knuckles turned white. Kokichi knew she wasn't planning on killing him and that was what scared him the most. There were umpteenth options to choose from when deciding on what to do with someone when equipped with a knife; death would be the most painless, easy way out. And Kokichi wasn't getting out any time soon.

The sound of her stomping behind him made him dizzy, made him want to curl up and wither away. But, no, he couldn't give up hope, not yet. He could make it, he knew he could, only a bit more was left. He put his agility and speed to use, moving around like a wildcat and scurrying to the door of his room as though the flames of hell themselves were chasing after him. At that split moment, he decided that the flames of hell would be much more preferable than his foaming mother.

The boy opened the door, entered his room and shut it loudly behind him, hurriedly taking the key out of his pocket and locking it twice. He pulled the metallic key out of the lock seconds before there was feral banging dealt against the timbered surface, accompanied by the delirious voice of the woman who had managed to make his life a living hell, once more. Kokichi backed away from the door, looking around his messy room in a rush of dismay and terror; she was pushing against the frame with such might that for a moment he thought she would actually break the door down.

Did that woman even take her pills anymore?

Out of options, not knowing what else to do in order to defend himself, he pressed his palms against the vibrating door, trying to absorb some of the impact so it wouldn't fly open. And, though his small, dainty frame was rattled and nearly knocked back with each strike, Kokichi didn't let his strength relent, not one bit. His eyes had clenched shut, his shoulder blades aching from all the strain that made his thin arms tremor. Eventually, the force receded, the violent jerking of his body halting abruptly and pushing a silent gasp past his lips. The only thing he could hear through the still silence was his shallow breathing, which came out in short, puffy wheezes. The person pursuing him was still behind the door; he could feel it.

Kokichi opened his weary eyes, the loose, dark locks dangling from his head grazing his flushed cheeks when he rose his head. Through his haze and fatigue, he could make out the heavy treading of footfalls retreating, each step booming loudly against the floor. He listened at the audible grumbling beneath his mother's breath, a diversity of profanities and slurs that gradually faded into the silence that had infected the interior of the household. Kokichi breathed out a tremulous sigh, standing upright and nearly toppling over as he slowly neared his bed.

The shaken boy settled against the mattress, curling up as he was engulfed by the self-made pile of soft cushions he had adjusted earlier in the day. He sniffled quietly, rubbing at his nose with the heel of his palm, slim fingers feeling around the bed and grasping at his wooly blanket. He cuddled the warm cloth to his chest, sighing weakly. What had he done to deserve all of this torment?

He didn't understand.

Kokichi wasn't bad. He had never done anything to deserve a life like this. He craved for a normal family, two loving parents; craved for his family as it was before it got to whatever this nightmare was. He just wanted to be understood. He just wanted to be held. He wanted someone to pet his head and tell him that he was going to be alright. He wished his mother could be like others; listen to his problems and help him find a way out, not lock him in the basement or chase him around with a kitchen knife to tear his tender flesh apart.

Kokichi just wanted to be loved.

Was it really so hard for someone to love somebody like him?

Was it really so hard for someone to stand by his side?

Kokichi's eyes glazed over with saltwater, brimming with emotion, throat clamping down. He was overwhelmed by his misfortune, his loneliness, his pain. He wanted to call out to someone, to anyone, cry out desperately in his need of help, in his need of comfort. He wanted to call out to someone, but there was no one, no one who could help him. He couldn't find the voice to speak as hot tears poured down his cheeks, breath hiccupping continuously as he fought back the sobs that racked his throat. He couldn't handle living such a life anymore, not all alone, not when he was so weak..

'A weak body can be altered, you know. But a weak will can be fixed with a lot of difficulty, if even at all. You can try changing yourself for the better, but if you keep thinking you're not good enough or that you'll never make it then that will be your outcome as well. I know from experience that if you put your heart and soul into something you truly want to change, then you will. But is that what you really want? Do you really want to change?'

"I want to.." Kokichi managed through his mewling, hands balling up and grabbing fistfuls of his covers. "B-but I can't.. I'm not strong... I'm scared, I'm so, so scared... I can't do it all alone.."

Plunged in such despair, the only thing that oddly put Kokichi's mind to ease was Y/n sitting beside him, ruffling his hair and having that broad, shit-eating grin upon her face. She would probably laugh at him if she were to see him like this.. But no. No, Y/n wasn't that kind of person. She had a kind, sensitive heart; she would have never mocked Kokichi for displaying his crammed feelings. On the contrary, she would be supportive of him. Yeah, that's right.. Y/n wouldn't call him a crybaby, she wouldn't call him ugly just because he was shedding endless tears.

Y/n would never do that. Because she didn't think he was a loser. She didn't think he wasn't good enough just because he was cowardly and afraid of his own shadow. Because she tried for him, even though he continuously concealed himself from her efforts.

Because Y/n didn't hate him.

Kokichi felt a bittersweet smile tug at the corner of his mouth at the notion.

You might be the only one, Y/n-san. Because.. we're friends. Right?

The boy was barely aware of the fact his pitiful crying had ceased. Strangely, his heart felt at peace for once. It was congested with anxiety, fright, pent-up rage.. but all of that blackened mass was like an ant compared to the pleasant warmth that was burning so ardently between his lungs. It wasn't sadness.. not quite happiness either. Then what? What, what was it that was making him feel so alive?

Kokichi didn't know.

'It's okay, Ouma-chan. Rest for now, okay?'

And with each second that passed, he figured he didn't really have to find out. All he had to do was savor it whenever it managed to surface above all the darkness that obfuscated his life.

'Rest.'

Kokichi slowly closed his bloodshot eyes, breathing calmly and gently like a sleeping baby in its crib. He nuzzled his blanket with a hum, letting Y/n's invisible fingers run through his hair as he was lulled by the call of sweet slumber, peaceful at last.

 

*

 

"Hmm.. You're not as innocent as you claim to be, are you, 'Hanzaki-sensei'?"

Y/n puffed out the smoke of her cigarette, taking a good, long look at her phone. Mr.Hanzaki's unmistakable photograph was limned on the glowing screen and the girl licked her chapped lips as she thought.

" You are both a creepand a criminal. Who would have thought? What a shame, and I was planning on just slashing the tires on your expensive car.. But I suppose this is far more interesting. At least I won't feel bad about exposing your shit now that I've found out all of your dirty, little secrets. I am doing justice a favor, after all."

Y/n gave a snort, gazing up at the black veil of the night sky and talking to no one in particular.

"You deserve what's going to happen to you. For hurting all the people you have.. for hurting Ouma-chan. If you hadn't decided to be a mister smarty-pants and mess with the wrong person, then all of this would have been avoided. All you had to do was stay quiet.. But your big mouth is what is going to lead to your downfall."

The girl put her lips around the cancer stick, breathing the numbing smoke and releasing it to the atmosphere.

All that teemed her mind was Kokichi's face; teary eyes, trembling lips, wet cheeks.

Glistening eyes, smiling lips, flushed cheeks.

She scowled visibly, her heart clenching painfully within her chest. "Just how many people have hurt you, Ouma-chan? And why? You didn't do anything wrong. Others are treated with respect and kindness when people like you, who actually deserve it more than anyone just.." Her voice trailed off as she thought, a bow twisting uncomfortably in the confines of her throat. "I hate those who make you sad. I despise those who make you cry. You don't deserve it-- he didn't deserve it, either.."

Y/n's eyes had collected tears, water tugging at her lower lash line, begging to be unleashed. Her lips pursed as she fought the urge to succumb to her emotions and she quickly put the cigarette between her dry lips once more in a means to distract herself. She turned her blurry vision toward the sky, longingly staring at the bright, radiant moon.

"I'm so sorry I couldn't protect you, Haru-chan. I'm so sorry.. But I won't make the same mistake again. I will protect my friends with all I have because they are all I have. They took you from me so unfairly, Haru-chan.. So, so unfairly. I can't stand watching entitled assholes suck the life out of people like you, people like Ouma-chan. You know..he's..he's the first one who's made me feel like a person.. after such a long time..after you left."

Y/n stood up from where she sat, throwing the cigarette end to the ground and stepping on it with the sole of her shoe until it was nothing but ash. She placed her hands upon her hips, inhaling from her nose and breathing anew, a small, shaky smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"And, besides, it's not like that fat fuck doesn't deserve it. I was only planning on fucking up his car a little in the first place, but.. Research does wonders." She paused for a moment and shrugged her shoulders, humming thoughtfully as her thoughts dashed within her brain like hissing bullets. "You're a good guy, Ouma-chan. Please, never change. And don't worry; «Y/n-san» is gonna take care of everything."

Chapter Text

Y/n gave an aggravated, drawn out grunt as she took a glance at the little small numbers beside the green icon of the battery of her phone, the white digits continuously reminding her that she was late for class.

Nothing out of the ordinary for her, really, but she really wasn’t in the mood for her literature teacher’s nagging about it. The guy was too soft, too gentle-hearted to make her leave the classroom or give her detention, so she knew she wouldn’t get in trouble. Still, Mr. Marriott was too much of a sweetheart for his own good and it really made her sick to the core. Though, that didn’t really serve to make him any less than he was, always going on about infatuation and the purity of love and— ugh.

How utterly boring, really…

That wasn’t to say she hadn’t felt the catharsis love brought along with it, or the lovely helplessness, or the jitters.. but talking about it to such an excessive degree was annoying, if a bit unsettling. The way Mr. Marriott seemed so absorbed in his passion for it reminded her of her former self –happy and in love—and it made her sick to the stomach. Every time he would go on and on about what a wonderful feeling love is it’d make her eyes glaze over with the sheer melancholy that rose from within her very being at the memories.

Y/n didn’t want to remember everything about her first love; the love of her life, someone whose existence now seemed as though it never took place at all.

And so, the girl found herself standing wordlessly before the door of her classroom—her new classroom. She scoffed at the thought. Having to change classes in the middle of the school year just because Terrence had recovered from the beating he received and came back to school? Just because they were in the same class and the tension between them could be sliced right down the middle by a knife?

What a bunch of bullshit. He was the whole cause of this to begin with, so why was Y/n the one being forced to change classes? What nonsense. Why couldn’t Terrence just drag his sorry ass in another room instead and do them both the favor?

As Y/n tediously opened the door, not even bothering to think about knocking, she realized why.

Everyone’s attention was suddenly caught by her appearance and, if looks could kill, she swore she would be dead right then. She wanted to roll her eyes when the sound of whispering reached her ears as the students quietly murmured about her to one another.

“Ah, Y/n-san!” Mr.Marriott exclaimed gleefully, despite his slight surprise at the fact the girl had even bothered setting foot in his class. Y/n merely stared at him in her tedium, raising her brow as she slammed the door behind her, making everyone flinch where they sat and seal their lips in an instant. “What an honor to have you in my class for once, even if for you it’s technically a new one.. Even if you are late.. But it must be because you’re fighting the terror of attending a new class, right?”

“Yeah,” Y/n muttered unenthusiastically, eyes blinking slowly at the concerning excitement in the man’s tone. Just how many cups of coffee did he have before stepping into the school grounds? He must even bleed caffeine, with such high spirits and unnecessarily overwhelming glee. “I’m just dying. Really.”

Mr.Marriott let out a sigh at the girl’s behavior, his jolly front wavering visibly. He didn’t want his students to have a bad time when he was in charge and vividly opposed the idea of the aura his lessons held to be altered for the worse. “Now, now, cheer up. Being in a new class holds so much unexplored potential. Look at all the new friends you can make here!”

An awkward silence teemed the room to its brim as Y/n glanced between all the students’ faces; some of their expression disapproving, unwilling, angered and even frightened to some degree. She can’t say she expected much else, in all honesty. After all, shewas the most infamous student in this school, so she figured that the weight of being unwanted by everyone came along with the job. There was a particular person’s expression, however, who hardly seemed phased; merely left staring with blank eyes and offering no reaction.

“As you all know already, this is Y/n L/n, and she will be attending our lovely class from now on!” Mr.Marriott’s joyful voice resonated, making Y/n jolt bodily at the sudden peal of noise. “Y/n-san, this is the B-3 class! Probably one of the best classes I’ve had in all my teaching years. I’m sure you’ll fit right in.”

As much as a sunflower could fit in a field of daisies. Sure, it could certainly try all it wanted, but its bright yellow petals and tall stem would continue to render it the outcast of the bunch, making it stick out like a sore thumb. And, as Y/n gazed emptily at the upset grimaces of the people all around her, she found that it was much more preferable to bear no resemblance to such sour individuals.
Even if her motto was ‘if life gives you lemons, squeeze them up your enemies’ assess to see if they can get even more bitter than they already are’, she figured the B-3 class would turn yellow in color if she did so.

Choosing to ignore the staring she was receiving, Y/n merely turned her focus to the very reason she had to change classes instead of Terrence in the first place; Ouma Kokichi himself, sitting quietly with his hands clasped together and visibly panicking when he was caught staring right back by her devious eyes. He instantly lowered his head, face flushing; Y/n could see it in the glowing skin that peeked through his dark locks. He tried to play it cool, but the fidgeting of his hands and the way his knees drew together told her otherwise.

Oh? Was the little kitten still shy with her?

How very adorable.

“Please, take a seat,” Mr.Marriott beckoned toward the empty table at the back of the class with his head, smiling kindly. “The one behind Ouma-kun is vacant. Go ahead so the lesson can resume.”

The said boy tensed bodily, yet Y/n only shrugged her shoulders as she walked over to her newly assigned seat and carelessly threw her bag down. She did a small twirl before settling down, leaning back on her chair and grinning widely at Mr.Marriott, who gladly took it as a sign to go on with his lesson.

The moment the man opened his mouth, however, she was already drowsy with boredom, the only thing serving to amuse her the nervousness that radiated of off of Kokichi in ceaseless tides. She could see the tremor of his body in the boy’s lean shoulders, stifling a giggle and marveling in how taut he got when the muffled sound escaped from her nose. She was keenly urged to gently toy with the freshly washed hair cascading down his neck, but decided against it; sending the poor thing into cardiac arrest wasn’t written anywhere on her to-do list.

She hated to admit it, but though his shyness was a little unsettling sometimes… it was quite cute.

Kokichi was so reserved, so meek, so quiet. When Y/n first saw him, she thought he was mute, merely wearing bandages around his bony knuckles because it looked cool. But one day, she’d heard his pitiful cries and sniffles after Terrence and his gang were done turning him blue and purple. Saw him lying in his own puddle of shame at her feet, battered body curled up in a heap and fingers gripping frantically at his hair, doddering along with his hiccups and mewls.

Poor thing, were the first words her brain had put together at the sight. So scared, so weak. Poor, poor thing..

What an irony. He had drawn his quivering hands away from his wet cheeks, baring wide, terrified eyes, looking up at her vacant gaze as though she would be his demise. He had flailed around weakly, ripping his jacket when he tried to stand, grasping his bag and attempting to run in his course of panic and dread, nearly falling over a couple times in his hurry.

That day, Kokichi had ran away from Y/n. Perhaps not because he was afraid of her in particular, but certainly due to the frenzy that was racking his heart and violently tearing itself through his tortured brain. And now, he would follow behind her whenever they were together, nearly attached to her hip. Because he felt safe with her. That feeling of security and certainty for the preserve of his well-being was what drew him further in; what made Kokichi deem her worthy of his trust, to an extent.

Kokichi might be intimidated or overwhelmed by her impulsion, her fiery persona—but he wasn't afraid. Kokichi wasn't scared of Y/n and her own, unique demeanor, unlike everyone else.

Y/n felt a small smile tug at the corners of her lips at the thought, a sad sigh crawling up her throat and pushing past the fleshy threshold of her mouth.You might be the only one, Ouma-chan.

It was no lie that due to her forwardness and bad reputation, the girl was avoided by everyone, who didn’t wish to be associated or get in trouble. That was how she was her entire life, though for different reasons. When she was younger, most kids didn’t like her because she was chubby and weird. Now, it wasn’t only the fact people disliked her; they were afraid of her for being that ruthless thug and bully who had no manners or a care in the world.

That was precisely the reason why people had began gossiping anew; wondering just why someone like Kokichi stuck around such ‘a terrible person’ and seemed to be enjoying every second of it.

Oh well, she figured. It’s better to be feared than pitied.

Being plunged face first into the deep end of her inferno of thoughts, the usually boring, lengthy lesson had passed by before Y/n had even realized it. The bell had rung suddenly, echoing loudly and startling the girl out of her trance. She planted her feet against the tiling below, making to lazily rise from her seat, but Mr.Marriott’s voice resonated before she could even attempt it.

“Attention class! The second trimester will be starting when December comes by. You will not be made to take a semester test, but will be graded based on a presentation you will prepare to show the entire class. Now, bear in mind that this is a group project, and since I hate splitting friend groups apart, I will let you chose your own partners before I present each, individual subject. The groups can consist of two or four people. I trust that by our next lesson you guys will have sorted yourselves out. Whoever thinks they are ready now, I’ll gladly write them down.”

A presentation? In front of everyone? Being forced to work with a bunch of other lazy assholes who don’t care about the outcome of the whole thing? A group project?

Y/n groaned inwardly at the mere thought, rubbing the heels of her palms against her face and breathing out in exasperation. For such a happy guy you sure are a thorn in my ass, Mr.Marriott.

“Alright, already” The irked, weary girl began, rising from her chair with a tedious roll of her eyes. She was upset, understandably so, and it could be evidently distinguished within her sharp, distant tone.“You can go on with your blah-blah after I’m out of the class—Christ..”

Mr.Marriott merely shook his head at the brash girl’s mannerisms, a sympathetic expression settled upon his features as he watched her carelessly depart from her desk and open the door of the classroom, leaving it ajar as she strolled right on out—as though it was the simplest thing in the world.

Y/n couldn’t care less about the literature lesson or its homework and project. As she walked down the hallway with an annoyed huff, she wondered why she didn’t skip the class to begin with. She didn’t know what she even expected in the first place. For it not to be boring for once? For her classmates not to be bitter assholes and stare at her as though she was diagnosed with some kind of terminal disease that would spread to them as well?

Like hell she would set foot in that lions’ den again. Being unwanted at home was enough for her battered heart to withhold; experiencing it in class, too, was beyond draining and tiring.

All Y/n cared about right then was that her stomach was growling persistently and she had no money in order to fill it up. The cafeteria was quite pricey for providing food for a bunch of edgy, suicidal teenagers. They attended one of the country’s most prestigious schools, for crying out loud, the food shouldn’t even be charged.

Y/n scoffed.

Prestigious school my ass. She’d had to spend her time beneath her tree again, the wind caressing her face and hair, sitting all alone with her thoughts, hunger and loneliness. As she exited the school building and headed for her little refuge, she briefly wondered if Kokichi would grace her with his presence today. Maybe it came as a surprise, but the girl didn’t mind him in the slightest; in fact, he was something new in her life that wasn’t predictable or depressing. He was very weird and had the courage of a mouse surrounded by cats, but he had a kind heart and didn’t look at her like she was an alien. Kokichi wasn’t like everyone else. He was meek, quiet, reserved and very hesitant in the mere way he existed, but when he looked at her he didn’t someone bad, someone who wanted to hurt him. It felt as though he almost considered her a friend.

The thing still bugging her, however, was the fact he wasn’t scared of someone like her.

Not that she minded, though. Kokichi was in need of safety. Y/n was in need of some company.

Both were in need of someone who would accept them as they were and not criticize them for not being good enough. Someone who didn’t detest them just like everyone else. A friend.

Y/n sighed softly as she settled down at the tree’s base, leaning her back against the old bark. She closed her eyes, trying to calm her frothing heart. She hated to admit it, but she really didn’t want to be alone right now. She had grown used to little Kokichi being beside her, getting all flustered over things she would purposely utter, hesitantly smiling as though he was afraid of being happy. At first, she thought he would be just another addition to her slow, sad life... but this time, it seemed like she was taken by surprise. A pleasant surprise at that.

However, she had a feeling it wouldn’t last long and wasn’t very fond of getting hurt all over again. After all, two people who were so different couldn’t be peacefully at each other’s presence. They couldn’t care about each other. Two opposites such as them couldn’t be friends. Right?

Opposites attract, smart-ass, a little voice within her head taunted and she swore if it were anyone else she would have slapped them right across the face. The thought had gotten her all agitated and confused, but she desperately tried not to let it get the better of her. She had a reputation, for the love of God…

“Goddammit, fuck off already..” Y/n muttered under her breath, chiding her own self, slapping her open palms over her face and groaning, the sound muffled against the flesh of her hands. “Leave me alone..”

“A-Ah! Sorry, I-I didn’t mean to be a bother.. should I come around another time..?”

A small gasp involuntarily pushed past Y/n’s lips at the sound of the stuttering, nervous voice. She raised her head in an instant, letting her hands fall from her face and rest against her scarlet clad thighs. She stared up in bewilderment at the timid eyes skittishly staring back at her. Kokichi’s brows were slanted reluctantly over his uncertain gaze, lips twitching along with his nervousness and body shying away.

“Ouma-chan!” The girl exclaimed breathily, visibly taken aback; she hadn’t expected him to actually show up today. “That wasn’t… that wasn’t meant for you. Uh.. Whoopsie-doo..?”

“Oh…O-okay.” The boy gave a hesitant nod, somewhat unsure but deciding to believe her words. What reason would she have to lie to him in the first place? “C-Can I uh..?” He vaguely motioned with a gesture of his hand at the empty space beside her, showing a sheepish, hopeful smile.

Y/n pried her shoulders absentmindedly, scooting over so he could sit more comfortably. “Be my guest, purple-head.”

The thin boy lowered himself down next to her, cross-legged and evidently nerve-wracked, wringing and clasping his sweaty palms. The smile was stark against his lips, albeit a bit shaky, and somewhat unsettling—a direct contrast with the anxiety radiating in waves off him. His strange demeanor only served to make Y/n teem with doubt.

“Listen, Y/n-san..” He began, strictly avoiding eye contact with the person beside him. He thought that if he looked, his heart would give out. “I-I wanted to tell you this because.. you deserve to hear it.”

Y/n blinked inquisitively, drawing her legs close to her chest and resting her head against her knees. She mindlessly caressed the material stretched over the expanse of her thighs, humming softly through her nose. “Hmm?”

She could see the tremor of his small frame as he opened his mouth slowly, seemingly trying to find the right words to expel. And she couldn’t help but wonder, just what was going on through that head of his? She heard him quietly murmur something beneath his breath, a few, short words that were a mere noisy blur against her ears.

“I didn’t hear you, Ouma-chan,” The girl said carefully, viewing as he jumped at the very inkling of her voice. “Speak a bit louder, will—“

“I-I’m sorry!”

The abrupt peal of noise sewed Y/n’s lips shut in an instant. She was left blankly staring at the trembling boy beside her, letting the desperation and emotion Kokichi’s voice withheld etch themselves into her brain. For that brief moment, she really was stunned; feeling as though someone had wacked her with a brick over the head. What the hell was this about, then? “Huh..?”

“I’m sorry…” Kokichi’s widened eyes and heavy breathing indicated he was just as shocked with himself as Y/n was. He didn’t know what he was apologizing for right at that moment. Was it for his abrupt loudness or for his guilt in how he had acted two days ago? “You didn’t do anything to me, y-y’know? You only tried to help me and I just pushed you away like that..”

Y/n was still rather confused, especially upon detecting the genuineness his coy tone held. Had anything occurred while she was asleep or something? For a moment, she felt stupid; what was she missing exactly? The girl’s head rose slowly, brows drawing together over bemused, prying eyes. “..Wait, slow down just a sec, will you? What the hell are you talking about..? Did you, like, break my locker or something?”

Kokichi shook his head in disapproval; appearing to be taken aback by the way she had reacted. A fact which only served as a further catalyst to add to her confusion. “N-no..?” He mumbled, teeth nervously gnawing at the short nail of his thumb, almost drawing blood. He still keenly refrained from looking at her.

“Did you... I don’t know, steal my underwear from the PE’s locker room or something?”Her discourse was an obvious jest, an attempt to make light of Ouma’s patent agitation and lighten the tense aura around them. However, it only seemed to make Kokichi much more flustered than he already was, crimson splattered evidently across his cheeks and lips trembling in confusion as he scurried to piece together an answer.

“N-No! Why would I do that?!”

“Sorry, sorry!” Y/n rushed out with an uneasy smile, raising her hands up in a bid to calm his haywire nerves. “Can you blame me, Ouma-chan? There has been someone stealing underwear from the girls’ locker room.. and I have no clue what you’re apologizing to me for, you know? It wouldn’t kill you to be a bit more clear about it..”

Kokichi at last broke his persistent rule of not making any eye contact, heaving his head to reveal a pair of watery eyes and a baffled expression. Judging by the unnerved utterance Y/n was wearing and her nonsense of a talk, he realized that she in fact had no clue as to why he was saying sorry. His hesitant eyes coursed over each and every single feature of her face, each one of them expressing her cluelessness and bewilderment. He was still very hesitant about the whole situation, however.

Does she really not know what I’m talking about? Or is she just toying with me for the fun of it?

“I-I..” Kokichi began with a faltering stutter, now feeling a bit silly. “I’m talking about Monday. Remember when I wasn’t in class? Remember when I told you about Mr.Hanzaki? You confronted me about it… b-but I just ran away from you like a coward.. I thought you must be mad about me acting so childishly, so I wanted to.. I wanted to say sorry.”

At the revelation, Kokichi averted his gaze once more, twiddling his thumbs and chewing his lower lip anxiously. He was nervous, shaken, teeming with a peculiar sense of dread… a stark contrast to Y/n. The girl was merely left gaping at him, brows angled together and lips shriveled up slightly in an unreadable expression. Her brain had broken down, currently drawing blanks at how to respond or what to do. She had never been so flabbergasted before in her entire life, but who could blame her?

Such a trivial reason would have rendered anyone speechless.

Kokichi seemed to interpret her silence as her nerves being fuelled and hastened to say something, body unconsciously leaning away from her own. “I-I get it if you’re mad! I don’t blame you.. I don’t blame if you want to hit me or something, either. I-If it makes you feel any better, you can do it.. It’s alright. I probably deserve it for—“

“Ouma-chan.”

The boy’s purple eyes went broad at the hint of Y/n’s voice interrupting him, his own voice nearly rising into a screech when her hand landed on his shoulder, body recoiling as though he had been burned. His head whirled around to look at her in alarm, orbs quivering within the white of his eyes as he was met with her own. They were calm, chaotic.. Kokichi gulped, feeling his heart pulsing in his throat. He wanted to shield himself from her seeking gaze, shut his lids and abide for whatever punishment she deemed appropriate.. but found himself unable to.

Y/n’s gaze holds nothing but serenity and tranquility, a look he has seen before; the look she had spared him when she involuntarily saved him from Terrence’s wrath that very first time they had interacted. Those endless, vacant pits she called eyes were piercing right through him—but they were oddly captivating, drawing him in despite his best efforts. They could be described as dull and unfocused, perhaps startling sometimes..

But, even through the mist of his anxiety, Kokichi still thought they were pretty and found himself unable to look away.

And, as she leaned in closer, his little heart began writhing like a fish out of the water. His breath caught at the back of his throat and his cheeks were hot and burning due to the proximity—what was she going to do to him? Was she going to hit him? Spit on him? Pull on his hair? She wouldn’t, would she? God, Kokichi’s chest was about to burst at the mere thought of Y/n out of people causing him any harm—

“You’re dumb.”

Kokichi blinked mutely as the words reached his ears, instantly snapping out of his trance. His stomach dropped when Y/n retreated her hand, showing him a lopsided grin. “H-Huh?”

“Dumb; you’re dumb, Ouma-chan!” Y/n exclaimed the speech cheerfully, the playful undertone of her voice laced with each and every letter and confusing Kokichi beyond words. She was smiling broadly at him, a teasing gesture that only served to worsen his embarrassment. “Why would I be mad at you because of that? Sheesh, I actually thought something serious had happened. That’s a silly reason, you know? You wanted to be alone right then; that’s alright. Everyone needs to be alone, sometimes; I get that. You don’t have to worry that much about it; it’s no biggie.”

Kokichi was rendered speechless by the discourse of reassurance, left to only stare at Y/n’s easy smile, which crawled like a disease through his head and acted as panacea for all his doubt. If there a word he would use to describe the way he was feeling it would be somewhere between baffled and thankful. People never made light of Kokichi’s seemingly bad actions before…

“S-So..” He started with a small stammer, the corners of his mouth dubiously rising into a tentative smile. “Y-you’re not mad?”

“Fuck no.” Y/n said with a snort, leaning back against the tree bark. “Trust me, purple-head, if I was mad at you, you’d be able to tell right away. I’m really not discreet when it comes to hiding stuff like my anger. Or my hunger, for a fact.”

Kokichi gave a soft chuckle upon hearing the final sentence, sheepishly bowing his head. Y/n couldn’t help the genuine smile that overtook her features at the jolly sound. He had laughed, albeit half-heartedly—but that didn’t mean it was nothing to be happy about. He was easing up when not feeling threatened or afraid, slowly but surely. That was a good sign; Y/n didn’t mean for him to be uncomfortable when around her and the improvement made her swell up with pride for her companion.

If she was being honest, she wouldn’t have given a damn if it were any other student in this god-forsaken school, but she had began to warm up to Kokichi, as had he to her. He hadn’t seemed to harbor any ill will toward her and he wasn’t menacing or a potential threat; that’s the main reason why she let him stick around in the first place. That and the fact having some company wasn’t bad at all-- but Y/n was way too prideful to admit that.

“Thank you, Y/n-san.” The boy uttered softly, warmth pooling within his chest as he shyly gazed down at his interlocked hands.

Who would have known you were such an easy person to be around, Y/n-san? No one would be able to tell from afar. You always are cold and distant with everyone, but really, you’re nothing like you’re trying to seem. You’re the only one who’s ever looked at me like I am a person, too. Thank you. I’ll.. I’ll tell you everything. I think I’m ready. If it’s to you.. then I don’t mind.

“I.. I’ll tell you about it.”

Y/n turned her head to look at him once more, blinking in slight surprise at his change of self. He still kept his violet orbs low, fringe shielding them from view just so that his cute nose and nervous lips would be visible.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to, you know,” Y/n drawled carefully, having busied herself with unconsciously studying the curve of his nose and the worn skin of his lips. “It’s alright if you—“

“No!” Kokichi cried, wholly tensing and involuntarily craning his head to stare at her with wide, frantic eyes. He stayed there for a moment, breathing ireg Quickly, however, he shrunk back, seeing as his unforeseen outburst had made Y/n flinch slightly from where she sat beside him. Uneasily, he scratched the back of his head, chewing down onto the flesh of his bottom brink in an attempt to soothe himself. “N-No, I.. I wanna talk about it.”

Y/n gave a reluctant nod, gazing at him expectantly and settling her elbows against her knees. She rested her chin against her palm and abided for him to continue, looking as though he was about to read her a captivating fairytale. “Go right ahead, then,” She said easily, her seeming interest and small smile a momentary boost to Kokichi’s razed self-confidence. “I’m all ears, Ouma-chan.”

Chapter Text

Hey, Y/n.

I am really happy.

Are you?

‹‹…››

You know I would do anything for you, right?

I’d do anything just to make you happy.

Hmm? Ah, don’t worry. I’ll stay right here.

‹‹…››

I want you to promise me something, Y/n.

Promise me that whatever happens to me, you won’t try to find me. Act like I never existed. Can you do that?

‹‹…››

‹‹…››

Ah.. I see, then. Just.. be happy, even if I am not there, okay? Please.

‹‹…››

I care about you with all my heart, Y/n. I…I love you. Never forget that, okay? It’s the one thing I can promise you will never, ever change.

Hehe.. Don’t worry. ‹‹Haru-chan›› will take care of you.

 

...

 

How could I ever be happy without you, Haruki? Why, why did you have to go?

Y/n scowled thoughtfully as she turned over on the soft mattress of her bed. The blinds on her windows were rolled down all the way, rendering the room dark and cold. Stinging tears prickled at her eyes and shed themselves silently, serving as her only company in the big, quiet room.

It was a lovely room, adorned with vermillion-clad walls, a comfy bed and a large closet teeming with elegant and diverse clothing. Spacious as it was, it spread all around her like a gilded cage and held her captive, confining her delicately abaft its golden bars. Any girl her age dreamed of dwelling within such a vast house, having such a palatial bedroom—anyone other than Y/n herself.

She hated it all.

The luxuries, the opulence, spending money like it was nothing of significance..

It struck her as odd, as awfully selfish to act in such a way. As though she was an aristocrat. Y/n was nothing more than a normal girl, with a normal face, who wore normal clothes. Lavished with expensive gifts and numerous pricey articles of clothing was plainly peculiar, something she never thought she’d have to such an outrageous degree. Y/n could travel far and wide, go to the mall and buy it all if she wished to do so. She could be friends with guys and girls of her social class, be loved and popular and stabbed in the back by her wealthy acquaintances.

Y/n could be the person everyone else aspired to be, but she had simply chosen not to. Life with the rich was surprisingly boring and uneventful—and she absolutely loathed being bored. Life was already as dull as it was, she didn’t have any intentions of making it completely meaningless.

It wasn’t Y/n’s fault her mother was in a relationship with one of the most prosperous men in Japan; Taro Shinozaki himself, one of the most successful businessmen in the entire world. The girl didn’t even get to have a say in any of it at all. All she could do was follow after her mother blindly, back when they were in search of a better life. And, though money and presents were initially amazing rewards, Y/n would rather be financially struggling than be forced to call Shinozaki and his filthy offsprings ‘family’. The obnoxious Shinozaki twins didn’t take kindly to Y/n or to her friends—not one bit—and were quite keen on making the girl’s life a living hell.

Y/n gave a tired, spiteful groan as she put her fluffy pillow over her head and pressed down; physically ill at the mere thought that she had to be around those horrid people today. Whatever she did, it seemed like she could never get away from them. Today, it was the twins’ birthday and her mother had pestered Y/n to come along so they could all dine together because that way they could ‘finally become a normal family’, without the three adolescents arguing regularly about every single thing.

The twins had no desire to make peace with Y/n (not that she had, by any means), but their parents would go great lengths in order to get them to act like normal siblings.

Yeah, right.

Y/n would rather eat from the garbage can around the corner than be nice to those little devils.

She hated them.

The girl gave a huff of exasperation, turning over and staring blankly at the ceiling, lips pursued into a sullen pout.

Then they wonder why I never stay home. Like hell I want to be around those troglodytes when all they do is laugh at me. Egotists actually think they’re any better. If it was up to me, they’d both be a bloody pulp already. Maybe I should just take up the guys’ offer and go to Daichi’s instead of going to a restaurant with them. What are we going to eat, anyway—Lobster Mayonnaise? Y/n snorted at the thought. Over my dead fucking body will they force that shit down my throat.

No sooner had she finished her rumination, the door of her room flew open, drowning the room in the light it was formerly holding off. Y/n’s eyes flinched and clenched shut at suddenly being exposed to such brightness, body turning over to shield itself from the person standing at the threshold. The irritating clicking of heels echoed as the person strode across the flooring, grumbling under their breath as they ventured to the window.

“It’s bright out, why are you lying in the dark?” The feminine, high-pitched voice questioned, fraught of disapproval and annoyance. Someone’s in a mood today, it seemed.

“I wanna be fucking Batman,” Y/n grumbled, face scrunching up as the woman opened the blinds and drew the curtains back, hands rubbing at her sore eyelids. Gosh, couldn’t she get some rest after coming home from school? “What do you think? I was trying to get some shuteye..”

“Huh? Shuteye?” Her mother said with a sneer, crossing her arms over her chest. “Why, exactly? Were you digging in some field to earn it? God, do you even study anymore?! Look at your room; it’s such a mess… I hope that you’re not as careless about your homework as you are about the state of your room!”

Y/n gave a groan of bother, eyes glaring intently at the woman when they at last managed to open. This is exactly what she wanted to avoid… but it appeared like she had failed miserably. “Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean I don’t study! And yes, ‘shuteye’, because I’ve been up since 6am to go to that stupid fucking school you put me in!”

“You should be thankful you get to attend one of the best high schools in the country, you ungrateful bitch!” Roared the woman’s cruel voice, reverberating against the four walls of the room and only serving to amplify the enmity lodged deep within Y/n’s chest. Her mother’s face had flushed with her fury, ears practically fuming as she resumed her usual chiding.“If it weren’t for Taro’s kindness and money no damn school would ever want to take you in, especially one as great as Miyashiro Academy, you know that?! It’s a miracle they’re even keeping you there with all the trouble you are causing all the time! Thank Goddess for Taro’s donations to the school, otherwise you might have become a whore already—seeing as you hang out with those criminals all the time!”

They are my friends!” Y/n hollered in return, rising up from her bed in a flash and breathing erratically, striving to contain the pure, unmistakable anger that was frothing up within her. She swore that one day she would strangle her mother till she no longer breathed to make Y/n's life harder than it already was. “And they’re a thousand times better than you or Taro’s spawns of Satan could ever dream of being!”

“H-how…” Her mother seemed sickened at the mere thought of her daughter being pals with relentless thugs, being around them as though it was nobody’s business. The notion made the woman shudder. “I can’t even recognize you anymore.. What have they done to you?! You’ve changed for only the worse… I’m ashamed of even calling you my daughter anymore!”

“Oh, really?! What a damn coincidence then!” Y/n exclaimed vociferously, trying to neglect the pang of pain that gnawed at her heart at her mother’s words. “I’m getting real sick of calling you ‘mom’, too. Honestly, you’re doing me a favor.”

Sure, the girl might have been hurt by the other’s unforgiving speech, but it was far too late for her to think ‘Why do people who claim to love me only betray me?’. With all the years of physical and emotional abuse piling up, with the aching of missing her beloved and being criticized for her friends crushing her pulsing lungs, she figured couldn’t afford to care anymore. Because family isn’t only titles given to people. Family is being there for each other, showing understanding and accepting the other as they were while trying to improve together for the better.

But this.. this wasn’t family. It made Y/n feel ill to the stomach when her mother would even make to hug her. How ironic and very, very hypocritical. She would raze the girl’s self-esteem, make her feel embarrassed for being the person she was, make her feel like the excluded outcast—and then demand for affection from the very person she seemed to be so fond of tearing down.

And Y/n had said a big ‘fuck you’ to that a long time ago.

Upon viewing how offended and suddenly emotional her mother got, Y/n’s verdict was that she deserved every single shred of it. No matter how mean Y/n could get, her mother would never feel nearly as hurt as her daughter had for the past few years.

Two can certainly play that game.

“You little fuckin’ bitch..” The woman muttered beneath her breath, chest hastily rising and falling along with her ferocious heartbeat. “It doesn’t matter what you say, anyway. I didn’t come here to see your ugly face in the first place. Everyone is waiting for you to get ready—and you’re still in your school uniform! You’re gonna get it all wrinkled, you pig.. Just get dressed. And put on something nice; we’re going to a 5-star restaurant, you can’t be dressed like a thug. Put on that blue dress you wore last summer—and let your damn hair down for once and brush it for God’s sake!”

“Why doI have to come with?! Both Ayaka and Ichiro hate my fucking guts; they’d rather see my head on a stick!” Y/n claimed with a strained huff, face scrunching up distastefully as she spoke. “I don’t give two shits if it’s their damn birthday! And it’s cold as balls at night, why a goddamn dress?! I won’t be able to feel my legs the entire time!”

“Oh, trust me, if it was up to me I’d leave you locked up in here; I don’t even want to look at you right now! Taro is the one who insisted you come with, says you’re a part of the family.” The woman smoothed out the wrinkles in her lengthy, expensive dress, clutching her leather purse and displaying a deprecating look at the girl standing before her. “So hurry the fuck up and put on a dress so you don’t look like a truck driver for once in your life!”

Upon finishing her sentence, her mother strode toward the open door, the might of her steps making her heels obnoxiously clack against the tiling. She gave one final, venomous glare and wrapped her gloved palm around the door handle, banging the door shut against its threshold and hurriedly venturing away. Y/n could hear the grumbling outside her room and she sighed with a small shrug, partly amused and partly irked.

If she were her past self, fresh, warm tears would be trickling down her cheeks and she would have been forced to stifle her sobs against her palms. She would be sniffling, wondering why no one cared about her, why no one seemed to love her.. Why life was so unfair, taking away all the good people and leaving all the worst.

That’s not true. Look at your friends; they all care about you. Even if they are thugs or criminals or perhaps not the greatest people, they still love you.
Look at Haruki. His smile and eyes still taint your mind, etched indelibly into your soul. He’s so far away now, so unreachable, but the selfless love he once harbored for you still resonates within your heart.
Look at Kokichi. He’s meek and physically weak, but the size of his kind heart makes up for the lack of his physical proportions. He is fragile, apprehensive, afraid of his own shadow, but he somehow never passes up the opportunity to put a genuine smile upon your face. He seems so small, yet spending time with him oddly brightens up the sack of shit you call life.

A sad smile overtook Y/n’s lips as she thought. She wasn’t all alone, was she? Maybe she and her “family” didn’t quite get along—no that was an understatement, they hated each other’s guts most of the time. But she still had her immature, loyal friends and sweet, little Kokichi to soothe her amplifying loneliness. Her friends were the only people she really cared for, they were the only ones who’d take her mind off of her problems and make her laugh with her heart.

Y/n’s relationship with Kokichi, on the other hand, was quite peculiar. She had found herself in the same middle school as him two years ago when she first came to Japan with her mother(because the woman had found a new man to pay her bills and doll her up). They’d never talk there, absolutely careless about each other’s presence and going about with their colorless lives. Kokichi was the school’s attraction even back then; targeted by each and every bully that was in the building. The following year, the boy had been accepted in Miyashiro Academy with a scholarship, and Y/n remained in the high school the facilities she already attended had.

And now, this very year, she had been accepted in Miyashiro Academy due to her good grades in History, Literature and English and kept there due to the loans of her future step-father, Taro Shinozaki. If it weren’t for him, she would have been permanently expelled from the academy by now, no doubt. There, she had managed to make enemies in the first two months she attended, lone and despised by everyone.

Then, for the better or for the worse, Y/n and Kokichi’s roundabout paths met once more.

She would be labeled a liar if she said she expected him out of all people to not be afraid of her. To not run away, tail tucked between his legs. Kokichi had actually stayed, attempted to speak with her and treat her like she wasn’t the most feared student in the school. It had taken Y/n aback so greatly that she couldn’t help the curiosity that had come to life within her, letting him stay near and pondering when he would run away from her in terror.

It really made her skeptical when she found he stayed out of his own will.

A part of her didn’t blame him, though. He was just as alone and unwanted by the bunch as Y/n was. But it was only a matter of time before he would realize just how bad she is and go back to not even glancing at her. No one stuck around Y/n L/n for long unless they were just like her. And Kokichi was far from it.

Y/n and Kokichi were so different.

They were so very different, yet so alike at the same time.

Two people such as them, being around each other, enjoying one another’s company, acting as though they were friends.. how very odd.

But Y/n didn’t mind it in the slightest. It was about damn time she had a brace to repose against in that awful school, forced to co-exist with all those horrible people. Kokichi was nothing like them. He was weird, extremely quiet and sheepish beyond words—a good completion to her fiery, impulsive personality.

Someone so starkly different than her served to stimulate her inquisitiveness and make her life a bit more interesting.

“Hmm…” Y/n hummed softly as she stared at the reflection in her mirror, absentmindedly fiddling with the collar of her uniform. Her mind recalled the fact she had to get dressed in clothing adequate for the outing, and she grumbled beneath her breath as she neared her closet. “Whatever wouldn’t I give to hang out with that purple, little weirdo instead of those assholes…”

Upon muttering the words, the fleeting image of Kokichi’s glowing, smiling face flashed before her eyelids. Y/n scoffed.

Maybe her friends would have her back later, but as of now, she was all alone. All alone with people she loathed from the bottom of her heart. Maybe, a part of her hoped, tonight wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe they could actually go out to dine, have a friendly chat like a family. Maybe the twins would be in a good mood, since it was their birthday after all, and wouldn’t make her feel like the odd one out like they always seemed to do.
Maybe, for once it would be okay.

 

 

Except it wouldn’t. Not nearly.

‘Why?’, you could certainly ask. And nobody would be able to blame you. Well, you see..

“Wow, Y/n! That dress is so pretty, yes! I could almost mistake you for a person of our class if I didn’t know you personally!”

Y/n stopped mid-bite, piercing eyes sharply turning to look at the smug blonde snickering mischievously across the table. The green-eyed, older Shinozaki twin was seated comfortably beside her baby brother, Ichiro, the wicked glint in her gaze unmistakable as she looked Y/n over. As though the latter was a dead cockroach floating in her soup.

“Come on, sis,” Ichiro began, a spurious kindness stretching his lips into an entitled grin. “Don’t be so mean to Y/n. It’s not her fault she’s nothing like us.” The boy leaned in, his golden locks brushing against his jaw and nape as he showed Y/n a knowing look, stifling a mocking laugh. “And never will be.”

Y/n swallowed the small bit of her food, eyes narrowing into thin slits and squinting spitefully at the two. She set down her fork, the metallic contraption clanging with the dish, leaning back into her luxurious chair and smiling widely. She completely ignored her mother’s nudges in an attempt to calm her nerves, teeth gnashing angrily abaft shut lips.

“Polite and back-handed as always, are you not?” The girl mused absentmindedly, carelessly twirling a strand of her long, loose hair around her forefinger. It felt so weird to wear it down again. She momentarily turned her attention on Ichiro, her future ‘brother’, humming in satisfaction upon seeing his brows furrow and his eyes glance downward. It was easy to get his panties in a twist. “Heya, Ichiro.. my eyes are up here, you know?~”

At the words, Ichiro glared venomously at the grinning girl before him, gulping down dryly and breathing erratically. “W-What a low blow! Though I don’t know what I expected of someone like you, in the first place.”

Despite his words, however, Y/n could easily see the pinkish tint limning the tips of his ears. She snorted, back now resting against the scarlet cushion of the chair. How very amusing.

“Hmph! How crude of you to accuse my brother of something so outrageous!” Ayaka’s shrill, high-pitched voice burst from her throat as though she had been pierced by a needle, her ears practically fuming as she spoke. “You’re so disgusting; I wish I never was forced to invite you here! You’re not even our family!”

“Ayaka, that’s enough.”

Ayaka bodily flinched at her father’s demand, shrinking back against her chair in embarrassment. She showed him big, glistening orbs, lower lip protruding into a feigned pout. “I-I don’t want her, daddy! Ichiro doesn’t, either! She’s ruining our sweet sixteen by even existing, yes! She didn’t even wish us happy birthday!”

“Ayaka!” Barked Taro’s irritated voice, sending the girl cowering back with a small, tearful whimper. “Please, do not treat Y/n so coldly. She and her mother have been a part of our family for almost a year, now; you’re supposed to be siblings. While I understand that siblings get into fights quite often, it is unforgivable to talk to each other like this. Y/n is your sister, why don’t you treat her as such?”

“Oh, please, father,” Ichiro began, scoffing audibly, “If she were our sister, then nothing like this would have taken place. But someone like her is not, and shall never be in any position to be called our sibling! I simply refuse to accept such blasphemy. She has already tainted our family name enough, don’t you see?”

“Y-yeah!” Ayaka chirped in, nodding her head furiously, voice faking softness and cracking at the edges; seemingly having found courage from her brother’s speech. “We’re not asking for something absurd, daddy! Mrs. L/n isn’t bothersome and is an elegant lady—her daughter is the problem here!”

Y/n remained silent as she listened to their tedious bickering, heart throbbing painfully, beside its greatest efforts. Was she really that unwanted? That annoying? That much of a problem? She glanced over at her mother with brows slanted over sad eyes, seeking for any shred of support, any slight bit of comfort—but she found none. The woman was sitting idly, silently, shame written all over her face; doing nothing as those spoiled brats chewed her daughter up to no end. Doing nothing to help.

Nothing but passively listening to the exchange of words.

Y/n felt a newfound anger bubbling up within her chest, liquid heat pooling into her lungs and making her heart burn inside its iron hold. A bitter taste poured itself upon her tongue, numbing the fleshy muscle and spreading cold all along her jaw. The mingled voices of the other three parties fell upon deaf ears, the only words flooding her brain being only three and flashing vividly before her the back of her eyelids.

You betrayed me.

You betrayed me.

You betrayed me, you betrayed me, you betrayed me youbetrayedmeyoubetrayed—

But it isn’t the first, is it?

You betrayed me. Again.

You betrayed me. Like you always have.

You betrayed me.

It’s not the first and it certainly won’t be the last, will it?

Do you really love the money that much?

Do you really love the money more than me?

“Y/n is part of our family!” Y/n briefly heard Taro’s voice exclaim, supporting her for seemingly no reason, as though he was her attorney and she was about to receive a death sentence. “She is as much of a daughter to me as you are, Ayaka. We’re all family, kids, so please treat each other accordingly.”

That was funny. Out of all people, Taro Shinozaki was the one defending her. Ironic, was it not? Her own mother wouldn’t even raise her gaze to meet Y/n’s, the woman who brought her to life, whilst this man who she wasn’t quite fond of was on her side, a man who was nothing more than a stranger a year ago. Scolding his children and making them recoil, listen wordlessly with their heads bowed.

How sickeningly kind of him, really.

But Y/n had had enough. She wasn’t going to stick around further to a place where she was clearly unwanted even by her own blood. The girl braced her trembling fingers against the table, swallowing the lump that had lodged itself within her throat and standing up with a strained smile that twisted her mouth unnervingly. Taro’s voice fell flat as he craned his neck, gazing up at the unstable girl with slowly blinking, emerald eyes.

“Thank you for making me feel welcome, Mr.Shinozaki,” Y/n began softly, speaking slow and calm in a bid to control the waver that tried to stalk up her quivering throat, “But it is more than obvious no one else wants me to stay, so I will take my leave.”

“No, Y/n, it’s alright, no one wants you to leave..” Taro tried meekly, guilt crossing his face and making his brows collect together in an expression of concern. “It’s not necessary to--”

“I’m leaving.”

Upon hearing the girl’s harsh response the man fell silent, as did everyone else sitting around the table. Y/n’s eyes were stinging with emotion, her heart clamoring in anguish beneath her throbbing ribs. She reluctantly stepped away from her seat, the soft soles of her flats gently pattering against the shiny marble below. God, she hated those shoes; they made her feet terribly sore. She couldn’t wait to get them off and throw them in the trash.

“Oh, and Ayaka?”

The blonde girl tensed at the mention of her name, face shriveling up in an unreadable utterance as she stared up at Y/n, who was calmly striding closer. The latter grinned from ear to ear, appearing to be back to her old, notorious self and cocked her head to the side. Y/n carefully took Ayaka’s barely touched plate from the table’s surface and held it up, eyes glistening with mischief and the blazing desire for vengeance.

Ayaka’s piercing squeal as her expensive, ivory dress was smeared with food was music to Y/n’s tainted ears. She made sure to rub the reddish pasta against the front of the gown so that it would stain, leaving a mess of barbecue sauce, spaghetti and guacamole to fall gracelessly upon Ayaka’s legs and dirty the skirt further. Who ate spaghetti with guacamole, anyway?

“Happy birthday.”

Y/n cackled in her joy and amusement as she began walking away, waving carelessly at the girl and her awful brother as she did. Ayaka was beginning to shed tears, rivulets of black coating her flushed cheeks as her mascara liquefied against the saltwater and soiled her pale face. She made to wipe at her wet cheeks with her sleeves, starting to sob grossly when the cloth came back stained with pricey mascara; successfully drawing the entire restaurant’s attention to the mishap.

Mishap to many, but a shining victory for Y/n and her short temper. She whistled cheerfully as she made her way out, arms raised and propped behind her head, entirely mindless of the weird looks she got on her way out. At this given point in time, she couldn’t afford to give a damn.

What a dumb bitch. Y/n thought, I think people forget just how much of a piece of shit I am, letting their guard down like that. Oh, well. More fun for me!

As the girl exited the dashing building, the chill of autumn enveloped her body, swathing up her bare legs and nude arms. Clad in such a dress when the weather began showing its cruel face.. how very idiotic. She wasn’t planning to wait for those sad excuses of people to leave,—undergoing hypothermia was written nowhere on her to-do list— and she slipped nimble fingers into the crevice amid her breasts, grasping her phone and swiftly unlocking it.

She became fleetingly aware the skin on her nape birthed gooseflesh at the feel of her long tresses brushing against it—she absolutely hated wearing her hair down like this. It reminded her of good years—times she could never seem to forget…

And that’s exactly why she loathed it with all her heart.

Only not really.

Y/n shook her head as though her ears were waterlogged, casting away the thought and searching through her contacts for a particular cluster of numbers, saved under the name ‘Osamu-chan♣’. She pressed the pad of her forefinger against the bright screen, humming through her nose as she put the speaker to her ear and waited for a response.

The only thing teeming her ears was the soft tapping of her sole against the ground until the beeping ceased and a male voice came from the other end of the line.

“Hello?”

A genuine grin overtook her lips. “Do you really have to be so formal with me, Osamu-chan?”

“It’s only balanced, since you are so childish with me all the time.”

Y/n pouted playfully, but giggled softly at the teasing remark. “Are you guys still at Daichi’s?”

“Yes. Aren’t you at that restaurant with those who shall not be named?”

“Not… exactly. At least, not anymore. Hey, can I come over there with you guys? It’s a bit cold and I don’t wanna go home with those dickheads…”

“You know you don’t even have to ask,” Osamu says in return, tone calm and reserved-- just like him, after all. Y/n can see the small smile on his rosy lips as he speaks. “Are you far? Do you want me to come pick you up?”

“No, no, you don’t need to.. I’ll be fine, Osamu-chan. You know me.”

“I’m saying it because I know you. Come on, nonsense; I’m coming over there. Where are you at?”

A sigh pushed past Y/n’s chapped lips as she slightly shook her head. She couldn’t deny it, however; Osamu caring for her, even subconsciously, made her feel a bit better. She smiled softly at the thought, before speaking up once more, deciding to tease. “Hmm? Does Osamu-chan care about me?”

“…” Y/n listened patiently to the flustered silence that followed, biting on her lower lip to stifle a laugh. “Do you want me to leave you there?”

“Osamu-chan!” Y/n cried in protest with a faux whine, pitch high and tone patently offended.

Osamu only laughed in return, only asking for her location so he could come and take her away from the Hell she had just eluded from.

Chapter Text

“Did you hear? There were three more girls who fell victims to the undergarment thefts this week!”

“I know right? It’s scary and creepy… it’s only a matter of time before they sneak into our lockers, too..”

“Who would even do something like that? Get into the girls’ locker rooms and just steal underwear; what kind of sick person do they have to be? It’s so gross! It’s probably a guy—if I ever find him I’ll give him a good smack over the head!”

“He’s surely from the school, too—watch yourselves around any boys; you never know what twisted kinks they can have!”

“I think girls can have those, too…”

“From the school? So it could be really anyone?!”

Kokichi listened silently at the bickering girls of his classroom, humming skeptically as he thought. His mind filtered the words they ceaselessly spewed, tapping the ball of his finger against his desk. The lewd underwear thefts had been a deal for the entire week, but now they seemed to deteriorate; almost everybody in the school were gossiping about it and pointing fingers at each other. This had been going on since the beginning of October, but it was thought to be just the carelessness of some girls regarding where they put the articles of their clothing. But now, there was a certain, disgusting thief among them, pulling the strings.

“Maybe it’s Ouma.”

Kokichi nearly choked on his spit upon hearing the words, his body shrinking back in shame as the sound of a few, girly giggles echoed.

“It could! They say it’s the shy ones you should watch out for!”

“I thought he was gay?”

“Awww, but he’s so cute, you guys.. he couldn’t have done something like that..”

“He’s weird and probably jerks off every fifteen minutes, he surely could have!”

“He’s not gay—haven’t you seen the way he looks at L/n?”

“That doesn’t mean anything! Have you seen them fucking? I don’t think so!”

“Pffft! They definitely are; they’re always hanging out together! If I had such a cute, little boy-toy following me around I’d use it to my advantage!”

We hang around all the time, too; does that mean we’re fucking?!”

“Maybe?”

“Do you think he’s top or bottom?”

“He’s definitely bottom; I’d bet my life on it!”

Kokichi huffed out in exasperation, wishing he could just press his palms against his ears in order to stop listening to the idiotic gossip they were expelling so mindlessly. He was embarrassed beyond what words could describe, but could you really blame him? There was warmth pooling within his cheeks and making the tips of his ears flush; his blood was boiling as it coursed through his veins. Those girls were just rambling on and on about nonsense, he knew it—so why was it making him so damn flustered?

Thinking of Y/n like that… it just made him feel odd. It just wasn’t normal!

Also, him? Kokichi Ouma? A bottom?

Honestly? More likely than you would think.

His train of thought was interjected, however, when he felt a gentle caress against the back of his lowered head, and his gaze snapped upward in an instant, eyes wide and alarmed. The muscles in his shoulder blades were suddenly pulled taut, as was his entire body; he wasn’t used to being approached in class unless it was for mockery. For a slight moment, he was afraid, but when he viewed the person that had touched him, his youthful face lit up in an instant.

“Y/n-san!”

“Morning, Ouma-chan.” The girl greeted with an easy smile, dealing a light pat against his shoulder before striding to settle onto her chair behind him. She sat down tediously, carelessly throwing her bag down beside her legs and ascending a hand to her mouth, concealing her deformed mouth as she yawned. Kokichi turned around on his chair, legs dangling over the side and face glowing as he showed an innocent, sweet smile.

“Good morning.” He said shyly, heart thundering clamorously beneath his ribs. “Y/n-san.. do y-you have a partner for the literature project?”

Y/n hummed softly as she leaned forth onto her desk, resting her chin against the heel of her hand. She looked the hopeful boy over carefully, thinking for a split moment before smiling widely. “Of course I do!” She responded cheerfully, eyes crinkling at the edges; the joyful tone and expression only jabbing at Kokichi’s poor, little heart.

It felt like a punch to the gut.

The boy visibly recoiled away, eyes round and crestfallen and darting everywhere but her face. The genuineness of his smile died swiftly upon his pinkish lips, the corners of his mouth twitching uneasily as he tried to keep up his façade. His shoulders dropped and his expression wilted, as did the hope that he had kept hidden away since he woke up. Of course Y/n already had a partner for the project. Why was he even surprised?

Kokichi cursed himself for feeling disappointed, for feeling sad. He always was everyone’s last option, lucky enough to be considered one at all. He shouldn’t feel so gloomy because Y/n had found someone better. After all, everyone was better than him, so it shouldn’t have come as much of a shock as it did. He thought he had gotten used to the emptiness that resonated within him in situations such as this, used to the sentiment of being worthless and absolutely useless.

It seems not.

In spite of his greatest efforts, Kokichi couldn’t stop the familiar, hollow feeling from pooling within his heart.

“Oh.” It came out small and quiet, audibly dripping with the ache gnawing at his chest. When he reluctantly rose his gaze to meet her own, he felt as though he has been stabbed in the throat when he took in how oblivious Y/n seemed to be to his feelings. She was still smiling widely, eyes questioning as they intently stared at him. She took no note of how hurt he seemed to be after she spoke, merely batting her lashes away as though nothing lingered in the air.

“That’s.. g-good, then.” Managed Kokichi, voice slightly wavering with his strain not to tear up. He wasn’t going to cry over this, of course not! He wasn’t that type of person… However, as Kokichi felt a lump of emotion lodge itself within his throat and rid him off his air supply, he came to the horrid realization he was exactly that type of person.

“Good morning, class!”

At the sound of Mr.Marriott’s deep, smooth voice entering the classroom, Kokichi tensed up bodily, instantly whirling around to sit normally in his seat. He kept his head low, sweltering hands clasping each other desperately, throat doddering with his urge to cry. He sucked in a few slow, tattered breaths, attempting to calm himself even though his endeavor would be in vain. He just couldn’t calm down when his heart was beating with such haste he thought it’d tear itself through his chest.

Mr.Marriott was smiling kindly at his students, fingers pressed against his desk as he leaned forward. “I hope everyone is doing alright today. So, you know what I will ask of you first, don’t you? I’d like you to tell me the groups or duos you have formed so I can give out the subjects to you. So please, raise your hands and I will write you down. Who would like to go first?”

From the corner of his eye, Kokichi could see a few students raise their hands so they could announce the teams they had formed and he felt his stomach drop. This was going to be so humiliating for him. Everyone was going to have someone to work with and he was the only one who would be left all alone, like he always was. No group would want someone like him, and so he would have to work and present it before everyone alone; all by his pathetic, miserable self.

The humility, the mockery.. how would he manage to go through it once more?

“Ah! Yes, Y/n-san? What would be your group?” Mr.Marriott’s voice echoed, laced with nothing but satisfaction that Y/N was for once raising her hand in his lesson. After all, it was a rare occurrence. At the mere sound of her name, Kokichi sulked further into his well of pitiless self-loathing. He wished he could just be good enough. He really wanted to hear the name of the person Y/n would be working with so he could hate them with all he had. Though childish it may seem, Kokichi was so replete with emotion that he thought he would burst; he needed to aim his bitterness and jealousy at someone else.

Wait, jealousy? No, no, he wasn’t jealous. He wasn’t jealous the only person he ever really considered a friend abandoned him for somebody else.

Who are you calling jealous, huh?!

“That would be me and Ouma-chan!”

Wait, what the fu—

“You and… Oh, you’re talking about Ouma-kun?” Mr. Marriott raised his brows in slight inquisitiveness, giving a gentle laugh. “An odd pairing, for sure.. But I suppose opposites attract! Ouma-kun, you and Y/n-san are partners, then?”

At the call of his name, Kokichi jumped in his agitation, staring at Mr.Marriott with his doe eyes drenched in hesitation and confusion. He opened his mouth to speak, but his throat was being clamped down by some invisible force, rendering him speechless and gaping. So, instead, he pressed his lips shut and frantically nodded his little head, long tufts bouncing about with the swift, abrupt motion and brushing against the sides of his face.

Mr.Marriott shook his head with an appeasing chuckle, jotting the names of the two down in his notebook. “Very well, then.”

Ouma was so overwhelmed by both sorrow and happiness that he didn’t know what expression he should be wearing. The corners of his mouth were shakily twitching in awe, his eyes glossy as he tried to blink away his bewilderment and sponge up what had just happened. One moment, he sat silent and skeptical and the other he was brimming with such joy that his cheeks were beginning to cramp from how wide he was smiling.

Y/n hadn’t abandoned him. She was his partner, now; they were going to work together! He wouldn’t be alone, he wouldn’t be alone, he wouldn’t be alone! If Kokichi was allowed to and had the courage, which he frankly didn’t, he would have stood up and began twirling around, giggling like an idiot as he did cartwheels all around the expanse of the room. If his weak arms were able to hold him for more than a split second, that is.

He was about to turn around and look at Y/n, express all his gratitude and glee, when—

“‹‹Ouma-chan››? Ha-ha! It suits him, don’t you think? He already looks so much like a girl!”

An undoubtedly feminine voice snickered along with what she had uttered, and so did almost everyone in the class, the words making Kokichi’s oxygen freeze within his lungs. He fleetingly glanced to the side to see who had spoken, only to avert his gaze just as quickly. It was Lillian, the girl who had accused him of being the thief in the school in the first place when blabbering with her friends; the girl who was the third and last person in Terrence’s little gang.

Lillian was tall, excessively overweight and extremely cold-hearted. She was the one who had snatched his turquoise notebook from his grasp that one time and began tearing out each and every page her venomous eyes landed upon. He had tried to take it back, but she was a lot heavier and physically stronger, occupied with a height that towered over him. She was there that day Y/n had saved him from his relentless bullies’ claws, Kokichi recalls.

“Hmm? Sorry, did you say something?” Y/n’s voice echoed inside the four walls of the classroom, clear as thought it were a sparkling crystal, making everyone’s annoying sneering fall silent. Kokichi turned around to look immediately, finding her fixing Lillian with chaotic eyes and a menacing smile.

Uh oh.

The two girls stared each other down, the one sweating profusely at the other’s wide, cruel grin. Lillian visibly gulped and Y/n’s orbs glistened with evil, a low chuckle making her sternum quake. “I didn’t hear you very well. So I would advise you to either speak up or keep your smelly breath in your dirty mouth. You know, I can smell all that cholesterol clogging your throat.”

Some students stifled their laughter at Y/n’s ill-willed comment, and the said girl smirked knowingly as Lillian’s brows twitched, an indicator her anger was being fuelled. The plump female went to open her mouth, patently irritated and offended—a reaction only serving to satisfy Y/n’s amusement and make her brows rise in expectation.

“That’s enough, now.”

“Hmmm?” Y/n craned her neck and cocked her head to the side, smile dying upon her lips as she stared at Mr.Marriott. “Whaat? Don’t you believe in karma, Mr.Marriott? You’re free to be an asshole in this life,” The girl paused, jaw clenching visibly as her piercing gaze glanced over at Lillian, “But it’s always gonna bite you in the ass later! That’s what karma is! So when you make fun of someone, it’s only fair someone else does it to you, too, right? Riight?”

“What are you, bitch, his attorney?” Lillian said through a snarl, voice ferocious and frenetic and only adding fuel to the flames of Y/n’s fury and bemusement. The latter’s eyes went wide at the words, a vociferous laugh flying from between her lips and making her shoulders shake. The absolute nerve of this bitch.

“Lillian, Y/n! Enough!” Mr.Marriott’s voice boomed, resonating loudly within the room and trying desperately to make peace between the two. “Y/n, say sorry to your classmate, right now.”

“Huuh? But this buffalo was the one who started it all with her smart-ass comment, Mr.Marriott!” Y/n absolutely lived for viewing how red Lillian’s face got each second that passed; each second that made her more livid than the last. If it weren’t for being in class, Y/n knew Lillian wouldn’t have hesitated to pounce on her and swing with her big, meaty fists in a pathetic attempt to take Y/n down. That would have been quite interesting to experience…

“How dare you, you--!”

“Y/n!” Mr.Marriott repeated, fists clenched at his sides as he keenly tried to regain control of the situation. He never was an expert when it came to crude remarks or violence. Poor, little soft boy. “Say sorry right now!”

“Jeez, fine, okay!” Y/n blew a raspberry in tedium, pouting in spurious grief as she clasped her hands together on her desk; turning her head and showing the fuming Lillian the sweetest smile she could muster. “I’m sorry you’re a fat bitch.”

It was hilarious, really.

A few students stared with eyes the size of platters at the comment, but most of them had occupied themselves with bursting into laughter or trying to stifle their obnoxious snickering as they whispered to each other. A smug grin had settled upon Y/n’s lips, her shoulders doddering along with her hearty cackling, hands excitedly clapping together as though she was cheering for her own, stinging remark. Lillian’s face had gotten so red that it reminisced the color of the stockings wrapped so elegantly around Y/n’s legs; she looked ready to stand from her seat and snatch the latter by the bun in which her hair was collected and bang her head against the ground.

However, despite her deceiving build, Y/n was too strong and too quick for her own good—there was simply no way someone like Lillian would be able to immobilize her, since that required getting a hold of her first. Despite Y/n’s joyous smile, Lillian could see the pure, unmistakable malice hidden beneath it.

Y/n knew she should feel a bit bad for spitting venom with such ease, yet she really couldn’t find it in herself to be. Never had she been a person who targeted meek and weak individuals-- not that she ever would be—she only was mean to the best of her ability to people who either were asking for it by messing with her or by bothering people who she liked.

And Y/n really was not the person who would just let someone get away when they had spoken ill of or hurt someone she was fond of.

Lillian made to open her big, filthy mouth, but before she had the chance to utter a word, Mr.Marriot slammed a wide palm against the teacher’s desk, the abrupt noise managing to shut everyone up. Everyone except for Y/n, of course, who did little to nothing in attempting to hide that shit-eating grin adorning her lips.

“Girls, that is enough.” Mr.Marriott said slowly, his voice calm and stable in spite of his erratic, irregular breathing. He tacked his gaze to Y/n, who only inquisitively rose her brows at him, fixing him with those chaotic, unreadable eyes. “Y/n, I did not exactly hear what your classmate said, and though it might have been offensive, you shouldn’t be so quick in judging her. You should always give another chance and apologize..”

“Hmm?” Y/n tapped the tip of her finger against her cheekbone, humming thoughtfully at the professor’s speech. Suddenly, the gleeful smile she donned so elegantly dissolved into thin air, expression blank and emotionless as she leaned forth. “I’m not apologizing to anyone who doesn’t deserve to hear it. Because I simply wouldn’t be telling the truth, you know? It’d all be a bitter lie.” The girl absentmindedly eyed her hand, examining her worn nails and sighing through her nose before ascending her piercing gaze and staring passionlessly at Mr. Marriott—as though she was looking right through him. Her voice was devoid of all life as she spoke. “Aren’t you the one who always tells us to be honest with ourselves? To never say or do things we don’t believe in? Or was that a lie?”

It was scary how quickly this girl’s aura could change.

She could go from cheerfully smiling to staring emptily with those indechiperable, black holes she called eyes as though she were a phantom. As though no emotion swirled within her shell of a body.

Mr.Marriott gulped tensely, thick brows slanted over his eyes. The entire class had grown silent, passing confused glances back and forth, the aura hanging over their heads so dense and heavy that if they were to try and slice it with a knife the blade would break from the handle. It wasn’t often they would see Mr.Marriott broken out of the confines of his normal, laid-back self.

“Y/n-san.”

Y/n’s eyes shifted in an instant at the soft whisper, squinting sharply at the person who had just expelled it. Kokichi was staring right back, eyes silently pleading and expression fraught of nothing but worry as he showed her an uneasy smile. He perused the way her nostrils flared with each breath she drew out, the fashion in which her jaw clenched so snidely, the tautness of her body as she sat there, motionlessly glowering at him.

A wave of relief travelled through Kokichi’s petite form when Y/n’s whetted gaze involuntarily softened as it slowly took him in. The splenetic expression her face was clad with had now placated tremendously, the motions of her chest calming with each passing second as the beads of her eyes flew to observe every corner of his sympathetic face. The glimmer within her irises returned when they flashed up to his own again, the Y/n he knew reluctantly emerging from the depths once more.

The girl’s brows furrowed momentarily at the soft smile Kokichi was displaying, the corner of her mouth quirking at the view. Purple little asshole had actually managed to soothe her haywire nerves and bring her head level to earth again. She leaned back into her chair tediously, arms tucked behind her head, eyes nearly unable to rip themselves away from the boy’s familiar face.

“Whatever,” She muttered the left brink of her mouth elevating in a lopsided grin. “I’m.. sorry I interrupted the lesson, Mr.Marriott. I guess.” Y/n averted her gaze sheepishly; rather embarrassed that she was voicing such words. She was egregious when expressing emotions that weren’t anger, not to mention the fact she wasn’t the brightest when it came to tasks such as apologizing. The mounds of her cheeks were replete with warmth, and Mr.Marriott’s raised brows coupled with Kokichi’s proud smile weren’t helping in the slightest. “Jeez.. Keep writing down the groups because that’s the best you’re ever gonna get out of me.”

Mr.Marriot perplexedly glanced between the two, Kokichi looking back at him with a kind smile and Y/n shaking her head and grumbling nonsense underneath her breath. The man decided not to push it further, though a knowing smile tugged at the corners of his lips as he nodded his head. “Very well, Y/n-san. You are forgiven.”

“Forgiven.. of course I’m forgiven…”

Kokichi turned his head, watching with a small giggle as Y/n muttered to herself, arms having descended and folded over her chest. At the quiet ring of laughter, Y/n huffed stubbornly through her nose, glaring at him behind burning cheeks. Kokichi gave her a questioning, innocent grin—a fact which only served to amplify her fluster and made her squirm in her seat. Mr.Marriott’s voice was a mere blur against her stained ears as he questioned other students. “Happy?”

“I’m just happy that you’re not mad, anymore,” Said Kokichi, hesitantly glancing at Lillian from the corner of his eye, who was intently staring daggers at the side of his skull, “You shouldn’t get worked up over someone like her. She’s no better than Terrence or Vince.”

“Well, since you don’t stand up for yourself, someone else has to do it, you know?” Y/n replied with an easy shrug of her shoulders, showing the gaping boy an even stare.

Kokichi blinked dumbly at the retort, rendering his gaze to the flooring below as he thought. Y/n had stood up for him? Was that why she had been so caustic to Lillian? He lightly shook his head at the mere notion, in spite of the abashed smile that was keen on conquering the cushions of his lips. He didn’t deserve it… He didn’t deserve her empathy, or her protection.

And now, it was because of him havoc had befallen them, it was because of him that Y/n had been scolded so unfairly by Mr.Marriott.. It was all his fault. “Y-you shouldn’t defend someone like me, Y/n-san… you could have gotten in trouble, you know? You shouldn’t worry about me; I’ll be fine, I’m used to being picked on by now…”

Kokichi’s feeble, passive smile as he spoke was making Y/n sick to the core. Just how little did this boy care about himself? Why was he acting as though his job was to be a cute, harmless scarecrow, having his eyes and nose and hands pecked out by any crows that would come and sit upon it? She gave a snort, face contorting in an expression of disbelief and disapproval.

“Should I buy some popcorn for next time, then? Sit back, relax, have a snack? Trust me, if you were someone who deserved it I would, gladly. Buuut… Surprise, surprise; you really don’t! And, besides,” The girl paused, giving him a good look over before resuming, smiling easily at the boy before her. “You’re not just nobody, you know? You’re my partner now, after all! I can’t just have some asshole talk down on you without some punishment!”

Kokichi stared quietly at the cheerful, beaming girl, striving to detect any inkling of a lie concealing itself within her words. He gazed at her pretty eyes wordlessly, lips shut and stomach fluttering, watching closely to see if there’s any hint of revulsion, any falter in her genuine expression—but he found none.

So, she’s serious..?

Partners, huh?

…Was that her way of saying ‘friends’?

“Honestly, I was nervous,” Kokichi admits through a murmur, absentmindedly toying with a strand of his dark hair. His face holds no expression in particular, vacant and stainless like a blank canvas, but Y/n can see the colorful speckles of both nervousness and relief spill their hues across his cheeks. “Normally.. I’m always left alone. Without a group, without a partner…” A faint smile crosses his pallid lips, sorrowful yet grateful. “I.. I’m glad you picked me, Y/n-san.”

“As if I would pick anyone else,” Y/n says with a playful roll of her eyes, making it seem like the most obvious thing in the world. She deals a gentle nudge at Kokichi’s bicep, and he involuntarily meets her eyes and sad simper. “I’m the same, after all. I’m always left alone, too, you know? If I was back in B-4, I would probably be paired up with Terrence or something.. Buuut, since I have the chance, why would I wanna be with any of them other bitches when there’s you, Ouma-chan?”

Kokichi’s heartbeat sped up at the sound of the words, his rosy cheeks glowing healthily as a shy giggle pushed past his lips. He knew he shouldn’t have let it, but her speech had done a lot more than just flatter him—it was a small boost to his wrecked ego, making a pleasantly warm feeling rouse from within him.

He heard the whispering of a group of students beside them, most likely questioning how those two particular individuals were chatting so casually. It made Kokichi slightly uneasy, but it wasn't like he was going to complain about it—but Y/n quickly caught on to the situation, and with a mere turn of her head their way the bickering came to an immediate stop and the students shrank back into their seats.

Y/n snorted in amusement, swiftly turning her attention back on her partner and smiling sweetly. What she was about to bring up was going to be essential so her plan would go as smoothly as butter upon toast. She needed to be very careful.

“So..” She began slowly, reposing her cheek against her palm till it bulged out slightly and gazing at him expectantly. “I saw the program. We have Mr.Hanzaki tomorrow, huh?”

The way Kokichi’s shoulders and angelic smile dropped in response indicated the statement to be true.

Perfect.

Chapter Text

Y/n didn't know how this had happened.

She had only been humming softly as she let her fingers caress through the unkempt, loose strands of her hair. The smell of the shampoo she had used in yesterday's shower still lingering, clouding around her like pleasant, fragrant mist. The hairband that had beenformerly holding her lengthy locks at the top of her head was held tightly amid her teeth; she hadn't planned on leaving it gracelessly cascading down her shoulders for long.

She had been prepared to scoop it all up with her palms and secure it at the top of her head once more, but..

“Wow, Y/n-san! I don't think I've ever seen you with your hair down! It looks so pretty...”

The motions of her arms had paused at the sound of the elated voice that had rung out beside her, her head slowly craning to look-- met with Kokichi's excited, glowing face. She blinkled dumbfoundedly at the boy seated next to her, lips parted in her slight surprise as she carefully looked him over. He was a bundle of joy right at that moment, unable to contain the mirth he was brimming with; Y/n could practically see the stars dancing elegantly within the color of his eyes.

The girl snorted at the innocent, child-like enthusiasm coming off of him in ceaseless tides. How cute. “And you never will again.”

“Aww...” His gleeful expression shaped into a sullen pout, lower lip protruding as he stared at her with afflicted eyes, watching intently as Y/n lowered her arms and let them rest against her thighs. “But it makes you look so nice...”

“Oh?” The girl folded her arms over her chest, shaking her head and huffing out in feigned dissappointment at the remark. “So I don't look nice otherwise? Wow, Ouma-chan, how cold! And here I thought we were partners...”

Kokichi's eyes grew the size of platters, his head shaking frantically to indicate his denial as he scurried to answer. A scarlet hue had coated the apples of his cheeks, his throat bobbing slightly with the action of his nervous, stiff swallowing. “I-I'm not saying that!” Was the first thing that blurted from between his lips, words carelessly flying out of his mouth before his mind could even filter half of them. “Y-You always look nice.. I-I mean! Um! I like you either way, so it's fine! I was only saying it looks good on you.”

Y/n hummed softly as she listened to Kokichi's panicky, blabbering voice, the tip of her forefinger tapping lightly against her chin. She watched wordlessly as he bodily shook beneath the wake of her piercing gaze, shoulders quaking and thistle orbs quivering skittishly in their milky ponds. For a long, tense moment she remained silent, merely glowering at him with an expression blank and devoid of all emotion, making poor, little Kokichi's hide crawl and shrivel in all his evident nervousness. However, her lips peeled into a soft smile rather quickly, placating the boy's hesitation and uncertainty; Y/n couldn't pretend to be upset with him for long.

She dealt a playful nudge to Kokichi's elbow, making his shoulders jump and his voice shriek shrilly at the contact. A peal of entertained laughter pushed past the fleshy threshold of her mouth, her eyes apologetic as they tacked themselves upon him. “Hmmm? You liiike me, Ouma-chan?” Y/n stifled a giggle when she viewed the patent flushing of Kokichi's pallid ears, easily leaning back against the sakura tree as she spoke. “Wow, I didn't know you felt this way about me...”

Kokichi tightly shut his eyes at the teasing undertone of her voice, expelling a protesting whine as he weakly pushed against her arm in an attempt to cease her prideful snickering and save a part of his worn dignity. “S-Shut up, will you! Don't joke around like that! It's not funny! Idiot!”

“Hehe..” Y/n swayed to the side at the feeble shove, grinning flamboyantly at Kokichi's reddening cheeks and adorably embarrassed expression. She held her hands up with a small smile, attempting to soothe the smaller boy's frustrated shaking as he clenched his fists against his chest. “I didn't know you were a tsun-tsun, Ouma-chan.”

The calmness in which she spoke only served to ampify Kokichi's fluster-- how was she always so unfazed and collected, even by things she would utter herself? They were said to make light of a situation or pull his leg a bit, and he was well-aware, but Kokichi would get anxious and embarrassed about most things, since he was nowhere near used to being around people; especially somebody so unpredictable and new such as her.

“‹‹Hehe››? ‹‹Hehe››?! I didn't know you were Michael Jackson!”

Kokichi's face is fuming profusely the entire time he speaks, brows shakily furrowed as he watches Y/n's eyes widen before she rests her back against the sakura tree, bursting into a fit of hearty laughter. Head thrown back, eyes shut tightly, mouth ajar and emptying shameless cackles-- Kokichi is frustrated beyond words, cheeks puffing out as he listens to the pleasant peal of noise, viewing the way in which Y/n's chest quakes along with her vocal mirth. Her face is scrunched up, breath coming in curt bouts as she half-heartedly tries to calm herself down, though she knows her attempts will be in vain.

The boy beside her nudges her gently, whining out in complaint, calling her to stop laughing because it wasn't funny and she has a horrid sense of humour-- though he finds it quite the task to halt the dissolving of his agitation and the involuntary smile trying to win him over. Kokichi finds the muscles in his glowing cheeks aching, blissfully unaware of the fact he's grinning from ear to ear himself as his meekly objecting words gradually turn to unintentional giggling.

He's still telling her to stop through the small bursts of laughter racking his chest, unsuccessfully trying to feign annoyance; but his trembling voice and obvious grinning betrays him. But, he doesn't mind. He was always used for people's entertainment in some way or another, but it always meant he was going to be hurt either physically or mentally. But, people always laughed, and he was a bit happy that he could spark something other than distate and hate into someone.

However, it was the first time in all of his sad, miserable life that someone wasn't laughing at him; they were laughing with him, rather, with something he had said. The thought made his throbbing heart pulse with something other than shame and humiliation. He didn't quite know what it was, as he hadn't felt it many times before, but he was being doused in a pleasant sensation; an odd kind of warmth that emanated from his battered heart and branched out to cover the entire expanse of his chest.

It was the most pure feeling Kokichi had ever experienced, and he was completely clueless as to how he was supposed to handle it. So far, it had made him smile genuinely, laugh without holding back for once, slowly coaxing him out of his shell-- and that was what scared him the most. He wasn't used to feeling like this, not when he was with someone else.

And, as he watched Y/n recover from her formerly boisterous laughter, viewed her slow breathing and the lazy smile spread across her face, his lungs drew a tight breath. He hated to admit it, but being with Y/n made him feel safe. Strangely at ease, his worries momentarily forgotten; as though nothing and no one would attempt to hurt him anymore.

He hated to admit how happy that inner peacefulness made him feel and absolutely loathed how it vanished into thin air once Y/n was no longer with him.

The boy sighed softly, leaning his cheek against his palm and smiling faintly as he looked at her. It was nice to see her laugh. Though he hadn't let her know yet, Kokichi had noted the way she wasn't quite herself after Mr.Marriott's lesson. She was unusually absorbed in thought when the breaks came along, mindlessly humming and nodding along with what Kokichi told her. He had recognized that vacant look her eyes held when they stared off, the silence and stillness of her body almost making her seem as though she was sleeping without having shut her eyes first. There was that nostalgia oozing from within them, a kind of melancholy that puzzled and pestered Kokichi to no end.

Y/n had been like that since Mr.Marriott had embarked on one of his usual ramblings about the sublime and ethereal wonder which he called love. Spoke in full, excessive detail about how lovely it is, about how wonderfully helpless it makes one feel. Described it as one of the most powerful emotions somebody could feel. An absolute mastermind, a drug that altered reality itself. An emotion that drove people mad; made them kill others, murder their own morals or take their own lives.

All in the cursed name of love.

Kokichi had never felt it. Sure, maybe he had harbored romantic feelings for individuals he could count on only one hand, but it never lasted for long and was always unrequited. However, merely having a crush wasn't the blessed possession people labelled as 'true love', and Kokichi was well-aware. It was more than being enamoured with a person who didn't like you back and you would be over in a few months. Not being wanted back hurt for sure, but most people would come to terms with it a lot easier than they thought they could. Being loved back, on the other hand, and then losing the one you love-- that was all of the pain in the world raining down upon you.

Kokichi could only make assumptions based on things he had read and heard, as he had never experienced it before. He desperately wished to know what it was like, being loved unconditionally and doted on, but unfortunately most people he met disliked him with a passion. However, he was never quick to just slap labels onto people he would happen to feel attracted to, either platonically or romantically. He was a person who had gone through a lot of betrayal and pain and wasn't about to be hasty when putting his trust into someone. It was very difficult for him to trust completely, and so falling in love was quite the challenge.

But he figured this was better than having his heart broken to thousands of glass shards. He didn't know whether the aftermath of love was worth it or not. And that was alright. Because Kokichi didn't know the wonders of love.

Y/n, on the other hand.. She knew them all too well.

Desperately wished she never had, sometimes.

“Yoohoo!~ Ouma-chan!” Kokichi's trance was shattered when Y/n waved a hand in front of his face, her head cocked to the side as she examined his unreadable expression. While her tone was playful and cheerful, her sharp eyes were keenly studying him, trying to decipher just what had rendered him so silent all of a sudden. “Has Ouma-chan.exe stopped working?”

Kokichi merely shook his head and put a small, apologetic smile on display, sweltering nervously at the temples. “Sorry, sorry. I guess I just spaced out a little bit..”

“Hmm...” Y/n's eyes squinted suspiciously at her companion, teeth gnawing skeptically at the enterior lining of her cheek. The reaction was purposely exaggerated, but beneath it lay a hidden motive. She knew he was lying and pried at him with her gaze to see if he was willing to tell her or not. Kokichi knew she hadn't bought his superficial, desultory excuse, but silently pleaded that she wouldn't question him further about it. The suspicion still lingered within the pits of her prying eyes, but she chose to let it go when she perceived his shying away. “Alright..”

The afternoon wind danced gently, its invisible fingers brushing through her hair and making it fall gracelessly over her nose and lashes. It was already a tangled, unkempt mess, and the wind's antics only served to frustrate Y/n as she blew at the fleecy cape coating her face, only making a strand of it bounce a bit before it fell right back on its spot against her nose. It was starting to really annoy her, and she cursed herself for even letting that lion's mane down in the first place. The girl let out a huff of frustration, grabbing her school bag and rummaging through it, making Kokichi flinch with the sudden motion; she had moved so fast that her hands had become blur.

Kokichi blinked, leaning forth inquisitively and watching as she drew her hand out and produced a hairbrush with pink teeth. Wait, a hairbrush? For a moment, he was baffled as he viewed the ascent of her hand as she made to brush through her tresses. Why in God's name did she have a hairbrush in her school bag? Who does that?

“What?” Questioned Y/n, appearing rather confused at Kokichi's puzzled expression; eyes lidded and lips parted. She tugged on hair messy hair with the brush and winced slightly, making the boy seated beside her physically cringe. “I need to brush it; I can't put it up if it's like a bee hive, you know..”

Y/n explained it carelessly, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world and Kokichi was the odd one for reacting the way he did. Could you really blame him, though? It wasn't a thing he saw every day and it had made him a bit uneasy-- and Y/n 's relentlessly cruel brushing was not helping his situation at all. On the contrary, it was making him more frustrated; she was clearly doing it wrong, and cursing her skull with an awful sting in the process.He just couldn't sit there and watch her torture herself with a god-forsaken hairbrush...

Jeez, Y/n-san.. for a person who is so efficient in fist-fighting, you don't even know how to brush your own hair...

Kokichi stifled a small giggle, reaching out with his hand and touching Y/n's motioning wrist, ceasing all her movement in an instant. The girl turned to him with furrowed brows, evidently pained from the way she was brushing her hair, lips pursued into a sullen, involuntary pout. Kokichi ventured to gently take the brush from her hold and, in her fluster, Y/n decided to let him, albeit cautious and visibly confused at his advance. The boy avoided eye contact, smiling nervously as he took a strand of her soft hair amid his fingers.

“You're not supposed to do it like that, Y/n-san.” He said it softly, scooting closer and desperately trying to ignore his pounding heart, which almost beat out of his chest upon sensing Y/n's seeking eyes upon him. The urge to look back was unbearable, but he focused solely on the lock of hair cascading down his palm. “You're supposed to start from the bottom, not from the top... When you start from the bottom you take out all the knots slowly, but if you start pulling from the top, it's gonna hurt a lot.”

Y/n stared wordlessly as Kokichi carefully brushed her hair, shoulders slightly tense with the fear he was going to pull to hard and make it hurt. It was comical how slow and methodical he went about it, but as the appendages of the brush parted her tresses and painlessly combed through them, she was overwhelmed by both curiosity and confusion. Why was it not hurting? Normally, when she would go through with the satan ritual of brushing her hair, it would produce a pang that travelled through her skull and made her eyes tear up at the corners.

It hurt, okay?!

However, Kokichi was making it seem so seamless that she felt a bit embarrassed. Though he encountered some stubborn knots on his way up, that devious boy made it so she didn't hurt at all-- did it so effortlessly, as though it was the simplest thing in the world. And maybe it was; certainly not for Y/n, however, who was melting away in shame, cheeks ablaze and hands wringing uneasily.

She was still eyeing him silently, watching the delicate motions of his pale hands and the way the tip of his pink tongue poked out of his mouth in his concetration. He was way too focused for something so simple – little did she know, he was so absorbed because he was too nervous to look back-- and a small smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she watched him. What a little dork.

“Did it hurt?” Kokichi questioned softly, finally mustering up the courage to look her in the eye. A kind smile had taken over his features, making his youthful face light up like the tender glow of a Christmas tree. He retracted his hands sheepishly, anxious eyes searching for any hint of discomfort or disgust in her expression as she quietly stared back at him.

“No.” Y/n voiced the word so quietly that it almost verged on being a soft-spoken whisper. Her mouth had shaped into a fond smile, a small, entertained giggle pushing past her lips. It was so surprisingly easy to be around Kokichi. He wasn't judgemental or mean. For once, she didn't have to pretend when she was around someone. She didn't have to act overly tough and distant, she didn't have to act all sweet and kind to avoid punishment. She could just be herself; the person she had kept hidden underneath for what seemed like all eternity.

This was so much better than being home with all those people she despised...

Y/n hadn't even realized how lengthy the silence that had followed her lone word was until Kokichi nervously shifted where he sat, lowering his head and speaking up shyly to break the quietude that was making him squirm. The words were a swirling distraction within his brain, slyly tickling the inside of his throat in an attempt to be let out as he gazed at the hair oozing down her shoulders. His lips parted on their own accord, before he could even stop them, registering the words he so suddenly had uttered only when they reached his ears. “Do you.. Do you want me to do rest, Y/n-san?”

Kokichi wanted to slap himself right across the face when he realized what he had just so idiotically said. He made to clamp a sweltering hand over his gaping mouth, but to his great misfortune, it was far too late to take it all back now. Y/n was already looking at him, expression having altered at the peculiar proposal, slowly blinking eyes perplexedly gazing at him under playfully arched brows. The amused chuckle she expelled when viewing the color powdering Kokichi's cheeks only served to amplify the boy's agitation.

“Ooh? You'd really be so kind as to do that for me, Ouma-chan?” Y/n asked, her voice low and teasing and making Kokichi glare adorably behind his red cheeks, his slender fingers clenching around the fucshia handle of the hairbrush. “Or is that just an excuse to play with my hair?”

“Y-You! I'm only saying it because if you keep doing it like that, you will no longer have hair! I'm trying to be a good person, here...”

Y/n only gave an amused laugh in return to Kokichi's easily fuelled dither, raising both hands up in half-hearted defence and basking in the aftermath her words had brough to life. Carefully, she lay her left palm over the top of his head and gently petted it in a playful bid to calm him down. She swore that if his face got any more colorful, it would turn as purple as his hair and burst.

Though Kokichi flinched a bit at the contact at first, exuding a surprised, small sound, he allowed her touch upon him. His initial instinct was to draw back immediately, far too familiarized with the treatment he received from his mother, but his brain soothed him by telling him this was just Y/n who was doing it. So it wasn't that big of a deal to let her, right? She, out of everyone, wouldn't physically hurt him... He hoped that much, at least. Kokichi hated himself for still being so untrusting, but.. could you really blame him after all he's been through?

Even so, that didn't mean his spine didn't turn to jelly whenever she would pet his little head like that.

Y/n's caress was so cautious upon him that it nearly made him ill. It was quite ironic; the very hand petting him had hurt so many people, covered in blood, tears, swathed with numerous bandages. So how could it be so kind when it let itself against him? It felt like Y/n purposely didn't put much pressure, as though she was worried if she did it would make the glass of his skin shatter. The fact she was smiling at him so joyfully, expression genuine and not hidden beneath a lie for once, wasn't helping either. It only served to unleash an entire zoo so it could join the butterflies flapping their delicate wings within his stomach.

Kokichi was agitated.

He was easily flustered by the girl beside him.

He was a bit nervous when being with her.

But, above all, right at that moment, Kokichi could tell himself something without shielding himself beneath a white lie. Yes, he was sure.

He was happy.

Right at moment, Kokichi was happy. The happiest he had ever felt. And he desperately hoped he would feel it again in the future.

“I'll do you the generous favor and let you brush my luscious locks, okay?” Y/n's voice came cheerful and confident as she spoke, a sweet smile tacked to her lips as she retreated her hand from his fleecy head. Her expression was so calm and serene that it nearly made Kokichi's heartbeat halt when he saw the spurious menace embedded within the pits of her vacant eyes.“Buut.. if you make any of it hurt, I'll cut off all of your fingers. Are we clear?”

For a short-lived, tense moment, the boy really wondered if she was being serious; unblinking eyes staring within her own, breath snared by his doubt and kept securely locked at the back of his throat. His face had drained of all its former color, body slightly shrinking back, fraught of uncertainty, of reluctance. It honestly bewildered him how her honeyed words could convert to a speech dripping with bitter venom in the matter of a few seconds.

Upon perceiving the unnerved expression he wore, however, Y/n expelled a nervous giggle, fingers mindlessly floricking with the edge of her raven skirt. She gave him a gentle pat on the shoulder and offered an apologetic smile in return, the playful glimmer within her eye emerging anew and managing to ease Kokichi's visible nervousness. The boy was seemingly confused, even though his nerves had calmed a little, and Y/n made a mental note not to make such distasteful jokes with someone like him. “Kidding, I'm kidding... Don't look so scared, I won't cut off your fingers, Ouma-chan! If I did that, then how would I let your magic hands work?”

Kokichi hesitantly shuffled closer when she carefully motioned for him to, balancing his weight on his knees and letting out a small huff. “Don't scare me like that, Y/n-san...” He muttered under his breath, a rosy hue crawling to his cheeks once more when Y/n exuded a soft snicker and half-heartedly apologized. He felt a little silly for thinking she was actually going to hurt him, but the poor soul could never be too sure of anyone and wasn't about to risk his physical integrity-- or what was left of it, anyway. “Turn around, I can't brush your hair from here, you know... And stay still, o-okay? If you don't, it will hurt, and I'd rather keep my fingers...”

Y/n let out a jolly peal of laughter and followed Kokichi's faltering orders, now seated cross-legged and with her back opposing him. “Look at you ordering me around, Ouma-chan..”

The boy scooted closer, thin fingers swathed around the pink hairbrush and cheeks burning from Y/n's ceaseless teasing. He shook his head slightly at the comment, curls brushing against the sides of his face as he set the colorful contraption onto his lap, reaching out to gently take a hold of Y/n's disheveled mop of hair. Slowly, he prompted the locks over her shoulders so they were spread along the expanse of her back, the tips of his digits caressing the flesh of her neck in the process and making an involuntary shudder quake her spine.

Kokichi noticed, of course, but strived to ignore the flutter of his heart at the thought his touch could cause something other than feelings of disgust or dismay to someone else. It made a small smile tug at the corners of his wan lips. He gently smoothed Y/n's hair, watching silently as it unfurled easily against the white material of her shirt, hands shaking in their fluster at the lack of experience they possessed when it came to touching others.

Calm down, just calm down... It's not that big of a deal, Kokichi. Stop shaking so much...

Exhaling a tattered breath, the boy took the brush within his hold and commenced working on his subject. As long as he pretended she was a lifeless mannequin, he should be fine. A mannequin that would reel and shriek and spew profanities if he were to tug too hard-- but a mannequin nonetheless. However, the way Y/n involuntarily leaned into his touch made his breathing quiver.

Calm down, Kokichi, come on! You were the one who offered to do this in the first place, don't forget!

“You know, for a guy who has such messy hair..”Y/n started, voice beginning to sound relaxed and drowsy and making Kokichi's shoulders jump with a surprised squeak. “You're quite good at this, Ouma-chan.”

“S-Shush, you..” The boy mumbled under his breath, shivering a little when the northern wind blew cold air against the back of his neck, a far cry from the warmth emitting from his cheeks. “I-I can't concentrate when you keep talking like that...”

Y/n only have a soft laugh when she felt his dainty hands falter against the back of her neck, nonchalantly resting her chin against the heel of her palm. “Okie, boss!”

Silence proceeded to spread out between them after the words, with Kokichi gnawing at the cushions of his lips in his focus and Y/n humming absentmidedly as she played a game on her phone. Initially, he was quite tense, due to his swimmingly summoned fluster and agitation, dreading the fact that the situation would be awkward and unnerving for Y/n-- but was pleasantly surprised when he found the quietude didn't make him squirm uneasily, but rather put him at ease. No, it wasn't awkward or weird, or anything of the sort...

It was quite placating for his tortured soul, really.

Y/n wasn't taut and completely on her guard as she always was, either; and it made warmth abound Kokichi's heart at the notion she trusted him to some extent, as well. She was relaxed, breathing calmly and tediously tugging at the short, dry grass sprouting from the ground. There was a tiny daisy standing sheepishly next to her shoe, and she took the delicate stem amid her fingers, taking the small flower within her hold and twirling it against her fingertips. She studied the ivory petals, the soft, yellow circle from where they emanated, leaning back into Kokichi's touch and staring thoughtfully at the swirling blossom; attention now fully drawn away from the colorful screen of her phone.

Kokichi silently observed her, trying to decipher what was going through her head, and though he couldn't see her face, he knew she was drenched deep within her thoughts once more. She had been doing it a lot since Mr.Marriott's lesson earlier in the day; seemingly travelling off into her wonderland and not uttering a word when confronted about it. He wanted to ask her about it, so she could open up a little, to pry open those massive iron gates that guarded her heart as though they were Cerberus.

He wanted to speak, to try.. but what was he supposed to say? Should he let his conscience take the reigns and guide him to the right option? He didn't allow it to surface most of the time, due to his severe anxiety, but perhaps for once it shouldn't hurt.. Right?

“You're quiet today, Y/n-san,” Kokichi spoke carefully, violet hues nervously racking over her back and viewing as Y/n tensed visibly at the hint of his unsure voice. His fingers were gently caressing her silky locks as he brushed them, a part of him trying to keep her short fuse under check. He wouldn't want to upset her when she seemed so tranquil, for once. “Maybe it's just me, but... you've been acting all weird since Mr.Marriott's lesson. S-so.. what's wrong? Why do you look so sad? Is it because of the subject he gave us?”

The girl remained eerily quiet, her breath hitching so silently that if it were anyone else, they wouldn't have heard it. But, of course, Kokichi did. And when he did, he flinched slightly, as though his former words were blades that had dragged over her skin and made her bleed.

As Y/n hummed questioningly, Kokichi could hear the sad smile adorning her worn lips. “Of course you would notice, Ouma-chan. I never would expect you out of everyone to see right through my bullshit. You pretend you're stupid... but I can tell you're faking it. You're nowhere near that, are you?”

Kokichi didn't answer, his hands ceasing their cautious movements. The corner of his mouth quirked a bit and his eyes flickered downward at the girl's words. It appeared like she could read him just as easily as he could with her.

How peculiar and very, very interesting. Someone who was able to understand a shred of him? To attempt and decode his endless sheets of program? He didn't know whether it made him happy or worried; not used to laying so bare before somebody else.

“Don't you think it's stupid, Ouma-chan?”

Kokichi blinks slowly at the query, returning to combing her hair in a bid to silence the clamor of his racing heart. “H-huh..?”

“I'm talking about Mr.Marriott.. And the way he always goes on and on about 'love' like his life depends on it. It's so.. unecessary, so annoying. It's just so.. so stupid!”

Oh. So that's what all this was about. Even so, Kokichi didn't quite understand her frustration toward the matter. In fact, he himself found himself fond of Mr.Marriott's passionate palaver sometimes, his attention caught by how much emphasis his professor would put upon the joy love brings. Though Kokichi was very curious about love and wished to feel it as well, he was certain someone like him would never get to experience such a luxury, so he settled for listening to others' ramblings about it. Maybe that way, he could learn how to love...

But what naive, little Kokichi didn't know was that you can't learn how to love from others. You learn how to love all on your own, through tears, rejection and heartbreak.

The boy scowled skeptically as he watched the setting sunlight dance gracefully against the waterfalls of her hair, as though it was sparkling, sea water. “You don't believe in true love, Y/n-san?”

Y/n scoffed.

“I didn't say that.” She replied almost immediately, voice curt and sharp and faltering at the edges when she spoke.

The emotion striving not to surface with the flow of her words nearly strangled her, rendered Kokichi momentarily speechless when he heard it. The tremor of her breath was audible as she exhaled through the slits of her clenched teeth. “It's just... it's dumb, you know? He's always going about how great it is, how wondeful it is, how nothing can win against it... But it's not all that! Love isn't just all those nice adjectives he just crams it with.. It's hypocritical to talk about all its pros but hardly say anything about the cons. It just makes me so fucking mad, you know?! It's stupid...”

Y/n's breath came out harsh and hot against the chilly atmosphere. Her hands clasped together, in need of a brace to steady herself upon. Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes, phanthoms of nostalgia that had come back to haunt her for enternity and toy with her feelings. Suddenly, she was glad Kokichi wasn't able to see her face right at that moment. She wouldn't want him to see her crumbling like a prideful skyscraper that was beginning to collapse. Not when he thought of her as so strong, so confident, so capable-- not when Kokichi had told her he wished he could be just like her in the future.

“..So you've been in love, then?”

Kokichi's words were so soft-spoken and purely innocent that it nearly made her vomit, a small laugh pushing past the fleshy threshold of her mouth once he voiced them. Hurriedly rubbing at her eyes with her fingers, she craned her head and looked over her shoulder at the inquisitive boy who was staring right back at her with those big, curious orbs of his.

So confused, so inexperienced, so unsure... For a moment, it felt as thought she was staring at her old self rather than Kokichi himself. She glanced at his glowing cheeks, his batting lashes, his quivering lips-- before turning away just as quickly as she had set her gaze upon him.

“What does that have to do with anything? It's just.. weird that he's talking about it all the time.”

Kokichi noted the way she refrained from giving an answer, the small, flustered huff that pushed past Y/n's lips after she spoke only serving to amplify his suspicions. He wouldn't tell her outright, but her jumbled speech was a certain 'yes' to his former question. “Really? I think it's sorta magical.. love. I've never felt it before. H-How does it feel like?”

“..Well...” Y/n hesitated a little, partly unsure of answering, partly amused by how Kokichi seemed to be so fascinated by it. She didn't want to get his hopes up, nor did she want to crush his little, hopeful heart with the words of someone who had theirs relentlessly stomped on. That was something he would have to experience on his own.“I've.. almost forgotten it, to be honest. But I have to agree with something Mr.Marriott has said, for sure, even though I really don't want to... It's the most wonderfully helpless feeling in the world, I can tell you that much. You feel like everything will be alright, even though it really won't.” For a moment, she paused, shoulders dropping and head lowering as she smiled sadly. “I.. miss feeling like that.”

Kokichi listened with keen interest, as though he were a student taking crucial notes for the finals, half-heartedly cursing himself for being so curious. He couldn't help it; he desperately wanted a taste of what everyone was so head over heels for.
He couldn't help but wonder about who that person had been for Y/n. What was that person like? Had they shown his companion the kindness and affection she deserved? Or was it an abuser that would taint her body with marks? Had that person loved her unconditionally? Would they have done anything for her? Where were they now?

Was that person the reason Y/n was so crestfallen sometimes? Were they the hidden cause behind the sadness clouding over her eyes whenever Kokichi would gaze within them?

He couldn't help but wonder. However, he also couldn't help the bitter, distant feeling that jabbed at his heart upon coming up with all those questions. He resolved to ignoring it, letting her tufts slither away from where they pooled within his palms and carefully presuming closer, so he was seated on his scathed knees beside her. Kokichi rested his hands against his slim thighs, still holding her pink hairbrush in his grasp, head cocking to the side and brows knit guiltily over his sympathetic eyes. “How did you know...?”

The boy didn't phrase it fully, not entirely sure how to put it into words, but Y/n instantly understood what he was so clumsily asking of her. His burning curiosity was entertaining, and if her heart wasn't aching so dolefully at that moment, she would have laughed. She turned and looked him right in the eye, the spurious smile she was wearing wavering evidently along with her emotion as she spoke.

“I didn't know till it was too late.”

The breath Kokichi had inhaled froze within his lungs at the way Y/n had spoken. There was concealed pain eluding from within her throat on its own accord, without even her acknowledgement, but he could distinguish the sorrow that has laced itself with the playful undertone of her voice. She had been hurt, it was obvious, and it frustrated Kokichi beyond words that he knew nothing about it and could do nothing to make it any better.  He hated viewing that melancholy limning her face, feeling absolutely horrible that he couldn't do anything to cheer her up. “W-wha.. what happened, Y/n-san?”

Y/n merely shrugged in return, abruptly averting her gaze in an attempt to shield herself from Ouma's seeking eyes. She thought that if she looked a second longer, she would be spilling out all of the pain and emotion she had bottled up within so securely for years. She didn't want Kokichi out of all people to pity her like she was some weakling.

“..It doesn't matter anymore.”

Kokichi felt awful when he saw Y/n shrinking away, bringing her legs close to her chest and resting her arms against her knees. He hadn't meant to make her even more upset than she already was, hadn't meant to sadden her further-- his curiosity had just gotten the better of him and he just kept spewing out questions... How horribly selfish of him. And now Y/n was forced to remember things she probably wished to bury deep down within, moments of happiness she would never get back, a person who was now out of her life for good.

All because Kokichi had ran his big mouth.

He visibly panicked when he watched her sulk further, his voice coming out panicky and his hands flailing frantically in an attempt to make up for the indiscreet nosiness. “I-I'm sorry, Y/n-san, I didn't mean to make you sad! I s-shouldn't have asked, I'm sorry, i-it's something personal and I didn't even make sure you were comfortable with me asking before I--”

The boy's blabbering was interjected by a meek giggle ringing weakly from beside him, and Kokichi's voice fell flat when he turned to look at Y/n with wide, unblinking eyes. The girl was reposing her temple against her arms, looking at him with a fond grin, in spite of the chagrin she was attempting to conceal. Though there was still that bitter taste pouring itself upon her tongue, her expression was somewhat calm, fraught of nothing save admiration and gratidue. Her eyes were half-lidded, glowering at him through waves of fatigue and exhaustion, but they held a softness which startled Kokichi.

“Come on, now! This got very depressing very fast..” Y/n said cheerfully, sitting upright and showing a wide, toothy grin at the confused boy beside her. “We're not here to talk about me, silly Ouma-chan! Enough bickering and enough hairbrushing; we're supposed to be studying History, you know? You can't be lazy when it comes to grades..”

Kokichi blinked slowly as he registered the words, head tilted to the side and pallid lips parted as he thought. He was seemingly overwhelmed by Y/n's sudden change of self, unable to help the patent baffle his face was donning. “..Eh?”

“Hmm?” Y/n hummed nonchalantly, grasping her school bad and putting the fucshia hairbrush in, rummaging through it and careless of the items that fell from its contents with a dull thud against the ground below. “Didn't you tell me you're not the brightest when it comes History because long, boring texts of words don't help you focus? Well, since we have Mr.Hanzaki tomorrow, it'd make me real sad if he was a bitch to you because of something that's making learning that shit difficult.. Soo, I thought, why not give you a little push into getting better at it?”

“How.. how would you do that?”

The girl chuckled softly at Kokichi's meek, uncertain question, easily shrugging her shoulders in return. “By tutoring you, of course! I'll have you know I'm the best at History; remembering shit by heart exactly as it is written is my specialty!”

She spewed the words with such confidence, tone easy and unyielding, as though she already knew what she had come up with would be successful. Tides of pride radiated off her every pore, the determination blazing within the apples of her eyes clearly visible in the lopsided smirk lazily sprawled upon her lips. So fearless, so sure of herself... Kokichi stared at her in wonder, heart fluttering within his chest.

Y/n's offer was awfully tempting, and Kokichi deliberated giving it thought, even though his old, skittish self was overwrought by doubt and teeming with questions-- as he always was. He was hesitant, confused... He didn't even know if Y/n was being honest with him in the first place. Maybe she had spoken the words to play with his numerous insecurities and toy with his delicate feelings.. but there was a quiet voice within his head, whispering shakily that she wasn't that kind of person.

“B-But.. Even, if I said 'y-yes', I don't even have the book with me, Y/n-san..” The boy mumbled through his teeth, brimming with his dubiety and hesitancy, gnawing nervously at the inside of his lower lip. “H-How would we--”

“See, that's no problem!” Y//n interjected joyfully, drawing her hand out of her school bag and producing the small, thick History book with a knowing lift of her brows. She sulked playfully when Kokichi s
owed her an unamused expression, his brows knit together in uncertainty, her shoulders dropping in spurious dissapointment at his passionless reaction. “Heey, don't give me that look! If I have a plan, I need to be fully prepared to carry it out, right?”

“Y/n-san..” Kokichi thought he didn't have a heart anymore after all he had undegone, or that if he did, it was just as dark and twisted as his inescapable mind. Such cruel torment had befallen him that at times he thought his soul had already abandoned his empty shell of a body and would never come back to his salvation. It had been years since he had felt the warmth within his chest that indicated he was still live and breathing.

It had been years since he had felt safe when being around somebody else. And yet.. though Y/n's insistence on helping him was making him sick to the stomach, he couldn't help the small, shy smile that tugged at the corners of his lips at her efforts. But he just couldn't take it. He didn't deserve it. “I really appreciate you trying to help me, but.. It's fine, really. I don't think you can help me.. I'm used to Mr.Hanzaki's picking, anyway, so it'll be--”

“Nonsense!” The girl ceased his pathetic, self-loathing speech in an instant, eyebrows furrowed over piercing eyes. She set the hefty book down on the dry grass beside her, utterance serious and and fraught of earnest as she clamped her hands down onto his shoulders and made him jump. “Ouma-chan, you should never get used to being treated unfairly; It's like you're looking down on yourself. No one can make you feel like you're underneath them. The only person who can do that is you.”
Y/n was so close in proximity that Kokichi could feel her breath brush against his lips and chin, panicky eyes blinking hurriedly and cheeks flushing in embarrassment at the closeness. The beads of his eyes studied every inch of her face; coursing over the ridge of her nose, the cupid's bow of her top lip, the curve of her lashes... God, he really wasn't used to things such as this.. “So come on, Ouma-chan. Don't you want to prove to everyone you're way more than they think? Don't you want to show that creepy fuck you're not what he thinks you are? Don't you want to show them who Kokichi Ouma really is? What he can really do?”

“I'm..” Kokichi sputtered in his anxiousness, shamed-faced that he was even considering the option of accepting her aid. He desperately wanted to say yes, fuelled with the desire to better himself and show everyone he was truly much more than the meek, little mouse who wasn't even capable of raising his voice enough so he could be heard-- but his hesitance was holding him back like a chain linked to his ankle and dragging him down the depths of inaltered idleness. It's grip was so menacing and tight upon him, slithering around his windpipe and crushing it, pouring cement within his pulsing lungs and heart. He can't, he can't.. “I-Ι can't. I-I'm just a weakling w-who can't even defend himself... I could never--”

“Come on, Ouma-chan!” Y/n's voice shook him out of his delirium, the call of his name shattering his alternate reality and silencing the cruel voices whispering to him in an instant. Kokichi remained staring at her with wide, dazed eyes, confused by the effect her mere presence could have upon him. “You're only that when you believe you are. If you think you're a weakling, then that's what you'll be your whole life. If you believe you're strong, you're going to work on yourself and get better. If you think you're a supreme leader, then, hell, you're gonna live your life with the attitude of a supreme leader! Do you see what I'm getting at, Ouma-chan? I believe in you, but that doesn't matter if you don't believe in yourself. If you don't, then you won't be able to achieve anything.”

The dubious boy shifted uneasily, unsure, purple hues peering at her through his dark lashes as he deliberated the thought. His cheeks were dusted with a light pink and the corners of his lips twitched, as though he was yet wondering whether he should let himself smile or not. “Y-you.. believe in me? Y-you think I can do it?”

Y/n smiled softly at Kokichi's evident confliction, finding the smile that slowly crept to his lips oddly adorable, hands carefully squeezing his shoulders in a means to tender him some sort of comfort. “Of course I do. If I didn't, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. I believe in you and your abilities, Ouma-chan. You can prove them all wrong. And, hey..”

She placed the tip of her forefinger under his chin when he began shying away, tilting his head upward so his quivering orbs were gazing with her own. He was still unsure and apprehensive, she could tell, but she was only doing this for his own good. And, eventually, Y/n L/n always found a way to get through to someone and gradually coax them into agreeing with her--though most of the times the persuasion was contrived by her bare fists.

But never in Kokichi's case.

It was always priceless to see the flabbergasted expression somebody would don once her gentle side surfaced to do the bidding for her. In this case, however, the soft-spoken demeanor had no intention of personal gain; merely emerging so Kokichi could benefit from Y/n's intention. She wasn't going to just let him cower behind excuses and lies to avoid facing reality. She wasn't going to let Mr.Hanzaki leave the school for good without she rubbing her shining victory in his ugly face first. She wished more than anything to view the baffled utterance that would spread across his features when Kokichi proved to the old bastard he was more than anyone thought of him.

Kokichi just needed to unleash himself from the constraints of his self-doubt and dread and show everyone just who he really was-- show everyone the gentle-hearted, admirable boy he only released from within when he was with Y/n.

“You're not on your own, you know?” Y/n said through a whisper, giving the sweltering boy a knowing look as she spoke. “Maybe you were before, I don't know-- But guess what, purple-head, now Y/n-san's here! I won't just let you get mocked when I can do something about it; what kind of partner would I be then? Just let me help you and keep your head high. I'll walk you through it, if you let me. We'll show them they are horribly wrong, together.”

Kokichi sat quietly as he registered the words, his mouth twisted in a slew of pensiveness as he tried to recollect his thoughts and reach a verdict. Momentarily, he glanced at the stubborn girl before him, her cheeks raised into a benevolent grin that managed to somewhat placate Kokichi's neurotic self. The beads of his glassy eyes averted skeptically, sweaty hands clasping each other in an attempt to cleanse his foggy mind.

He was afraid he would mess his own efforts up, that he would find a way to ruin this just like he had everything else. He didn't want to see Y/n's face contort into an expression of dissapointment and pity because he wouldn't be able to live up to her expectations. He didn't want her to give up on him and throw him away like a ragdoll, just like everyone else had before her. Kokichi didn't want her to look down on him...

All he wanted was to hear the reassuring praise that had formerly pushed past her lips and turned his spine to liquid fire. He wanted to hear her say she believed in him, that he wouldn't be battling alone for once in his pathetic life-- and he told himself he could do almost anything just to hear those uplifting words flow from her mouth again.

“Soo?” The tone of her voice was teasing, stirred something within him that he didn't know he possessed till that very moment, head rising in a flash to gape at her devious stare. “What do you say.. Partner?”

The undertone of her voice was dripping with light-hearted gaiety, but the purpose of her question was crystal clear, her words bristling with earnest and resolve and enough to tip Kokichi over the edge. The said boy swallowed thickly, dainty throat wobbling visibly with the motion, and gave a curt nod to signify his agreement.

A determined flicker of light wavered within his pupils, brows slightly twitching as they stiffly drew over his piercing gaze.

“..Let's do it.”

Chapter Text

It had been a long, nerve-wracking Friday for Kokichi Ouma.

The sole thing swirling through his head for hours was the fact he would have to attend History class. His heartbeat had been just as unstable and nervous just as he was the entire day, hammering loudly against his eardrums and making his temples throb. Teeth tugging at his already short nails, purple irises dashing about, ailed and unfocused as they abided for what seemed like his imminent demise.

Kokichi was well-aware of the fact he was going to be questioned on the lesson of the day, and though Y/n had prepared him for each and every query he could be asked to answer, the boy was still afraid he would make an error somewhere. He was going to be derided in spite of his efforts by Mr.Hanzaki for the umpteenth time. Kokichi could almost picture the face of the smug professor, eyes billowed with unmistakable disdain behind his miniscule glasses, lips twisted in a reptilian grin.

He could almost hear the snickering of his classmates flood the room and torrent in his tainted ears, piercing through his shaky palms no matter how viciously he clamped his hands over them. As soon as his lips parted his voice would curdle into a firm knurl at the center of his throat and silence him completely, shattering the debris of his dignity into millions of little shards. He didn't know if he was going to be able to carry out the plan he and Y/n had constructed together, depite all the praise and words of encouragement he had received.

“I believe in you and your abilities, Ouma-chan.”

“See? I told you you could do it.”

“Yep, that's right. Good job! You're doing a lot better than I expected.”

“I'll be there with you. I want to see the expression on that asshole's face when you tell him the correct answer.”

“If you get stuck, just remember what we worked on together and it'll all come flooding back.”

“Believe in yourself, Ouma-chan. I'm confident you'll do just fine.”

And when the time at last approached, Kokichi solely concentrated on the echo of Y/n's voice yet resonating in the tunnels of his brain. He was nervously fidgeting in his seat, slender legs bouncing up and down in a bid to calm his agitation, nails scraping against the skin of his flouncing fingers when Mr.Hanzaki entered. Kokichi breathed out a tattered exhale, thankful of the fact he was not standing, because when he rose his head and looked his knees buckled and his throat constricted to the size of a needle's opening.

“Hello, class.” The portly man greeted the B-3 class, steadying his thin glasses upon the ridge of his bulbous nose and eyeing the students briefly.

A few students mumbled a silent hello in return, but it was all white static to Kokichi's ears. The solitary issue clouding over him and making his shoulders slump was that he was probably going to sabotage his own self when Mr.Hanzaki called on him and asked him to retort to a question regarding today's lesson.

The boy's fists clenched against the timber of his desk, his head craning to the side so he could send a glance of worry over his shoulder to the person sitting behind him. There was a trickle of sweat pooling in the dip of his temple, a tight-lipped frown cast over his features when Y/n looked at him with a small tilt of her head. The brash girl sensed the apprehension coming off him in ceaselessly tides and offered a sympathetic smile, raising a loosely curled fist into a thumbs-up to cheer him on.

“Don't look so nervous,” She said through a whisper, dealing a reassuring pat at his tense shoulder. Her mouth peeled into the sweetest smile she could muster upon viewing his uneasiness, her eyes soft and concerned and tearing right through his heart. “You'll do just fine.”

Easier said than done. The boy drawled a shaky inhale, nodding his fleecy head with a dry gulp. His lean neck quavered with the motion, the curls framing his youthful face kissing his apple cheeks as he showed an aquiver smile. If Y/n believed in him so strongly, he could even learn how to sprout wings from his spine and soar through the sky. “O-okay.”

Y/n shook her head in approval, leaning back into her chair with a carefree hum and a broad grin, the sole of her shoe tapping mutely against the floor. Kokichi turned forth again, clasping his damp palms together and exuding a small whoosh of air as he elevated his head and looked at Mr.Hanzaki. The stout man was flipping through the pages of the catalogue, the ivory paper littered in delicate, black letters that read each student's name. His fingers were as stuffed and round as sausages, and the sight of him struggling to turn them was slightly comical.

The ring of Y/n's silent snickering reached his ears when the girl sneered against the back of her hand, the glimmer in her eyes lethal and sadistic as she fixed the History teacher with a predatory stare and nibbled at her thumb nail. Thankfully, Kokichi's innocent hues coudn't view the way the shrewd rings of her eyes brew with pure, telltale spite just by simply observing the distasteful creature that dared call himself a teacher.

Clad in formal clothing, which was two sizes smaller than his bulky frame; a raven coat with leather lapels, a pricey watch barely clasped shut around his swollen wrist, a cerulean tie swathed around the periphery of his bulging throat and swaddled beneath his collar. The urge to narrow the silky tie's opening and strangulate him with it till his face became violet and his head burst into a fleshy, pungent heap of muck was tempting, but Y/n payed no heed to it. Her original plan was a lot more fun to execute, so why bother with something so acrid and vile?

“Ouma Kokichi,” Mr.Hanzaki called out in his croaky, brittle voice, making Kokichi's little heart nearly leap to his mouth. His shoulders jumped at the sudden ring of noise, his meek voice almost giving away when he was met with the animosity seeping from beneath the lens of his teacher's eyewear. “Since you are the student with the lowest grade in the class, I'll give you this last chance to make up for your failure. If you want to pass my class, you're going to have to try harder. A lot harder. So, Ouma-kun, why don't you tell us a bit about the lesson you had to study for today?”

The man held the smooth stem of a black pen among his plump digits, the ridge of its needle pressed against the assessment box listed next to Kokichi's name. Prepared to grade him. Prepared to doodle the words “Has not studied” within the blank contents of the four, connected lines. Prepared to crush any remnant of Kokichi's hope that had persisted the torture to a handful of dust. “Let's hope it'll be better than the last.”

A stretched, unnerving grin had stretched across Mr.Hanzaki's perspiring features as he rose his thinning brows, awaiting for the boy's retort, watching as Kokichi squirmed beneath the cruelty of his gaze. The perfunctory sympathy ghosting over the old man's voice was purely sickening, made Kokichi's face shrivel in disgust with the urge to part his lips and vomit. The sheer insensitiveness and evil etched upon Mr.Hanzaki's face made Ouma's innards churn in their revulsion.

But he wasn't about to give up. He was going to try his best to make Y/n proud. To make himself proud. To bask in the speechless expression that would cast over that bastard's smug, vain expression. All he had to do was focus, remember...

I believe in you.

Kokichi breathed out slowly through his nose, nodding his head and proceeding to part his pink lips so he could allow the words coming to life in his brain to escape. He could remember the funny, comical way in which Y/n had explained and analyzed everything, and now it all seemed so simple and trivial that for a moment he felt like it wasn't him who was speaking through that unmistakable veil of confidence and gusto. His voice was reserved and collected when he talked, as always, but never once faltered or wavered in his usual hesitation and uncertainty.

No, this time around, Kokichi was sure of himself. He was sure he was spewing the correct words, body not slumped and shrinking back for once; his back curving gracefully as he held his chin high. Just like Y/n had told him.

It was all so different from what he remembered when he kept his head bowed and his gaze lowered passively. He searches thoroughly in his memory, trying to see if there is any recollection in which he was this confident and fearless. Never had he felt so sure of himself, never had he believed in himself before all of this. Never had he felt so in control that he thought he could even reach out with his hand and graze the sky.

So, this is how Y/n-san feels most of the time? No wonder she was so careless and dependent on herself when she dwelled in a constant state of such a liberating, addictive feeling.

The expression Mr.Hanzaki wore when Kokichi's intelligent, informative palaver came into a halt was utterly priceless. The man's mouth was wide open, eyes unblinking and overwhelmed with confusion as he gaped at the innocent smile the boy was sporting so proudly. Needless to say, the teacher was just as shocked as the rest of the students, whose jaws had dropped voicelessly; witnesses to the sudden transformation that had taken place right before their very eyes.

And then there was Y/n, sticking out like a sore thumb as though it were her profession, grinning broadly from ear to ear with her arms propped up behind her head. The girl gave a snort of amusement as she took in everyone's evident surprise, eyes shining wickedly as she emptied a silent chuckle against the stale atmosphere-- not even remotely fazed by the whole occurrence.

“Close your mouths; you'll catch flies. Though, I have to say, that's some impressive memory from Ouma-chan's part. We should be congratulating him for studying so hard.” The grin she was donning suddenly held a menacing edge to it as she fixed her blear orbs upon the speechless teacher, mockingly craning her head to the side. “Don't you think, Mr.Hanzaki?”

The said man visibly flinched when the girl's voice rung out, snapping him out of his stunned stupour and bringing him back to reality. He cleared his throat with an audible, muffled cough, brows knit in disbelief over his beady eyes as he brought the tip of his pen to the assessment box and let the dark ink gush from the appendage and stain the paper with the words 'excellent(?)'. He brought up a hand and stabilized his spectacles upon his shiny nose, fingers steepling when he at last spoke.

“It surprises me to say, but.. it truly was a change I would never expect. I see you have studied very well, Ouma-kun, and.. it will surely affect your grade, as well.”

The words came out strained, as though merely uttering them pained him from within to an immense extent. Y/n saw the cold sweat oozing down Mr.Hanzaki's forehead and dampening his temples, leaning forth to rest on her elbows and lay her chin against the net of her intertwined fingers. Upon viewing the unnerve written all over his face and swimming in ample amounts within his black eyes, a wave of pure satisfaction doused over her form. Lips peeling into a prideful sneer, she hummed softly, a haughty spite swirling pridefully within the ponds of her pupils; flickering like a firefly's glow and celebrating her awaited success.

Meanwhile, Kokichi was on cloud nine, lips forming a shy, overjoyed grin at having his efforts at last acknowledged. Especially when the recognition stemmed from somebody like Mr.Hanzaki. He was bustling with glee even after the teacher moved on to question other students, his thin wrists quivering from how tightly he was clenching his fists in his excitement. The boy peered over his shoulder at Y/n, his eyes crinkling at the edges as an elated, toothy grin cast over his glowing face, voice striving not to escape in cheery giggles.

Y/n could practically see the stars twinkling oh-so-beautifully within the colorful rings of his violet hues.

The copious sums of pretension immerging her face wilted half-heartedly upon seeing just how happy he seemed to be. The smooth apples of his cheeks were tinged with a rosy tint, dimpling slightly with his exhilarated expression, pearly teeth put on display so innocently. It made her heart clench within her chest in response. So happy, so heedless, unlike everything she ever saw when looking his way; the sight was enough to make the muscle throbbing beneath her ribs melt.

She concluded the schemes she had prepared would be worth it if they were to make Kokichi smile at her so brightly again.

The girl closed her left eye in a fleeting wink, clicking her tongue at him playfully and marvelling in the way it made his face light up. She glimpsed at him through the curvature of her lashes, prying her shoulders absentimidedly and wearing the proudest simper she had ever sported.

“Told you so.” Y/n mouthed with a knowing bounce of her brows, smug and confident as ever.

She looked as though she had never even harbored the slightest shred of doubt when it came to believing in her partner, and the notion made Kokichi's heart sing happily as it pounded like a maniac abaft pulsing lungs. He had done it. He had let Y/n's trust in him guide him down the right path, had swallowed up all of his nerve and agitation and believed in his own self for those brief, gut-churning minutes. He had showed Mr.Hanzaki he was much more than a feeble weakling who couldn't even speak up properly, had proved to everyone he could achieve his goal if he put his mind, heart and soul into it.

For once, Kokichi was proud of himself. He couldn't remember how long it had been since he last felt like this.

But, of course, he wouldn't have even mustered the courage to try harder if it weren't for Y/n; probably the best teacher he ever had in all his years walking upon earth. She had made everything seem so easy, explained everything in sentences so short and simple that Kokichi had felt a little silly as he listened to her speak. Oddly enough, however, the brash girl hadn't made him feel stupid or dull-witted just because he had a hard time comprehending all of the information thrown at him. They had taken their time, going over each and every word that happened to puzzle him, staying under the sakura tree for hours on end until they both had learned the lesson as though it were an oath that would seal their lives forever.

And Kokichi would be forever grateful for it. For her. Maybe he wasn't the brightest at remembering History in the way it was written in, but he never forgot a person who had been kind and tendered their aid to him. Ever. Kokichi had been way to abused for his own good most of his life, so when people emerged through a silver lining that had appeared on his blackened sky full of lies and misery he made sure to treasure the memory and secure it with a lock at the back of his mind. He didn't want to forget the meager, pleasant moments he had experienced in this life.

Kokichi gave a nod of gratitude at the girl behind him, eyes gleaming fondly as he turned on his chair and sat normally anew; the class wasn't the best place to have a chat, he figured. He had to make sure he would shower Y/n with words of appreciation and admiration once the bell rung and they were free to go home. He was well-aware that neither expressing his thanks profusely nor offering to do a favor for her would ever be enough to pay her back for the help-- but he was intently keen on trying his very best.

Hopefully class would be over soon enough; he found it extremely rude of himself not to begin right away, but he didn't want to get scolded or sent into detention.

He would have to apologize for that, later...

 

*

 

“Y/n-san! Y/n-san!”

Y/n halted her slow ambling at the call of her name echoing down the hall, the sound of soft tapping indicating the gradual crescendo of someone's rushing footsteps. She would have recognized that meek, silvery mewling anywhere. As soon as she whirled around, bag lazily hanging from her shoulder, her suspicions were confirmed as a pair of round, sparkling eyes entered her field of vision.

The tips of Kokichi's curls bounced each time he minced forth, seeming to defy gravity out of their own stubborness, cheeks flush with color as he gave a few, curt pants; he couldn't keep up with another's pacing even if his life depended on it. The boy gave an apologetic smile, brows drawing together as he paused to inhale a sprinkling of air and calm his thwacking heart. The headache making the veins in his temples throb painfully wasn't helping at all. He attempted to speak, but when he parted his lips only a puffy wheeze came through, rendering him momentarily speechless.

“Woah, there, purple-head; Take a moment to breathe, will you? Did you try to run a marathon or something?” Y/n exuded a small chuckle when she viewed the flood of color pooling within his cheeks at her words, slightly shaking her head.

Kokichi huffed out in response, showing a sheepishly stubborn look as he muttered quietly beneath his breath. “I have shorter legs than you and you walk way too fast. How am I supposed to reach you if I don't run?”

Y/n's brow quirked inquisitively at the words, her sternum vibrating with the amused thrum eluding from her nostrils. She tipped her head to the side, baby hairs flying all about from her messy bun and framing her playfully scowling face. “Whaa? Is that any way to talk to your tutor, now, Ouma-chan? How rude of you..”

Kokichi strived to pay no heed to the figures motioning past them, to the murmuring whispers that were emptied against the air as unfamiliar pairs of eyes stared at them both as though they were a lake of sweet water amidst an endless desert. It was hard to distinguish who was who through the mild aching of his head. The students walking down the corridor were giving them some serious side-eye, muttering to their friends what Kokichi assumed to be gossip or a new rumour to taunt him. Was his hanging out with Y/n really that big of a surprise?

Innocent, little Kokichi had no clue that they were such a rare pair.

Y/n heaved her gaze from him for a brief instant, eyes curdling to honed stone as they danced upon the curious faces, a snort leaving her once the students recoiled instantly and averted their focus elsewhere, scurrying to leave the scene. Her attention quickly reverted to Kokichi, however, the menace and danger placating within her orbs once the boy began talking, a small, shy smile making the ends of his lips twitch upward.

“It's true; I wouldn't have done it without you, Y/n-san! Did you see me? I was.. I was so sure of myself, I felt so confident! I can't even remember the last time I was sure of myself or did well in History class..” Kokichi was grinning from ear to ear beside himself, body teetering with joy and gaze kept low and discreet. Y/n could see the light reddening of his cheeks as Kokichi tightened the grip of his palsied hands around the strap of his school bag. “Nishishi.. I did it!”

Y/n blinked idly for a fleeting moment, expression blank and unreadable as she perused the way in which his feeble, gaunt frame tremored with glee. He was still not looking up at her, whispering hurried words to himself and smiling bizzarely wide. It was peculiar how much he looked like and acted the way a child would. Small, defenseless, hesitant... The notion only made the girl want to keep him under her wing and out of harm's way. Her eyes were flooded with sympathy and a strong desire to protect him, her mouth peeling into an involuntary, soft smile as she let out a small laugh.

Though she would never openly admit it, she was overflowing with pride due to Kokichi's favourable outcome.

“See, Ouma-chan? I told you you had it! I didn't doubt you for a sec.”

“Nishishi.. heh..” Kokichi managed through a haze, trying to calm the spinning of his head and the continuous blurring of his vision. He couldn't let it control him, he couldn't allow it to take over, he couldn't pass out –no matter how much it felt like his own head was detached from his shoulders. How many days had it been since he last put some food in his mouth? “I did it, did it because of you, Y/n-san. Thank you, thank you so much! Is.. is there anything I can do for you in return? Anything, really; I'll do it!”

The way he was trying to express his gratitude and keep a cheery front was heart-wrenching. His offer was genuine, but it slightly concerned Y/n nonetheless. She wasn't going to take advantage of him, she wasn't the kind of person who derived any pleasure from that, but she couldn't help but wonder; Would he really do anything? Just how much could he humiliate himself if she were to ask?

Y/n settled for not finding out, not keen on the idea of such a harmless, kind person degrading himself for the sake of others. She waved a hand to signify her denial, smiling easily at the boy before her. “You don't need to thank me. You know I don't like people like Mr.Hanzaki. If you should know, the dumbfounded look on that motherfucker's face was more than enough for me.”

Seeing your little, stupid face smiling so wide is enough for me.

There was the patent twinkle of slight surprise in Kokichi's sunken, weary eyes as he peered at her from behind sweeping lashes and his smile visibly wavered, colorful stars flickering in his vision and rendering him momentarily sightless. Through his staggering, he couldn't quite tell whether he was looking at her or not.

“Heh.. What a philanthropist you are, Y/n-san. But are you sure? I can--”

“Jeez, I told you not to worry about it!” The girl chided him light-heartedly, forehead wrinkling with the rise of her brows. She ascended a hand and gently ruffled his soft hair, fondly looking at him through the slits of her eyes and chuckling when he unfocusedly raised his head like a confused puppy. “Besides, what kind of shitty partner would I be if I didn't lend you a hand?”

The affectionate touch coaxed Kokichi out of his towering stupor, scouring his gaze clean of all the darkness and swirling stars he had been immersed within-- but only for a moment. The foggy image of her face entered his vision and flashed against the back of his eyelids, only to desert him as soon as the warmth of her hand vanished from atop his head. He shuddered at the loss of contact, his fingers unconsciously twitching in a weak bid to reach out to her, but due to his lack of food and sleep they hardly moved an inch.

Kokichi smiled beside himself, however, not wishing for Y/n to harbor any worry concerning his well-being. She certainly had her own issues to deal with and he didn't want to trouble her further. Even if he could tell her, however, without the risk of his mother finding out, what was he supposed to say? That his mother gave him little to no food and his body was on the verge of giving up on him? That he was slowly but surely dying each day that went by?

He blinked in confusion when he watched the same hand that had petted his head lower and still before him in the form of a loose fist, lips parting in patent bewilderment. He wasn't quite sure what purpose it served as it stood inertly before him. It didn't look like it was going to cause him any harm, but if it wasn't going to strike him, then what...?

The boy gaped wordlessly as his own hand rose, as if guided by some unknown force, fingers curling into a fist and knuckles gently bumping against Y/n's with a barely audible sound. He was still rather perplexed and his shoulders jumped when Y/n exuded a soft giggle, the ring of the jolly sound swirling gracefully within his ears and briefly stunning him. He gave a final look at his own hand before the cogs in his head began turning, putting the puzzle pieces together and setting off a lightbulb above him.

Oh! A fist-bump! I'm so stupid..

Kokichi perked up at the realization-- as much as he could, anyway,-- hazy eyes drawing shut with a cackle of delight. If his head wasn't killing him, he would have let himself bask further into the attention. Still, he didn't feel so worried about himself when Y/n was there. She was his partner and friend (or so he wanted to believe); being around her managed to give him an odd and sometimes false sense of security.

“Come on, Ouma-chan,” The girl said, the brims of her fingers tugging at the sleeve of his uniform and coaxing him to slowly pursue her. “Let's get outta here. You look like you're gonna have a stroke.”

The remark was supposed to be a perceived as a silly quip, though it served as Y/n's own way of acknowledging it without making a big deal out of it. She wasn't stupid, and Kokichi knew that; of course she had the to ability examine him with those prying eyes of hers and conclude he wasn't nowhere near fine. However, her mind would never cross any irrational lines without any proof or confession; Y/n only figured that maybe he needed to breathe in some fresh air and drink a bit of water so that he would be back to proper working order without an issues or ordeals.

Oh, poor Y/n, you really have no clue, do you?

Kokichi vaguely noted the way she remained close beside him as they made their way out of the school building, her stride slow and patient to move in time with his sluggish movements and not wear him out further. He had a lingering suspicion she did it because she was slightly worried, seeing as she glanced over at him every few seconds to check if he was still alive, but he would never say it aloud. That would have been terribly selfish of him, wouldn't it?

Even so, Kokichi still appreciated that at least someone on this earth cared for his welfare just a little bit.

He was doing his very best to keep the small talk going, even if his voice was resisting being used further. He was desperately trying to laugh at the things Y/n uttered, though the sound only came out as a weak huff in return. Even walking seemed like such a difficult obligation with his extreme lack of energy. He wasn't even taking normal steps anymore, the soles of his shoes merely dragging against the cement to take him forward. The bones in his knees had liquified, arms hanging limply as though they were all flesh and blood with nothing sturdy to support them from within.

Food. Kokichi needed food. He needed to eat something, anything; surviving purely on water was not an option anymore, unless he wished for the sweet release of death. His head was so heavy, hanging heftily from his shoulders as though his cranium was made of iron. They had managed to make it outside, nearing the school's gate. Home, he had to go home. If he made it there, everything would be fine, they would...

“Ouma-chan?”

He heard Y/n's voice call out to him softly, fraught of nothing but care as her hand landed against his shoulder to cease his lethargic strides. Kokichi almost stumbled forth, but Y/n's hold on him didn't relent once, immobilizing him without much of a struggle. He wobbled a little where he stood, eyes blinking hastily as he tried not to lose his footing and topple onto the ground.

“Ouma-chan, what's wrong? You don't look so good; are you dizzy or something? Do you need to sit down?”

Kokichi craned his head her way tediously, hooded, unfocused eyes looking up at her through a haze. His paling lips were parted, the rosy glow in his cheeks evaporating like snowflakes against warm skin. Weakly, he nodded his head, desperately trying to ignore the urge compelling him to collapse in a heap at Y/n's feet and be envelopped by darkness.

“M..m' fine.” He grunted through gritted teeth, the icy tendrils clamping down upon his skull making it difficult to think or talk. He took a shaky step toward Y/n, struggling to keep his eyes open and alert, teetering slightly and involuntarily reposing his perspiring forehead against her shoulder. If this were any other circumstance, Kokichi would have reeled back in embarrassment, face flaming, but his spine could no longer support the weight of his head or body. He needed to brace himself against something to recollect himself so he could keep walking, make it home to rest.

Clenching his eyes momentarily shut and muffling a moan of unease, his face found refuge at the crook of her neck, unaware of the fact his hands had clumsily steadied themselves by shakily bunching up the sides of Y/n's shirt. Kokichi was barely mindful of her scent, a mixture of fragrance and cigarattes, knees buckling beneath him as he tried to speak. Y/n's body was frozen against his, her air supply cut short by the proximity; mind alight with thought at his sudden change of self.

She thanked God no one was around to see it.

“Come on, Ouma-chan, I'll.. I'll take you home.”

She gently pressed against his shoulder in an attempt to get him to let go, pushing a bit more forcefully than she originally intended; physical intimacy had never been her strong suit at all, and Kokichi being so close to her was making her anxiety hit its peak. It was to no avail, however, since the boy only clinged to her further like a leech, refusing to back away or loosen his grip. He was afraid if he did, his legs would give away.

Y/n felt him meekly shake his head against her shoulder, breathing feebly against her collarbone. “N..o. Not.. not there. Please...”

He was so worn out that he barely had any control of the words he was spewing. Y/n's brows furrowed at the statement, at the desperation and throatiness of his voice. 'No'? Why not? Why had he uttered it so needily? Why was he grasping her for dear life? Why didn't Kokichi want to go home? She was confused, so confused.. just what the hell was going on?

Y/n's train of thought was interjected once she felt him sink against her, his knees descending as his entire weight was suddenly settled against her, his eyes having closed and his shoulders dropping. A gasp flew out from amid her lips as realization struck her like lightning; Kokichi was no longer standing on his own two feet, slipped out of consciousness and being pulled down by gravity to crash against the ground.

“O-Ouma-chan!” The cry left her beside herself, arms hastening and catching Kokichi before he was one with the concrete below. She lifted him in her embrace with one hand supporting his back and the other hooked underneath his knees, held him against her as though he weighed nothing. She wouldn't be surprised, in all honesty; he was so light and seamless that it didn't feel like carrying a person in the first place. Fleetingly, she thanked all the training she had been doing for a few years-- she wouldn't be able to to do this with such ease if it weren't for the muscle that had built into her arms.

In a slight panic, her eyes racked over his pallid face, taking in the peaceful expression Kokichi was wearing as he heavily breathed through parted lips. He was out like a light, swathed by obscurity and resting in Y/n's arms. He was lucky she was there, having fainted so out of the blue, otherwise the fall could have resulted in an painful injury that would be left untreated for hours before he woke up. If he woke up. Dark locks caped over his blissfully closed eyes, brushing against the ridge of his nose, pooling in a violet bundle against the ivory shirt of Y/n's uniform.

The girl gave a tattered exhale of exasperation as she looked him over, heart nearly beating out of her chest. “...Shit.”

He looked so small, so helpless and tired as his chest slowly heaved and calmed-- but his sudden descent had surely done its best in frightening the life out of her. She feared he was seriously ill or maybe his heart had given out or he had passed out from the nervousness of History class. For a moment, she felt guilty, afraid that maybe she was at fault of his situation-- should she take him to a hospital? Wait for him to wake up? Carry him to the nurse's office? Oh, God, she really didn't know how to handle this--

Her ampiflying stress placated once a low rumble reached her ears, mouth dropping wordlessly at the revelation. His stomach was growling. He was hungry. He was hungry, that was it! That was the reason he was always so tired and slow, sometimes wincing and clutching his head in his palms. The odor of his breath as he exhaled through his mouth was more than enough proof to confirm her suspicions; it gave off an unpleasant smell that wasn't because of morning breath or neglect of oral hygiene; it was due to the lack of food.

Y/n was dissapointed in herself. How had she not noticed sooner? The scrawny built, the migraines, the way he would sometimes walk unteadily as if dazzled.. It all pointed to Kokichi's famine.

“Ouma-chan..” She mumbled quietly, face dropping to a sympatheic, pitiful scowl. She knew it could be health-endagering if one was left unfed for more than a few days and she felt her heart ache. Once, she herself had to spend a few days without food and the dizzines was astounding. Just what did this poor boy have to go through? Was that why he was so skinny? Was that why he would sometimes seem so fatigued?

..Was that why Kokichi didn't want to go home?

The mere notion made her ears fume, but she slightly shook her head and inhaled shakily, beginning to walk toward the school once more. Kokichi's health was of utmost importance at that moment; she would try to figure out why he didn't eat enough when he was safely tucked into a bed in the nurse's office. Maybe it wasn't because of his life at home and she was making outlandish assumptions, but still, a lingering suspicion persisted at the back of her mind. Y/n would simply confront him about it after the nurse made sure he was just fine. Even if Kokichi himself didn't tell her, she would figure it out.

When Y/n put her mind into something, it almost always worked out the way she wanted it to. She swore to herself right then; she most certainly would find out why Kokichi had such unhealthy eating tendencies. And if it was linked to one of the people in his household, well... Then they were going to have a problem. They were going to have a big problem.

Y/n would not forgive anyone who would torture Kokichi so cruelly. It wasn't fair for someone like him to suffer to such an excessive degree and have the life drained out of him so sadistically. How could anyone be so barbaric and inhumane toward such a sweet, harmless person? Who could ever be so heartless? She would have to figured it out first in order to help him. He was her partner now, after all, wasn't he? He was her.. friend.

Or so she wanted to believe.

And God help anyone who dared hurt any one of Y/n L/n's friends.

Chapter Text

“..Liar.”

“You.. fucking asshole!”

“That's a lie! Ouma killed her!”

“Ouma.. What the hell's gotten into you?!”

“You're alone, Ouma-kun. And you always will be.”

“Puhuhu.. What a miserable existence he led.”

 

Kokichi's eyes fluttered open, unfocused and heftily hooded. His body was weak and draining of life slowly, limbs spread across icy metal. He blinked lethargically, breath coming short and meek from amid his dry lips. Ripples of ache journeyed through the expanse of his frail, shivering form, slowly but surely diminishing the debris of his withering strength.

Warm liquid lathered his arm and back, staining the white trousers swathed around his legs and the nude skin between his shoudler blades. He could smell the metallic odor of it. Blood. He could hardly keep himself conscious, voice come out in harsh, breathless wheezes when he tried to put it to use. His head felt heavy; merely keeping his eyes open seeming like an impossible challenge.

There was the flash of color glowing from the corner of his eye and he listlessly turned his head, a peculiar sense of pain tweaking at the fragile flesh of his heart. There were people standing beside him, their faces a blurr and their clothes oddly familiar. He didn't know those people, had never seen them before in all his life, but as he stared at the witch's hat settled atop the head of one of them, this scene felt awfully familiar.

They were talking, spewing words of utmost importance, but it was all white static to Kokichi's tainted ears. Inklings of crying, yelling, clamoring entered his brain, only serving as a furhter catalyst to his confusion. Who were these people? Why were they just looking at him? Couldn't they see he was in terrible pain and was in need of assistance right away?

Through his daze, he could make out the figure of another, standing behind the five(or was it six?) people circling all around the iron bed he was lying upon. His eyes squinted into skeptical slits as he gazed toward the unknown presence, which was reeling him awake and settling an unnerving weight upon his chest. Long, tangled locks, cheeks slick with tears, red wrapped around their legs as they trembled bodily, eyes fixing him with pure mortification.

It was a girl. A girl Kokichi didn't recognize. But at the same time, her face was bizzarely familiar; it felt as though he had seen it before, knew it better than the back of his own hand. Saying the hair cascading down her shoulders was a disheveled mess would be an understatement, a few tufts glued to her wet cheeks as her mouth opened and closed frantically, emitting words Kokichi couldn't hear.

She was crying hysterically, face contorted with disbelief and horror as she stared at him. Her hands were bunched up into tight, stubborn fists, he noted, pummeling ferociously against an invisible wall in front of her. If he didn't feel like dying, the image would have gotten a chuckle out of him. But at the same time, despair pooled and infected every last nook of his body. She couldn't come forward. She couldn't reach him. She couldn't, no matter how much she pounded her fists against the glass barrier holding her back and shouted out in protest.

Why did she want to come near him? Why was she so sad? Just who was she?

A foggy picture appeared against the back of his eyelids, embedding itself deep into his brain; the image of the very same girl he was weakly eyeing, her lips peeled into a wide grin and her eyes crinkling at the edges. Though, it didn't quite feel like a mere depiction. It felt like a memory. A distant memory locked securely into the back of his mind which was begging to be unleashed and made his heart swell.

A memory ingrained into his very being.

That's right; she was no stranger. Kokichi knew her. His lips parted tiredly as he tried to speak, trying to find a name her appearance correlated to-- but his brain drew blanks, voice freezing at the back of his throat. Her name, he couldn't remember, what was her name? Whoever it was, he had the persisting suspicion it was someone important. But who, exactly?

The noise of an engine whirring broke Kokichi out of his trance. In a sudden panic, his attention dashed to what lay above him, his oxygen leaving him once he perceived a wide, metal plank towering over his form and lowering slowly. He could hear the cogs of the enormous machine turning as it began its quest of trapping him within it. If he didn't move, he was going to get crushed to bloody pulp and shattered bone.

Kokichi hastened to get away, body wriggling in a frenzy, but his attempts were to no avail. His arms and legs had failed him, simply denying any sort of motion as though they had been nailed to the harsh, cold metal benumbing his skull. As though they were telling him that whatever he endeavored would be of no use-- because his fate had already been sealed.

Kokichi put all of his remaining strength into trying to move even a single one of his muscles, teeth clenching with his evident strain, but his body was utterly paralyzed and helpless as the hydraulic press constricted him between its hefty chuncks of metal; as though he were a fly that would have its guts squished out by the cruel hands of a human. No, this wasn't right. He didn't want to die, not yet! Not like this!

No, please.. I don't want to die! Please, please help me! I don't want this anymore! I just want to go home! Please!

The sturdy plank above him was almost brushing agaisnt the tip of his nose, now, showing no sign of remorse. Kokichi's eyes had broadened in denial, in pure, unmistakable fear. He did his best to brace himself for the slow, sadistic liquifying of his body, trying to breathe out calmly; but his mind was in a delirium, panicking and leaving him restless and scared out of his own hide. As death began pressing gently against his face, a shrill, piercing scream penetrated his cranium and pushed a small, choked gasp between his lips.

“KOKICHI!!”

Kokichi gaped in sudden, horrifying realization; he would have recognized that voice anywhere! The girl that was trying to break free of her constraints and reach him, who was crying in such a fit of mania, screaming his name in a throaty, hoarse voice and sinkinig to her knees in defeat-- it was her! His heart skipped a beat, eyes going wide as it all came flooding back, hitting him like a brick wall; moments before his skull began to form breaches and painfully split apart, deforming his youthful face into a mess of guilt and blood.

“..Y/n...chan..?”

BAM!

 

 

 

 

With a startled, panicked gasp racking his throat, Kokichi's eyes flew open in an instant, temples damp with cold sweat. His trembling fingers seized the sheet draped over his form in a death grip, his pulsing lungs shuddering for breath as he frantically looked around the room he found himself within. His blood was pounding against his eardrums along with the ferocious pace of his heart, the rise and fall of his chest hasty and irregular. He reluctantly calmed down a little once he realized he was safe and sound and still intact, but only briefly.

What kind of dream was that? Was his mind really trying to take the role of a tormentor here?

It was fine, however, he figured. After all, it was just a dream. Dreams almost always do not occur in real life, so he shouldn't be this worried. Still, however, it wasn't the most pleasant dream somebody could have; being crushed to death certainly didn't appeal to Kokichi. Shaken and startled as he was, he silently vowed to himself that he would never do something that would bring him face to face with such a cruel fate.

At least, not out of his own free will.

The headache rattling his skull did little to help him forget that awful nightmare, eyes clenching shut with a wince and forehead slapping gracelessly against his open palms. He had sat up so suddenly that it only served to amplify his dizzines and physical discomfort. It felt as though somebody has swatted him over the back of the head with a sledge hammer. He was still disoriented and his brain was doing ceaseless twirls within the confines of his cranium, so attempting to look up would only reward him with the urge to puke.

Kokichi truly needed a moment to recollect his thoughts and get himself together before raising his head and facing the world anew. He needed some time to think, exhales swirling tirely through his nostrils and murking against the flesh of his hands. His twitching brows furrowed over quivering eyelids, colorful spots entering his vision and making his head spin.

Just what the hell had happened? Where was he? How did he get here? All he could briefly make out through his wearying dazzle was that he was aching terribly and the bed he was seated in was not the one in his bedroom. The mattress was way to hard and uncomfortable-- perhaps that explained his sore shoulder blades and ribs.

“Ouma-kun, you're finally awake. How are you feeling?”

The boy flinched bodily at the echo of a feminine, honeyed voice, head swiftly swivelling to stare up in alarm at the person before him. That proved to be anything but sage, however, since moving so rapidly had only served to momentarily render him sightless. It took a few, unfocused blinks till the stars dimming his eyesight receded completely and allowed him to at last see the world again.

Before him stood none other than the school's nurse, a concerned, gentle expression adorning her features as she folded her hands together and slightly bent at the waist to examine him with soft eyes. “Are you feeling alright? You've been out for quite some time. Should I call your mother to come pick you up?”

Upon hearing the words, Kokichi's headache was fleetingly forgotten, his eyes growing as wide as they could meekly manage at even the slightest inkling of his mother's existence. One of his hands flew up in a panic, head shaking slowly as not to make him anymore ill than he already was. “N-No! No.. That's fine. I can walk home; I don't live too far...” Kokichi tiredly looked up, blurry irises silently pleading as they peered at the woman through the veil of his lashes, as though he were an injured, untrusting puppy. “..I'm okay.”

The nurse merely gave a reluctant nod, the soles her flats dragging against the smooth tiling below as she ventured over to her desk and hauled the chair tucked underneath it, lowering herself upon the hollow chusion with a sigh. “If you are completely sure, then alright. I had to ask; Your girlfriend was certainly overrun by worry regarding your well-being when she brought you here.”

Kokichi stared skeptically, seemingly in disbelief, dry lips pressing together into a sullen frown as he tried to think through the fog collecting within the constraints of his mind. His girlfriend brought him here? Kokichi had never had the luxury to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend in his whole, pathetic life. He barely had a single friend; when did he manage to obtain an entire girlfriend? Was he still dreaming, or what?

“..Girlfriend?” Kokichi's voice was low and as enthusiastic as one could be when they had slept on an empty stomach for almost the entirety of a week. His face was shrivelled up in both discomfort and confusion, lips pursued and eyes visibly flinching with the sting pinching persistently at his temples. “But I don't have a..”

“Oh..I apologize, I might have misunderstood your relationship with Y/n-san,” The nurse said with a soft giggle, the ends of her rosy lips turning upward into a friendly, sweet smile. “When she brought you here, I initially suspected she was the cause of your black-out, but the poor girl looked so concerned that it became quite the challenge to still believe that was the case. Unless, perhaps, it is? Abusive relationships are anything but rare...”

The woman's brows arched with her question, qualm evidently tainting the edges of her voice as she put an inquisitive look on display, eyes keenly studying the way Kokichi's expression altered. If Y/n L/n had hurt Kokichi in any way, physical or mental, the boy had no doubt that the nurse would inform the headmaster and get his companion suspended as a result. With the raring intention to avoid getting Y/n in trouble she was not the culrpit of, Kokichi shook his head in denial, disbelief crossing his face; the plain thought of Y/n harming him in any possible way seeming alienating and impossible.

“.. With all due respect, I don't think that she would have brought me here if she was at fault. If she really had done something, she would have just left me there. Why would she want to help me if she knew I could talk at any given moment?” Kokichi's speech was patently apathetic and passionless as he spoke, partly due to his malaise, partly because of the condescending way in which everybody seemed to regard Y/n. Now, Kokichi was not the type of individual to get easily angered by someone or something, but the way the nurse talked about her as though she was nothing better than a relentless animal that only caused harm to others to quench her own satisfaction was making pure spite froth up within him. “Y/n-san isn't who you think she is. She's not bad; in fact, she's a whole lot better than anyone in this school could ever dream of being. She.. she wouldn't hurt me.”

God, what had gotten into him out of the blue? Why was he getting so defensive? Why was he getting so angry? Why were his fists clenched so tightly that the blood supply to his pallid fingers had been cut off?

Perhaps Kokichi would do little to nothing when it came to defending his own self, but he simply would not stand for others making snide remarks or implications about people he held close to his heart and was fond of. That was one of the few things the boy could never tolerate calmly, one of the very few times Kokichi would raise his stature from its heap at the ground and bite right back, venom glistening against his teeth and poison flowing out of his mouth.

One of the very few times he would let his meek exterior crumble and set his true self free, the person he was hiding so securely away for none other than the sake of his own protection. His concealed smart mouth and sharp wit had gotten him nowhere, only into trouble and mockery, and it hid away in its dread-- only emerging ever so slightly whenever he found himself around Y/n, testing the waters curiously.

Kokichi's resolve was an unyielding opponent, standing stark no matter how weak he thought himself to be.

And Y/n showed him in her own way that, really, he wasn't as much of a weakling as he thought he was.

Upon viewing how upset the boy had grown to be, the nurse gulped unnervingly at the empty glare he was aiming her way, showing a shaky, apologetic smile in a bid to calm down the overcast clouds teeming his eyes to the brim. “I.. I apologize, Ouma-kun. My intention was not to upset you. I'm.. sure Y/n-san is a lovely girl, deep within.”

Kokichi remained eerily silent for a moment, eyes averting instantly once the words reached his ears, the firm grip he had cast upon the sheet bunching up at his lap loosening and leaving red palms in its wake. His dark locks fell like shadows from his head and caressed his cheeks, shrouding his face in a veil of obscuriy and shielding his gaze from view. Tediously, he chided himself for slipping up like that, but a part of him only snickered in delight and reminded him that the woman seated across him undeniably deserved it.

Maybe she did.

Maybe not.

Kokichi couldn't afford to care much about it, either way. Normally, he would have been apologizing profusely by this point, but what was left of his shattered dignity wasn't going to consent to saying sorry to people who weren't worth it. After all, at that very moment, he had to deal with matters that were far more crucial; his headache was still tormenting his entire frame along with the fact he desperately was in need of some kind of nutrition. It was no concern of him what it was as long it was edible and gave his battered body a break from its cruel, daily torture.

“..Can I go home?”

The question came out quiet and small as it pushed past the cushions of his lips, slender fingers interlocking together in a means to comfort and calm himself. He could sense the slight jump the nurse's body produced at the inkling of his voice, her eyes fleetingly widening in slight alarm as she quietly observed him, trying to find the right words to utter in her state of unease. “I-If you feel better, then.. Of course. Your bag is next to you should you want to take your leave.”

The boy gave a curt nod, tiredly rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his palms before he carefully drew the thin, linen sheet away from his weak legs and sat with his back hunched and his shoulders dropped. Still rather light-headed, he removed himself from the mattress, unsteadily wobbling to his feet as he tried to orient himself and not gracelessly topple forward. Kokichi reached out with a tremulous hand, attempting to clasp the strap of his bag amid aquiver fingers and tediously prop it over his shoulder. He carefully smoothed out the wrinkles on the jacket of his uniform with a small huff, keeping his fleecy head low as he hurriedly presumed out of the nurse's office and entered the first floor's vast hallway, not before he had muttered out a small 'thanks'.

Kokichi wore a slight frown as he momentarily gazed out of the large windows, the sun's rays having dissolved and only its gentle glow remaining to remind him that the day was almost over and that it was getting dark outside. Just how long had he slept in that damn bed? He delved a hand in the pocket of his trousers and produced his phone, facial features contorting at the brightness of the screen.

The white digits read 19:39, making him choke on his own spit and cough profusely, banging a closed fist against his sternum in an attempt to cease the forceful bouts of air racking his throat and making his feeble body tremor wholly. Had he really remained unconscious for that long? Now the event was beginning to seriously concern him. He was well-aware his fainting had taken place due to the lack of sleep and, most importantly, food.

He'd never meant for this to blow of of proportion, didn't want anyone questioning him about what he eats or how often. Even if he told them, there was nothing that could be done if his mother didn't transform into a completely different person. Starving for five days might sound like an easy task, but the weakening of the muscles in his arms and legs and the spinning of his head indicated otherwise. It wasn't Kokichi's fault his mother would refuse to feed him; denying the sheer possibility of even giving him a bone to lap and gnaw at.

Even dogs were being treated better than he was, he figured.

Yesterday noon he had pulled out the scale from under the sink in the bathroom and stepped on the cold plastic, worrying his bottom lip and feeling his heart nearly stop when he caught a glimpse of the numbers it showed him. 87 pounds; he had lost 4,4 pounds in the span of two days. Sometimes, he marvelled in the fact that he was still live and breathing, having to put up with such draconian circumstances; ones which could result in his death with an unsettling ease.

And now, to top it all off, Kokichi had began fainting because of his famine-- and in the school grounds, no less. If this kept up for long enough, he was going to be in the emergency room in the first hospital available, with tubes where his innards and internal organs are because his body could no longer support him. It wouldn't do much to surprise him, however. It was only the natural outcome; if he gave up on his body by neglecting to give it fuel to burn, even if it was not out of his own will, his body was going to leave him stranded as well.

If Kokichi's extremely unhealthy eating habits didn't take a turn for the best, it was only a matter of time before he d--

Kokichi's train of thought was smashed to smithereens and the little hairs on the back of his neck stood up to attention when he felt warmth prod at his shoulder, a small whimper bursting through his lips as he slowly turned to look, eyes wide as platters. A pair of lips brushed against the shell of his ear, warm breathing caressing his cheek and making a shudder quake his spinal column.

“Boo.”

The person beside him tensed slightly when the boy exuded a shrill shriek, taking a few, rickety steps backward and nearly losing his balance in the process-- but a hand tightened around his slender wrist and tugged him back to his feet as though it was the easiest thing that could be done. Not that it was a challenge in any way, seeing how light and small he was. His head rose up in a panic, face distraught with alarm as he glowered at his savior(?)-- but the gentle eyes wrinkling slightly at the sides and staring back at him made his squirming stop instantly.

“Jeez, Ouma-chan, you look like you saw a ghost; Am I really that ugly?”

Kokichi, of course, recognized who the prideful, teasing voice belonged to, and paired with that wide, shit-eating grin his purple hues meekly glared at, it didn't take a genius to put two and two together. God, he really hated – but also kind of loved – the cheeky way she would act as though she had done nothing wrong.

“Y/n-san! I told you not to scare me like that! Do you want me to kill me or something?”

“Hmm?” Y/n hummed through her nose, feigning thoughtfulness as she ascended a hand and lightly poked at Kokichi's bony cheek-- stifling a snicker and basking in the way his face lit up like a Christmas tree. She showed an apologetic smile, easily shrugging her shoulders and leaning down so their eyes were at the same height level, irises slightly sinking beneath her lids as she took in the adorable image of his glowing cheeks and quivering eyes. It was funny how his brows had slanted together, expression striving to look mad but of course succumbing by merely being in her presence. “Sorry, sorry. I just couldn't resist; not when your reactions are so priceless! Whatever shall I do so Ouma-chan will forgive my awful sin?”

Kokichi was going to come back with a witty reply to match her biting sarcasm, but his words curdled at the back of his throat as a his eyes squinted skeptically, cogs turning in his head. Wait, why was Y/n out of all people here when it was so late? Normally, even after they stay after school and chat at the roots of the sakura tree, they take their leave much earlier. So, what was she doing here? Why wasn't she at home? Her parents must be worried...

Thankfully, however, and unbeknownst to Kokichi, her parents didn't give a rat's behind as to where she currently was.

“It's almost eight.. Why aren't you at home, Y/n-san? When the sun goes down it gets chilly.. They didn't suspend you or anything, right? Because I already told the nurse that--”

“Woah, there, purple-head.” The girl interjected his hurried speech, her left brow quirking as she drew back. She found his concern both amusing and sickening. It made her mighty front waver when people acted like they cared about her, and she was clueless as to how she should handle it. “I didn't get suspended, calm down. And I thought it was pretty obvious; I was waiting for you to wake up. I did try to stay in the room with you, but the nurse was staring daggers at me but I figured I shouldn't smash her face in, so I waited here. See, there's a vending machine right over there that actually works-- I know, shocker-- so I got myself something to eat, too.”

Y/n jerked her thumb to the right and Kokichi's curious eyes followed the movement, tacking at the giant piece of metal a bit further down the corridor, which contained all kinds of snacks and drinks. The boy licked lips lips guiltily, feeling his chest cave in, wishing more than anything that he had some money to get something for himself, as well. To his great misfortune, however, his pocket money was meager and he had almost spent all of it on food, so he was left with no options.

There was something she had uttered, however, which had made his poor, little heart swell with emotion. Kokichi rose his round, hesitant eyes and peered at her through the cape of his lashes, capturing his bottom lip between his teeth as he made to speak up once more. “You.. waited? For me? So you really are the one who brought me here, then...”

He hated how soft and bashful his voice sound as it eluded from his mouth, a fact which made him even more flustered and confused as Y/n tilted her head to the side and obliviously batted her lashes at the query.

“Mhm! What kind of pathetic excuse of a partner would I be if I just left you there?” The girl seemed like her laid back, usual self, but Kokichi could easily view the remnants of worry lingering in her eyes as she cautiously looked him over, confirming that he was unscathed and unharmed. Her smile faltered visibliy, the flames dancing in her pupils flickering, but only for a moment, a spurious happiness settling upon her face instead. “And besides, you had waited for me when I beat up that pig Terrence, right? No one forced you to, but you still stayed. So I figured, why not return the favour? Isn't that how partnership works, after all?”

Kokichi showed a gentle, weak smile at the words, cheeks rising slightly with a soft, childish giggle. It escaped entirely beside himself, but he simply couldn't help it as he felt that unfamiliar, soothing warmth come alive within his chest and spread to the tender tissue of his lungs, rendering him briefly breathless as he looked up at her. He wasn't quite sure of what it was, but what he was certain of was that his heart was kindling in a fire of mingled confusion and a strange sense of admiration.

“You.. you didn't have to, Y/n-san. R-really...It's cold outside and your family must be worried you're not home yet..”

“Hey, don't worry about all that stuff now,” She said, head swaying from side to side as she slightly waved her hands in a means to reassure him, brows drawn together as she spoke. “Don't worry; my parents don't really care about where I am, so it's alright. Plus, you shouldn't be worrying about me right now, you should be worrying about yourself, Ouma-chan. You passed out on me like a damsel in distress, you know? That's not very nice.”

Kokichi's hues avert in scant embarrassment and the brims of his lips twitch wordlessly, fingers curled in loose fists and hesitantly held close to his chest. He knows that Y/n is indirectly prodding at him for more information, the aura radiating off of every pore on her body making it known that this time around she has no intention of backing down and letting him off scot free. She is asking for answers that would appease her suspicions and concern, her body language more than enough of an indicator that she won't calm until she knows the reason of his scrawny frame and poor health.

He is not sure of how to answer her, body shrinking away from her seeking gaze as she not once aims it away from him. Kokichi is trapped and unsure of how to feel about it.

“Ouma-chan,” Y/n starts softly and from the way she says it he can tell she's no longer smiling, a fact which serves to only unsettle him further. “You can't keep lying to me. I was a bit worried before because you looked sick most of time, but this had gotten a lot more serious than you might think, you know? Even now, I can tell you're not feeling well, no matter how much you try to hide it from me. But why? Why are you trying to hide it from me?”

Y/n is aware that she has to be very cautious in her approach. Kokichi breaks easily beneath the weight of a lot of pressure and could feel cornered and afraid, making an attempt to run away or lie his way out of it with a stammering voice. He is unlike most people she has to deal with. Kokichi is as sensitive and fragile like a China doll within her grasp, when she is formerly used to playing with hard, fusty clay instead.

Clay was easy to bend out of shape and twist in any form its wielder wished, and if it were to come apart, it could simply be stuck together once more with no visible damage. Meanwhile, a China doll was an ornament meant to be handled with gentleness and care, smooth and delicate to the touch-- but if it were to break, it would scatter in numerous, sharp shards that would scatter every which way, causing irreversible damage even if the pieces were to be glued together.

Y/n needs to be careful; she knows she can have Kokichi just the way she wants, but she needs to find the right words that pull at the strings of his heart first. There is simply no other way someone like him would speak to her without doubts or regrets. Perhaps, this might seem as a way of manipulation, but she is doing it for his own good, after all.

“..I was scared.”

The words catch Kokichi entirely off guard, head whipping up in an instant and expression dumbfound at just how sincere and small they sounded as they pushed between Y/n's lips. The girl is wearing no utterance in particular, brows stern over her eyes and lips curled inward to form a firm line. Kokichi notes that for once, she's not looking at him when speaking, an unreadable sentiment swirling in melancholic, graceful circles within the ring of her iris.

There is the evident clenching of her fists, fingers swaddled so tightly that they begin to feel numb. She hates talking so genuinely before somebody else.

“It just happened so suddenly, you know?” She speaks silently, the timbre of her voice distant and devoid of all life. “You just went out like a light and I immediately thought of the worst. Can you really blame me? I thought you needed to be taken to the hospital or something, that maybe something is going on with you I have no idea of and that could cost you your life. I was scared you'd stop breathing while I took you to thenurse. I was scared that maybe your heart stopped beating. I had no idea what I could do to make you wake up..” The girl paused, eyes blurry and sorrowful and keenly focused on the ground below. “I was scared because I couldn't do anything to help you.”

The left corner of her mouth quirks in bitter amusement, mind seeming detached and completely absorbed in thought as she keeps her sight tacked to the tips of her black shoes. Her words were no lie, to her great susprise, heart aching vividly within the fleshy confines of her chest as she uttered them. Y/n can sense Kokichi's hesitant orbs observing her every move, silently taking in the hunch of her body and the sadness pooling within her eyes as though he were an uncertain kitten peering at her from around the corner.

“You don't eat nowhere near enough, do you? That's why you fainted.”

There is the audible hitching of his breathing when she voices the words, sporting the slightest inkling of a smile as her head raises and their gazes meet. Kokichi freezes visibly at the way she's looking at him, throat quaking along with his stiff swallowing. He wants to turn away, tuck his tail between his legs and run, denying an sort of confrontation-- but finds that he is held still by some unknown force, rooted to the spot as if paralyzed.

In all honesty, he doesn't want to turn away and run, no matter how nervous or struck he is that she can call him out as if she sees right through him. It doesn't matter how nerve-wracking it will get; Kokichi won't run away like a coward again. Or so he hopes.

Upon viewing the shock congested to form his expression, Y/n's eyes soften just barely and her brows loosen from where they were wrinkled in dubiety. Her lips peel into a half-hearted half-smile, breath escaping calmly from her nostrils in spite of the pounding maniac that is her wrenching heart. “I don't want you to tell me how or why. All I want you to tell me is; Are you doing it out of your own, free will? Are you not eating just because you don't want to, or because something else is stopping you from doing so? Or, sorry, let me rephrase that-- Or because someone else is stopping you from doing so?”

“S-Someone else?” Kokichi manages through a stammer and clasps his damp palms together, heart ablaze with anxiety and eyes alight with confusion as he gazes up at her. “Who else could possibly p-prevent me from eating, Y/n-san? W-What would they even gain out of something like that?”

God, Kokichi was so close to just spewing out the truth that he had to dig his teeth into his tongue to refrain from the urge to confess. He couldn't, he couldn't tell her...

“Oh, I don't know...” Y/n's speech is fraught of nothing but suspicion and caustic sarcasm as she trails off, eyes having squinted to narrow cleaves and brows heaving knowingly. “You tell me.”

Kokichi's teeth clench voicelessly at her seemingly confident words, brows twitching in his unease and unnerve and making his heart leap to his throat. She is seeing right through him, reading him as though he was a children's book left open against the ground. Y/n has appeared to be a lot smarter than Kokichi initially thought, and though he felt some admiration for her impressive tactics when it came to reading someone, her method was nowhere near impeccable.

He is Kokichi Ouma, the very sire of all lies. He had been lying since he was a small child; to his classmates, to his parents, even to his own self so he could pull through and amble through this hell he called life. It had started off a silly trick that helped him avoid trouble and get what he so childishly wanted back then-- but now, it had become a coping mechanism, the most essential tool that kept him alive.

The capability to lie is ingrained into his very being. Even if he wants to, he can never get rid of it; as they have become one and the same. For once more, Kokichi would have to rely on his ability to make a fabrication sound as reality and deceived Y/n as though it was the simplest thing in the world. He didn't really mind of what would become of him; he was simply doing this for her, for her own good. He wouldn't want to worry her with his own issues when she clearly possessed her own.

Did you know most of his lies were told with good intentions?

“It's.. It's because of my mom.” Kokichi mutters beneath his breath, eyes hesitantly flickering up to meet Y/n's predatory stare. He expelled a tattered exhale against the stale atmosphere, heart aching as his lips sunder and set his voice free. “She was fired from her job a few months ago and.. money has really been an issue for us. We've really had to make cutbacks with paying our rent and bills... S-so sometimes we.. we don't have enough saved up so we can both eat. I.. I don't want to be a bother to mom, so sometimes I end up not eating for a few days.. I-It's just for a few days though, nothing to really worry about...”

What a filthy, filthy lie, Kokichi. That's so like you.

“...”

There is the extension of a lengthy silence as Y/n's expression blanks completely, the wheels in her head turning slowly as she tries to comprehend what was just thrown at her. The girl's dry lips are parted in patent disbelief as she idly stands there, blinkling slowly as she gazes at Kokichi's fidgeting figure with empty, hollow eyes. If looks could kill, Kokichi would be bloody pulp by now. “...What?”

Upon seeing the unreadable look Y/n was evidently donning, Kokichi nods slowly to signify his approval, the motions of his head hesitant and guilty. He isn't quite sure if she actually believed the falsehood he so shamelessly had spewed, eyes big and seeking as they glowered up at her in an attempt to find any clue that pointed to how she had perceived it. He desperately hopes it worked and, judging from the depletion of the color from her face and the descent of her shoulders, it certainly affected her in some way or another. “I-I didn't want to tell you b-because I didn't want you to worry... I'm sorry, Y/n-san.”

It's truly a pity that the girl has no clue the apology was for none other the blatant lie he had so swimmingly tossed her.

Y/n brows slant together in pure incredulity, heart sinking back against her spine with hastening, painful throbs, the corners of her lips weighing downward at the boy's words. Her fists unravel and her fingers limply hang from where they are attached to her palms, face contorted with pure chagrin. Truly speechless for a moment, a tattered exhale leaves her, perfectly reflecting the distraught state she is in. Suddenly, Y/n looks incredibly remorseful; as if overwhelmed by a gulit that left her restless.

Y/n was feeling sick, replete with a strange sense of injustice. It wasn't fair for her to have all the luxury and money in the world while Kokichi was nearly starving himself to death due to the lack of it. He was a good person, possessed a kind, spotless heart despite all the torment he had to put up with; he deserved it a lot more than Y/n or her pathetic excuse of a family ever did. If she didn't want her cover to be demolished and her true identity revealed, she would have taken him to her enormous house and offered him a match of those small pieces of paper than shaped every living person's life.

But she can't. She can't tell him.

Just like Kokichi can't tell her the real reason he looks so sickly and deathly pale all of the time.

“You.. you don't have enough money to eat?”

The question leaves Y/n despite herself, each and every letter highlighted with the unfilitered shock that bleeds its ink within the current of her words. Her voice strains with emotion as she speaks; her developping sorrow taking priority over her fury and making her heart plunge to the pits of her nauseated stomach. Her expression almost distorts to one of complete and utter mortification once Kokichi meekly nods his head and lets out a small 'yes'.

What is this blasphemy?!

Y/n shakes her head furiously, still in her patent, childish denial, envelopping Kokichi cold fingers within her palm and muttering profanities under her breath as she begins walking, taking wide steps and hauling him along. The boy makes a sound of protest at the back of his throat and a flow of stammering, shaky words flow from his mouth at the sudden contact, face aglow with both confusion and bashfulness as he reluctantly follows behind her; in spite of the fact he is nearly being dragged down the corridor, slithering on the smooth tiling of the floor on the soles of his shoes due to his light weight.

The girl dismisses Kokichi's stuttering and mewling, already subconsciously picturing just how red-faced he must be, her stride halting abruptly and making him jerk into a stop and gently bump his nose against her shoulder. Kokichi whines slightly, ascending his unrestrained hand and rubbing at the button of his nose with a huff, half-heartedly glaring at the back of Y/n's head behind flushed cheeks-- the fact their hands are still linked long forgotten in his prominent fluster and curiosity. The girl peers over her shoulder at him and shows a toothy grin, right eye fluttering shut in a playful wink, hand tugging him so that he would wobble forward and stand beside her.

“Alright, alright, treat yourself, Ouma-chan!” Y/n says the words cheerfully, head beckoning over to the vending machine standing before them and containing a variety of snacks, each of which made Kokichi's tongue moisten within the confines of his mouth at the mere thought of making contact with something edible. The hesitant boy tosses her a puzzled look, the warmth of her hand holding his own forsaken yet still somewhat placating. “I told you it works, right? Come on, take your time and pick one of these babies from in here, Ouma-chan; whichever one you like, really, we don't judge in this household!”

Kokichi blinks slowly, expression adorably perplexed as he silently glowers at the way Y/n's fond grin had made her cheeks rise joyfully and her eyes crinkle at the edges. Any words he would utter become a cluster of letters once he looks at her, concluding that being happy instead of upset fits her like a wooly glove, his neck bobbing slightly with the motion of his tense swallowing and the tips of his ears tinted pink. He hates to admit it, but she looks quite cute like this.

Wait, what?

“Y/n-san.. I-I appreciate this, but I d-don't have any money with m--”

“Shush!”

The thin boy is silenced once she presses her forefinger against the cushions of his worn lips, breathing shakily through his nostrils and staring with quivering, widened eyes. Y/n is still smiling at him as though he was a reluctant, frightful puppy and it makes his heart flutter like a writhing fish out of the water. He blinks innocently, watching with slumped shoulders as Y/n draws her hand back and vaguely motions at the machine with a stark half-smile adorning her lips. “I, the most generous and understanding partner ever, will pay for whatever my beloved Ouma-chan wishes to purchase! I'm like, way up there on the partner list, so I can't let mine be hungry you know? That's not a partnership, that's a partnershit!”

Kokichi exudes a soft giggle at the comment and the jolly sound is a blessing to Y/n's tainted ears. It makes her chest tighten involuntarily as she looks over at him through a veil of slight surprise, the grin she was formerly donning softening into a smile and the cold hand holding on to hers constricting around her knuckles in a feeble squeeze. The action partly startles her, perhaps a bit more than it should have, and instictively her arm recoils away in a momentary panic, ripping harshly through the air and shaking as though she had been burned. Kokichi's hand bony hand was cold, but the warmth of his touch still lingered at the inside of her hand. It was thin and boyish and larger than her own, to her great surprise; it was easy to forget Kokichi was verging on becoming a man, in spite of his deceiving looks.

The fact only serves to embarrass her greatly as she refrains from gazing at that stunned expression of his, suddenly too shy to meet the field of his vision and make another stupidly playful remark. Y/n unsuccessfully tries to recollect herself, cursing the waver of her smile and the flames kindling her cheeks.

“S-so?” Dammit, why did she have to stutter?! The high and mighty Y/n L/n does not stutter; that was Kokichi's job, not hers! “Which one do you want? Come on, Ouma-chan, we don't have all night, you know! We're gonna get locked in the school and since it's Friday we'll stay here for two days and they're gonna find our dead bodies--”

“That one.” Says Kokichi quietly, neglecting Y/n's extravaggant behaviour and jerking his forefingers toward his item of choice. “Can.. can I have that one?”

Y/n's head tilts in curiosity, eyes trailing up the expanse of his arm and following his indication, a newfound grin gracing her lips once she examines it with amusedly raised brows. Kokichi had decided on one of the flavoured, cold croissants at the second row from the end, orbs twinkling and teeth grasping his bottom lip at the mere thought of biting into the sweet bread and letting its cherry essence pour itself upon his tongue.

He strives to ignore the girl's kittenish remark about the cherry flavour, her tongue clicking playfully and succeding in its goal to bring a gentle rosiness to his cheeks, face lowering with an abashed glow as he averts his gaze. His companion stays truthful to her former promise, flinging a sparkly, blue wallet from between her breasts and examining its contents for the right coin to insert to the machine, face lighting up jovially when she takes it amid her fingers and eases it in the metal slit.

There's the clang of metal colliding with metal as the coin drops and Y/n types in the number of Kokichi's wish, the sole of her shoe pattering impatiently against the ground as the dark fuchsia, paper-thin wrapper falls from its constraints along with her change. Kokichi makes to reach out and take it, but Y/n is one step ahead of him, as she always seems to be, bending slightly at the waist, one handful cupping the coins and the other wrapped around the sugary goody. She extends one hand and offers it to him, brows knowingly shooting upward when she views his evident falter and the hesitance of his eyes.

Kokichi really reminds her of a puppy as he slowly reaches out with tremulously unravelling fingers, eyes never leaving her own and throat doddering as he takes the colorful plastic in his grasp, feeling the outline of the saccharine-flavoured bread that lies inside. At the hint of it, the tips of his lips ascend in an involuntarily innocent smile, lower lip ever so slightly worried by his teeth. He gazes at Y/n through the curve of his lashes and behind pleasantly raised cheeks, looking as though he is seeking for her permission to rip the plastic with his short nails and dig in. His hands are trembling in their excitement as she reluctantly nods her head, laughing slightly at his visible uncertainty.

“What are you looking at me like that for? Go ahead, it's all yours. No one'll take it from you.”

She stifles the burst of chuckles that are about to erupt from the pit of her chest, merely offering her signature smile as the boy wastes no time in following the order of her words, knuckles quivering as he opens his long-abided treat and stars dancing within his eyes when he catches a glimpse of it. He has already dug his pearly teeth into the soft dough, the liquified cherry flavour eluding from between the tissues and gently lathering the tip of his tongue, when Y/n's mouth breaks into a surprised snort, brows drawn worriedly over her eyes.

“Just eat it slow, will you? Otherwise, your body might have a bad reaction and you're gonna throw up your guts..”

Kokichi nods idly and stares at her with wide, cautious eyes, but seems to pay heed to her saying as his chewing visibly slows, cheeks stuffed with food and puffing out adorably. There's the hint of a stain at the corner of his mouth, cherry jam having smeared itself against the end of his lips, and Y/n slightly shakes her head at his clumsiness with a soft giggle, but the fondness in her eyes remains stark and unwavering.

He must really be hungry, the poor thing..

Y/n brings a hand up, the tip of her thumb rubbing absentmidedly against the pinkish marmalade smudged against his soft skin and Kokichi's eyelids flinch slightly at the touch as he quietly munches, but he makes no movement to back away or distance himself, simply staying put and allowing her graze upon him as he eats. Just like a puppy. In his own way, it is a sign of trust, the wariness in his eyes having placated and replaced with silent gratitude and wonder and making Y/n's cheekines hit its peak.

She smugly ascends the same hand toward her face, popping the tip of her finger in mouth and lapping fleetingly at the sweet extract with a low hum that eludes from her nostrils. She slyly acts as though she didn't catch sight of the furrow of Kokichi's brows and the mild flush of his cheeks, withdrawing her hand with an easy shrug of her shoulders and grinning contentedly. “Doesn't taste that bad.”

The two made their way out of the school building, with Y/n making one-sided chatter and Kokichi gripping his croissant as though God himself would tear it out of his grasp, gnawing at it like it would be his last meal. He was merely humming and nodding along with Y/n's palaver, so absorbed in his own thoughts that he reeled with a shrill screech when she playfully nudged him, clasping his treat close to his chest and glaring in disbelief at the amused grin gracing her lips, scolding her half-heartedly and yelping out, “Stop! I could have dropped my croissant!”

Y/n merely cackled in delight, offering a breathy apology through her bouts of laughter and marvelling in how shocked and red his face had gotten at her shenanigans. Kokichi feigned a betrayed frown, his headache being reduced by an abundant amount-- or so it felt like--, eyes hooded and congested with nothing but admiration as he glowered up at her. She could never even begin to imagine just how thankful Kokichi was to her for offering to help him once again, even if perhaps he didn't outright show it. He figured the gesture must have been something extremely easy for Y/n, but to him, it meant the entire world.

It was then he swore to himself he would repay the favour one day, somehow, in any way he could. And, as he viewed her carefree, joyous smile, the flash of her hysterically sobbing face appeared for a split second and teemed his field of vision, reminiscent of that awful dream he had seen. A part of him worried greatly about it, but he resolved to ignore it as Y/n spoke to him and cracked jokes every now and again, hoping with all of his heart that none of it would become reality and blissfully unaware of the fact somebody was watching their retreating figures as they exited the school-- their eyes cold and harsh as honed stone.

“Ugh! Those fucking brats are so sure of themselves! I'd really love to teach them both a fucking lesson..”

Lillian's voice echoes, irritated and fraught of nothing but the desire for revenge. The tall, plump girl crosses her arms over her large chest with a huff, face contorting in evident irk. “That fucking bitch Y/n ridiculed me in front of everyone and Mr.Marriott did jack-shit to stop it! All I did was make fun of that pathetic twink a bit; like, where's the bad in that?! It's not like he doesn't deserve it! Right? Right?!”

“Lil, chill, dude. We don't get to make the calls all by ourselves. And, plus, what she did to Terrence is way worse than what she did to you, y'know?” Vince wrapped a sturdy arm around the fuming girl beside him, his head tilting back so he could look up at those flaring, glaring eyes of hers. She hadn't punched him yet, enough indicator of the fact she was actually listening. “Don't worry, dude, they're not getting out of it any time soon. We'll all teach them they fucked with the wrong people, make them sorry they were born in the first place. Y/n might be a tough bitch, but she doesn't stand a chance against the three of us. You know the rat never fights back; it's an easy-peasy win. We'll send that skank to the ER! Right, Terry?”

Terrence regarded his companions' words thoughtfully, piercing, cold eyes set off to the horizon as he pondered. He was the leader of the trio and therefore his plan in beating some discipline into both Kokichi and Y/n needed to be flawless. He had suffered enough of that brash, bothersome girl since she began attending the school; having his friends and himself mocked, leaving Kokichi roaming around freely as though he was liberated from his cage. A twisted, sadistic grin spread across Terrence's face at the notion of securing his large hands around the rat's dainty neck and raising him from his feet after he was done dealing with Y/n.

“That's right. But we have to be careful. That bitch has a strong hand; I guess she's not part of the Diamondbacks for nothing. Those assholes might be good at what they do, but we are far better. That's why were are part of the Ravens, after all. Her clan or her pathetic friends are nobodies compared to ours. They won't know from where they've been struck until it's too late.”

Terrence brushed a hand over his belt, where his new, sharpened dagger was tightly hastened. His rough palm enclosed around the leather grip, slowly drawing the curved blade out of its sheath and examining the blurry reflection of his own eyes limning the bleak metal. His words held biting venom as they were practically spat through his clenched jaws.

“How cute.. they have no idea what we're planning.” Terrence chuckled lowly to himself, dragging the tip of his forefinger against the blade's expanse with a sickly smile contorting his facial features. “It'd be a real shame if I just so happened to cut Y/n's pretty face up a bit, wouldn't it?”

Chapter Text

“Y/n-san! Slow down a bit, will you? Where are we even going?”

Kokichi exudes a huff of slight tire as he pursues behind Y/n's steps, dark curls bouncing with each of his hurried strides as he tries to keep up. His curious eyes are tacked to the back of his companion's head as he quietly walks, exhaling through his nose and furrowing his brows meekly as the girl merely keeps ambling forth, humming absentmidedly and seemingly paying no heed to him. The boy remains close to her side like a puppy would to his owner, thistle hues alert as they take in the weird looks other students are tossing them as they pass by.

Y/n seems hardly fazed however, expression blank as a stainless canvas as Kokichi gently tugs at the brim of her sleeve and murmurs lowly. “D-don't ignore me.... Y/n-san.. Where are we going...?”

The girl's facade almost breaks at Kokichi's feeble mewling, a wavering smile gracing her lips as she glances down at his cutely worried eyes. She gives an amused snort, purposely slowing her step so he can follow after her without having to exhaust his pulsing lungs any further. “I'm hungry. Hungry, Ouma-chan! Put your little head to work; where do people go when they are hungry during lunch break?”

Kokichi blinks slowly as he processess the words, humming in confusion for a moment before his youthful face drains of all color at the dire realization wacking him over the head like a brick. His breath hitches momentarily as he desperately strives to reach any other logical verdict, body shrinking back in his unease and dread. She couldn't possible be talking about the cafeteria? The place where all his classmates hang around? The place where Terrence, Lillian and Vince use as their refuge?

Kokichi gulps down thickly at the thought, throat going dry as he recalls just what had taken place the very first and last time he set foot into that god-forsaken room. All he wanted was to get a meager amount of food, since he had brought money with him just for the occasion, the people that were roaming all around him and glancing him pitifully and seeming like towering giants as they stood before him and made his throat clamp down. No sooner had he taken a few steps in, shoulders hunched and body trembling, he was grabbed by the collar of his uniform by none other than Terrence himself and held still while a snickering Lillian dug her palm in her plate, raising her soiled handful and smearing food all across his hair, his face, his jacket...

He was protesting weakly, telling them that if they were to let him go they would never even see him again, a fact which had only served to make Terrence laugh cruelly. Vince had taken a hold of his drink, raised it over Kokichi's head and tipped the cup so all of its liquid contents doused in cold streams down the boy's scalp and neck, rendering his hair to a lumpy, sticky mess. When the delinquents had at last finished their torture, seemingly having gotten bored of tormenting the poor soul, they heaved him up easily and dumped him in the nearest trash can; making sure to rid of all the remnants of their meals by dropping it all upon him.

Kokichi had never felt more utterly humiliated in all his life, wriggling feebly among the trash in an attempt to get out, crying out for any inkling of help at the bystanders that simply walked by with an emotionless expression, making sure to throw any garbage or remaining food right over his quivering head before they took their leave. Kokichi was left there for about an hour before he managed to break free, cheeks wet with defeated tears and back terribly sore from being unable to elude from the uncomfortable position he was imprisoned within. He had crawled out with all the strength within him that hadn't died, filthy and covered in grease from head to toe, trembling like a rat that had just been dunked in a sewer.

Degraded beyond words and coated in grime and revulsion, he had vowed right then that he would never enter the cafeteria again for as long as he was alive. The shame and mortification had been far over the line of acceptable for Kokichi to muster up the bravery and endeavor it once again.

And now Y/n was taking him there? Bringing to his imminent demise and public humiliation? Oh, God, was she going to do something similar to what they had done? Was this all a cruel trick to bring him down to sheer, unmistakable disgrace?!
“Ah, here we are,” Kokichi flinches bodily when Y/n's voice echoes, bringing him out of his stupor and coaxing a fusion of both shock and horror up to his milky face.

They are already standing at the threshold of the spacey, bright room and Kokichi's knees quiver visibly, verging on giving out from beneath him. The pace of his throbbing heart is just as panicky and neurotic as him, gradually amplifying with every tremulous breath that slips from between his parted lips. From the corner of his eye, he catches a glimpse of the unnamed trio who has been harassing him since he began attending the school and he meekly shrinks back against Y/n's side, wishing earth could just split apart from underneath him and gobble him up whole.

The way in which Y/n appears to be so unfazed and carefree about the entire situation, shoulders back and chin held high as she scans the room, doesn't help his haywire nerves in the slightest. The girl expels a sigh of pure satisfaction against the atmosphere once she catches a whiff of the pleasant odors flowing out from within the school's kitchen, lips peeling into a delighted, dreamy smile
.
“Jeez, finally! My mouth is watering just by smelling all those goodies..” In a swift, smooth motion, Y/n has her arm hooked beneath Kokichi's, evidently oblivious to the boy's overflowing ferment of fright and agitation as he tenses up, a small noise of protest curdling into nothingness at the back of his throat as he fruitlessly makes to speak. Kokichi is gazing up at her in a delirium, lips twitching and pressed together firmly as he silently pleads her with the intensity of his stare not to take another step into that confounded place.

Y/n takes note of his jittering and unease, of course, merely glancing at him from the peripheral of her vision and tilting her head so her breath is ghosting over the dip of his damp temple.

“Hey, calm down, would ya?” Her voice comes through in a soft whisper and collects against his skin, a far cry from the neutral expression her calm facial features are currently donning. “No one's going to hurt you when you're with me. They would be stupid if they even tried. Calm down and don't look at them; just keep your eyes on me. It'll be fine.”

The tranquil, unbothered timbre of Y/n's words confuses Kokichi greatly, but also serves as a small bit of consolation in its own way. He nods meekly against her shoulder, cheeks trembling as he tears his gaze away from Terrence and his cruel companions, keeping his eyes stubbornly tacked to Y/n's face and categorimatically refusing to look away. His frail hands quail against the girl's forearm, slender fingers pawing and wrinkling ailingly at the fabric of her sleeve. “O-okay...”

If it were anyone else holding onto her arm like that, Y/n wouldn't have hesitated to toss them a nasty look with the spiteful ascent of her brows, both puzzled and dissaproving of such a gesture. She wasn't a fan of physical contact if she wasn't the one instigating it, usually flinching away in slight disgust if someone she didn't like even did so much as making to touch her, but... seeing Kokichi all frightened and uncomfortable, curling against her as though he were a small animal, she decided that letting him wouldn't be that big of a deal. Perhaps she would never admit it, but she found his shying away rather cute.

And, after all, Y/n hadn't come here for her own self. She already had lunch which she prepared at home sitting at the pits of her school bag if she were to actually feel in need of some food-- but she couldn't let Kokichi know that. Her whole plan would be ruined if she just told him that they had come to the cafeteria to get some food for none other than Kokichi himself.

With a hum of satisfaction low in her throat, Y/n ambled forth toward the marble counter where all the meals were sprawled out, gently tugging her arm forward and making Kokichi hesitantly follow behind her. His purple hues had made the girl the center of their attention, blinking slowly as they perceived all the details of her skin and jaw in an attempt to calm the thwacking of his heart. He went after her blindly, his grasp upon her arm quite tenacious for someone his size as he clasped it firmly against his quaking chest.

Meanwhile, Y/n's inquisitive orbs racked over the numerous meals she could choose from, lips pursing in a playfully sullen pout as she thought, forefinger tapping skeptically against her chin.“Hmm.. What should I get, Ouma-chan? What do you think?”
Kokichi let out a tiny, startled squeak, tumbling over his own words as he tried to piece together a coherent sentence. His dainty throat quivered when he hesitantly peered up through his lashes, voice momentarily hitching at the back of his throat at the reassurance swirling within the ponds of Y/n's eyes. “U-Um.. Whatever you want is fine..”

“Eh? Don't be like that, Ouma-chan; I'm trying out new things, you know! If you were alone, what would you get?”

“..If I was alone, I'd be hiding...”

Kokichi's words came out in a rushed mutter, gaze fleetingly lowering and suddenly finding the curve of his shoes a very fascinating sight to observe. He murmurs inaudibly beneath his breath, mouth twisting and quirking and fingers mindlessly fiddling with the cloth of Y/n's thin sleeve. Was it too late to make a complete turn and leave? The thought was all but appealing, but the act of carrying out was shattered once Kokichi realized he wouldn't even be able to take two steps away from Y/n without having to brace himself against something.

“Hmm?” His companion thrums curiously, tone so sweet that he swore she had to be feigning it on purpose. “What'd you say, Ouma-chan?"

“A-Ah! N-nothing..” He quizzically lets the beads of his eyes roam over the tempting meals, his tongue moistening as it lies limply inside the cavern of his mouth as he silently watches. The mingling aroma of each dish was numbing his nostrils and tormenting his poor mind; if only he had some money with him, he too could feast on something that hadn't been purposefully doctored with or expired. Hesitantly, he rose a hand, pointing at the plate which held a lump of mashed potatoes and a few, small sausages, desperately striving to ignore the growling of his empty stomach. “U-Um.. How about that one?”

Kokichi abides patiently for the expression of dissaproval to flicker across Y/n's face, her eyes squinted pensively and her brows drawn together as she deliberated the thought. Much to his great suprise, a cheerful smile graces her lips not a few seconds later, head nodding blithely at his suggestion. “That actually looks pretty appetizing. I didn't know you had such good taste.” She guides her attention toward the person standing idly behind the counter instead, leaving Kokichi a baffled, perplexed mess clinging to her arm. “Two of those, please!”

The boy watches quietly from below, the sensation of warmth crawling up the expanse of his neck and chaffing the tips of his ears making an involuntary shudder grip his spine as he cocks his head to the side. He was more than thankful that she actually grew fond of his proposal, but why was she ordering two?

I guess she must be pretty hungry, then, huh..

“Hey, help me out a bit, would you?”

Kokichi is snapped out of his train of thought at the call of Y/n's voice, head craning inquisitively at her mild plea for help. He views ineptly for a moment that she had taken a hold of one of the two trays of food she had purchased while the other simply remained on the counter, caustically waiting for somebody else to pick it up. It actually took him a few seconds until he came to grips with the fact he was the one supposed to take it-- because even though Y/n L/n could do a lot, growing an extra pair of arms from her sides wasn't one of them.

The boy slowly unravels his arms from around her own, cautious not to make her spill anything from the disc she is holding, the mounds of his cheeks burning in slight embarrassment as he visibly quails away and passively nods his head. He carefully reaches out and took the other tray's brims within his palms, dreading the fact that he would tip it over or crash into someone else and get it all over the floor and himself. For the moment, however, he resolves to ignoring it. “Ah, o-of course..”

Y/n gestures with a motion of her head to a table that was vacant of any students, striding forth unhurriedly and shutting down the side-glances sent her way with a mere, menacing raise of her head, little Kokichi trailing behind her legs as though he were her shadow. While Y/n pays no heed to the people eyeing them shamelessly, her companion seems rather apprehensive, keeping his head bowed and feeling his heart leap to his mouth when he catches a glimpse of Terrence fixing him with flaring, hateful eyes.
Suddenly, he was thanking the heavens above that Y/n was there with him. If he so happened to be on his own, he'd already be one with the pillar beside him.

“Phew! Jeez, I'm fuckin' starving...” Y/n exudes a loud woosh of air from between her lips as she settles down, sliding her disc onto the smooth surface of the desk and tapping her fingers against her scarlet-clad thighs. She grins widely as she watches Kokichi sit down across her, carefully setting down the tray in his hold and shyly glancing at her from among his dark lashes, pallid lips twitching into an unnerved smile. He views silently as she takes the plastic fork beside her plate and delves its appendages in a bit of her lunch, jamming it into her mouth and munching with a thoughtful hum. “Hmm... That's actually not bad! Come on, Ouma-chan, eat up; what are you waiting for?”

The boy blinks slowly at her words, mouth parting with a soft, tattered breath, eyes staring dumbly at the food lying before him. One of his hands ascends subconsciously, fingers gently tugging at a strand of his hair and absentmidedly twirling it. “..But it's yours?”
“Ehh? How much food do you think I can fit in here, huh?” Y/n lets out a small laugh, eyes crinkling at the edges and hand lowering to rub lightly over her stomach. “Silly Ouma-chan.. I didn't buy it for me! I wanted you to eat it.”

The absolutely stunned expression Kokichi's glowing face suddenly dons is almost comical. There is the inkling of a light rosiness rising up to his cheeks, eyes growing wide and startled and mouth breaking with a few, confused stutters. “M.. M-me? But.. You-you payed for it.. I-I could never just take that--”

“Yep, you're right. I did pay for it and therefore it's mine, so I can do whatever I want with it, right? So I say you should eat it. Come on, Ouma-chan,” The girl pauses and shows a knowing look, forehead wrinkling with the prominent raise of her brows. “It'll get cold if you don't.”

Kokichi's lips twitch patently, eyes never leaving her own and fingers gliding to swathe around the plastic fork next to his(?) dish. Letting out a tattered sigh, he lightly pokes at the little portions of sausage laying frivolously against the plate with the teeth of his fork, still reluctant about digging them in the cooked meat and popping them into his mouth. His brows go up, hardly visible beneath his fringe, as if wordlessly asking 'Are you sure about this? Cause I'm really not.'. At the cheery front Y/n puts on display at his gesture, however, he can't help but cave, head swaying from side to side and cheeks kindling as he places a bit against his tongue and bites down on it, chewing hesitantly.

“That's right,” Y/n says, the timbre of her voice soft as she clasps her hands together jovially with a wide grin. “Eat up, eat up. It's all yours, m'kay? No one's gonna take it from you.”

She basks in the way Kokichi's doe eyes light up excitedly once he gulps down; the poor boy wasn't used to eating something normal. She can just so view the gratitude within his sparkling gaze once he fixes her with a small, bashful smile that makes his lips peel back and show his teeth. What a rarity, to witness him smiling like this. Sheepishly, he averts his attention elsewhere, expression both confused and innocently joyful as he does.

Y/n-san...

“Th..thank you, Y/n-san.”

Thank you for looking out for me. Your heart is so kind, even though sometimes you act like you don't have one at all. You've shown me more compassion than my own mother ever has. I'm more than lucky that I get to call someone like you my.. my partner.

Once he elevates his gaze once more to perceive the utterance adorning her face, he finds that there is hardly any shred of emotion that displays what is going through her head. Her face is devoid of all inklings of life, mouth slightly ajar and brows relaxed over her placid, chaotic eyes as she keenly takes him in, allowing the sincerity of his voice to etch itself against her very brain. For a moment she was rendered speechless, staring in disbelief and so eerily silent that Kokichi feared he had said something wrong.
As soon as he begins to worry, however, her signature grin overcomes her features anew as though nothing had taken place at all.

“Hey, hey, enough of that sappy shit now! Besides, what kind of partner would I be if I didn't look after my own sidekick, huh? Silly Ouma-chan...” The girl lets out an elated cackle, eyes shutting with the sound, one of her hands reaching out and gently squeezing one of Kokichi's rapidly heating cheeks between her thumb and forefinger. The boy exudes a small, startled noise and his eyes flinch at the pinch, half-heartedly glaring at Y/n through sweeping lashes once she draws her arm away. “I need my partner to be in top form, you know? Even if your mind is sharp, it will start blacking out on you if your body isn't cared for. Your mind and body are linked, so we're gonna start by filling out those blushing cheeks of yours! Kiss your headaches good-fucking-bye cause you'll never feel hungry as long as you're the sidekick of the great and terrible Y/n L/n.”

The undertone of her voice is playful and teasing as she speaks, but Kokichi detects the benevolence hidden underneath it and feels his heart swell in both confusion and appreciation as Y/n claps her hands together and leans forward to rest on her elbows. The spurious vanity vanishes from her notorious grin, gracing her lips with an even, expectant smile.

“Alright?”

Her voice comes out tender and gentle and she absolutely loathes it once it reaches her ears, but upon viewing how touched and stunned Kokichi seems to be by it, all of her doubt is thrown straight out the window. Sometimes, she really wishes she had the needed courage to wise up and quit calling him 'partner' or 'sidekick' and just mark him as her friend instead. However, Y/n was way too untrusting and prideful for her own good to be able to slap such a label onto anyone.
She always found people treated the term 'friend' very lightly and wasn't about to do the same, in spite of what her heart was telling her. Deep down, though, through her waves of trust issues and disdain regarding human relationships, she was well-aware Kokichi did in fact make a lovely companion to have around.

The abashed boy nods his head at her single-worded query, much to her great relief, appearing to be rather shocked that anyone would go out of their way to help someone like him – and feed him no less!

His loose curls kiss lightly at the sides of his face, expression visibly puzzled and unsure of what it should dispay right at that moment. Happiness, doubt and bafflement all twined together into a bunch were the primary cause of his inner confliction. He had been abused, had his feelings toyed with, his hearts crushed into bits and pieces, still not fully trusting of anyone or anything-- but as he finds that Y/n harbors nothing but amity toward him, he thinks that being able to rely on to someone just a little bit isn't all that bad.

“Brilliant, then,” Y/n expels with a strained sigh, humming nonchalantly as she samples a bit of her meal once more, making a mental note that mashed potatoes coupled with boiled sausages is a combination she should taste again in the future, “Just eat slow, m'kay? Wouldn't want ya to die from choking on a damn sausage.”

The brash girl stifles an amused chuckle once Kokichi proceeds to do just that, shoulders teetering as he huffs out in slight irritation in response to her gentle bullying, his cheeks burning as he mumbles something in the regards of 'I'm dying and you're laughing'.

The pair enjoy their lunch in peace, with Y/n poking at anything she happens to settle her eyes upon and Kokichi wanting to laugh at the innuendos she spewed, but finding the task quite difficult as he choked on his food each and every time she uttered one. They remain smiling and giggling like idiots, blissfully unaware of Terrence's cruel eyes burning holes against their skin, their appearance at the cafeteria the icing on top of his piling anger.

With a curt turn of his head, he directs his heed to Vince and Lillian, grinning wickedly from ear to ear as he exudes a singular, menacing word. “Tomorrow.”

 

*

 

“Th-this is ludicrous! Please, officer, release me and we shall have a civil talk about the matter.”

The male police officer quirks a brow at the hand-cuffed man's blabber, sighing audibly as he leans down so his eyes are level with the window of the police car. The man seated within it is sweltering nervously, eyes roaming about in a panic, silently pleading to be let go, and swollen wrists gathered together with a pair of cold hand-cuffs.

“Sir, you have the right to remain silent. You can use all those words you're throwing at me in court.”

“Officer, I can assure you I'm innocent. I don't know how that got in the trunk of my car in the first place. Please, you have to believe me! I'm a respected teacher with a wife and kids, my life will be ruined because of this-- because of something I'm not guilty of! Do you think I'd ever risk my job and reputation for--”

“You should tell that to the six pounds of cannabis found in your car, Mr.Hanzaki. It's no use lying. It's best if you just stay quiet while my partner looks through your vehicle.” The officer slightly shakes his head as he speaks, expression bland and emotionless as he leans his shoulder against the police car and looks over to the red car not a few steps away, where his partner is searching thouroughly for any further damning clues.

Who would have thought the anonymous call the police department received regarding Mr.Hanzaki had not been just a prank, after all?

“Hey, you might want to look at this. They were sticking out from under the passenger's seat.” The female cop poked her head out of the driver's seat, motioning with her arm for her partner to approach her. Amid her gloved fingers were clasped a few white sheets of thick paper, appearing to be photographs of some sort. The woman's colleague approximated with hurried, wide strides, brows drawn together as he peered over her shoulder at the photos she was holding. It didn't take long for the man's face to contort to one of pure disgust as he viewed the contents of each picture, lips wrinkling and teeth gnashing with his sudden urge to throw up.

The sight was purely sickening.

“It looks like we have an additional reason to take Mr.Hanzaki in, don't we?”

The woman gave a frantic nod, eyes wide and forever tainted by what they had just witnessed as they rapidly blinked in a means to wipe the images from her memory. “We sure do. I know I'm not supposed to give my opinion, but... the time he'll spend behind bars will be well-deserved.”

Her partner gave a firm nod in response, breath coming out shakily from his nostrils as he averted his gaze from the graphic photographs. “Agreed.”

Chapter Text

“They really took him in for real? You did send the video I recorded of his gross ass breaking in the girls' locker room, right? Good, good.. And the police have no idea who sent it as well. Jeez, aren't I so lucky to have the best hacker in the world as a friend? Huh? Oh, I originally planned for this to be much more light-hearted for our dear Mr.Hanzaki, but Osamu-chan informed me that he has a criminal record of alleged and attempted rape as well as domestic violence. I didn't believe him at first, but then I saw it myself. The only thing that surprised me was that I hit the nail straight on the fucking head! Then, while searching through his car I discovered the weed in his trunk. I didn't have the chance to look through the front seat, but from what I heard, the police found some really disgusting photos of him in there! Jeez, he should have hid his stuff more carefully.. Not that it matters now. He'll be behind bars for at least a few years, anyway!”

Y/n gently frolics with the hem of her skirt, sitting cross-legged beneath the wilting sakura tree and grinning wickedly from ear to ear as she talks to the person at the other end of the line. She is breathing calmly, relieved beyond what words could ever describe that her plan flowed so flawlessly, as though it had been liquid chocolate gliding down a loaf of fresh bread.

“Thank you for all the help, Mei-chan. Deliver my thanks to Osamu-chan as well, even though I've already told him. I could never have done this without you guys. Even if we are petty criminals, we still managed to put an asshole who deserved it behind bars. Not for long, but still... He should be punished for the wrongdoings he's done, you know? Who would have known that Mr.Hanzaki out of all people would be our filthy underwear thief?”

“Hehe! Don't mention it, Y/n-chi! That chav deserved every fuckin' bit of it! If ya need anything else, you know where to find us! We're always here for you whenever ya might need it, 'kay, bitch-ass?”

Y/n snorts audibly at her friend, having grown awfully used to Mei's affectionate insults by now, and lightly shakes her head at the remarks. “Yeah, whatever you say, April.”

“Y/n-chi! For the last time, my name is Mei; not fuckin' April! I'll kick your ass if you keep calling me that!”

“Jeez, April, you have a worse temper than mine-- and that says a lot coming from me! Maybe you should have that checked out?”

Y/n stifles an amused laugh against the back of her hand as Mei erupts like a volcano on the other end of the line, hollering various profanities and words that the former couldn't quite comprehend. That didn't mean that diminished Y/n's entertainment in the slightest, her shoulders shaky with her urge to laugh at her friend's short fuse and colorful language. It was always quite easy to get on Mei's nerves, a fact which only served to draw Y/n in doing so each and every single time.

That didn't matter much, though, since Mei made a lovely friend and wasn't the chaotic dumbass Y/n so swimmingly embodied. After all, chaotic dumbasses were made to be handled and pampered by neutral dumbasses.

Y/n's eyes heave inquisitively once they view the approaching of a figure out of the periphery of their vision, squinting distastefully at first but softening briefly once they realize who they are facing. The girl shows a crooked smile and lifts her unrestrained arm over her head, fingers swaying lazily with the motion of her waving. The crunching of grass and leaves amplifies as the person hesitantly comes forward, nervous and hesitant as always.

“Yeah, hey, April, I gotta go; my loyal twink companion has arrived. Can't have him know about our scheme..” She murmurs the words to the speaker with a soft snicker, cupping a hand over her moving lips as she does. “See ya later at Daichi's! Again, thanks for everything! «Bitch-ass», out.”

Y/n presses the pad of her thumb against her screen, effectively ending the call and locking her phone once again, tediously leaning back against the bark of the sakura tree with a soft sigh and a welcoming smile. The curvature of her lips is innocent, but the twinkle in her eye reeks of nothing but sin as she peers through her lashes at the boy standing before her. She can easily view the inkling of worry swimming within his purple orbs as he gazes down at her, palms damp and clasping at the strap of his school bag.

“Hmm?” The girl hums out questioningly, cocking her head to the side and feigning oblivion. “What's with the long face, Ouma-chan? You're like a very sad eggplant, looking at me like that.”

Kokichi huffs quietly at the comment, merely striding beside her and gracelessly lowering himself down onto the unoccupied ground next to her. He winces slightly at the aftermath of his clumsy descent, back having been scathed by the tree bark and bony behind really not appreciative of the spike of pain it had produced in the process. He keeps silent for a moment, Adam's apple quivering in his lean throat once he stiffly swallows, head quailing away from the burning cavities Y/n's sharp, prodding eyes carve into his delicate skin.

He can sense the fading of her spurious smile as she mutely observes him, trying to pierce through into his mind and realize the reason of his patent skepticism and unease. Soon, he realizes that he cannot effectively keep his silence for long, seeing as the girl isn't a mind-reader; he would have to speak up and talk to her, but the lump that had grown like a nettle at the back of his throat wasn't making it easy. He parts his lips hesitantly, unsure of how to put the words he wants to voice into a normal, comprehensive sentence.

"Is.. is it true?” He questions listlessly, unnerved thumbs fiddling with each other as he speaks. In an instant of both confusion and curiosity, his head turns, baring violet wide-eyes and quivering lips. “Is it true Mr.Hanzaki got arrested, Y/n-san..?”

If Y/n was somebody who wore emotions on their sleeve, she would have frowned visibly and looked away at the shred of guilt his question brought to life. It wasn't like she felt remorseful of what had befallen Mr.Hanzaki since he himself was the culprit of his crimes and his own demise-- she is feeling in such a way because Kokichi seems quite conflicted. She merely stares back at him, lids lowering midway and breath eluding calmly through the apertures of her nostrils as she gives a light shrug and nods her head. “It is. Don't tell me you only heard of it now, Ouma-chan; the entire school is frothing over this shit..”

“I know... But I couldn't get to hear why,” Kokichi's lips quirk slightly at the ends, abashed gaze momentarily averting elsewhere as he ascends a hand and gently rubs at the nape of his neck. “Terrence was there, and he didn't look very happy with me, so I just kinda.. you know, I kinda.. run as fast as my legs could carry me.”

“Oh?” Y/n brows shoot up inquisitively at the revelation, a bitter amusement clouding over her expression as she rests her cheek against the dip of her palm-- visage serene and unbothered but a fume of pure irk bubbling up within the interior of her chest. There was the hint of a smile gracing her lips, dripping heavily with sweet venom and the blinking, menacing twinkle within her eye as she registered the words.

Damn that bloated pig to hell. Side-eyeing us at the cafeteria both today and yesterday and then starting up on his usual shit... But what can you expect from an unintelligent, disgusting sow such as him? Even calling him 'pig' is an insult to the poor animals.. Hopefully he won't try anything.

“So I guess I have to tell you everything, don't I?” The girl curbs a small chuckle at the fashion in which Kokichi's face lights up at her suggestion, lethal, half-lidded eyes fixing his cherubic face with a beguiled fondness. “Alright, alright, take notes, m'kay? That gross pedo was initially arrested because the police received an anonymous call, saying a big amount of weed was just chillin' in his car. And turns out, the caller wasn't bullshitting, because there really was! Crazy, riiight? But, here's the plot-twist...” She pauses her speech eerily, the ends of her lips hoisted up at the sheer focus the boy shows as he patiently listens, worrying his bottom lip every now and again. “When the officers did a more thorough research, they found some very.. inappropriate photos, let's say.”

“I-Inappropriate?” Comes Kokichi's meek voice, quivering like a fish out of the water and making Y/n raise a quizzical brow and her mouth break with an upbeat burst of laughter. Playfully, she wags a finger before his puzzled face, basking in the way his pupils keenly follow the motion of her digit as though he were a kitten.

“Nuh-uh! Pure children absolutely must not listen to such terrible things, you know? I just can't taint your innocence so cruelly...” Y/n shams a sniffle, brows slanting together in fictitious sorrow and fingers shaking spuriously as she makes to wipe at the inexistent tears spilling down her face. Kokichi only puts a blasé expression on show at her little display, eyes lackluster and blinking slowly as they stare up at her through a veil of apathy. Y/n only pouts in response, lower lip protruding stubbornly as she casts her gaze low with a nasal huff. “Aww, you're no fun...”

“Y/n-saaan,” Kokichi says through a whine, feebly tugging at her forearm and half-heartedly glaring once he perceives that she barely budges even when he used a large portion of his strength. His cheeks puff out in frustration once he sees her bite back a smile, a slight tinge of rosiness rising to tint the tips of his ears. How can this girl turn any situation in one where his fluster comes to life? “Hmph.. Y/n-san, tell me.. a-and don't laugh, okay?!”

“Fine, fine, you little fuckin' tsun-tsun,” Y/n's voice holds a feigned disinterest, but the way her eyes sparkle and her lips curl into a shit-eating grin when she lowers her head so their faces are level seem to hint at otherwise. Kokichi recoils slightly, out of reflex, the scarlet color making the tops of his bony cheeks glow amplifying once he feels her breath collecting against his chin. He both likes and hates the closeness, purple orbs wary and blinking rapidly.

“Alright, so listen well, because I'm only gonna say this once, m'kay? So, you know how there has been some perverted-ass bitch sneaking into the girls' lockers and snatching underwear. Well, yesterday, the police found pictures of none other than Mr.Hanzaki himself, wearing female undergarments in a wide variety of ways... On his head, on his face, even around his gross ass! All dressed up in thigh highs and bunny ears, short skirts, heels-- and all while wearing the underwear that was just too small for him. When police went to search through his house, they found an entire stash of girls' underwear, clean, used, whatever your little head can think of. There was an entire shrine with every girl's name above each pair of panties-- girls that get changed in the locker rooms of this very school after PE. There was even video evidence anonymously sent to the police, of that creepy asshole sneaking into the lockers and later coming out with a pair of them.”

Y/n marvels in the way Kokichi's expression grows confused, then baffled and at last completely blank, devoid of all signs of emotion. His pallid lips are parted, eyes unfocused and disbelieving as they gape up at her through the valance of his lashes. Kokichi remains entirely still, to the point where Y/n is actually questioning whether he is breathing or not, his body frozen in place as though it were a glistening sculpture made of ice. It is as though his soul has left his broken shell of a body for a moment, rendered speechless and unsure of how to react to what his not-so-innocent ears had just been soiled by.

The girl before him merely leans back, quirking a brow and tilting her head with an carefree smile. “Who would have thought our dear Mr.Hanzaki would be the notorious underwear thief that's been striking since September all the way till recently? I mean, I knew he was a fucking creep, don't get me wrong-- but I never would have thought he would actually go as far as to do something so perverse.”

“How.. how do you know so much about it?” Kokichi's voice comes through small and verging on silent, speaking as though his throat was benumbed and chaffed by blazing fire. He doesn't sound exceedingly suspicious as he eyes her with inquisitively furrowed brows, but rather tremendously perplexed and bewildered. His train of thought, no matter how abnormal or bizarre at times, would never go to as far as to even imagine Y/n and her friends being the primary catalysts of the situation.

Y/n merely gives an careless shrug at the query, flashing her signature, dangerous grin without blinking once, a truthful lie slipping past her lips as though it were the easiest thing in the world. She isn't anywhere near feeling the urge to tell sweet, little Kokichi the truth. “Well, let's just say the father of a girl from B-2 was one of the officers who actually arrested Mr.Hanzaki. The gal wasn't all that quiet about the details she had learned-- not one bit. That's how mostly everyone knows about it; headmaster Miyashiro wouldn't let the other teachers say one thing about the entire situation.”

The boy seated beside her blinks slowly as he lets the words she spewed slowly sink into his brain, brows still slanted together in a fusion of worry and unmistakable disgust. His lids twitch as he stiffly swallows, youthful face contorted in the distasteful expression of sheer revulsion and nausea. He feels physically ill to his very core, all those leers and staring Mr.Hanzaki would aim at him suddenly making a whole lot of repulsing sense. Kokichi shrinks back against the sakura tree, sweltering palms clasping at his slim biceps and head going down passively as he thinks.

Y/n slowly rocks back and forth from where she sits cross-legged next to him, humming out thoughtfully as she views his visible sulking with a sullen, puzzled scowl of her own. She scoots closer slyly, testing the waters, evidently confused when Kokichi for once doesn't produce any physical reaction to her drawing near, merely staying put and so absorbed in thought that for a moment she thinks he can't even see her.

Experimenting, she ascends a hand with a skeptical squint of her eyes, the tip of her forefinger poking at Kokichi's cheek and slightly squishing the thin flesh underneath her touch. She feels an understandable sense of relief once Kokichi breaks out of his trance at the hint of a prod against his face, shoulders jumping and thistle hues gaping up at her in alarm. Y/n only raises a brow in return, voice impossibly low and jabbing as she speaks.

“Don't tell me you're sad for him or something. He's guilty of everything he's being blamed for, so it's not like doesn't deserve--”

“I'm not sad for him.” The boy all but grinds out, disdain written all over his face as he averts his eyes; slightly surprised by the apathetic, almost scary timbre his voice could take on. It was a rarity for Kokichi to talk with such venom dripping from his generally soft-spoken, hesitant words-- a fact which only serves to make his anxiety reach its summit. “I-It's just.. I can't believe it. Having someone so.. disgusting among us the entire time, while no one had a clue.. Looking at us, thinking about us... It just makes me f-feel sick.”

Y/n listens mutely, teeth nibbling at the inner lining of her cheek as she keenly looks Kokichi over, lids lowering midway over softening eyes. She perceives the way his lips are curled inward into a firm line, the fashion in which his body shies away at the slightest inkling of her prying gaze, legs drawn together and held close to his sternum with milky fingers draped over the caps of his knees. She rests her elbow on her thigh, jaw cupped into the depression of her palm and breathes out calmly.

“Unfortunately, there's a lot more fucked up people out there than we think. We walk with them, talk to them, or are friends with them, sometimes. It's just how people are. But you shouldn't worry about Mr.Hanzaki anymore; he can't hurt or talk down on you anymore. Chances are that you'll never see even him again in your life, so don't think about it too much.”

Kokichi hesitantly peers at her from the corner of his eye, slowly taking in the warmth her orbs radiate and the amity gracing the soft smile upon her lips. It's faint and barely visible, and if he blinked he would have missed it, but it's certainly there; in all its purity and tendering him an odd sense of security. He worries his lower lip between his teeth, heart aflutter once Y/n exudes a light-hearted chuckle and brings a hand up, gently caressing the top of his head and ruffling the roots of his unkempt strands. The affectionate gesture makes him flinch slightly, stare innocently up at her and not-so-involuntarily lean into the touch with a small shudder.

Against his better judgment, the edges of his lips twitch upward into a bashful smile, the muscle pounding within his chest briefly making him wonder if she could hear it beating through his skin. He hates how vulnerable he feels when touched in a way that causes him no harm, but rather is careful and tender and makes his stomach flip.

“There, see? No use getting upset over people who don't deserve it, Ouma-chan. You're way prettier when you smile, anyway!”

Kokichi's mouth breaks with a jolly giggle at words, cheeks warm with a slight embarrassment as he shyly fends Y/n's hand off and lightly shakes his fleecy head. He feared that if it were to draw out further, he'd start purring like some sort of feline-- and he'd rather avoid the shame of that occurring. The boy goes to utter something, slightly overwhelmed by the fondness adorning Y/n's face, but is rudely interjected by the sound of a loud thump and the forward reel of her body as she clenches her eyes shut, a hand going up to clench against her skull at the ache it is suddenly tormenting her with. She was hit at the top of the head, the strike so potent that it left her brain spinning inside the confines of her cranium.

Ridden with nothing but worry and confusion, Kokichi extends an arm forth, trembling fingers making to touch her-- seconds before a towering figure looms over them both and its shadow shrouds them from the face of the sun. He has hardly any time to react before Y/n is harshly gripped by the person by the bundle in which her hair is collected, a curt gasp flying from between her lips as she is practically hauled away from her companion, legs limp and arms going up instinctively at the pain it generates. Normally, she would be able to fend off the attackers grasp, but stunned as she is by the trauma to the head, all she can manage is claw at the hand seizing her so cruelly and kick her scarlet-clad legs.

Kokichi is paralyzed with dread as he watches, mouth agape and eyes having grown to the size of platters-- only a second before he is snatched by the hair from behind and relentlessly pulled to stand on his wobbly feet, a cry quaking his throat with the sheer force making his entire body ache. A pair of meaty, sturdy arms lock around him, one secured around his chest and the other clamped to his dainty neck; immobilizing him with a frightening ease and momentarily cutting off his air supply.

“Long time, no see, rat.” Croons a sickening voice against his unkempt hair, making his eyes almost pop out of their sockets with horror, knees shaking profusely. Immediately, he recognizes the hoarse, feminine voice ghosting against his ear and his face visibly blanches in mortification once he realizes just who it is.

Lillian.

Lillian is firmly holding his tattered body from behind, his back flush against her front, successfully disabling him from finding any way out from her death grip. She is rough, unforgiving-- reeking of dried liquor and malice and grinning wickedly as she listens to his meek whimpering. Once Kokichi raises his gaze in a panic, searching to see if Y/n has recovered in the slightest, he only finds her held down to the ground by none other than Terrence himself, Vince leeching to his side and whistling tediously as he watches the whole ordeal. Terrence has his large hand around Y/n's quivering throat, stilling her effectively once he settles his entire weight against her stomach with an amused peal of laughter.

Shit.

“Listen here, now, little rat-boy,” Lillian whispers hotly against the boy's ear, fleetingly tightening her mesh around him and leaving him wheezing from air. Kokichi shudders in both disgust and terror, nimble fingers tugging against Lillian's forearms in a pathetic attempt to be let go. “You're gonna be a good boy and sit right here with me while the others have a talk with Y/n. I should warn you, they have a lot of shit to sort out, so we can watch them beat her bloody for a long, long time; you won't be bored at all. And then, when she can no longer even move,” The plump girl paused with bone-chilling chuckle, warm tongue sticking out of her filthy mouth and dragging a slow stripe over the shell of Kokichi's ear, making him mewl feebly and thrash around in her unyielding grip. “It's your turn.”

“N-n.. no. Please, don't.. P-please. Just, just let her go, at least.. Please, d-don't hurt her.. D-do whatever you want to me, whatever! J-just.. don't hurt Y/n-san, don't hurt her! Hurt me, instead, me! I beg you! I'll do whatever y-you ask; anything! Just please, please, not hher..”

“Hmm...” Lillian pretends to consider the thought, cruelly giving poor Kokichi a shred of false hope, a snide sneer tugging at her lips once she raises her cold eyes, her red locks swaying with the motion as she fixes her attention upon Terrence. “Hey, big T! The little rat-boy is trying so, so hard to protect his bitch. Maybe we should listen to him? I'm starting to feel a bit bad...”

The caustic sarcasm in her low voice is nauseating, makes Kokichi's innards shrivel painfully, but no more so than when Terrence heaves his head and his hooded eyes glare at the smaller boy, sadism clear as day within his pupils. His hand is still around Y/n's throat like the sharp claws of a predator, a sinister grin twisting his lips into an abnormal slew. With his unrestrained hand, he gestures Vince over, drawling out a 'watch the bitch' as he stands up and brushes off his trousers, striding thoughtfully toward Kokichi's trembling frame.

Y/n makes to weakly sit up upon being released but her attempts screech into a halt once Vince swiftly kneels down and produces a switchblade from within his pocket, pressing the sharp end against the tender flesh of her neck with a knowing raise of his brows and a fiendish laugh. The girl gulps down thickly, brows twitching as she remains still, dazed eyes glaring stubbornly at the boy before her. She just has to wait for the right time to attack, yeah that's it; hopefully a few seconds of rest will have her back to somewhere near her top form. Vince will drop his guard sooner or later, and that's when she'll take the bastard down; since he's much smaller than Terrence, it should be much easier.

For the time being however, all she can really do is crane her head and stare with alarmed eyes to where Kokichi is standing, restrained and afraid and gazing right back at her with quivering orbs. He drew Terrence's attention on him on purpose, to help her and give her a chance to recover and escape-- and the notion makes Y/n's cold heart clench with emotion.

There is absolutely no way she is fleeing without Kokichi by her side. Just hat kind of partner would she be then?

Just kind of friend would she be then?

“What did you say, exactly, Cockroachi?” Terrence taunts, voice thick with poison and contempt, the scornful expression settled upon his face making Kokichi's eyes prickle with involuntary tears. The intimidating blond leans down, face now level with Kokichi's sniveling visage, gaze curdling to rough, honed stone as he looks him over. Terrence brings a hand over, large palm widening and taking the small boy's lean jaw amid his thumb and forefinger and squeezing down against the refined bone carelessly. Kokichi swallows back his distraught whimpers, eyes flaring with an unmistakable fury as they tack themselves to the other's all too familiar face despite his cowardice and skittishness. “No, really, I want to hear i--”

“D-don't hurt her.”

The words come through small and breathy, voice wavering as he utters them but eyes never quailing away, replete with a strange sense of determination as they stare right back at the grey irises blankly gazing down at him. For a moment, Terrence's stretched grin fades, in its place remaining an unreadable, tedious expression once the words reach his ears. Brows stern over his icy eyes as he silently examines the boy quivering within Lillian's grip, he almost looks bored as he absentmindedly hums through his nose and thumbs at his belt. Out of the corner of his eye, Kokichi can make out the leather case strapped to the blond's waist, shaped in a way that makes it terribly obvious it contains a large, metal blade-- and briefly wonders if Terrence has any intention of shoving the knife down into his neck and watch with no amusement present the blood gush out in streams and rivulets of red.

There is the sudden burst of biting, booming laughter flowing out of Terrence's mouth; an awful, mocking guffaw that leaves him nearly breathless and entertained beyond belief. It leaves a sour taste to empty itself upon Kokichi tongue. At the sound of their leader's bitter glee, Lillian and Vince take their turns to cackle venomously at the two, the former constricted Kokichi within her arms as though he were a ladybug and the latter lightly pressing down the switchblade against the quivering skin coating Y/n's neck.

“«Don't hurt her», huh? And.. what if I do? The fuck are you gonna do about it, rat? Huh? The fuck is your bony ass going to do to me? You're gonna hit me with those noodle arms of yours? Oh, I am so very scared!” Terrence sneers as he leans closer, pitifully studying Kokichi's glossy eyes and trembling lips and snorting audibly. “You're not gonna do jack-shit to me, and we both know it. You couldn't defend yourself even it meant dying; that's just how pathetic you are. Look at you, shaking like a leaf, and we haven't even gotten started with you yet-- you can't even protect your dearest bitchlet, even after all she's done to protect your ass; Because that's just how pathetic you are.” Terrence raises his brows knowingly at Kokichi, marveling in the way the latter's eyes are already fraught of cowardly tears and showing a nefarious smirk. “Remember, all that will happen to her today isn't our fault. It's your fault because you can't even try to protect her.”

Terrence practically spits the words through clenched jaws, the evil sparkle making his eyes glow as well as his degrading speech leaving Kokichi a whimpering, humiliated mess. He feels awful, absolutely useless as he momentarily peers at Y/n with a sniffle, immensely guilty as he admits the fact that his tormentor is correct in his sayings; he indeed can do nothing in the world to actually help her out. He's way too weak-willed, way too skinny, way too pathetic to even make a single attempt.

He cares not of what becomes of him-- the only thing clouding over his mind being that the only person he really ever considered a friend is going to get hurt, pummeled by fists and slashed with the knifes Terrence and Vince brandish till she's nothing but a bleeding, barely-conscious heap against the grass below. There's no way Y/n can take both of the males down all by herself, not when she has been so significantly weakened by the potent blow to the head. This is a fight she can't win all by herself, a fight that she will be forced to lose--

--All because of Kokichi and his idle, useless self.

All his fault, Y/n's pain is going to be all his fault and the notion makes him want to sob out in his overwhelming delirium. He's angry, so angry with himself; hot tears of frustration pouring down his cheeks and lathering the underside of his jaw as he ferociously glares at Terrence behind the blur of his chagrin, short fingernails clawing at the arms that are keeping him so painfully still-- no matter how much he squirms around in a meek attempt to escape.

God, at times like these he really wishes he had the willpower and strength to hold Terrence by the throat, rip his windpipe out with his own, bare hands and gouge out the disgusting pig's eyes while he gurgles and chokes on his own filthy blood--

“Fucking..! Nghh, you piece of..!”

Kokichi's breath hitches at the back of his throat as the peal of a strained voice echoes against the atmosphere, the unmistakable hoarseness of it belonging to none other than Y/n herself; the girl who is currently trying to dodge the swing of a knife aimed her way. She had let Vince drop his guard down just so that she would have the opportunity to rope his wrist within her fingers and slither around his kneeling form from behind, unrestrained arm flying to wrap like the vice grip of a snake around his neck. The boy quickly loses balance, visibly taken aback by just how swiftly Y/n had moved, plopping down gracelessly against his stomach when Y/n forces her weight against the small of his back.

In all his evident panic, Vince raises the weapon he's so tightly gripping, its handle nearly slipping out from within his palm at just damp with sweat it is, but it's not an easy task with how viciously Y/n is pressing his wrist down to the ground. He lets out a strangled gasp as the pressure around his throat amplifies, clamping down against his Adam's apple and cutting off his air supply. Squirming around like a fish out of the water, he tries to wriggle out of her mesh-- but it all appears to be to no avail as Y/n's hold, albeit a weaker than usual, persists relentlessly.

The girl is sweltering at the temples, teeth bared and hair unkempt as tries to permanently immobilize his struggling form from underneath her. “Ugh! Let go of the fucking knife, you little motherfucker! Are you trying to fucking kill me?! Let go of it or I'll snap your damn neck right the fuck now!”

“If you don't get the fuck off him, I'll snap his neck, bitch!” The seething of Lillian's brewing voice makes Y/n's head whirl upward, delirious eyes glaring through a veil of bitterness and the mere will to survive. However, the same, flaring pair of eyes widens in disbelief once she views the way the redhead's mighty arm compresses around Kokichi's milky throat in return, which seems tiny compared to the savage girl holding him against her. The action makes the boy let out a choked gasp, face flushing a deep red as both his air supply and blood flow are abruptly hindered. His little fingers tug stubbornly at Lillian's sleeve, the tips of his shoes barely making contact with the ground as he is slowly lifted higher by the throat.

Y/n's expression quickly grows conflicted and harrowed once she perceives in just how much distress and pain Kokichi seems to be in, the sight of his bloodshot eyes and the rapid pulsing of his chest as he tries to breathe making her heart wrench, bruising grip around Vince loosening despite the scolding voice at the back of her head. It would have been greatly different if she was on her own, seeing as she didn't give much thought about her own well-being until after the fight would be over-- but now she has someone to protect, someone who can't fend for himself; the mere notion of Kokichi being harmed by those pests making her heart plunge straight to the pits her stomach.

Damn it, goddamn it all to Hell! Why, why is this happening to us?! I have to find a way, I have to find another way!

Against her better judgment, the girl releases Vince, shakily hastening to her feet and taking a few steps backward, mind clouded with her heavy breathing. She desperately hopes her cooperation will be taken into account, feeling a sigh of relief leave her once Kokichi's previous agony visibly recedes, a small sound flying from between his lips as oxygen fills his throbbing lungs anew. He's gazing at Y/n frantically, chin rippling as he bites down on his lower lip to stifle a cry of gratitude.

Vince coughs out profusely once he is set free, right hand still clasped around his switch-blade while the other hurtles up to touch his reddened neck. He sits up tremulously on his hands and knees, face burning with shame as he slowly recovers from the former strangulation, chest heaving and calming erratically.

“Wow, Lil. I didn't know you were such a sadistic fucking bitch!” Says Terrence through a bellow of vociferous laughter, face contorting with amusement as he tacks his gaze to Y/n, who is standing frivolously with her fingers curled to tight fists next to the cotton material of her black skirt. Her eyes are blazing with the desire to just take him by throat and pound his head against the ground-- and that would be happening if it weren't for Lillian holding Kokichi captive and being able to use Y/n's like toward him to Terrence's advantage.

Every single one of them knows more than well that if Y/n was alone right then, she'd be throwing herself at them and taking them down one by one, despite the struggle she'd have to face. However, this circumstance differs by a lot when compared to all the fights Y/n has had before all of this, and the fact is greatly unsettling to her. For once, the master of throwing fists didn't know what to say or do. She feels a trickle of sweat gliding down her cheek and chill her complexion, eyes as rough as stone as they stare beneath furrowed brows.

“Can't you.. can't you just let him go?” Y/n knows her words will have no effect on somebody as insensitive as Terrence and his duplicates, but as she stares at Kokichi's trembling frame, frightened beyond words, she finds that hope truly does die last. “It's me you have beef with, right? What does he have to do with any of it? Stop being a damn coward for one and fight me yourself, Terrence! Stop hiding behind your goons and excuses and just settle this with me!” The panting girl pauses for a moment, brows elevating and lips peeling into a worn, challenging smile as she bites right at his fragile ego. “..Or are you too afraid that I'll wipe the floor with your ass again?”

The way Terrence's eyes squint into thin slits of pure irk and the lock of his defined jaw are indicators enough that her speech had certainly hit a nerve, and she bites back the urge to show a mocking grin. The blond stares her down silently, expression wilting into an emotionless utterance as he very carefully debates whether or not he should just teach her a lesson right then and there. It feels as though Y/n's plan has been marked as a victory, but only for a moment.

It doesn't take long for Terrence to exude a muffled chuckle at her pathetic attempt, his gaze momentarily leaving her and slyly glancing downward. “We'll see just who has the last say in this, L/n.”

There is the evident questioning of Y/n's eyes as she tries to decipher what lies behind his confident words, but before she can get a shred of thought through, there's a sharp pang of pain against the front of her right thigh and the hissing sound of flesh being torn open-- and suddenly, she's slowly descending onto the earth below with a barely audible yelp. When her shock-ridden eyes turn to look, they only find Vince, who is grinning wickedly and resting on his scathed knees as he watches the blood that had just stained his knife glide down the expanse of the blade.

The black of Y/n's skirt gathers around her thighs as she lands on her behind with a graceless thud, eyes growing wide with horror as she stares down at her clumsily folded legs. Her red stockings have been sliced into a fine line just above the cap of her knee by none other than Vince himself, revealing the wounded flesh underneath; the single, lengthy gash on her right thigh oozing with fresh blood and soiling her thigh highs with a sickeningly darker hue of crimson. Her hands frantically touch near her injury and come back coated in a sheen of red, breath escaping in curt bouts and voice having completely abandoned her.

The shock of it all numbs the pain the bleeding wound brings.

W..what...?

“Y/N-SAN!!”

Chapter Text

“Y/N-SAN!!”

A blood-curdling scream leaves Kokichi in the form of her name, heart nearly dropping through his body as he hysterically reaches out to her with one hand, abundant tears ceaselessly spilling from the corners of his eyes and warming his flushed cheeks. His body writhes around in a ferocity that makes Lillian slightly struggle, letting out a grunt as she tries to keep him still and quiet-- but the boy is so swivel-eyed and frenetic that it becomes quite the task. Kokichi's throat aches terribly with his clamorous cries, but he can't afford to care, not when he watches Y/n wound only produce more blood and suffering.

Y/n is too shaken to respond in any way, shape or form, only snapping out of her shocked trance when Vince deals a bruising punch to her cheek and sends her reeling backward, hitting the back of her head against the ground and hissing through clenched teeth. Her attacker easily climbs on her, weight collecting just above her abdomen and fingers gathering her quivering wrists in a bunch over her head, effectively immobilizing her and causing her a great deal of pain as his limbs brush against her fresh wounds.

The girl wants to cry out at the awful sting oxygen produces as it slithers like salt over her exposed injury, the remaining length of her leg feeling benumbed and detached as she tries desperately to gain sense of it once more. She clenches her jaws together however, teeth grinding viciously as she refuses to be reduced to a mess that isn't even trying to fight back. The task is quite difficult, however, when her hands are being held still and her leg gushing with blood.

The knife Vince presses against the side of her neck doesn't help, either.

Kokichi doesn't hold back his crying as he tearfully watches the scene, nearly screaming out in protest once Terrence leaves his side and nears the weakened Y/n with slow strides and a gruesome smile. The small boy smacks his bunched up fists against Lillian's forearms and elbows, no longer thinking clearly as he pitifully sobs and tries to escape. When the said girl just constricts him further into her merciless grip, he feels his spine crack against his thin flesh, breath momentarily leaving him.

Why is he even trying to escape? Even if he was released, he wouldn't be able to help Y/n in the slightest, merely running away like the coward he so surely believes he is. He can't do anything to ease the situation, even after all Y/n has done to assist him and protect him in the best of her ability-- and that's what tears out his little heart the most. He's both furious and distraught, staring in a veil of disbelief and horror as Terrence bows down on one knee beside the wriggling girl on the ground and racks his fist against the side of her face, watching as her head lolls to the side and her voice hitches.

Kokichi didn't ever mean for this to happen. They were supposed to be hurting him-- him and only him. He just can't handle the sight of the only person who ever made him feel like a human being thrashed and abused; especially when it's all because he is at fault. Y/n was like his best friend, his only friend, the only person who, despite their own oddness, didn't throw him away or harm him to her heart's content. She was the only one who ever smiled at him with no patronization, who ever hung out around him out of her own free will.

The only real person who had believed in him and made him feel as though he was more than his worthless self.

So why, why was she getting hurt because of him? Why was she getting hit and slashed? Out of all people, why her? It shouldn't have been her. It should have never been her!

Damnit, God damn it all to Hell! What, what is Kokichi supposed to do? What can he do?!

Terrence's strikes are relentless as he keeps unforgivingly pummeling Y/n's face with the flame for vengeance burning high within him; basking in each sound of pain she produces, each noise of his knuckles slapping against her nose and cheekbones, each drop of blood that has began dripping from her nostrils and limns her face with red. Kokichi's meek sniveling and crying only adds to the effect, making a sense of pride swell within Terrence's chest, one he had never felt before.

The boy is frantically reaching out, like a kitten would to its mother, eyes bloodshot and seething with nothing but pure rage and affliction, voice breaking at the edges as he weeps and yells out incoherently.

"Stop! Please, stop, y-you're hurting her! Stop, stop! s-she didn't do anything wrong! Please, y-you-- Nggh..!"

Kokichi's voice dies with a choked gurgle when Lillian flattens her arm against the front of his throat, the Adam's apple straining beneath his skin quivering as he dryly makes to swallow-- coughing up violently once he finds the action impossible. The entire situation he finds himself within is awfully reminiscent of when a noose of harsh rope was wrapped around his neck, making him delirious from the lack of air as the bleeding tips of his fingers desperately tugged at it in an attempt to breathe, legs kicking about wildly and trying to reach the ground. The old but never fading memory is the catalyst for his anxiety hitting its peak, only adding to the weight clamping down against his battered heart as he watches Y/n's bloody face and dizzy eyes.

The girl is nowhere near giving up on fighting back, legs flailing about as though she hadn't had the flesh of her thigh split open, wrists thrashing around mindlessly in order to be set free-- and Kokichi feels fresh tears tug at the corners of his eyes at the sight. Y/n still hasn't given up, even when held down and hit so cruelly, even though winning against them on her own would be nonsense, even when brought to her lowest; her fighting spirit is still awake and wicked, never once yielding. It makes Kokichi stop his struggling for a moment and bite down hard into the cushion of his lower lip, tearfully hiccupping as he watches through a veil of slight awe.

Y/n is strong, so strong, so unlike Kokichi as she shows him that even now giving up on one's self is not a respectable option. Proving him wrong even when he thinks she can't get even more admirable than she was prior. Teaching him, even now, that giving up is no option not only for someone like her, but also for someone like him.

If Y/n is not giving up, then why is Kokichi?

One of the girl's hands slips free in her multiple endeavors, swinging pointedly and catching Terrence's swiftly lowering fist, her head raising and her lips parting as she spits a scheme of blood and slimy saliva right against Vince's eyes. The latter flinches back immediately with a shaky, confused yelp, fleetingly rendered sightless as Y/n hastily takes the switchblade from his hold and slashes in a rickety line across Terrence's forearm. He exudes a vociferous profanity at the pain the piercing of his skin produces, eyes flickering up in a combination of fright and disbelief. Even through her waves of exhaustion and tire, Y/n pushes harshly against Vince's chest, body now free of his bothersome weight and fist colliding messily with Terrence's jaw.

Kokichi can make out the unmistakable sense of dread that twinkles within Y/n's eye even as she throws the switchblade as far to the side as she can manage and endlessly begins to pelt down at Terrence's face and neck with her bare fists, blows dropping down like a rainfall of comets against the blond boy's complexion. Her hair has been released to cascade in an unkempt, voluminous mess down her shoulders, sticking to the smudged blood that had eluded from her nose and now soiling her cheeks and chin in faint blotches.

There is sweat gleaning at the top of her brow and gliding to pool in the depression of her temple as her teeth gnash, partly by the struggle Terrence puts up and partly by the ache making her entire leg throb. Her overpowering position atop doesn't last for long, however, as her weakened state allows Terrence to easily take hold of her pounding hands and almost crush her wrists within his palms as he keels her over and slams her back against the ground. Her spine quakes with the impact, the force reaching to rattle her ribs and knock the air right out of her lungs. The pain is momentarily numbing, makes hot tears tug at her lower lash line and her heart clench painfully within her chest-- the moment of shock giving Terrence just the right amount of time to curl his cruel fingers around the periphery of her neck and squeeze down without any care in the world.

Y/n exudes a choked gasp once he begins strangling her, the applied pressure against the sides of her neck cutting off both the flow of blood and oxygen from her brain and making icy tendrils painfully clamp down against her skull. The numbness transforms into pain in such a quick fashion and makes her movements grow slow and lethargic as her fingers tug at Terrence's thick wrists in a meek attempt to make him let go. And, for a moment, as she gazes up at his cold eyes with panic frothing up within her, she truly feels scared.

Terrence only sneers in return, his grip around her neck not enough to asphyxiate her but also abundant to reduce her to a weakly clawing heap beneath him as he looms over her with his knees at each side of her hips. "You remember what you had told me, L/n? «Next time you won't live to be sorry»? Looks like someone bit off more than they could chew, huh?"

For a brief moment, he tightens the clutch around her quivering throat and marvels in the way she lets out a smothered gurgle. Terrence leans down with a dangerous grin twisting his features, his fringe brushing against her clammy forehead as he stares within those wide, dread-ridden eyes of hers and speaks. "You know.. I'm not a monster. If you say sorry, maybe I will forgive you and let your little twink go. Maybe if you beg for your pathetic fuckin' life, I will spare you both."

The lowness and crescendo of his husky voice makes Y/n sick to the stomach once it taints her ears, her brows twitching with her evident strain to remain composed. She is well-aware that he is probably lying through venom-coated teeth, that he wouldn't let this go unless she was at her lowest and was pleading for mercy. Fucking idiot had the nerve to ask Y/n out of all people to beg-- he should have already known the demand was out of the question before he had even uttered it. The girl is just way too prideful and holds her dignity in a much high regard to be able to beg like some 'little bitch', as she has said herself multiple times.

Y/n L/n begged no one, especially someone like Terrence and his goons.

She would already have embedded her fingers in his eyeballs as though they were rounds of jelly within their sockets and made him cry blood as they stuck to her nails, but she had a plan she wouldn't give up on. Through gritted teeth, she makes to say something, but the potency of Terrence's evil hold stops it from escaping her racked throat. At her attempt, the intimidating boy quirks a brow, hands loosening just slightly from where they were firmly locked above her collarbones, eyes alight with amusement and pure, unfiltered sadism. "Hmm? What'd you say? I didn't hear you very well.."

Terrence wants to hear it from the bottom of his hollow heart, she knows-- the perfect chance to catch him off guard. For someone so strong and frightening, it really is a shame that he lets his ego get the better of him so easily.

"I.. I said..." Y/n manages through curt inhales of air, a hand feeling around in the grass beside her and taking a hold of something hard and pointy among her fingers before she continues. Her chest heaves and calms at an alarmingly rapid rate, eyes feigning submission and successfully making Terrence drop his guard as he takes her in, abiding silently and locking his jaw. "F.. Fuck you!"

With a sharp movement, Y/n's arm flies up in a blur of motion and hits him against the side of the head with the rock within her grasp, the blow causing his wide palms to abandon the spot from around her throat in an instant and swiftly travel to where he had been struck. Unfortunately, he is far too heavy to fall off her smaller body completely, but the distraction endows her with the chance to deal a punch right between his lungs. The jab is right below his ribs and he emits a choked, pained gasp as the oxygen is stolen from his airways, effectively sending him backward and involuntarily releasing her body from beneath him. Her tremulous fingers frantically reach to her own neck, her breath panting and thinning as she tries to regain her composure.

"Ha.. ha.. Like I would ever ask for forgiveness by some piece a' shit like you! I'd rather fucking die!"

The girl hastily makes to stand up, but her endeavor appears to be fickle once her right leg reminds her of the wound that has impoverished it to such a great extent. There is no way she can stand up without clashing against the floor anew, especially when she is engaging in a battle-- a very unjust battle, but a battle nonetheless. She highly doubts she will be able to be announced the victor of this when she has no partner to fight alongside her, but she is willing to try her best even till she drops conscious.

For a fleeting moment, she is barely aware of Kokichi's hues staring at her through a mixture of horror and surprise as Lillian keeps him still against her and occasionally murmurs degrading slurs against his ear. However, upon viewing her leader be trampled by Y/n once more, the redhead seems rather distraught, jaws clenched and eyes holding nothing but distress as they widen at the sight.

The small boy gulps down thickly as they momentarily lock eyes, the remnants of his heart being further torn apart by the evident tire and pain his companion is undergoing. Her lids are lowered midway as she silently stares at him, the blood staining the corner of her lip creasing as she forces the feeblest inkling of a smile-- the image making his dried lips part in disbelief. Even now, she is trying to make him feel better about himself. Even now, when she's so worn out and hurt, she is still trying her best at saving them both and soothing his doubt.

Even now, she is still the Y/n he has grown to know more and more about each day that passes.

The Y/n who fed him, who tried to make him believe in himself, who stood by his side no matter how contrasting their personalities were and treated him as though they were friends. Who would pet his little head and always manage to coax him in making light of his anxiety and get stronger. Who believed in him.

That's right, Y/n believes in him. She believes in him even now, and yet he's doing nothing to help her. He's remaining idle, as he always did, cowardly and skittish and forever keeping his head low as though eye contact was a terminal illness. Y/n had done things for him that he treasured with every bit of his fractured soul, so why was he not doing anything to repay her? Why was he not doing anything to help her when she needed it most?

"Y/n-san..."

Kokichi watches with a trembling throat as Vince deals a spiteful kick to the girl's side, making her hiss out loud and clamp her hand against her ribs-- certain that it will leave a noticeable bruise if she is to make it out alive from all of this. Y/n is bodily aching with pain, face contorting spitefully as she wraps a hand down around Vince's ankle, pulling with all her persisting strength and sending the boy level with the grass below.
She basks in the yelp of pain he lets out, but only for a moment, and if her leg wasn't bleeding she would have climbed onto him and taken care of him while Terrence was still recovering from her strike-- but to her great misfortune, the task is currently impossible. She is easily overpowered once Vince's body quickly slithers behind her and the insides of his elbows hook beneath her underarms, holding her as still as he can manage once she begins stubbornly squirming.

There is a sudden glint that makes Kokichi's eyes flinch, makes his face wan once he realizes it was the sun's reflection against the large dagger Terrence slowly unsheathes from his side. His blonde locks cape over his flushed, sweltering face, breathing still somewhat heavy as he brandishes the knife and maliciously grinds his teeth together-- Kokichi can almost hear the grating of bone gnashing against bone as he views the delinquent's moves with cautious, aching eyes.

A tattered breath leaves him once Terrence begins clumsily ambling forth, knuckles milky as he grips the handle of the knife and takes a few, wobbly steps toward Y/n's struggling form. The girl is trying to lunge at Vince with her elbow, but she is a lot more physically drained than him, rendering the attempt futile. Her throat dodders once she catches a glimpse of the knife Terrence is bringing along with him, heart sinking back against her spine as all the courage burning within her visibly wavers. The blade is larger than the entire expanse of her neck and, despite her greatest efforts, she can't help but wonder if he is going to slice her esophagus open with it.

There is the unmistakable taint of dread coming to life within her, glistening against the ring of her iris as the blade is no more than a few inches away from her face-- and she desperately tries not to let it show. Her is heart ablaze with nerves and plunges down to meet the depths of her nauseated stomach once the sound of Kokichi's voice pierces through the air like the dagger about to pierce right through her, frenetic and bordering on going berserk. Y/n's reluctant eyes leave Terrence for a moment, just for a split second, brows furrowing as she watches the small boy fighting in Lillian's grasp as though she was the plague, nearly foaming at the mouth as he tries to escape.

The sight makes Y/n terribly worried and confused-- never had she ever seen Kokichi this hysterical or desperate about something. This is different that when he was trying to break free earlier; his eyes are wild and crazed, fixated only on Y/n herself and replete with tears of sadness and fury, limbs flailing around more violently than they had ever been in his entire life.

Kokichi just refused to give up.

Kokichi didn't care about himself, or whatever Terrence or anyone would do in order to harm or degrade him.

But he would never forgive himself if he did nothing to help somebody he cared about, and he would never forgive those who had hurt them, either. He would sacrifice his entire existence if it meant shielding those who he cared for from harm's way-- he would even give up his life.

Lillian appears to be rather distressed by Kokichi's sudden change of self, the sounds of his snarling and growling making her grasp upon him falter slightly. If this keeps up for long, the boy will be out and about, having slipped from her arms as though he were a hissing snake. Desperately, she tries to control the spasms and swivels of his body, grunting through the slits of her teeth, "Fucking-- Calm down, you fucking rat! What the fuck's gotten into you?! Oi, help me out with him, he's going fucking ballistic and-- AGH! What the fuck?!?"

The redhead exudes a shrill yelp of pain once Kokichi's teeth delve within the flesh of her hand, biting down firmly and breaking the skin till there is blood coating the interior of his mouth. His eyes are shut tightly, jaws clamped down sturdily as though they were locked in place and refusing to let go even as Lillian writhed her arm about, even as red liquid flowed from within the apertures in the shape of his teeth against the back of her hand.

Y/n stares with her lips parted in pure shock, blinking dumbly at the scene and the sudden ferocity she never knew Kokichi could even muster, the struggling squirming of her body coming to an abrupt stop. "..Ouma..?"

"What the fuck?! Let go, let go!! He's biting me, fucking BITING ME! Get him off, get him off me!!"

Both Terrence and Vince's attention has shifted to the fuss that is unfolding right before them, their expression just as flabbergasted and dumbfounded as Y/n's as they try to figure out just what in the sweet name of fuck is going on. Terrence gapes over his shoulder at Kokichi's visible and very first resistance, fingers gradually loosening their hold around the handle of the dagger and mouth parting in a choked shriek once he feels a sharp stab of pain right between the thighs. He nearly razes to his knees at the ache that travels from his groin up to his very skull, eyes stinging with tears at the edges and burning with pure hatred as he takes in Y/n's smug smirk and incisive glare.

He doesn't even pay heed to the fact Kokichi has been freed and is fixing him with flaring orbs.

"You fucking bitch, I'll make you pay! I'll slash your face till you no longer fucking have one, you piece of-- thE FUCK?!"

Terrence's knees bend and his back hunches once Kokichi jumps onto him from behind, latching against his jacket like a leech drawing blood. The smaller boy's arms firmly lock around Terrence's thick throat, thin legs swathed around his torso and pressing down as though he was holding on for dear life. The constriction makes Terrence let out a strangled gasp, the heels of Kokichi's shoes digging right against his opponent's ribs and producing an awful ache that momentarily renders him motionless. His forearms, albeit as skinny as the twigs of a sprouting tree, secure around Terrence's throat in a vice grip that steals the air from his lungs-- teeth coated in a sheen of Lillian's blood and bared spitefully as he practically strangles the blond with his entire, lithe body.

"What the fuck!" Vince cries out, mind bewildered and drawing blanks as he stares with wide eyes, grip having subconsciously and foolishly slackened around Y/n's shoulders as he shakily speaks. "He has rabies or something?!"

"I-I don't fucking know!" Roars Terrence in response, voice breaking at the edges and fraught of delirium, hand having dropped his dagger in his startle and desperately trying to tug off the raging boy clinging to him from behind as though he were a koala. A koala who was snarling, trying to strangulate him and render his endeavors useless. "When did he even get strong?! I can't get him to let-- go-- Get him off, get him off me! Fuck, Lillian, you bitch, help me--!"

Terrence whirls around in a panic, voice calling frantically for aid by his comrade-- only to see Lillian staring right back at him in horrification, gripping her bleeding hand between her fingers. The lacerations are small, but they certainly are deep as they keep oozing blood. Terrence's body still wriggles in an attempt to get the little devil pasted to his back like a rash away so he could turn that ratty face of his into minced meat-- but Kokichi is anything but willing to passively submit, tightening his little body around Terrence's torso as though he were a living and breathing corset.

The sting from the gash where Y/n had slashed him doesn't help either.

"H-how?! What am I supposed to do?! He'll just fucking bite me again!" Cries Lillian in a protest, but in spite of her words, she takes a few, hesitant steps forward, chest heaving and calming rapidly with the furious pace of her heart. Terrence glares at her with flaring eyes behind flushed cheeks and furrowed brows, practically seething as he snarls through the rows of his teeth.

"I don't fucking know-- just do something! Just get him off!"

Lillian reluctantly nears him, extending her arms and desperately trying to get hold of Kokichi's clinging form-- but almost topples backwards with wobbly steps when the said boy aims with his leg and kicks her right against the sternum with a menacing bellow low in his throat. His eyes are boiling with fury, swirling orbs of purple fire as he shows a louring stare that only serves to rattle Lillian's cores and add fuel to the growing flames of her mortification. Kokichi bares his teeth fiercely, as though he is challenging her to even dare touch him without getting her meaty fingers bitten clean off.

"Ha-ha!" Y/n exudes an elated cackle, secretly proud of Kokichi's antics, and uses Vince's confusion to her advantage, folding her arm and striking him right in the jaw with the crest of her elbow. The boy has hardly any time to react in time so he can dodge it, flopping gracelessly backward as though his limbs were made of sewed fabric. Y/n still needs a bit of a brace to stand up and help properly, knowing that Kokichi wouldn't keep up for long with two people trying to pry him off. She would need to finish off Vince first, and a prideful, frail smile graces her lips; for the time being, her sidekick seems to be doing just dandy on his own. "Ouma-chan, you absolute fucking mad-lad.."

Vince clutches a hand over the throbbing ache against his jaw, arms shaking wearily as he meekly tries to sit up and his expression contorted spitefully as though he had taken a bite out of something sour. He barely has any time to even look up and half-heartedly glare before Y/n has turned around and one of her bunched up fists collides with the ridge of his nose. The bone produces a disgusting crunch as Vince's body limply flops to the side, hands flying up with a cry to cup over his nose and eyes broadening in horror when fresh blood eludes from his nostrils and stains the inside of his palms.

Vince whimpers inaudibly, hands tremulous as he inspects the red liquid that has so crudely soiled them, mouth breaking with a small blabber of protest as his eyes collect tears. "Y-you.. you fucking bitch! My nose; y-you broke my damn nose!"

"Oh, boo-fucking-hoo, you crybaby looking ass! You can't do shit without your little fucking knife, huh?!" Y/n almost spits out the words, hold unrelenting and cruel as she takes a handful of his shirt between her fingers and tugs his head upward. Her lips purse in pure revulsion as she looks over his bloody face, parting as she spits bundle of mingled saliva and blood right against his face. Again. "You slashed my fucking leg open, you bitch! I can barely stand up! And quit your fucking bitching, your nose is fine. I've broken noses before, I know what it sounds like! But I-- can fucking-- fix that for you!"

Y/n braces her wide palms against the ground and the grass pokes against the flesh as she shakily rises to her feet. She has to lean a considerable amount of her weight onto the left sole of her foot-- merely trying to balance on both has her hissing in pain. Her legs move forward in a weak yet persistent limp, breathing coming hot and heavy as she glares at Vince through dazed eyes. The ache rattling the globe of her skull is unmistakably distracting as it makes the veins in her temples throb dolefully-- but it does very little to erase the glint of determination swimming within her eye.

Vince's quivering orbs expand drastically once he perceives her approximation, breath leaving him once he catches glimpse of the rock swaddled in one of her hands. His heart nearly beats out of his chest and forgets to send blood to his wounded nose, pulling him by the legs and coaxing his entire body to crawl backward on scathed elbows and aching feet.

"Nngh..! S-stay away, away-- get the hell away from me, you freak! D-don't touch me, leave me alone.."

The way he pitifully sniffles and the audible waver of his voice would have made Y/n feel bad if she was anyone else. The girl's head merely tips to the side, as though she were a confused pup, but the knowing smile that makes her lips stretch drowns out the image entirely and makes his stomach churn in horrification. Absentmindedly, she disposes of the rock in her hold by making it pummel painfully against the expanse of Vince's sternum, the cry he lets out music to her ears.

He mewls feebly through aquiver lips, a tear of shame cascading down his temple once Y/n slightly bends at waist and takes a handful of his hair within her grasp. His mouth opens mutely at the sting it produces once she lifts his upper body from the ground, scalp feeling as though it would be torn out from his skin as his head dangles gracelessly by the hair.

"You're fuckin' lucky I don't have time for you. But don't you worry; I'll make sure karma fucks you up real good. I'll make sure it hurts and you'll be able to feel every single bit of it. Just you wait. Now get the fuck outta here before I make sure that pig nose of yours is broken for good!"

Y/n tosses his head back down to ground as though it were nothing but a dirty rag, face shriveled up in disgust as she watches him crawl like a dog who no longer had rear legs. The boy sobs out grossly, beside himself, melting away in shame as his fingertips delve against the earth, dirt soiling the underside of his nails. His knees chafe against the inside of his trousers and makes his skin burn as he wobbles to his feet, paying zero heed to it as he tucks his tail tearfully and begins skittering away with an unsteady tread-- just like the coward he is.

Y/n would have beaten him bloody and forced him to beg to be released, but she is currently endowed with the mission to help out that sidekick of hers. Maybe she'll play with Vince later. Yeah, definitely. Weary and wounded and feeling as though her head was no longer attached to her shoulders, she turns around in a hurry, cursing beneath her breath as she hobbles toward where the havoc still remains.

The trio, consisting of Terrence, Lillian and Kokichi himself, is in a chaotic bundle; Terrence wriggling around as though there was a lemur adhered to his back, Lillian having managed to take a hold of said lemur's ankle, and the lemur Kokichi with the brims of Terrence's fingers among his clamped jaws from when he so foolishly tried to hit him. There is a slight ache from the larger male had punched his bony cheek, but he strives to ignore it. Terrence is trying to draw his hand away from the smaller boy's persisting bite, flesh having broken and baring fresh blood that does little to distract Kokichi as some of it stains the interior of his mouth.

The mess would almost be considered comical under different circumstances, only making Y/n's newfound fury burn bright and high at how both of those pitiful cowards are teaming up on Kokichi. The said cowards seem to be completely unaware of Y/n's presence as she hurriedly nears, -- as fast as someone with one of their legs out of order could-- except Kokichi, who instantly frees Terrence's hand once the flash of her red stocking taints the corner of his vision, eyes pleading for help as they momentarily glanced her way.

And help, she did, clamping a hand around Lillian's wounded knuckles and making the plump girl shriek. Lillian lets go of Kokichi in an instant at the pain numbing the muscles in her arm, not dowered with the appropriate time to react as Y/n swirls her on her teetering heels by the shoulder and conjoins a fist to the left side of her face. Y/n's teeth are bared with a snarl once she sends the girl stumbling backward, voice hoarse and almost scary as it flows from within the confines of her throat in a crude demand.

"Hands off my sidekick, you filthy cum dumpster!"

Lillian almost topples over, tripping over her own legs and taken aback by the sheer bruising force Y/n could supply into a singular punch-- she had shot at the redhead like a bullet, even as injured as she was. Lillian can view the way Y/n's features twitch slightly, her lips drawn into a firm line as she pushes through the pang that would have anyone else a moaning heap at the ground; realizing far too late that they shouldn't have even considered trying to compete with somebody such as her.

The Diamondbacks really didn't fuck around, huh? Even Terrence, a proudly self-proclaimed Raven, wasn't able to stand a chance.

And, considering that by attacking Y/n they had brought back to life a forgotten feud between the Diamondbacks and the Ravens, the most famous gangs in Japan that were known for their rivalry, it appears that Terrence and his imbeciles have messed up considerably this time around.

Lillian has no doubt they will be severely punished for their childish shenanigans. Half-heartedly, her body poses in the stance of self-defense, even though she is well-aware of the fact she could never even dream of beating Y/n in a fist fight all on her own. Her opponent is far too fast and cunning for her to follow in time without receiving a hit-- but that didn't mean she was going to give up. She didn't want to disappoint Terrence..

Kokichi loosens the vice grip he snaked around Terrence's neck and torso, cramped body letting go and jumping a few, wobbly steps backward. The pulsing of his heart is just refusing to let him leave down his stupidity for fighting back, for using his small frame and speed to his advantage for once-- but a dew of relief pools within his chest when he comes to the realization he managed to help Y/n even in the slightest. He still is rather clueless of what or who exactly had taken possession of his body and performed so adequately but as he views Terrence turning around to face with a venomous glare, the notion is long gone.

The 'other part' of him merely wished to bask in sublime for once, having proved so useful that Kokichi decides to let it control the movements of his limbs anew.

What he doesn't actually register however, is that the one who is controlling his body, the one who had bared such ferocity, the one who had snapped like a light switch and took the role of a protector was not some demon or fiend-- but rather his own self who had emerged from the darkness he had previously enveloped it with.

And it felt good.

"You fucking rat, you bit me?! I'll tear out each one of your damn teeth and fucking feed them to you, you little bitch; see if you'll try to use that dirty mouth of yours again!"

Terrence's voice is husky and hoarse, fraught of anger as it always had been, teeth gritting spitefully and poised to chew up the smaller boy before him. In spite of his intimidating front and menacing voice, however, Kokichi easily detects the falter of the stark certainty that once stood as an enormous, prideful wildfire within his grey irises; now reduced to nothing but the feeble flicker of a weakening flame.

Kokichi feels almost smug as he catches an eyeful of the bloody marks etched against Terrence's skin; dents in the shape of the teeth now gnawing nervously against his own, bottom lip. He suppresses the sudden urge to snort in amusement as his thistle hues visibly narrow, That's what you get for hurting Y/n-san. The change in his train of thought nearly shocks him, the way in which Y/n had already affected his behavioral patterns managing to catch him off guard.

There is not much time left to be spent thinking, however, as Terrence powers toward Kokichi like a hissing arrow, unharmed fingers curled into a tight fist and preparing to give birth to numerous bruises. His towering stature looms over Kokichi's petite form as though it were a fortress, muffling out the setting sun and shrouding his face in darkness. If this were any other circumstance, the puny male would have recoiled with buckling knees and a yelp of imminent demise, and Terrence is fully aware.

That is why it stuns him when his milky knuckles never come in contact with Kokichi's youthful face. Somehow, Kokichi achieved the difficult task that was avoiding having littered scars and contusions against his complexion-- and his abrupt disappearance had baffled Terrence so greatly that he was rendered speechless. All he caught glimpse of was the blur of a purple so dark it was almost black, and then nothing, as though his victim had slipped into inexistence.

"Wha--"

There is an unmistakable sting that makes his entire body reel when two fingers poke right against his confused, unblinking eyeballs and momentarily render him sightless. Terrence exudes a yell akin to an animal that is being sadistically devoured, palms making to slap against his closed, twitching eyelids and legs quaking clumsily with every blind step he takes-- seconds before Kokichi's palm clamps down harshly against the bleeding cut splitting the flesh of Terrence's forearm apart. The blond howls at the sting it causes, unsure of where to direct the focus of his hands as Kokichi's holds slyly leaves as soon as it had appeared.

"The fuck?! What the FUCK?! You little--! I'll carve our fuckin' eyeballs out with spoons, you fuck! Ow, shit-- where the fuck are you!?"

Kokichi scrambles to distance himself a little, the beads of his eyes staring in both startle and wonder as he tries to register what he had just done. His hands are held close to his chest, slowly keeling over to reveal flushed palms and the thin sheen of mucus coating the tips of his forefingers and the blood staining his right palm. There is a sickish feeling that abounds the contents of his stomach, fuming up his esophagus and making his lips clamp shut with the sudden urge to throw up.

 

Not because he was repulsed by anything he had done, but rather because he was surprised by how messy and even disgusting a fight could get. Blood, saliva, sweat; all mingling into a thick web that covered every last bit of nude skin.

Scars, injuries, bruises; all polluting both light and dark skin and transforming human flesh into a recumbence of an artist's unkemptly kept canvas.

Adrenaline courses through his veins in throes of excitement yet panic, the feeling too euphoric but too dreadful, swathing around his throat and forcing the air out of him. The thrill of being in control, of being the one capable and accountable of causing someone else harm, of the mere notion that you could even kill; it was frightening, more so than angry voices or pounding fists or nightmares or the evil that his mother embodied so well. That fear lingering in his mind and gnawing at his heart was contagious, and for a guilty moment he wished he could feel it again sometime in the future.

It was frightening how powerful it had made Kokichi feel, for that split second.

Is this how Y/n felt when being in such a situation? Is that why he could see the brief flash of none other than dread itself within her eyes in moments like this? Was she afraid of that intoxicating power as well?

Afraid of death? If no, why? If yes, whose? Whose death was she afraid for?

Her own or Kokichi's?

Or, perhaps, was she recalling someone else's death entirely? If no, all is well. If yes, whose?

Whose death is blinking right before her very eyelids right at this moment as she struggles to keep Lillian's wriggling form against the ground? Whose smile is contaminating her mind and soul? Who is the cause of those tears forming at the corners of her weary eyes?

Is it frustration? Anger? Fear? Or is it something else entirely?

"Terry!"

Kokichi hears Lillian's voice call out desperately at her partner, the inkling of emotion bleeding its ink in the flow of her voice making his eyes squint. In disgust. In condemnation. Dully, he watches as she thrashes around in Y/n's grasp as the latter stills her from behind, eyes wide and crazed and pained. Y/n is tired. Her wound is continuously rubbing against Lillian's back, staining the ivory cloth of her shirt as she kneels behind her-- pretty face contorting each and every time it happens. Her arms are firmly clamped around Lillian's bulging throat, in the same fashion the redhead had held Kokichi and made him gasp for air.

From the way the veins in Y/n's forearms protrude and strain, Kokichi can tell she is applying pressure.

And that serves Lillian best, he figures. How dare she call for Terrence with such a soft voice when she was lowly mocking him when holding him captive? How dare she look to be in so much pain when she has put Kokichi through a pain she can't even begin to fathom time and time again for more than a year? How dare she cry 'like a weakling' as she had once said in a bid to mock him -- back when he was quietly weeping because she had smashed the side of his head against a wall?

How dare she and how dare they play the role of the victims when the real victim is and has been Kokichi alone?

Terrence is still in a frenzy, panting heavily with one hand draped over his aching eyes while the injured one blindly reaches out in a laughable attempt to seize Kokichi. How heartbreakingly ironic, Kokichi ponders, Lillian is reaching out to him, fingers straining with a few, piteous twitches and eyes hazy from where Y/n is applying pressure; and the bastard can't even see her.

Kokichi is disgusted.

"Shut up." He blurts emotionlessly, orbs fixing Lillian with a look that holds so much emptiness and hate that it makes her knees buckle. A small voice at the back of his head scolds him meekly, telling him acting like this isn't right-- but why does it feel so right then, even through the aching of his unsure heart? "I'm tired of listening to you. It's your fault too for what happened to Y/n-san. You deserve it all for hurting her. Shut your dirty mouth."

He doesn't even recognize his voice as his own once it reaches his ears. He doesn't even notice the warm currents of tears dampening his rosy cheeks. Not even when they kiss the curve of his jaw and dissolve against the collar of his uniform. His lower lip trembles and his breathing grows erratic as he tries to make amends with the messy bundle he calls his mind, shoulders doddering. He is scared. He is angry. He is sad.

Filled with nothing but love and hate.

Lillian's arm drops limply to the ground beside her thigh and her eyes roll into the back of her head, conscious no more. She breathes gently though her nose and Y/n slowly loosens her grip from against the side of her neck, which was enough to make her rival pass out, but never kill her. Lillian was just sleeping, nose bleeding from where Y/n had hit her prior and head lolling to the side as Y/n carefully lowers her to the ground, red cowlicks of hair capping over her peacefully closed eyes.

Two down.

One to go.

Y/n unsteadily rises to her feet once more, legs trembling and chest pulsing with her rapid heartbeat. She shudders for breath, far more injured than all of them combined, head weakly heaving to bare her eyes. Silently, she takes in Kokichi's standing form, heart wrenching at the sight; his eyes are fraught of saltwater, the apples of his cheeks flushed and glistening with tears and his fingers curled to fists that are clenched so tight they are trembling.

Her lips part with the feeble hope to utter some comforting words, but the flow of her voice is cut like a knife to the throat once she takes notice of the way Terrence is slowly but surely nearing Kokichi from behind. His eyes are unfocused and blurred, not fully recovered, but they are teeming with pure, burning loathing. The unmistakable yearning for revenge. Y/n's arm reaches out in a panic to serve as a warning, eyes widening and head shaking frantically.

There is no way for her to reach him in time.

"Ouma-chan--!"

Unbeknownst to Y/n, Kokichi has already sensed the presence amplifying in volume from behind him, even through his veil of frustration and tears. In situations such as this, where his life could potentially be on the line at any given moment, his senses are heightened as though they were the summits of a mountain. The sound of crunching grass gradually growing from behind him, the smell of dried blood, the sudden barrier that has stopped the autumn air from lathering his back.

Kokichi is scared, in all honesty. He is panicking, quaking in his shoes and wishing he could run away like a little duckling. He's so afraid of Terrence and what he can do-- and that only serves to pour more gasoline upon the flame of fury making his lungs burn. Purple hues are still swarming with bubble teardrops but emotion drains from within them as though they were a well vacant of all contents as he silently stares at Y/n.

He swears that all he wants right at the moment is to sob against her shoulder until he is nothing but a tuckered out heap in her embrace. He watches with quivering orbs as she tries to move forward, biting her lip till her teeth are coated in a sheen of blood at how much pain the attempt brings about. He wants to cry and scold her for wanting to save him even now, even after all the torture she had to undergo because of him, tell her that somebody like him isn't worth it.

Stupid Y/n-san.. just run away already! If Terrence is busy with me, that will give you enough time to escape and get help. You're bleeding, still... Just go, go away already! If you're not able to win against Terrence then you'd only be hurt more. I can't watch it, I can't stand seeing you hurt anymore--

"I wouldn't attempt that if I were you."

There is the echo of a smooth, calm voice from behind Terrence's broad back-- the voice of a man--, the hands poised to wrap around Kokichi's neck freezing mid air. There's the underside of a blade pressing against the side of the blond's throat, prodding flush against the weak palpitations of his pulse and making his breath die once it reaches his mouth. The newfound presence lingering behind him is radiating carelessness and boredom off its every pore, as though the stranger wasn't holding a knife threatening to tear apart the tender flesh of Terrence's throat.

Terrence does not recognize the person the voice belongs to and it only makes matters worse.

Kokichi's heart skips a beat and nearly leaps to his mouth as he swiftly turns around and staggers backward, eyes wide and breath coming short. His purple hues stare abaft furrowed brows at the person standing idly behind the boulders of Terrence's shoulders, examining the tufts of green poking over. There is the appearance of a pair of sage-colored eyes peering through tediously, framed by the veil of long, thick lashes and looking rather bored as they burn against the back of Terrence's head.

The stranger smiles faintly and tilts his head to the side, orbs blurry and fraught of nothing but amusement.

"Terry-tan. Do you remember me? We went to school together."

His words come out melodious, as though he was singing a soft-spoken lullaby and serving as a stark contrast to the dangerous mist clouding over his pupils. Multiple steel rings are adorning the fingers firmly keeping the knife still, flashy and pricey and reflecting the sun's rays within them.

"It's not really gentlemanly of you to wound a girl like that, is it now? In fact, it disgusts me so greatly that I'm really tempted to slice your throat open with this beauty." The stranger laughs gently, a light-hearted, carefree sound that makes Kokichi's innards churn and burn. Just who is this? "Yours, huh? Of course it is, no one else would get something so over-the-top. What are you even cutting with this thing, weasels? Sausages? Dicks?"

"Y-you...?"

There is the feeble croak of Y/n's tired voice from behind, the sound of a sickening thump following it as she loses her balance the moment she tries to step forth and comes level with the ground. She lands on her front with a sound that resembles that of a sack of potatoes rolling about on kitchen tiles, ribs throbbing and stomach winded by the fall. She hisses through clamped jaws at the pain of having her exposed injury brushing against the grass produces, hair cascading over her face in thick streams when she meekly elevates her head.

The sole thing eating away at her brain like a rat gnawing at a corpse being that she knows all too well who the stranger is.

The dull thud of her descent makes Kokichi's head whirl around in an instant, face paling and mouth breaking with a distraught gasp of terror. He rushes to her side as fast as his aching legs can carry him, eyes horrified and fraught of panic as his trembling knees collide with the ground below and his shaky arms reach out to touch her.

"Y/n-san!" His pitch is so high and shrill that he barely recognizes it as his own, the desperation bubbling up within him doing little to conceal itself from view. Tears are making his eyes sting as Y/n swallows back a cry of a pain, the way her entire form trembles with every motion making his heart plunge to the depths of his stomach. "D-Does it hurt?"

Such a cutely dumb fucking question, honestly; Y/n would have laughed heartily even it weren't for the soreness setting her lower half afire and numbing the bone of her jaw. All that came through, however is a tattered exhale and a snort of bitter entertainment, lids twitching from how tightly her eyes are shut and hand flying out to grasp at Kokichi's shoulder in an attempt to brace herself. Her palm is digging against his thin flesh, so much so that she can feel the bone protruding from underneath and she would have made a comment about it if she wasn't like this; grip so ferocious in her desperate bids to silence the wails that want to push past the fleshy threshold of her mouth.

Kokichi winces visibly but does nothing to retaliate or stop her, merely grasping at her forearm with aquiver fingers to help turn her over to rest onto her back. She lies against the ground with a strained grunt, shoulder blades tensing and face glistening with a light coat of sweat. Her wound is throbbing along with the rhythm of her erratic heartbeat, elbows propping her upper half up so she can extend a hand and graze her thigh with the tips of her digits. A ragged sigh leaves her, the corner of her mouth quirking with a half-hearted attempt at a chuckle.

"My stockings are ruined... My fave pair, too.. Unbelievable."

There is a playful undertone to her hoarse voice, but it is frail, a pathetic endeavor to make light of the entire situation. Her body betrays the carefree front she wishes she could put on display, lacing her words with evident strain and breathiness. She looks to the side through a haze, brows relaxed over dull orbs as they slowly let Kokichi's familiar image sink in, her own suffering momentarily forgotten as she catches glimpse of the gleaming water sparkling at the edges of his eyes. The boy's chin wrinkles as hot rivulets of tears cascade down the expanse of his cheeks and cut his skin wide open as though they were razors. His milky fingers are bunched up into fists, stammering against his thighs and littered by drops of saltwater as he fruitlessly tries to put a cease to his crying.

Y/n wears a heavy scowl upon viewing his emotional torment, pushing her lips apart in a bid to utter something comforting, completely neglecting the slash making her entire leg throb. It is doubtlessly infected by now, she figures, but at least the bleeding has spared her and is no longer present. She forces a shaky smile to try and halt the flow of his sadness, tight-lipped and overwrought as she makes to speak.

"Hey, now.. Ouma-chan, I'm alright. Just a scratch, nothing special. It just stings a little, see? No need to cry. I'm too much of a bad bitch to get actually affected by something like this, y-y'know?"

Y/n curses herself for allowing that small waver to wobble her speech, ascending a weakened hand to gently brush her fingertips against his wet cheekbone and bid the lingering tears there adieu. He's shuddering bodily, she notes when she grazes his tremulous skin, thin fingers flying up with a broken sob and clasping tightly around the warm hand cupping his cheek. He sniffles audibly, spewed water dampening her flesh as he nuzzles his nose in her palm and cries out throatily.

"I'm sorry.. I'm so s-sorry, Y/n-san.. N-now you're hurt all b-because of m-me!" The words come out unsteady through the racking of his breathless sobs, mesh tightening around her hand as though he was holding on for dear life. His chest quakes with a blurted hiccup, bloodshot eyes reduced to tearful, guilt-ridden slits as they tack themselves to the dried blood underneath her nose. "I was scared.. I was s-so scared.. I'm sorry, so sorry for making you endure so much pain..."

"Come on, Ouma-chan, what kind of face is that?" Her voice holds a gentle timbre even as she scolds him, resolve rock solid and chest tightening in disapproval upon viewing his sad face. She can tell that even through his pilling tears and remorse he is still listening, hanging by every word she expels as though it would be the verdict of his fate. "You can't be sorry for something that isn't your fault. So stop apologizing to me like you killed my cat! I've had worse than this, you know? I'll be back to working order in no time. So don't cry 'cause of me, alright? It's not worth it."

Kokichi gives a snivel, teeth worrying his lower lip and glossy eyes quivering in their sockets as they stare at her. Lightly, Y/n brushes the pad of her thumb over the droplet of water that tipped over his the brim of lash line, brows raising knowingly.

It's worth it, he wants to tell her. You are worth it.

"And it's not like you didn't do anything, y'know? Y-you tried to help me and actually caused quite the hassle; give yourself some damn credit, would ya? You're not as weak as you think and you saw it too, right? I.. always knew you had that shit in you. You've made momma proud, Ouma-chan; I don't call you my trusty sidekick and partner in crime for nothing!"

She gives a chuckle, but it is feeble and drowsy once it pushes past her lips. It makes Kokichi's heart break once it reaches his ears and invades his head like a terminal virus, waterworks slowly ceasing their flow with a quavering exhale. His eyes are merely left bloodshot and aching, still glazed over as they peer at her through wet lashes, cheeks drenched and limned in a cherry hue. The urge to wrap his thin arms around her is unbearable, but he is too much of a coward to actually bring himself to do it. His palms twitch with the notion as they loosen their grip around her own, feeling as though if he were to extend them just an inkling forward they would be sawed off by some unknown force. He doesn't let go of her hand, however; the warmth it gives off a consolation on its own.

"There we go," Y/n mumbles, lips barely moving as she speaks. Kokichi can feel the way her fingers weaken from where they rested adjacent to the side of his face, arm mostly held up by where he is firmly holding it against him. Her smile wavers visibly, almost dissolving wholly as her breathing evidently slows and her eyes lose their lively shine. "That's better, isn't it?"

"Huh. How very annoying. I wonder how they couldn't take down a mutt like you, Terry-tan?"

The tender moment is instantly shattered when the strange boy who had come to their rescue speaks up anew, his voice seeming to snap Y/n out of the trance that is lulling her to sleep. She tears her gaze from Kokichi's and tediously cranes her head to look, not amused in the slightest when she finds Terrence lying down on his stomach against the ground, skull being painfully crushed against the dirt beneath the (un)known boy's foot. He looks unmistakably bored as he gazes down at Terrence through half-corked lids, expression blank and devoid of all light.

Terrence certainly hadn't expected to be flipped over onto his front with a dirty sole pressed to his temple when he attempted to throw a punch at the person behind him.

"Terry-tan, you're not going anywhere. I've already informed the school's faculty and headmaster about your antics; they should be here any second now. I wonder if they will expel you? That would surely be something.."

Y/n gulps down thickly as she gazes at the all too familiar face, the face of her old friend, a person she once knew better than the back of her own hand, a strange nostalgia coming to life within her. Her lips twitch hopefully, voice weak and faltering as it inquisitively calls out and catches his attention.

"..Rantarou...?"

The boy's head whips up in an instant at the call of his name, eyes keen and curious as they thoughtfully squint. They perceive Y/n's familiar face, and it doesn't take long before a small smile graces his rosy lips and makes his entire face glow, verdant locks of hair swaying against his forehead as a gentle breeze combs through them. His brows raise knowingly as he ascends a hand and waves with a chuckle low in his throat and a toothy grin.

Rantarou truly looks like he hasn't changed one bit since Y/n had last seen him all those years ago.

"Ah, my dearest Y/n. I thought I would never get to see you again."

Chapter Text

"This is outrageous! I know you always cause trouble, but I never expected you to go as far as this!"

Y/n sits tediously on the hospital bed, shoulders hunched and irritation live as she quietly listens to her mother's complaints. The woman rambles on and on about her daughter's ridiculous behavior and injury, practically fuming at the ears as she fans her sweltering face with a gloved hand.

The stitches on Y/n's leg are stinging slightly and her head is still aching from where she had been pummeled, the palaver she is being forced to hear not helping in soothing her pain in the slightest. The smell of cleanliness and chlorine teems her nostrils as she breathes in, the hospital odor coupled with the irking voice scolding her making her feel nauseated.

A private hospital it was-- her mother wouldn't accept her daughter being taken care of by anyone else but the very best doctors and nurses. Although Y/n was appreciative of the concern, what she was not fond of was the fact that after her surgery took place the woman wouldn't just put her filthy tongue back in her mouth and shut up.

"And you did all of that why? To help some pathetic little nobody? I asked your headmaster about him; that midget isn't even of our class, you had no business being around someone like him! I don't even want to imagine what people would think if it came to light that you're hanging out with lowlifes now, too... Oh, the humiliation we'd have to bare; I won't even be able to look my reflection in the eye because of your stupidity! Why don't you hang out with Amami-kun, instead? You two were friends and he is a person from our social status; it's the perfect opportunity since you will be attending the same school from now on!"

"You're not gonna tell me who I'm going to hang around with!" Manages Y/n through a snarl, bunching up the thin sheet draped over her lower half in the confines of her clenched fist. The girl's eyes flare menacingly as they fix the woman with a spiteful glare, face unpleasantly contorted with the fury making her innards churn. How dare that awful bitch call Kokichi a pathetic nobody? A lowlife?! "I choose who I want to be around! And, as a matter of fact, the only lowlife here is you! You have no right to be talking about my friend like that!"

"F-Friend?" Her mother looks struck once the words reach her, glistening earrings dangling from the lobes of her ears as her face shrivels in a distortion of pure shock. A look of pure disgust; as though her house had been infected by disease-ridden rats. "That little punk? A friend of Y/n Shinozaki?! Are you even listening to yourself, you ungrateful bitch?!"

"My name is Y/n L/n! L/n; my father's last name, you hear me? I'll never become a Shinozaki and, guess what, I never want to become one!"

Y/n feels repulsed, sick to the very core at even the mere notion of being called a Shinozaki. Her brows collect together in a weary frown, mouth pursing disdainfully and moistening with the very urge to vomit right against her lap. In times like this, she wishes from the bottom of her cold heart that no one outside of her family learns her connection to the Shinozaki family; her reputation, her friends, her hobbies-- everything she loved would be lost if she were to reveal her true identity to the world.

She dreads the moment her trio of friends and Kokichi learn about it but sincerely hopes it won't be any time soon.

"When Taro and I get married, you won't have a choice anymore." The woman's words are heavily coated with venom as she utters them, lips slyly curling into a smug smile that taunts Y/n's very existence. She shakes her head with a soft, poisonous giggle, earrings sparkling brightly as the sway along with the motion. "You won't be able to hide under your father's surname either; the entire world will be thrilled to meet Shinozaki's new wife and daughter. And when that happens, you can forget about your «friends» because you'll never get to see them again! Not even that scoundrel you got so stupidly injured over!"

Y/n's confidence visibly wavers as she hears, heart plunging to the frothing pits of her stomach and face draining of all inkling of color. She hates the helpless feeling that dews the inside of her pounding chest and reminds her of her worst fear, hands trembling from how securely they are clamped into fists. She wants to stand upright to slap that vain smirk right off her mother's face and rip those dumbly expensive earrings from her ears till they drip with blood, but simply remains still as her harsh glare evidently falters with distress.

"What's the matter?" The older female taunts in a hauntingly egotistic timbre, rising from where she is sat opposed to her daughter and grinning wickedly from ear to ear as she approaches. The clicking of her short heels is obnoxiously audible as it resonates within the four walls of the room and only serves to amplify Y/n's haywire nerves. "Cat got your tongue? Well, I figured. There is nothing you can do or say that can change the way things will be. When you turn eighteen, you can do whatever you want; go to hell for all I care. But, as of now, I'm in charge and you will do as I say in the long run."

She extends a hand and gently lays it over the top of Y/n's head, making sure to mess up the roots of her hair and watch as the girl flinches from the touch as though she was burned. The gesture is supposed to be an affectionate indication aimed at someone you care about, but when she does it, it feels anything but loving or motherly; mostly resembling something that the Devil himself had created to mess with people's brains.

The woman's grin remains stark and unrelenting, leather purse held elegantly against her side as she turns on her heel and makes to retreat. She makes sure to peer at her daughter over her shoulder with the smug squinting of her eyes, lashes drenched in thick coats of indigo mascara as they curl over her dull orbs.

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with my manicurist that I absolutely cannot miss. My cuticles are a mess and my polish is chipped.. What a disaster. Oh, and worry not, I have already requested Amami-kun to bring you home safe and sound. Like the sweetheart he is, he of course agreed, so that makes it easier for the both of us, don't you think?"

Y/n says nothing as her mother carelessly clacks her heels against the smooth flooring, merely burning cavities against the back of the woman's head as she rids the room of her bothersome presence and slams the door shut with a mocking wave. The girl tenses wholly once the loud sound of the door colliding with its frame echoes, making her shoulders jump but never distracting her from the pessimism gnawing away at her heart. She exudes a sigh in a bid to calm the growing ache torturing her chest from the inside, but it comes out tattered and shaky and makes her pity herself even further.

She sulks quietly, shrinking back against her body with her hands limply resting by her sides and her fear standing tall and potent like a towering giant. The fear of losing the only people she cares for. The fear of losing her dear friends, of being left all alone again. Of being abandoned and feeling so helpless and hopeless that the option of slicing her throat open seemed more comforting than the loneliness making her very soul cry out in despair.

Dai-chan, Mei-chan, you're my best friends. You're stupid and unbearable but I love you both with all of what's left of my heart. You always know how to make me feel better. Thank you.

Osamu-chan, you've always been there for me, even when Haruki left. I know I can trust you blindly; you out of everyone would never betray me. At this point, you are my family. Thank you.

Ouma-chan... You're so weird for sticking around someone like me even though you should have ran as fast as you could. I've never encountered someone like you; you're interesting and different, and don't treat me like an alien even though we aren't alike at all. You're a great distraction from all the pain and anguish that is my pathetic life. I hope you only change for the best and your kind heart always stays the same. Thank you.

Haruki... I still love you. Thank you for everything you've done for me and taught me. I will never forget you.

How could Y/n ever even survive without her friends by her side, making her life glisten like rippling sea water even when it sometimes plummeted to the depths of the ocean? She couldn't live without them to rely on and mess around with. And yet, if they ever found out, they would never even want to see Y/n in their very eyes again, she supposes. She wouldn't blame them, however. She is lying to them, right at their face; how could they not feel mad and betrayed if they found out?

On the other hand, telling them herself wouldn't prove useful. If that were to happen, they would look at her differently, as though she had suddenly grown two heads and would attempt to slowly distance themselves from her. Out of the blue, they wouldn't have time for her at all, avoiding her as though she was a plague that would infect them with a terminal disease if they were to even lay their eyes upon her.

Y/n breathes out a weary exhale, shaking her head in disapproval and swaddling her face within her palms, hair cascading down her dropped shoulders in transparent curtains. She lets out a purposefully enduring groan against the insides of her hands, dampening the flesh there with the hot breath that pushes itself between her lips in the process. If she had any tears left to cry, she knows that they would have toppled over her lower lash line and rendered her cheeks a soiled mess by now-- but all she can manage is the slightest shred of water that makes the corners of her eyes a bit glossy.

God, why did everything have to be so complicated?

Y/n is brimming with frustration, overflowing with anger and disappointment, so much so that she is barely aware of the door to her hospital room slowly uncorking and the head of a person poking through the small opening that was created. She can sense the pair of sympathetic eyes fixing her as though she were a spectacle and expels an annoyed grunt against the stale atmosphere as she reluctantly lowers her hands from her cheeks and peers over the brims of her bruised knuckles.

She is prepared to glare spitefully at the person, but upon perceiving the familiarity of those round, green eyes, her gaze visibly softens. Her lips press together as she watches Rantarou slither smoothly into the room, a hand delved into one of his front pockets while the other gently closes the slab of timber behind him. He's smiling at her softly, a charming simper that could make any guy or girl swoon in a puddle at the floor, taking slow and careful steps forth until his thighs are brushing against the mattress of the bed.

The girl feels somewhat alarmed, somewhat at ease when being in Rantarou's presence; it had been such a long time since they had last found themselves alone like this. Even so, somehow, she doesn't feel uncomfortable as she stares at that cunning grin and playful eyes she knows all too well. Y/n's eyes squint into narrow cleaves, gazing up at him through lowered lids and dark lashes.

"Hmm? Are you here to lecture me, too?" Her voice holds that kittenish hint to it as she speaks, struggling to conceal her inner torment, mouth unknowingly curling to resemble a smile of her own as she cocks her head to the side and rests her cheek against the dip of her palm. "..Avocado-chan~?"

She marvels in the way his eyes widen just a fraction at the use of the old nickname, blinking hastily and rosy lips parting slightly in his startle. He views the satisfaction crossing Y/n's face at the surprised expression he put on display, hears the hardly audible hitch of her voice when she smothers an amused giggle against the heel of her hand. The corner of his mouth ascends to form a lopsided curve, a deep chuckle emitting from within his chest as he slightly shakes his head; colorful strands of hair dangling against his forehead with the motion.

"I was hoping you forgot about that name.. but it's good to see you remember me." Rantarou says, and it comes through easy and relaxed, just like it always had been, lids lowering midway over bright eyes as he inquisitively looks her over; realizes just how much she had changed and grown from the last time they were both together in the flesh. He said that he would have preferred if she didn't remember the pet name she had given to him so fondly; but that's a lie.

Y/n's lower lip protrudes in a pout and her cheeks puff out visibly, expression feigning sadness and emotional chagrin-- but no matter how much she pretends, that lethal twinkle from within her eye never disappears from view. "You wound me oh-so-deeply; how could I ever forget about my beloved Avocado-chan? That'd be so heartless of me.."

Rantarou tilts his head to the side, lips pursing with a questioning 'oh?' and tongue clicking against the inner lining of his cheek as he extends a hand and gingerly brushes the tip of forefinger against the underside of her chin. It is easy to forget that his hands are much bigger than her own, and he probably could envelop the entirety of her face within his palm if he wished to. Instead, however, he simply tips her head up so she's looking directly at him with those cunning beads she calls eyes, seeming rather thoughtful as he slowly studies the expression she is wearing. "You still have a heart in there, Chichinashi?"

He catches the way Y/n's eyes gleam excitedly once his voice lows out the nickname he had endowed her with when they first became close friends, her smile only widening into a toothy grin as she leans into his touch. "Ha-ha! There's the Avocado-chan I know and love."

Rantarou still recalls the first time he had called her that; he had been teeming with fluster because she had suddenly began labeling him as 'Avocado-chan' and wasn't planning on putting an end to it any time soon. He had hoped the name he had called her would have scraped at her self-esteem a bit and put a stop to her antics, but it only poured gasoline to the fire that was her amusement, making her cackle aloud and clap her hands together happily. As though she was enjoying it or something of the like.

It had only served to make poor Avocado-chan even more embarrassed than he already was. But he hadn't seemed to mind it very much, merely scratching at the back of his neck with a shy laugh and flushing cheeks.

Y/n shrugs absentmindedly at his question, breathing out softly from her nose once Rantarou retreats his hand and jams it in the pocket stitched just below the hem of his belt. The girl leans back against the hard pillows with an unsatisfactory sigh, shifting around carefully to find a comfortable spot and not disturb her resting leg. There is an odd nostalgia swimming within the rings of her irises, plunged behind her lids as she looks away with a sad smile.

"But.. can a Danganronpa fanatic really ask something like that?"

Her smile is almost abnormally frozen in place when the question slips past the cushions of her lips, fighting back the waver of emotion that wants to make it tremble. Her heart sinks back against her body upon remembering that god-forsaken TV show, makes the hatred for it she thought had dissipated come back to life in the blink of an eye. What is more prominent, however, towering over any amount of kind of distaste she is still harboring, is the stabbing pain that bites relentlessly at the muscle within her chest as images that have been carved into her brain flash before her vision.

Images that still haunt her nightmares. People who haunt her life.

Images she wishes she could never remember again. People she wishes she could forget for good.

Danganronpa.

Money.

Him.

Her.

Junko.

Rantarou's stillness is enough to dig further into her tortured soul, and she laughs-- a cold, bitter laugh, much more dead than the faded participants of Danganronpa V0. She knows that he still watches it and a part of her is teeming with fury at the mere thought. How could he? How could he just watch innocent people get slaughtered and executed? How could he just watch it without any guilt? Especially after everything that has happened for that damned show?

After everything they had to go through, all because of Danganronpa?

"You still watch it, don't you?"

His silence is deafening as it pounds against Y/n's eardrums. She can hear his strained sigh as it eludes from within the apertures of the nostrils, can almost feel the tightening of his chest as he slightly shakes his head-- part of her wishes from the bottom of her heart that Rantarou can feel every bit of pain she is carrying on her shoulders like a boulder even now. Hopes that his very morals are brewing in a stove of shame.

But who is she to judge other people's morality, anyway?

"Old habits die hard," Comes his half-hearted excuse, starkly black fingernails scratching against the nape of his neck with the timorous aversion of his green orbs. The corner of his mouth quirks when his teeth bite down against the inner lining of lower lip, a tattered sigh flying past his lips as the old picture of Y/n's face comes to surface from within the bundle of his forsaken memories. There was nothing to say. Nothing to do. Nothing that would make Y/n forget. Nothing that would make her let go.

And Rantarou knows that better than anyone.

"I.. know why you don't like it. Maybe you hate me for even considering to watch it. But we can't dwell in the past forever. I know what happened hurt you, but it hurt me too, you know. We were friends, too, remember?"

There's the hint of a unmistakable melancholy in his voice when he speaks, slowly lowering himself onto the empty patch beside her and viewing the blank expression cast heavily over her features. Dark clouds of skepticism and forgotten feelings sully over the glass of her eyes and render them a blurry fog. For a moment, through her veil of disapproval and judgment, the blackened rounds of her pupils sparkle with a shred of guilt as she turns her head just a fraction to catch glimpse of his soft smile and apologetic eyes. She is still reluctant, unsure, brows twitching with her hesitation and shoulders slumping moodily, the pang making the expanse of her chest tighten painfully never once relenting.

"..Sorry, Avocado-chan. I just can't forgive or forget it. But.. at least you won't participate in it, right? So that's something."

Y/n puts a small simper on display as she raises her gaze to meet his own, the glint of the metal piercing latched at the brim of his brow momentarily catching her attention when her head heaves. If she had the emotional and physical energy to tease him for it, she definitely wouldn't pass up the opportunity, but when she parts her lips just a fraction, she finds that her voice doesn't want to come through. There's a morsel of woe that dulls the brightness of his eyes when he perceives the broken hope lacing her tone, but only for a moment, vanishing the moment Y/n thought she saw something peculiar.

"That's right," Comes Rantarou's low voice, smooth and velvety as dark chocolate as it slithers past his lips and attempts to reassure her. The appeasing curve of his mouth makes the tops of his cheeks rise against his lower lash line, head nodding in approval as he speaks. "There's no need to think about it; I won't join, anyway."

Liar.

He carefully hooks a hand beneath Y/n's relaxed fingers, the pad of his thumb slowly brushing over her knuckles and feeling the bone underneath the skin-- as he always used to do when he tried to comfort her all the way back then. The gesture is affectionate and feels so familiar that it nearly takes them both aback just by how natural it comes. As though no time had passed at all. As though it hadn't been almost two years since they last saw each other.

Y/n supposes that when you know someone so well it's only a normal occurrence to feel this way. How could she forget Rantarou out of all people, after all? He once was her best friend. In a sense, he still is.

She laughs gently at the expression of slight surprise that crosses his face, shoulders quivering faintly as she shakes her head. There's a discreet glow powdering the apples of her cheeks, but, thankfully, he isn't attentive enough to notice. "You haven't changed at all, have you?"

Rantarou's brows shoot up with the amusement the question brings him, the smile wanting to remain tacked to his lips making his acting spuriously offended quite the task. He huffs out dramatically, just like the drama queen he always so successfully embodied, lips pursuing in a sullen pout as he stares at her behind furrowed brows-- painfully entertained by her painfully passionless expression at the behavior he is putting on show.

Yeah, he hasn't changed one bit, alright.

"No fair. I've gotten both taller and sexier; as you can very clearly see."

He vaguely motions to his body with his unrestrained hand, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world and Y/n was merely turning a blind eye on it out of stupidity. The expectancy in his eyes nearly makes her laugh aloud, but she only stifles the sound against her tightly shut lips even as their corners visibly ascend to form a smug, taunting grin. She hums out through her nose and briefly looks him over, as if pretending to give the possibility some 'much-needed' thought, as Rantarou would have said.

Now, Y/n wasn't stupid. She was very well-aware that Rantarou was ridiculously attractive, specifically in the eyes of others and especially when comparing him to most of the male population she encountered at school. He was practically eye-candy with arms and legs and a charming smile, for guys and girls and anything in between. Perhaps he could joke all he wanted about his 'amazing' appearance and anything of the like, but Y/n knows very well that he still dumbly doubts the fact he is that good-looking, completely oblivious to the people ogling him as though he were a piece of meat.

Avocados aren't that smart, she concludes.

"Well, alright.. maybe I haven't changed that much. But you sure have. And I'm waiting for some explanations here, you know?"

Y/n quirks a suspicious brow at the boy eagerly looking at her, face shriveling up in slight discomfort at his evident excitement. A part of her already knows where this is headed, and the fact only serves to amplify her agitation by a million. "..Explanations about what?"

Rantarou exudes a disappointed sigh at her seeming shrinking back, shaking his head in disapproval. His thumb absentmindedly toys with the thick, cold ring of metal around his forefinger, teeth worrying his lower lip as he tediously shrugs his shoulders. He offers a bored expression, humming out thoughtfully as he plays with his accessories, before a bulb of light goes off within his head. "Hmm.. how about that pretty thing you had with you when I became the hero of the day?"

Blinking in timid confusion, Y/n is merely left staring for a moment, eyes squinting as she tries to put two and two together and have full comprehension of what Rantarou is exactly hinting at. Or, rather, who. It doesn't take long for her to realize who he is curious about, though; the only person she knows to undoubtedly be a 'pretty thing' being none other than cute, little Kokichi who always loyally sticks to her side. The thought brings a small smile to grace her lips.

"Jeez, Avocado-chan, your gay is showing a bit."

Rantarou draws his hands back and holds them up in a half-hearted defense, chuckling softly at her playful comment-- but he wasn't just about to let her change the subject with such ease and get away with it. Y/n knows it, too, already able to hear the notions dashing through his green head like dashing bullets; and a part of her wants to roll her eyes, even as her heart flutters continuously within the confines of her chest.

"Hey, now. You can't expect me not to ask; Little dude was all over you." For a brief instant, Rantarou pauses his speech and averts his eyes, humming skeptically through his nostrils as he weighs the multiple verdicts he has reached. "Are you his sugarmommy or something, Chichinashi? Or just his mommy? There's no other reason I can think of when it comes to you hanging out with someone so.. you know, unlike us. He doesn't look the type that would hang around the great and terrible Y/n L/n either. Did he become your sugarbaby and tragically fall in love with you or something?"

His hasty palaver comes to an abrupt halt, and the stars gleaming from within the black wells of his pupils somewhat baffle her. She finds herself speechless for a considerable amount of time, beside herself, facial features frozen in place and uncertain of what expression to put on show in order to accurately convey the cluster of emotions swirling into each other.

Which one was it? Surprise? Confusion? Contempt?

All of the above?

"..No, you dumb bitch? And how about you tell me what the hell you're doing here first? Your daddy decided to take you to Germany for like two years with no reason; I need explanations, too, you know!"

Y/n's complaints only serve to amuse Rantarou further, green eyes flashing dangerously as they narrow into thin cleaves and peer at her through sweeping lashes. Chichinashi is really fond of changing the subject, isn't she? The notion only stimulates his interest more.

"Ah, no, no, no. I asked first, darlin'. And, if you should know, I just went to Germany cause my dad thought I was too much of a troublemaker and shut me in a boarding school; boring stuff." There is a bitter sadness thickly coating his words, brows twitching slightly with the pain tweaking at his heart. He tries to act as though the memory doesn't bother him one bit, doesn't settle an extra weight upon his chest-- but fails miserably as Y/n sees right through him as though he were made of glass.

He doesn't want to talk about it, she can tell, so she doesn't push it any further.

"But, that's not juicy at all, Y/n-tan. Your case, on the other hand.. You have a cutie who was literally livid when you got hurt. Such a gentleman, too; never left your side till the ambulance arriv--"

"Jeez, fine, fine!"

Y/n interjects him with an irked huff, a hand flying up and pressing against his rambling mouth in a bid to at last silence him. It's not visible, but her cheeks are burning with embarrassment as she looks up at Rantarou's slyly slanted eyes, heart alight with nothing but fluster at his stupid implications and-- how can someone look so smug even with a palm clamped over their lips?!

The girl huffs, eyes quailing away and lips stubbornly pressing together as her hand retreats from his warm complexion as though it had been struck by lightning. "There's not even anything 'wow' about it, so don't expect too much.. We met in that piece of shit school because I had beef with Terrence even then, and Ouma-chan was his main target for bullying. I don't really know how it all happened, to be honest.. At first, I started teasing him just to scare him off; thought it'd be easy." Y/n expels a soft sigh, the corners of her lips involuntarily twitching upward with a concealed glee as she speaks. "I.. I failed, though. For some reason, he stuck around; kept telling me I'm a good person and shit. And, well, here we are."

Rantarou nods along with her words, thrumming quietly to himself and tapping the tip of his forefinger against his cheekbone as he registers them. "So, who tops?"

"Oh, I do."

The pair burst into a short-lived fit of giggles and cackles, basking in the light-hearted atmosphere the gleeful sounds bouncing off the walls create. Y/n's toothy grinning slowly recedes and its place takes a fond smile, holding an inkling of sadness once it bedizens her lips. Carefully, she draws the sheet covering her lower half away just a fraction, silently studying the angry red her stitched skin dons once it peers from beneath. Where once lay the pretty scarlet of her stockings now stands the ugly aftermath of her injury, pulled together with black thread.

At least she protected Kokichi to the best of her ability, right? He's still safe and sound, mostly unscathed and not wounded-- so that makes it all worth it.

Gingerly, she reaches out to gently, very gently brush the brims of her fingers over it, marveling in the bumps and creases her skin creates at the touch.

"But, honestly.. Ouma-chan is probably the only good thing that has happened to me after all the shit me and the others have been through. That traitor Junko left and took Haruki with her. Then, my mom got engaged to Shinozaki. Then, you left."

There is that bittersweet venom hanging from her every letter, the acute clenching of her heart as she remembers just a shred of all the pain she was forced to go through. Losing so many people you care about all at once.. how excruciating, huh?

"I lost you all so suddenly; it was hard to keep on living. I didn't want to be the daughter of Shinozaki. I didn't want to go to Miyashiro Academy. I didn't want to be all alone in that big house, in that big school when my mom would do anything to keep me away from my friends. But.. at least I have Ouma-chan there to cheer me up a bit.. right?"

My trusty partner.

My beloved friend.

The innocent smile adorning Y/n's features almost makes Rantarou's stomach flip and he stiffly swallows as his quiet eyes keenly observe her. He almost feels compelled to go forth and envelop her in his embrace and bask in just how warm she would feel against him. Almost.

Old feelings he thought he had buried deep beneath the surface come to light and the notion makes him nauseated. He's unsure of how to handle it as her head slowly heaves and placid eyes pierce right through his very heart, crinkling at edges once her beam widens.

Is that why a weird feeling struck him when Y/n had spoken so highly about that 'Ouma-chan'?

"..I'm glad you're here, Avocado-chan."

Rantarou swiftly brushes off the ill sensation that suddenly came to life within him, settling for the option that it is something trivial; even though he knows very well it is not. The words manage to pull at a few strings of his blackened heart, pull at the corners of his lips and make him exude a shy, boyish chuckle that could typically make most people swoon just by the sweetness it holds. A hand ascends and sheepishly scratches at the back of his neck, head slightly shaking as the mounds of his cheeks redden just barely.

"It's all my pleasure, Y/n-tan." He says with a dismissive wave of his hand, trying to make light of her genuine confession in a bid to calm the pounding within his chest. "After all, now that I'm back we'll be attending the same school; your father told mine it's great to get students disciplined and jazz like that. When you get the chance, you should introduce me to that 'Ouma-chan' of yours, don't you think?"

Y/n giggles half-heartedly with a slow nod of her head, but appears rather reluctant in her agreement, fingers unnerved as they tug at the edge of the sheet draped over her body. She seems rather preoccupied with something else as her eyes avert to the tiles of the floor below, teeth chewing on the cushion of her lower lip as though it were bubblegum. For a moment, she remains still and quiet, as though she was thinking of something that could potentially risk her very life, before she breaks her silence with a hesitant call of his name.

"Hey, Ran-chan?" Rantarou inquisitively bats his lashes, head tilting just a fraction as he gazes at her with a small sound of confusion at the lack of his usual nickname. He watches patiently as Y/n sucks in a tattered breath and tightens her grip around the thin blanket, looking as though bracing herself for the worse. "Please don't tell Ouma-chan anything about Shinozaki, okay? You're one of the few ones who know. But please, don't tell anyone, and especially not him, alright?"

She hates just how bewildered Rantarou looks to be upon hearing what she is asking of him, and desperately hopes that this won't be as difficult as she deems it will be.

"But why not? It's not that big of a deal, right?"

"It is!" Cries Y/n out in protest, face having contorted in a sense of distress as her brows knit over delirious, begging eyes. She is a combination of both desperate and furious, teeth gnashing nervously from behind the fleshy threshold of her mouth and breathing irregular and rapid. "Would he be hanging out with me if he knew I was «Y/n Shinozaki»?!"

Rantarou considers the question light-heartedly, seeming rather oblivious to her agitation and frustration. He tucks his chin between his thumb and forefinger as he momentarily thinks, shoulders prying easily once he parts his lips to speak. "I mean.. he's hanging out with you knowing you're Y/n L/n; that's pretty ballsy in itself."

"..."

Y/n's eyes curdle to rough stone as they knowingly glare at her old friend, cheeks puffing out slightly as she breathes hotly through the slits amid her teeth and crosses her arms over her chest. She winces slightly with the expression of irk and bother, the fresh bruise that is beginning to limn the left side of her face making it well-known that the task of moving her head will be both painful and impossible for the rest of the week.

Rantarou gives in with a strained sigh, raising his hands up to signify his playful surrender and placate her haywire nerves. He doesn't want her to be an emotional mess on top of the multiple bruises and injuries her body has to passively harbor, so he simply smiles with a kittenish chuckle flying past his lips.

"Fine, fine. I won't say a word if don't want me to, Chichinashi."

The way her face lights up and her head perks right up at his words of agreement is enough reward for him. He gives a soft grin, elevating a hand so he could gently pet the top of her fleecy head and lightly ruffle at the roots of her hair. Y/n lets out a sound of slight protest that does little to hide her smile, not particularly used to physical contact, pushing at his forearm half-heartedly with an abashed glow chaffing the tips of her ears.

"Thank you, Avocado-chan," She says joyfully, voice sounding so sincere and sweet that for a moment she doesn't even recognize it as her own. "I really owe big time."

Rantarou raises his brows with an amused snort, arms folding over the expanse of his broad chest as he huffs through his lips. The flesh of his palm is still ablaze with warmth from where he had touched her, and so is his heart, but he strives to ignore it. "You owe me for life just for calling me Avocado-chan in the first place."

"Would you rather I turn you into guacamole??"

The boy remains silent for a moment, as if seriously considering the humorous threat, giving a low, lengthy hum and watching the knowing rise of her brows. A few seconds pass by in complete silence, with the two staring keenly in each other's eyes, before Rantarou waves a hand absentmindedly, slightly shaking his head with an unnerved smile and a thin rivulet of sweat glistening against the depression of his temple.

"..Nah, I'm good."

 

*

 

"You little motherfucker! Fight, huh? You got into a fucking fight?! Well, have fun those two days you got suspended for, because you're not going eat anything; absolutely nothing!"

Kokichi whimpers meekly, shoulders shaking violently and jumping every time his mother's raging voice bellows against his ears. Clenching his milky fingers around the material of his uniform, he feels his chest quake uncontrollably when he attempts to breathe in a slow, steady inhale of air. He keeps his head low, lungs verging on collapsing from how quickly they pump-- but the more he tries to breathe through his wave of heftily hovering panic, the more it feels as though he is suffocating.

He hates it when people yell at him. It nearly scares his skeleton out of its fleshy prison.

The teetering boy shuts his eyes so tightly their lids begin aching once his mother begins drawing near, her heavy stomping and snarling bouts of air nearly drawing the soul right out of his body. She leans in close, mouth right next to the shell of his ear as it splits open and hollers with no sign of remorse.

"I don't care if you die, you pathetic excuse of a child! I don't give two flying shits if you die! I would kill you myself if that didn't get me in trouble and throw your body in a ditch, nail your disgusting head in the fucking wall with all this humiliation you are bringing me!"

The words are ones he is terribly used to and he hates himself for the sting they cause to his wounded heart regardless, making it wilt further as it hammers within his chest and makes his ribs throb with its erratic rhythm. Sadness has been replaced by pure hatred at this given point in time, anything that awful woman he is forced to call 'mom' spews only amplifying his aching desire to give her a taste of her own, bitter medicine; so much so that his entire being trembles with the strain to hold back from lashing out in every which way.

If he had succeeded in both stunning and harming Terrence, then surely he would be able to cause the slim woman some torment as well-- but Kokichi didn't dare move a single muscle for the time being, however, still far too afraid of the repercussions that would follow his actions and only damn him further. There was a hollow spot tearing itself through the muscle pulsing between his lungs, only digging painfully deeper whenever he found himself around his mother and her cruel demeanor.

The burning of the tender tissue would momentarily cease whenever he was with Y/n, never fully healing but still resting still and feeding off of her forwardness and kindness. She was the only thing making this dull life a bit better, and the mere thought of her being safe and sound and patched up brought him some comfort. At least, one of them would be alright and Kokichi's altruism when it came to people he liked did little to hide itself from view.

He just wishes this nightmare would at last be over.

Oh, if only Kokichi knew that the real nightmare that would stain his life forever and mark his imminent demise hadn't even showed itself yet.

"Fucking rat! Are you even listening to what I'm telling you?!"

There is the pierce of his mother's voice hissing through the air and slashing it in half, seconds before a force has collided with the side of his face, striking the cheek that is already beginning to bruise from his former struggle with Terrence. Kokichi's expression distorts distastefully as he staggers backward a few steps and has his shoulder blades clashing against the wall behind him. The slap was so powerful it didn't even hurt, but rather numbed one half of his face until its roots reached the defined bone of his jaw.

Kokichi is momentarily thankful the wall was there to keep him in place, otherwise his skinny frame might have been level with the ground right this instant. He clenches a tremulous hand over where he had been hit, grunting through clamped teeth as purple hues peer at the woman before him behind the locks draping over his forehead; starting to fog with tears but replete with so much spite and animosity that it makes his mind cloud over with a singular thought.

Kill her, whispers a gentle voice against his ear. Feeding greedily off his intense emotions, of his unmistakable hate.Kill her, Kokichi. It's so easy to just put the bitch out of her misery. If she is dead, there will be no more starving, no more abuse, no more torture. She will leave us at peace. Kill her. If you don't, you're the one who will end up dead. That knife you hide under your pillow; shove it down her throat and don't stop stabbing her disgusting body until she's pulp. Kill her. Kill her, kill her!

The notion is so tempting that it makes his fingers twitch at the thought of causing his mother the harm she had forced upon him year after year, month after month, day after day. It is so tempting that it makes him feel sick to the stomach, animal instincts trying to take control of him as though he was nothing but a pest.

But Kokichi was no animal. He was no cold-blooded, heartless killer that would take a life just because he wished to. Taking away lives isn't for him to do, it is for Death himself and his sharpened scythe that snaps the thread of a life in the matter of a split second.

And, besides, if he were to be contained in a jail cell, he would never be able to graduate and attend college. He would never adopt a pet or make friends, he would never find someone who accepted him for him and fall in love. He wouldn't get to make himself stronger, both physically and mentally, and he would never get to live the life he always dreamed of.

He would never see Y/n again, either, and get to pay her back for all the pleasant feelings she has brought to life within him-- and that speculation didn't appeal to him in the slightest. He supposes he will just have to endure this, for now; the punishment he would receive wouldn't be for nothing, as he had gotten suspended as well for the sole purpose of trying to help Y/n in her struggle. And he would never regret doing that.

A small gasp flies past his lips once he is seized by the collar of his jacket, giving him barely any time to react as the ground suddenly vanishes from beneath his feet and his back is roughly slammed against the timbered floor beneath, spine poking through his skin and aching terribly; the sensation of bone pressed so harshly against a solid surface pushing a strangled cry up his throat.

His mother is looming over him like a giant fortress, nails digging into the material of his uniform as she stubbornly holds him down and weight settled right against the pit of his stomach, the way Kokichi's protruding hip bones delve into her skin from underneath making her teeth gnash.

She marvels in the way his purple hues grow the size of platters in a panic, the fashion in which his voice audibly hitches low in his throat once her cruel hands swiftly slither to wrap around its perimeter and squeeze down without a care in the world. His hands shakily venture to push against her biceps in a bid to loosen her grip, but the attempt only rewards him with a dazzling headache once she constricts her hold further, fingernails scraping against the flesh of his neck as she momentarily heaves it off the ground, only to just smash his head against the ground below.

The might finds him right against the back of the skull and momentarily renders him sightless, eyes clenching shut and lips parting wordlessly as he practically feels his brain squirm within the confines of his cranium, only seconds before he is left breathless by the mesh choking him. When his eyes hazily peer behind his lids, gaping up at the face hovering above him, he is almost paralyzed by the pure malice clouding over his mother's gaze; her teeth bared and her expression contorted into an ugly distortion as though she was trying to do her prey in just to feast on its flesh.

The image makes his heart sinks against his spine, curling against the column like a snail retreating back into its shell, but only for a fleeting moment. Fresh, strained tears tug at the corners of his eyes, tipping over the edges and dampening his throbbing temples in thin cascades of water.

Why, why? Why did she hate him with such a passion? Why did his own mom despise him beyond words? Just what kind of mother wished her own son would be buried six feet under?

Why, just why can't she love him-- even for a split second?

"W-why..." The lone word comes out through a choked whisper and the veins in his neck push against the skin trapping them within with the strain uttering it brings. His Adam's apple dodders painfully against the palms firmly clamped against it with his urge to sob out. His eyes are delirious, dripping with the tears of emotional chagrin rather than the lack of oxygen making his head feel as though he is floating midair. "W-why.. do you.. h-hate m.. me?"

The weak question only makes the demented woman exude a loud laugh, a disgusting, delighted cackle that makes his nausea hit its very peak. Meekly, he claws at her arms with a small cry, one which comes out as a wet, pitiful gurgle and serves as music to his mother's ears.

Y/n-san... help me.

"You're the spawn of Satan, that's why, you little shit! You're the reason your father left us! You're the most disappointing thing I have ever made, taking up years and years of my fucking life-- all of them wasted!Why couldn't you have just died?! Why couldn't you have just been stillborn instead of ruining my entire life?! All you do is want and want and want and want-- I should have snapped your fucking neck the moment they gave you to me! Hate you, I hate you!"

The words are practically spat against his face, dripping thick with venom and jabbing at his obliterated heart with no mercy and the feeling of whatever was left of his self-esteem crumbling down like an unstable building indescribable. It's not anger that takes the reins right at that moment, nor is it the hate he thought he harbored so strongly; it is rather a sense of disappointment, of self-loathing, of hurt.

That is all he can feel. Not angered, not quite sad.. just hurt. So hurt that for a moment he thinks his chest will tear apart from how loud his heart is screaming against the drums of his ears.

I hate you.

You.. really do, huh? You hate me so much, don't you?

...

...

Fine, then.

I hate you, too.

From the bottom of my rotten heart.

Kokichi has almost given up beneath the unyielding pressure his mother is applying to his dainty neck, breath coming in curt, inadequate bouts that set his lungs afire, fingers tugging at her wrists with all the strength left within him. His eyes are begging to be released, even as they peer at her through a veil of spite, mouth drooling slightly at the sides from the weakening his struggle is causing him. He wants to defend himself, be set free and hide himself away in the dark confines of his room-- but the task seems impossible, small black circles blotching his vision as he fruitlessly gasps out for breath.

Is this where he would die? Where he would pitifully pass out from the asphyxiation holding captive? All because he is a useless rat who can't stand up and save his own hide? All because he is not strong enough to be able to do anything that could potentially prove useful? Maybe if he begged his mother to let go then--

'You're not as weak as you think and you saw it too, right? I.. always knew you had that shit in you.'

Y/n's voice rings faintly within his head, as if taking the role of a defendant within the four walls of a courtroom, brings his fading senses back to attention. That's right. Would Y/n ever put her withered confidence before owning up to someone and hitting back ten times harder? Would Y/n ever give up on herself simply because it was the easy way out? She hadn't given up, not when Terrence and Vince slyly teamed up on her, not when her thigh was slashed open. Would Y/n ever beg someone else for mercy, for sparing her life like some pathetic little weakling? She hadn't begged her attacker, even when seized by the throat.

She fought back and didn't fabricate any excuses not to. If that's the case, then what is Kokichi doing?

He's not weak, or stupid, or slow-- that's what she had told him... so why, why isn't he fighting back? What is holding him back? Why is it holding him back?

Briefly, he considers setting himself free of the chains that bind him still and come through strong and stubborn but uncertainty is gnawing on every fiber of his body, yet reluctant about letting him go. The confliction is makes its presence well-known, but does not last for long, drowned out by the deafening clamor of pure panic once the grip around his neck tightens and makes his eyes strain against their very sockets.

Mustering up all the bits of his dissipating determination, the breathless boy's arms fly up in an instant, protruding thumbs a blur as they embed themselves within the woman's flaring eyes and make her holler out in pain. There is the disgusting squelch they make against the tips of his fingers and the woman reels back in an instant, devious hands loosening their grip as she bodily retracts and lands back against the ground with a dull thud, a hand hurrying up to clamp over her aching eyes.

Kokichi's exhales come through as lethargic pants, the brims of his digits ascending to graze against the aching, bright red stripe around his throat and legs kicking weakly against the ground in a bid to make his body sit upright. He stares through a daze at the shrunken form of the woman a few feet away from him, eyes darting around the living room every few seconds in an attempt to locate any position to hide in or an opening to make a break for it while his mother is distracted.

"Y-you fucking shrimp! How--how dare you this to your own mother?! You spoiled fucking brat!"

Kokichi only scoffs in bitter amusement, his own hand wrapping gently around his throat and breath slowing as his lungs fill with fresh oxygen. There is the evident break of his voice when he speaks, but he is not sure whether it is from the tire or the intense sense of self-loathing. "Just.. like you do this to your own son."

The woman is beyond infuriated, he is well-aware, even when she pulls out her victim card as soon as something bad befalls her. She is passionately keen on ripping out her son's windpipe with her own, bare hands and shove it right back down his mouth till he chokes on it and dies. She swears on her very life that when she stands up and begins seeing clearly anew she will smash that little shit's head against the wall until his brains start leaking out of his ears and his eyeballs pop out of their sockets.

The boy scrambles to stand up on his own, wobbly legs once he perceives his mother's rather quick recovery, bracing a palm against the wall and nearly losing his balance when he first endeavors it; back and neck still hurting awfully from the former abuse. He hisses out through clenched teeth at the pain it produces, but quickly begins distancing himself from the entire scene, dreading what would happen if he didn't get out just in time. The hope that livens up within him is short-lived, however, coming to an abrupt stop once the sound of something tearing through the air echoes within the room as a glass, heavy item is shot at him like a rainfall of bullets, thrown blindly by his mother and heading right toward his face. A green, almost empty bottle of wine is chucked at him from the shelf the woman had reached into in a bid to grasp something and fling it at him like a rag out of pure spite.

The boy has only a split moment to react, not nearly enough to duck and miss its strike, eyes widening in horror only to shut tightly and shield themselves from harm, arms flying up to protect his face but going up too late to do so. There is a dull thud that resonates within the four walls as the bottom of the bottle finds Kokichi right against the lid of his right eye, shattering and slashing his forehead as it collides with his skull before the shards descend and skirt all around his legs like rose petals in the spring. He only gives a small, tiny sound as bits of glass stick to the inner corner of his eye and his brow, the thin gash of his forehead stinging terribly as it begins producing blood.

For a moment, he remains still and breathing heavily, hand rushing to cup over his aching eye only to have his palm pierced by tiny chunks of glass that dig their relentless teeth within his tender skin. He tries to pull back his eyelid to see, but the task is an impossible attempt when he finds an ample amount of blood oozing from its contents and soiling his tremulous fingers with warmth, trickling down their expanse and splashing against the ground below.

"W..w-wha?"

All that taints his vision is solely crimson, cascading down his cheek and gliding over the underside of his jaw in a thick rivulet of red. He shakily retreats his hand from where he had been struck, the laceration on his forehead emanating blood that courses down in twin streams and smudges against the corner of his brow, lone, good eye huge with mortification as he takes in the dark liquid griming his skin and pooling in the thin, milky crevices of his hand and flood them with scarlet.

The blood and shock are so overwhelming that he doesn't even feel the pain.

"Ha-ha!" Cackles his mother in twisted amusement, eyes glazed over and unfocused and smile abnormally stretching her mouth into a crude slew that would have made Kokichi's blood run cold if he wasn't bleeding out from both his head and eye and losing his grips with reality. "That's what you get, you little fucking devil!"

Kokichi merely stands there, face having drained of all color and soul having left his body like a dove as the erratic rhythm of his heart beats down harshly against his eardrums and floods them with white static. It doesn't even reach him when the woman's manic laugh drowns out the deafening silence holding the room captive. His state of shock does not budge the slightest, only heightening as breathing suddenly becomes a challenge.

Blood, so much blood.. am I.. going to die...?

He doesn't even get to finish his lingering thought before a large portion of his senses abandon him and send his body level with the floor. His knees buckle, giving out and no longer supporting his body as it gracelessly descends to collect in a broken heap on the ground below. His head makes a harsh impact with the tiles and does little to pacify his detached self as blood slowly pools down his face and glides to stain his dark locks as they scatter around his skull and shroud his face from all light.
In his panic, Kokichi tries to think of something, anything-- put together a comprehensive sentence in a desperate attempt to distract himself from the injury etching his youthful face and the overwhelming sense of dread that floods every last cell of his body and make shim quiver.

"I.. I f-fought.. back.. hah.. hahaha... I.."

Kokichi pants out heavily, vision blurring continuously and disorientating him to a great extent; he's not sure if it's from the abrupt loss of blood or the adrenaline pumping through his veins in ceaseless bouts. And though his good eye is emanating warm tears that mingle with his blood, the corners of his lips are twitching upward feebly, producing a contorted, unnerving smile that wavers visibly.

"...Did.. did I make you p-proud, Y/n-san..?"

Chapter Text

Another boring Friday, huh?

Kokichi gently runs the brims of his fingers over the eyepatch shielding his right eye, scoffing silently to himself and doing his best at concealing it from view. He lets the loose curls of his hair cascade over it like silky drapery as he quietly ventures out of class, bumping into a few students' shoulders despite his efforts not to draw any more attention to himself, but the occurrence couldn't be helped since he couldn't see them in time to make way. He finds that it is quite the challenge to operate when having only one good eye you can see out of, as it restricted half of both his normal and peripheral vision.

He doesn't ever remember being so nostalgic of using both eyes at the same time; now he is both an easier target for potential tormentors and can't even run away without colliding into some wall with his vision limited to such an alienating degree.

However, the doctor had told him that he would be alright since the eyeball itself did not bear much damage; all he had to do was clean it once a day and wait for it to heal completely. His eyelid was still way too swollen and sensitive so he could touch it without hurting, so he figures he will just have to be patient.

Thankfully, the bottle hadn't caused him as much harm as he expected; having merely slashed below his brow and across the right side of his forehead. Both gashes are now stitched and cleaned thoroughly, one covered with a square patch of gauze and the other with the stripe of a plaster that stretched from the edge of his temple to the mid of his brow.

"How did this happen?" The nursed had asked him in a timbre of voice so soft that it made him sick to the core, while cleaning out the blood around his socket, visibly concerned as he kept his gaze pinned low. "Who did this to you, sweetheart? I won't tell anybody, but the doctor should know, yes?"

For a moment, he truly was tempted to spill all of it out to the caring woman cradling the side of his face oh-so-gently, a way in which he never remembers his own mother doing. He wanted to burst into newfound tears at the worried expression her face held, the sincerity of it all overwhelming him with emotion to the very brim.

He hated when people didn't care for him. He hated when people cared for him, too.

His milky lips had parted, shakily, uncertainly, dry and chapped and limned in red blotches from where he always bit down on them, voice coming out as a breathy whisper and tangling against the spike lodged in the back of his throat. The sharp eyes burning cavities against the side of his skull made him hold his silence, a single flicker of his gaze to his mother sitting patiently at the other end of the room enough to make his knees buckle and any inkling of courage he might have had die like a wilting rose.

Glaring at him knowingly. Brows furrowed over dark, endless pits that only lived to see the soul sucked out of him.

"Stand up, rat. Look at all this mess you have made. Now I need to take you to the hospital; can't have your teachers questioning me about this nuisance, that would only ruin everything. Get up already!"

Not because she cared for him. Not because she was worried about his well-being, not even helping him wash his face a little so it didn't make him look as though he had just murdered somebody. If her son was seen injured at school, people would begin talking, seeing, taking notice and the faculty would soon call her to ask her what the lacerations so close to the boy's eyes were caused by. If anyone found out it was all her fault, she would lose her job, her respected title and work, her colleagues' trust, her friends; Kokichi's mother just couldn't have that happen to her. Her entire life would be ruined, ruined because of that 'pest' she brought to life.

"Some kids at school did it," He had replied through a mutter, words barely audible as they flew past barely parted lips. He had shown a cute, boyish smile,-- faked, like most of his feelings-- succeeding in placating the nurse's worries with his child-like face and spuriously innocent front while the tormented person within him was almost ready to burst through like a beast on a leash. He didn't let it, though. "It was an accident.They didn't mean to do that, so it's okay."

A giggle, soft and childish, and the uncomfortable tension was lifted. A giggle, lifeless and holding no enthusiasm even when he so prettily smiled, doing absolutely nothing at easing the tension gripping his quivering heart in an iron fist.

People always fell for his lies so easily when he used his youthful visage to his advantage and tugged at the strings of their hearts with his apple cheeks and huge eyes; angelic and harmless and looking as though he'd never tasted the saltiness of his own tears pooling in the cupid's bow of his upper lip. As though he had never flavored the bitterness of loneliness when lying alone and cold and staring at the ceiling like it bared all the stars in the sky across its black canvas.

His mother didn't bother him for the last few days, however, partly because she was away for work and partly because she had gotten repulsed by how much of a mess Kokichi had made last time. As though he was at fault. She didn't make any food for him to eat, didn't check up on him when he stayed locked in his room and came out only to visit the bathroom, merely acting as though he never even existed in the first place.

It was quite the oddity. His mother could be so violent, only to be idle and careless in the next moment. Kokichi was well-aware her mental health was bordering on crumbling completely and would attempt to tell her to consult a therapist for her forcible demeanor-- even though deep down even he knew that there was no putting together someone who wasn't broken, but merely twisted in the brain. He doubted any type of pill or mental exercise would help her walk down the right path, simply because she already thought she was ambling down a path she proudly presented as the right one.

The lack of attention was better than having his battered body worn down even further, he figures. Having been suspended for two days due to the incident Terrence and his goons had initiated, he was given a bit more time to rest, heal and study, as well; getting slumber which lasted more than five hours was a paradise Kokichi never wanted to say goodbye to. Waking up with his entire body shutting down instantly due to the lack of sleep the moment he made to move just a fraction was something he wasn't very fond of.

Unfortunately, however, the days of his punishment had come to an end, and so had his lengthy periods of much-needed sleep, the fact he would be forced to cross the iron gates of Miyashiro Academy making him feel nauseated.

Perhaps Lillian and Terrence had been permanently expelled from the school, all thanks to the green-eyed savior's confession of who was the first to take out the knife, but Kokichi still didn't feel quite safe as he roamed through the halls and slithered past people. Vince was still on the large, having fled the scene much earlier and abandoning the rest of his team, so he was the only one who didn't suffer some kind of repercussion as a result, free to roam around the school even though he was the first one who put his knife to use.

How unfair for Vince not to shoulder the blame while Y/n had been suspended for an entire week as a punishment when she was the one who got attacked in the first place.

Kokichi figures that maybe it is for the best, because even if she hadn't been suspended for the fuss that befell, she still wouldn't be able to attend school due to the injury on her right leg. Sure, she could probably use crutches to roam around, but wouldn't be able to climb up the numerous steps to get to the third floor where her class was and also wouldn't have the luxury of carrying her own bag-- so that was out of the question.

If Y/n had decided to do that, though, Kokichi would have volunteered to both hold her bag for her and nudge her arm over his shoulders to help her make it up the stairs, all without a second thought, even though he was well-aware she would have tried to make it all on her own regardless.

In all honesty, the selfish part of him wishes that were the case. That she could still be here, beside him, even if he had to offer her his aid in doing almost anything. Kokichi wouldn't mind even sprawling down onto the floor and let her step on his back if that would mean that she would be there to drown out his loneliness like she always did. He would listen to any kind of fruitless palaver if it meant that her familiar voice would flood his ears again, feel the easy carelessness radiating off her every pore and catch glimpse of her cunning eyes and shit-eating grin.

Everything is so utterly boring without Y/n around to cause some ruckus, and it bothers him to no end.

Kokichi exudes a dramatic huff as he absentmindedly tugs at the soft blades of grass sprouting from the ground below, scowl cast heavily over his cherubic face as he sits silent and alone beneath the calm gaze of the sakura tree. The gentle breeze making his fringe quiver against his bandaged forehead is his only companion as he remains eerily idle, sighing out in pure frustration every few seconds and glaring down at the small patch of grass within his palm as though it had been the killer of his entire bloodline.

It's awfully quiet and he hates it, lips pursing distastefully as though he had lapped at a freshly cut lemon, the only sound breaking the silence hovering over him like a fiend being the soft whistling of the winter wind. The first day of November wasn't treating him well so far, not nearly.

"Jeez, Y/n-chan," Kokichi grumpily utters through a stubborn mutter, drawing his legs close to his chest and resting his thin forearms against his knees with a tattered exhale. "Why'd that dumbass have to hit you with a knife? It's so boring without you.. and lonely."

He is well-aware of the change of the honorific and it does little to bother him when not in her presence. Laying down in bed for four days with few pauses in between had graced him with a lot of time to think, a lot more than he would care to admit, and a strange notion had been gnawing at the back of his head for the entire time through.

What.. what if he began addressing her as 'Y/n-chan' in her face without becoming a stuttering mess and completely cease functioning? Maybe that would be a good way to make her flustered for all the teasing he had to undergo, but a part of him believes that it would only amuse her to no end.

His heart flutters like a butterfly's colorful wings at the mere thought of it-- but it wasn't like he wants to call her that, of course! It's not his fault 'Y/n-chan' just sounds way better and feels much more easy and sweet when it rolls off his tongue.

The notion makes the corners of his lips twitch upward slightly, but the sulking never leaves his downcast orbs as he toys with the material of his trousers amid his thumb and forefinger.

"I miss you, Y/n-chan."

For a brief moment, Kokichi meekly raises his head and casts his gaze to the side, quietly racking his good eye over the spot beside him where she always sat; arms propped up carelessly behind her head, black skirt gathering around her thighs and one scarlet-clad leg folded lazily over the other, voice humming out lowly ever so slightly.

Occasionally, she would reach down and carefully adjust the stockings lathering her lower half in a red hue, paying no heed to the homework they were supposed to be finishing, peeking slyly over his shoulder with her breath brushing against the side of his neck. Kokichi would scold her half-heartedly, face burning with both embarrassment and dither as she only swirled a tuft of his dark locks around her fingers.

"Y/n-san... we're supposed to be doing homework, not.. Why are you playing with my--"

"Jeez, Ouma-chan, don't be so loud; You're acting like I'm not playing with just your hair, you know.. And we've been studying for hours, I'm fuckin' bored! Come on, put the book down and take a break with me-- you look like you're about to start drooling over it."

She had snatched the math book from his grasp without waiting for his response, and while an inkling of guilt gnawed at his heart at not being able to finish all of his homework without taking a breather and being 'lazy', as his mother would say, he made no move to stop her. He guessed that Y/n's jest regarding his sickly appearance held some truth in it; he had been feeling a bit drowsy after three quarters of solving exercises, brain having liquified into putty within the confines of his head.

He had stared quietly, tiredly, looking like an abandoned animal poking its head out from the corner of an alley when he looked up her way. Briefly aware of the softening of her grin to resemble a gentle smile, he had watched idly before exuding a curt yelp of surprise when the tips of her fingers tugged at the material of his uniform and brought his fleecy head flush to her shoulder. The gesture was more than enough to violently shake him out of his sleepy stupor, making his widened purple hues blink innocently and his heart to clench to an abrupt halt as it palpitated within his chest.

His entire body had grown tense and nervous and his very being was rattled at the physical intimacy, but when he desperately turned to look, Y/n was hardly fazed, twinkling orbs already caped over by her eyelids as the curvature of her protruding lashes quivered ever so slightly. Kokichi could see the darkened patches of skin lingering underneath her lower lash lines, bottom lip tucked securely between the parralel sets of his teeth as he silently studied the calm expression adorning her features.

Despite the teasing her voice had held earlier, she seemed rather tired, as well.

Kokichi made out the stripe of a plaster glued above her brow and the littered, violet speckles of the bruising around it before he gave a soft sigh, reluctantly relaxing against her and trying to calm the mania of his writhing heart. He had merely closed his eyes to rest, the mounds of his cheeks replete with liquid fire in spite of the slight twitching making the corners of his lips rise up into a shy smile.

The boy gives a stubborn huff of both frustration and slight guilt, tapping the brims of his bony fingers against the cap of his knee and lifting his bowed head from where it hung low on his shoulders in defeat. Purple locks drape over the patch shielding his right eye while the operative one silently set its attention off to the distance, peering from among the distant, steel bars that frame the school's perimeter at the cars dashing on the street from behind.

However, something that he did not expect to take notice of captures his attention and makes his breath leave him. Hurriedly, and without paying heed to the cuts and injuries powdered over the flesh of his lean back his body shoots forward like a bullet, spine straining against thin skin as he leans forward, eye having broadened slightly and lips separated in an inaudible gasp.

There is a person-- no, two-- standing behind those same steel bars that do not permit anyone's unauthorized enter or exit, people Kokichi doesn't initially recognize as they look from the outside in. They are clad in regular, colorless clothing that hardly makes them stand out, the taller one endowed with lengthy, pinkish locks of hair while the other keeps their face concealed behind the wool of a red scarf. Two pairs of eyes, Kokichi senses with a stiff gulp, two piercing pairs of eyes are peeking through and perusing the building of Miyashiro Academy as thought they are spinning the pot of an imminent scheme.

Under normal conditions, Kokichi would have tried to hide from sight for fear of being targetted by the menacing strangers, but his muscles are paralyzed the instant he makes to move once he takes notice of the all too familiar hairstyle the individual clad in red is so shamelessly sporting. There is a sense of shock piercing right through him and wounding at his punctured heart further, lips meeting and parting voicelessly for a few seconds before they quiver with the utter of a single word.

“..Y/n-chan?”

His mind immediately makes to draw its own conclusions, tells him he must be wrong, that it's merely his own hallucinations dancing right before his very vision because his solitude is getting the better of him-- but, then, who is that other person standing beside her?

“Oh, finally, there you are!”

Kokichi's train of thought is abruptly interjected when a voice rings out from behind him, a smooth, low drawl he isn't acquinted with in the slightest and makes him reel away with a shrill screech of pure terror. He nearly topples forward as though he had been burned by heated metal at the breathing of the person standing idly behind him ghosts against the back of his head, eye growing wide and spinal column gripped by none other than the sense of pure horror.

Clumsily, he scrambles up to his aching feet, verging on losing his footing on multiple ocassions while flailing arms grasp frantically at his school bag and clasp it flush to his quivering chest. He whirls around on his heel in his state of panic, taking a few retreating steps backward and hearing his heart scream bloody murder as it hammers down against the drums of his ears, alarmed gaze peering through a forest of purple hair at the smugly smirking stranger standing still and quiet behind him.

The older male adjacent to him seems rather amused by Kokichi's reaction, one of his forearms raised over his head and resting against the sakura tree in a casual fashion.

“W-wh-- Who are you?!”

Kokichi momentarily curses himself for stammering like a writhing fish out of the water, but finds that his voice can hardly retain its steadiness when faced with a stranger and potential threat. He stares at a pair of round, green orbs that shamelessly lazes its trail down his youthful features once they briefly emerge from behind a veil of olive locks and make him shake in his boots.

There is the glint of an eyebrow piercing over the unusually familiar person's right eye as he quirks it just a fraction and lets his lips part with a question.

“Huh? Am I really that easy to forget? Even after all I did to help you guys out? How cold..”

There's the hint of affliction coating his spuriously pained words, but Kokichi is hardly entertained, former alarm now converting to both distate and a strange sense of dread as he slowly lowers the bag he was holding up to shield his face from harm.

That is right, this person is the guy who had so fearlessly held a knife to Terrence's throat and stomped his head to the ground, thus saving both Kokichi and Y/n from participating in any further conflict. The person who had let her name roll of his tongue as though he knew it all too well. The person who escorted her to the hospital when the ambulance arrived.

Amami Rantarou, a senior from the C-2 class and known for his lethal charm and wreaking havoc anywhere he set foot, as well as being the only son of millionare Amami Ryou.

Such a bitter irony, Amami Rantarou talking to Ouma Kokichi; the boy who had it all talking to the boy who had nothing.

At the shock polluting every inch of Kokichi's face, Rantarou only offers a kind smile, the corners of his lips curling into a grin that would have anyone else's heart going amok. Now, Kokichi was not blind fully, he was very well-aware that Rantarou was an attractive guy who he himself would be swooning over if it weren't for his insensitiveness regarding physical appearance. The boy had come to know a wide diversity of people, people others would don with the adjectives 'pretty' or 'handsome' or 'gorgeous'. He had also come to know a variety of people who would be characterized by others with the words 'ugly' or 'fat' or 'bone-soup' or 'gross'.

He once used to think that being 'pretty' meant receiving love and attention and being a good person-- so when his idiotic belief was refuted by life itself, it left a sour taste in his mouth that he could never fully scrub away, stained him with the mark of growing completely careless to the trivial matter that is somebody else's physical appearance.

Rantarou is far from fooling him, even behind those diamond eyes he possesses and flashes with such experience; Kokichi can see the dangerous twinkle even through the charm the other puts on display. He should have known that hiding something such as his true self would never work on somebody like Kokichi, who had lived and seen so much.

“You're a junior, too, huh? Ouma Kokichi, correct?”

Kokichi visibly flinches at the call of his name, heart leaping up to burst through the opening of his throat and he nearly drops his school bag to the ground with all the belongings held within when he tries to brace himself against something. Rantarou's voice is smooth and devoid of anything that could express nervousness or caution, flowing within Kokichi's ears like honey would from a bee hive's aperture. If he didn't see through Rantarou's colorful wrapping, he would be hanging from every single letter he would so happen to spew.

It is almost frightening how much Rantarou resembles Y/n in his own, peculiar way; Kokichi hates it because the familiarity of it all is making him involuntarily drop his guard.

“..Yeah, that's me.. B-but how do you know that? A-Are you here to try and.. hit me or something? I promise I have no lunch money, if.. that's what you're after..”

Rantarou only exudes a deep chuckle in return, cold sweat dampening his temples as he shakes his head in dissaproval and waves a hand dismissively, rather taken aback by Kokichi's words. That only seems to make the latter more alarmed as his gaze never once abandons the green-haired male before him; people did not make a habit of approaching Kokichi without wanting something materialistic or distasteful in return.

Well, except Y/n. In all honesty, she was the reason all of that torment had stopped for Kokichi, but with her momentarily retired, he can't help but fear that it will all go back to the way it used to be when he was all alone and stranded.

“Ah, no, no, why would I do that?” Rantarou's gently spoken words and carefree smile remain untainted as he jams a hand in the pocket of his brown, wooly sweater; the attire given to the seniors of Miyashiro Academy, and Kokichi realizes Amami's stay here is probably permanent. “I would never want to hit a cute thing like you; especially after Y/n-tan told me to keep an eye on you to make sure you're alright. Knowing her dramatic ass, she would have my head on a stick if I did so much as hurt a hair from your head.”

Kokichi's posture evidently relaxes at the inkling of Y/n's name, shoulders lowering and lips pressing together in a meager attempt to conceal the small smile trying to besiege them. There is the patent softening of his gaze, even though he doesn't realize it, the vice grip clutched around his school bag and turning his knuckles milky slowly loosening till the blood reaches his fingers anew.

“Y/n-chan.. so you do know her.”

Rantarou seems both amused and surprised upon viewing the change the smaller boy's body language involuntarily dons, the innocent relief momentarily placating his fresh face resembling one a child would put on display when a stranger claimed they knew their mother. It both stimulates Rantarou's interest as well as a strange sensation of confusion and envy; the way Kokichi's good eye has been freed from a large portion of his unmistakable doubt doing a number on the other's ego. “Oh, yeah, I do. Y/n-tan and I are--”

“I-Is she alright?” Kokichi finds himself swiftly interjecting the senior before him without a shred of shame or care, something he would never act upon if he had found himself in a different circumstance. Part of him wants to make sure of Y/n's well-being and welfare, but the remaining bit interrupted Amami purely out of a hint of dislike. The urge to mentally scold himself for such a childish behaviour is there, but he surpresses it with the stiff gulp that makes his lean throat quiver. “If you know, then.. please, tell me. I-is she okay? Is.. is she still in the hospital..? Is--”

With a snort and the inquisitive raise of one of his brows, Rantarou puts his hands out to cease Kokichi's hasty palaver with a slight shake of his head. His bright eyes squint into thoughtful cleaves, knowing, charming smile never once wavering even as his lips part and his voice bursts free. “Woah, there, bucko, calm down. If you should know, she is home and healing and doing just fine; no need to worry. Stressing is bad for the skin, you know?”

Kokichi remains blinking silently, mouth ajar just a fraction and fist clenched over his chest and bunching up at the fabric of his uniform as he tries to regain control of the erratic rhythm making his veins pulse. He exudes a tattered, quiet sigh through worn lips, shoulders descending into relaxed slumps as he meekly nods his head, mostly to succeed in comforting his own restlessness rather than to show he is actually listening. A small smile subconsciously makes the corners of his mouth twitch upward, head bowing and hand flying upward in an instictive call to conceal it from view.

He doesn't think he looks nice when he is smiling so stupidly, that's what he always believed, completely unaware of just how good happiness looks on him.

Y/n-chan, you're okay.. thank God. If something had happened to you, I... No, I shouldn't think about it. As long as you're okay, it doesn't matter.

Kokichi sincerely hopes from the bottom of his very heart that Rantarou is not lying to him just to toy with his fragile feelings, but the fleeting high that courses through his limbs and makes his skin prickle with gooseflesh exceeds his hesitancy by a million; the thought of Y/n being safe and sound and soon making her return making him feel so wonderfully helpless that for a moment he pities his own self.

He supposes that's how people who only have one friend in their life come to grips with reality, but he isn't about to complain. At least, his luck has beared cracks down the dome of his loneliness and graced him with the companion he prayed every night he could have for years on end.

The jittery boy does little to hide his mirth from view as he ascends his gaze reluctantly, the euphoric sensation of having a burden lifted from his weak shoulders making breathing a bit easier once he finds that Rantarou is still tediously eyeing him, the color in his irises verging on glowing like a predator's as he silently thinks. His pupils are smoky as a foggy horizon with his voiceless shroud of judgement and skepticism, screaming danger even as his body makes no offensive move and remains calm.

Junior surely cares about Y/n-tan. His concern is quite cute; I wonder what his reaction would have been if I told him she isn't alright. He'd probably start crying if I did.. not easy and definitely not good for that patch he is wearing. Maybe I could play with him another time; after all, he is a cute and brave one.

..That's something those two have in common, I guess.

It doesn't take long for Rantarou to find his carefree smile, however, shaking his head with a low chuckle as he reaches a hand in his pocket, humming absentmindedly as his long fingers weave around for a bit before emerging with a small box clasped amid them. Ivory, not great in size and looking rather pricey with the logo of a company plastered to the front; it doesn't take long for Kokichi to realize just what it contains as he mutely watches the lone cigarette that peers from within.

His brows twitch when the green-haired male glides the cancer stick between his rosy lips, taking in a puff as he produces a lighter and brushes its flame against the small cylinder's brim; the sound of the metallic lighter clicking against the thick rings of jewelry enclosing around his fingers starkly contrasting the silence having enfolded around them and making Kokichi's lanky frame flinch wholly as he perceives the smoke Rantarou exhales from his nostrils in a disgusted sense of mild fascination.

The smaller boy only scoffs behind tightly clamped lips when one of Rantarou's eyes flutters shut in a playful wink, seeming rather flattered at having an audience. Kokichi can neither help the slight clenching of his heart as it shrinks against his spine nor the frustrated heat making his ears flush.

Jeez, talk about a show-off.. Even Y/n-chan is smug like this most of the time, this guy is taking it to a whole other level. We get it, buddy, you're a smoker and you'll probaly die of lung cancer at twenty-five and if I wasn't scared you'd punch me I would say it right to your face.

 

 

I really need to stop calling her that.

“I'm Amami Rantarou; even though you probably know that already.” Rantarou looks so terribly full of himself right at that instant that Kokichi can't help but wonder whether the guy is merely putting on an act or not just for the fun of it. Either way, the fact he can pull this vain demeanor off so well is alarming at the very least; but can you really blame him when he's so filthy rich? “Sorry if I gave you a fright before, I was just curious about who this «Ouma-chan» is and, no offence to you, but you looked quite lonely. It's heartbreaking to watch you sit all alone and mourning like someone has died all week long.”

The words make Kokichi's heart nearly plunge to the pits of his stomach, gaze averting to the side in evident embarrassment and face burning with shame. Is he really that obvious? He thought he had taught himself better when it came to securely bottling up his emotions and keeping them tucked away in a locked safe with no key to ralease the contents into the world. He can sense Rantarou's orbs studying him with a glint of pure amusement, grin present and taunting and making Kokichi's blood brew stubbornly underneath his milky skin.

Being called 'Ouma-chan' by someone so unlike Y/n in appearance and partially spirit does not sit well with him at all and if he possessed the courage, which he frankly didn't, he would have made a snide remark about its unforeseen use.

“I.. I-I'm fine.”

 

“Don't worry about it; everyone gets lonesome on the regular.” Rantarou merely blows out foggy cascades of smoke from between his lips, the vanilla extract of the cigarette still lingering and teasing at the back of his tongue as he cocks his head to the side with an inquisitve thrum, not appearing persuaded by Kokichi's stammering speech in the slightest.

He takes a careful step forth, viewing as the smaller boy before him tenses bodily when he extends a hand and gesture vaguely at the small packet in his hand with a tedious motion of his head. “Here, do you want a smoke? It's vanilla flavoured; I guarantee you'll feel better after blowing off some steam. Literally. It's the good stuff, too; the cheap ones would normally burn your throat, but not these babies.”

Maybe the cigarettes hold the essence of a pleasant flavour, but their smell still reeks of nothing but nicotine and death as bout after bout of toxic fume pollutes Rantarou's airways and glides from between the slits of his teeth, makes Kokichi's nose scrunch up and nostrils burn in distaste. He can almost taste the putrid bitterness as though it were staining the inside of his own mouth, gulping down dryly and shaking his head slowly to signify his dissaproval.

No thanks, I choose life.

“.. I'm good.”

“..Huh.” Rantarou's brows quirk as his pupils gradually sink beneath his lids, deep wrinkles limning his forehead and the corners of his eyes as he lets the cigarette dangle idly between two fingers, it's receding edge a bright orange mingling with a yellow so light in hue it's almost white.

His mouth folds into a tight-lipped grin as he quietly racks his gaze along the expanse of Kokichi's petite stature-- studying his gaunt shoulders, his protruding cheekbones, the legs that are so lean his trousers wouldn't be staying on his hips if it weren't for his belt-- marvelling in the way the boy's face has shrivelled with the hint of slight discomfort.

How cute.

“You're way more vanilla than I expected, Junior. Just a piece of friendly advise; you won't last around Y/n for long if you're like.. this.”

Kokichi's breath hitches audibly at the back of his throat when Rantarou gestures with a lazy wave of his hand at the former's body, looking almost disdainful as he does and makes Kokichi's innards churn painfully within the confines of his body.

The boy lowers his head, eye seeking and inquisitive as he stares down at himself, blinking owlishly at the familiarity of his own body as it teems the field of his vision. He knows he isn't the strongest or the most good-looking, but he finds himself rather distraught as he tries to figure out just what is so bothersome about him, the remnants of his self-confidence slowly but surely crumbling as he chews stubbornly at the cushion of his lower lip to the point where the bone has nearly pierced through the tender flesh.

“L..Like what?”

Rantarou merely chuckles at the boy's reaction, a cloud of thick smoke carding through his lashes and shrouding his face from view when the sound eases right through it. His cheek dimples with a satisfied, lopsided grin, a hand ascending to absentmindedly rub at the nape of his neck once he begins to speak. His voice is cheerful and holds no baggage or care, but the implication he makes serves as a stark contrast to the blithe visage he puts on display.

“Oh, don't misunderstand my intentions. It's just that you're so... so unlike her. Y/n tends to get very bored very easily when it comes to people like you.”

The words jab at Kokichi's mediocre self-esteem as though they were the tip of a dagger prodding against his pulsing heart, fingers curling into tight fists and breath coming hot and stubborn from his nostrils. His cheeks puff out with an indignant huff and his half-hearted staring solidifies to form an irked glare, the bother frothing up within him surprisingly overlapping any kind of shame or insecurity that would normally play his delicate feelings like a harp. There's an inkling of embarrassment coming to life within him, but it does little to hide just how irritated this guy has managed to make him.

Rantarou must be extremely talented, he figures, because it wasn't an easy task to get Kokichi as awfully annoyed as he is right now.

Jeez.. what is this guy's deal? Is he her boyfriend or something; is that why he's getting so butthurt? I hope Y/n-chan isn't actually friends with him, he's annoying... but at least he's not boring, even if he needs to get a bit more creative when trying to offend someone.

Kokichi only pries his shoulders, lowering his head and doing his very best to conceal the mocking sneer that tugs at his mouth. He is almost surprised by his own self, but he can't help but feel mildly amused and fond of not feeling terrified for his own life for once-- rather confident of the fact he can talk back; even if it is just for once in his miserable life. The timbre of his voice is low and verging on taunting as he cautiously sets his voice free, not even recognizing it as his own once it grazes his ears.

“I don't think you should get concerned over my relationship with Y/n-chan. Someone once told me that stress isn't good for the skin.”

Rantarou's green eyes widen with the slight surprise that crosses his face at the unexpected, smart reply, and for a moment he truly looks speechless as he stares with patent question and parted lips. He doesn't seem to be offended, but rather rendered voiceless at having his own remark used against him-- especially by someone so meek and innocent-looking as Kokichi. It doesn't take long for him to find his smile, however, lips curling upward in amusement as a low hum makes his chest vibrate.

His playful eyes peer slyly from abaft the veil of his lenghty lashes, green flashing visibly across Kokichi's vision when Rantarou lifts his kittenish gaze and fixes him with a knowing raise of his brows.

“Aw.. What a shame. And here I thought I had a chance with you, but you're very loyal. But I respect that, you know."

Kokichi nearly chokes on his own spit upon hearing the soft-spoken words, eyes surprised and widening when the pallor of his cheeks is drowned out by the cherry hue that rushes to make them glow. Though perhaps he wants to appear indifferent and unbothered by Amami's implications and teasing, his body is labelled as the traitor who does next to nothing to help him elude from his patent embarrassment.

Kokichi never had much tolerance for being teased too much by others-- so why did he have to endure it every time? He is sure there are far better suited canditates than somebody such as himself.

“M..me? I-I-- Wha--”

The small boy flinches bodily when he feels warmth caressing at the top of his head, and if presented with the ability, his ears would have began fuming from the high temperature making his cheeks burn as though they were fresh cupcakes straight out of the oven. He really wishes he could fight back against the urge to look up at the person gently petting his hair, but he doesn't, head shooting up in a blur of motion and eyes prepared to glare half-heartedly; only to find the task impossible with the way Rantarou is so fondly smiling down at him.

To his great surprise, Rantarou's hold upon him comes easier than Y/n's; it's gentler, carried out with much more caution as though he feared Kokichi would shatter if he were to apply too much pressure. The hand touching him this time is much bigger than the petite build Y/n's short fingers donned, feels heavier against the crown of head as it lightly grazes the dark roots of hair in a few, seamless strokes before it retreats altogether.

Kokichi remains blinking dumbly, the way Rantarou softly chuckles upon perceiving the stiffness of his body and the reddening of his cheeks terribly reminding him of the way Y/n would always bask in his shyness and uncertainty. He huffs out in exasperantion at the awful resemblance between the two, unsure of whether Y/n is the copycat or if her fiery persona rubbed off on Rantarou instead.

Either way, it doesn't erase the fact one is the other's slightly altered reflection, nor does it erase the fact both individuals are bustling with a charm of their own, an odd charm that makes Kokichi's heart skip a beat.

Even now, he can feel it nearly leaping out of his chest, concluding with a tattered inhale that this cannot be good for his mental health. Not for his easily agitated heart, either.

Rantarou bends slightly at the waist so that their gazes are level, cocking his head to the side just a fraction and offering a sweet, tight-lipped smile. His attention doesn't miss the patch over Kokichi's right eye and the plaster adhered to his forehead, or the way he shrinks back and lets his dark tufts fall over his face, as though he is trying to conceal his impaired vision from view-- but neither of them say anything regarding the matter, much to Kokichi's great relief.

The boy takes a small, hesitant step back, the feeling of Rantarou's breath brushing against his cheeks both unnerving and dizzying and making him wish the person so close to him was somebody else entirely.

“Jeez, chill, bucko. I was only kidding about everything, you know? No need to get all red. I'm glad Y/n's got someone like you around her to keep her head cool. She's so hard to control, isn't she?" Rantarou grins widely, eyes narrowing into thin, playful slits as they quietly study Kokichi's burning, sweltering face. "But isn't that why you like her?"

Kokichi finds that he hates this guy already-- but more so he hates the way his cheeks flare up as though they were ignited fireworks bursting colorfully against the veil of a night sky. And that is mostly how the rest of his day went; a day he thought would have been painfully boring evolving in quite the contrary outcome.

The boy did try to keep some distance, since Rantarou had already been accepted and, to some degree, admired by his fellow peers(mostly the females) duo to his good looks and family name and wasn't in need of someone else's company.

After all, the guy was conceited, annoying and a bit of a bully, but he was Y/n's friend, so what do you expect? He was almost like Y/n, only two heads taller, without the tits and on crack.

A bit too much for Kokichi's remaining sanity, but a bit better than having absolutely nobody to talk to. Rantarou could be quite bothersome, sure, but at least he wasn't a boring individual-- Kokichi could at least give him that. He wasn't too worried, though, since Y/n probably possessed the knowledge of handling somebody like Rantarou better than he himself ever could, so it would all surely be fine when she came round. Hopefully.

Y/n could probably trample all over them both if she wished.. He's not sure whether the thought is comforting or not. He hopes that if that were to happen she'd be a bit gentle with his fragile body, at least.

But no, the Y/n who would pat his head for comfort and feed him to ease his hunger wouldn't do something like that. She could tease and make silly remarks about him, but it was never out of ill will, merely to poke a bit of fun and rise a giggle out of him to lighten the mood. She had taken damage in order to protect him to the best of her ability from Terrence's cruel antics when she could have easily used her speed to her advantage and flee the scene to save her own hide.

But she didn't. Y/n didn't abandon him; being the first person in his life who didn't desert him for once.

And now, thanks to her, he feels like he is a bit stronger than before. Perhaps maybe not physically, but his feebleness was rather fascinated by her steel mind and was starting to curdle into something much stronger-- or as strong as Kokichi could managed through all his trauma and fear. In addition, Terrence and Lillian had been expelled by the school for good, to his great relief, so thankfully nobody would make to bother or torment him anymore-- especially with somebody like Y/n by his side.

Kokichi would have thought that at least Vince, who had fled just in time and wasn't accused, would have tried to menacingly approach him, but without his partners in crime it appears as though he doesn't have the same obnoxious courage he possessed when he slashed at Y/n with that switchblade.

The blond boy would merely glare at him each and every time they so happened to cross paths, the spite brewing within the pits of his pupils making Kokichi feel as though he would get attacked at any given moment-- but that never happened, the only sensation grazing his body being the cavities Vince's eyes would burn against his skin whenever his hateful gaze would pursue abaft his step.

Kokichi had actually believed that for once he was safe from harm, able to live his life without any additional bruises or black eyes, merely blending in the background and not picked out to be tormented by anyone-- so you can imagine his surprise when he was harshly gripped by the collar when leaving the school grounds after the final bell and thrown to the ground as though he were a used ragdoll, mouth dropping with a voiceless horrification as the force making his spine rattle momentarily renders him sightless.

The impact makes the bones protruding from the thin skin of his back ache terribly, and he looks up through blurry eyes at his attackers, breath leaving him as soon as a pair of familiar, cold orbs endlessly teem his field of vision. He kicks his legs meekly, trying to distance himself from the two, imposing silhouettes towering over him like a mountain would stand over a dense forest.

His lungs throb dolefully, nearly collapsing from the pressure making his heart verge on the brim of bursting into a mess of blood and flesh.

Why.. why are they here?!

"Where exactly do you think you're going, rat?" The name makes the blood rushing through his veins run as cold as ice, the voice expelling it low and cruel and all too familiar. Kokichi can practically hear the venom dripping into a puddle from each and every cursed letter and it feels as though he is dwelling in a nightmare rather than facing reality. "Oh, come on-- what's with that face? Didn't you miss us? Did you for a second think you were going to get away with the shit you pulled?"

The raw cruelty of Terrence's deep voice echoes seamlessly along with the peal of a sickeningly amused laugh, and then Kokichi's school bag is carelessly kicked to the side, giving him no time to even register the words before he is roughly seized by the jacket of his uniform and hauled up partly from the ground. The boy lets out a muffled yelp of surprise when the whiplash of the swift motion makes his head snap backward, torso hanging midair and dangling by the bruising force making his collar nearly tear free of his clothing.

Kokichi's shaky fingers fly to the clamped fist holding his back off the cement with an audible hiss whistling through the gaps of his teeth, eye unfocused and foggy with a thick shroud of glistening water.

His luck is really toying with him, isn't it?

"Huh.. Little asshole is already ready to cry!" A feminine voice eludes over Terrence's shoulder, low and feigning faked sympathy at Kokichi's patent distress and confusion as he meekly writhes against the grasp effortlessly holding him up. A cloud of dense, orange curls peer behind Terrence's broad back and brush absentmindedly against gleefully raised, round cheeks-- Lillian looks down at the smaller boy with contempt, shoulders doddering with an entertained giggle and lips stretched to form a sinister slew. "He's wearing a patch..? Ha-ha! Can't wait to turn the other eye black!"

"N..no, please--" Kokichi can feel his very heart plunge to the depths of his stomach as the unmistakable nausea of fear crawls slowly up his throat and twines an iron grip around it, clamps down harshly and makes breathing a challenge. His short fingernails fruitlessly tug at the milky skin of Terrence's tense knuckles, legs flailing about clumsily along with the twisting of his body in a bid to be released. "J-Just-- just leave me alone.."

Lillian's brows raise with an inquisitive bounce and she stifles the burst of an obnoxiously vociferous guffaw against the back of her plump hand once Kokichi's soft voice weakly pushes past his lips, appearing to be rather delighted by his anguish. "Aw, what are you gonna do, little fish? Are you going to cry? You gonna cry?! By all means; no one is here to listen to your gross fuckin' sobbing, anyway!"

The racket of her hearty laughter teems Kokichi's ears to the very brim and spreads throughout his entire existence like a terminal disease polluting the healthy cells of his body. It's so full of sinister mirth that, for a moment, it truly baffles him just how malicious and heartless one person could be with such ease; as though it were their true nature.

A tattered breath leaves him as he tries to regain composure, only to die as soon as it brushes across his teeth when his back is mercilessly smashed against the ground by none other than Terrence himself, the shock the impact brings momentarily numbing the back of his skull and rendering his lungs useless. His eye grows wide at the pain, one so overwhelming that it becomes a weak sense making his lips part with a feeble gasp, leaving him merely staring up at the person pressing a hand down against his windpipe with an expressionless utterance.

Kokichi is not quite certain of what he should feel. Hatred? Indifference? A strong desire to wipe those ugly smirks off their faces?

The one thing for sure is, however, that he is nowhere near the adequate physical or mental condition to even try his luck at pulling anything smart such as fighting back. He doesn't want any more bruises on his arms and legs and would surely prefer to keep his wounded eye in proper working order, so maybe if he took whatever they had to give him he could both pay for both himself and Y/n.

He doesn't want her to hurt anymore, either. He doesn't want her to be in any more pain. So, he figures selflessly and selfishly, a little bitter aching and a few nasty bruises are completely meaningless if it means his only friend's well-being will be ensured.

"L/n can't save you now." Terrence's voice echoes, devoid of all empathy and life, still somehow so cruel and careless that Kokichi finds it awfully revolting. The grip around his fragile throat tightens for a fleeting instant and makes his body tense up, much to Terrence's evident, sadistic delight. "She can't do anything to help you. She's left you all alone and helpless.. Isn't the irony fucking magnificent? Now no one can save you, you little rat!"

It's fine, alright.. Kokichi is used to the abuse by now. Even as tears tug at the corners of his eyes and make the right sting with the weight they hold, the thought of Y/n safe and sound alone is enough comfort to help get through it.

So, when he views through a hazy, impaired vision the ascent of Terrence's arm, the curling of his fist and the demented curve of his grin, Kokichi finds that it will be fine. There's the blur of motion that flashes right before his very eye and then Terrence's knuckles have shot down to pummel against his dainty face with no remorse, and he shuts it tightly before the force can reach and taint his skin, hardly aware of the singular tear that has tipped over the edge of his lower lash line and lathered the depression of his temple.

He can do this, if he really tries.

...

...

..What?

Where is it?

Why.. why don't I feel anything?

Surely, I've been punched by now.. so, why..?

Am I.. Did I faint or something? No, there's still light coming through..

So.. why--

"Unhand the boy."

..What? Who..?!

Kokichi's vision abounds with light anew when his lid pops wide open, lips trembling with a gasp of pure alarm and confusion. He half-heartedly tries to pry any inkling of familiarity from his memory, to try and remember just whose voice this is.. but he finds none. He doesn't recognize it. He has never heard it before.

Both inquisitively and desperately, Kokichi attempts to clear the fog clouding over both his mind and vision, feels his heart's rapid pulsing screech into an abrupt stop and wither like a blossom in the winter when he makes out the towering, male stature standing just behind Terrence's kneeling form, having grasped the bully's attacking, quivering hand just in time and holding it eerily still while holding a blade to the side of his neck.

The petite boy gapes up at the stranger in wonder, partly wondering why Lillian has not tried her luck immobilizing him, partly finding himself in a strange trance. Light-colored locks of hair hang limply from the strange man's head, baby pink in hue and adhered to the sharp cheekbones poking through his pallid skin as well as the ridge of his nose-- before a pair of narrowed, grey eyes tear themselves right through Kokichi's very soul as they closely study him.

As though they were both interested and bored beyond belief.

Just what the hell..?

"Unhand him if you want to keep your life and partner." The stranger's voice speaks up anew, brushing coldly against Terrence's sweltering temple, teeming with such confidence and superiority that it made the blond boy's brow quaver with an unnerved twitch. It wasn't vanity nor was it conceit-- it was as though some sort of leader was making his demands and intentions clear and that was what both fascinated and scared Kokichi the most.

"Yeah, you better friggin' do as Osamu-chi says or this gal will end up with a mangled face and twisted ankles!"

There's the peal of a feminine voice, overflowing with playful enmity and energy and resembling one of a child who had just shovelled their face with endless bouts of candy. As Kokichi's gaze flickers to the side however, he realizes that this has nothing to do with child-like shenanigans-- catching the twinkle of a pair of hazel orbs, staring through behind dark lashes and lush, long tufts of blonde hair.

It's a girl looking to be no older than Y/n, tall and slim in stature and with freckles wrinkling upon her rosy nose as she grins and rests a baseball bat over her shoulder. Her lips motion tediously and behind her teeth peeks the bright green color of bubblegum, hair glistening beautifully as the sun douses it from behind.

Beside her resides yet another person, a man basking in brawn and muscle, the sinews in his huge arms bulging out from beneath tanned skin as he wields a lengthy dagger and keeps it flush to the side of Lillain's throat. Neatly kept tresses of black curls collect against the nape of his neck and lick against a chiseled jawline, rough, unblinking eyes silently watching the scene and large, toned body standing unmoving, as though he were abiding some sort of order.

He was the embodiment of big and strong, probably towering over even Terrence by a whole lot if they were to stand side by side. He could probably snap Kokichi's neck like a twig between his thumb and forefinger if he so wished, make the boy's skull crumble into dust if he were to constrict it between those thunder thighs and turn his bones to ash if he were to step on them...

So, then.. why does he look so oddly familiar?

And who are these people, exactly? They must be criminals, seeing as they have such dangerous weapons in their possession.. What has Kokichi found himself within? Is he even going to make it alive out of all this?!

"Y..you assholes!" Lillian's voice cries out in a delirium, breaking slightly at the edges as the intimidating man beside her only draws nearer at her smart outburst. She looks to be rather distraught, terror swimming in her bleary eyes and radiating off her every pore-- but even so, she seems like she knows exactly who these so-called 'assholes' happen to be. That must be why she seems so afraid, huh? "What do you want?! This has nothing to do with you, so go f-- AHH!!"

Before she can even finish uttering her nonsense of a sentence, the blonde girl beside her has drawn the bat from where it had been resting on her shoulder and swung it as though it were her profession, swiftly aiming with the wooden contraption at the front of Lillian's shin. The hit is nothing too serious, merely enough to send the plump female's knees razing down against the ground and silence her annoying blabber for good.

The blonde's brows furrow with the look of pure irk and her eyes flare visibly as they glare down at Lillian's bowing form, mouth blowing out a round bubble from the colorful gum she has been nibbling on and snapping it sharply with a quick clamp of her jaws. Long, slender fingers size a handful of Lillian's tight curls and whip her head backward, manicured nails digging into her skull painfully and tugging mercilessly at the roots.

"Osamu-chi, this scrubber is talking out of order. They've gotten even more shitty than before, huh.. Look at the cutie they're trying to beat up!"

"Let's just beat 'em the fuck up!" The brawny man from beside her says with an easy shrug of his broad, hefty shoulders, mouth peeling into toothy grin and brows knitting over his slanted eyes. "Isn't that what we got here to do in the first place, boss? Let's kick their fuckin' asses and make 'em pay for what they did! It's an eye for a goddamn eye, here!"

Kokichi is gripped by a combination of fear, shock and confusion and it feels as though his being will self-destruct and be immersed in flames if this keeps up any longer. He hasn't done anything wrong, he just wants to get out, he wants to shrink away and hide till earth swallows him whole-- he never asked for this! He can't even run, being immobilized beneath Terrence's weight and the heavy presence of the trio of strangers that have come to his rescue.

..Or have they?

"Yes.." The grey-eyed man having protected Kokichi from Terrence's endless wrath prior speaks smoothly, timbre low and unbothered-- and then his forearm is pressed stubbornly against Terrence's windpipe in a flash, nearly lifting the latter of the ground and verging on strangulating all remaining life out of him. The pale irises he so slyly possesses flash with mischief and the sole desire for revenge, but only for a moment, and poor little Kokichi has barely any time left to react as Terrence is violently hurled from where he sat upon him as though were as light as a feather. "Let's."

Chaos has began wreaking itself all around him before he even gets the chance to do so much as blink. The trio of heroic(?) strangers is meddling with his group of tormentors to no end, the two male parties handling Terrence with no difficulty and throwing punches at him until he is shaking and spitting blood, the lone female counterpart handling Lillian with such ease that it would have baffled him if he weren't in such a state of shock.

Kokichi scrambles with tremulous hands to grasp at his school bag, clutches it to his chest and holds on for dear life, knees quivering as he kicks his legs to try and distance himself from the scene as much as he possibly can, staring with wide, frantic eyes and breathing coming harsh and hot as it pushes past his lips. His mind is yelling at him to leave, screaming bloody murder to abandon the school grounds and run as fast as his thin legs can possibly carry him, go as far away as they can possibly take him, and yet..

When he makes to move a single muscle with the lingering intention of escaping, he finds that he can't. He's yet shaken to the core, wondering how he got away unscathed(for now), who these people are, why they are here right now and beating the literal life out of both Lillian and Terrence before his very, not-so-innocent gaze.

A darker part of him marvels in the way the two are suffering, just like he has been for nearly all of his life, not feeling bad in the slightest as hit after hit and kick after kick lands and racks their frame. They're not just innocent victims; they deserve every last, painful second of it all, for hurting others, for hurting him, for hurting Y/n.

Was it bad that something within him was feeding off of their cries of anguish? That's how he had cried on countless occasions when they would hold him still and torture his malnourished body. That's how he had cried when Y/n had been slashed across the thigh with that switchblade-- and that's precisely how Y/n herself had cried out in shock, protest and pain when she did.

Though Lillian and Terrence were quite the fighters themselves, they stood next to no chance when facing that particular trio of opponents. Kokichi was not sure whether additional skill was used to overpower them, but he was certain that nobody would be able to fight back against a group whose members were in such perfect harmony when battling side by side.

It felt as though the entire process was not a fist-fight, but rather a very well-memorized choreography. The swift, smooth movements and the meager amount of hits the team of strangers received was quite the visual aesthetic, its effortlessness and ease managing to keep Kokichi rooted to the spot despite the raging urge to run away.

If only his life was as put-together as their coordination, he wouldn't have a patch shielding his swollen, pained eye from view.

"Fufu.." The blonde's voice resonates with a gleeful snicker, sounding somewhat tired and drained as though something is wearing it down. It must be from those heedless slip-ups that endowed Lillian with the opportunity to strike back, but Lillian wasn't the one who won. She wasn't the one who was standing on both feet and grinning victoriously. She wasn't the one lightly rubbing at areas she had been hit in a bid to placate the sting.

She was the one curled up on the ground like a snail whose shell had been harshly cracked with a sledgehammer.

"You're.. so slow, Lil. I guess that's why you don't fight in the pit, huh. Y/n-chi would beat you bloody if you even tried to set foot in the ring."

Golden locks cascade down her lean shoulders as she slightly bends at the waist, eyes never once losing their mischievous tinge even through layers of tire as they squint into smug slits. Her palms clamp down against her knees, a breathy laugh pushing past her lips as she quietly studies the redhead shrivelled up in a pitiful heap against the ground.

There is the pathetic slobbering and snivelling of Terrence's wrecked form as he tries to move, knees chaffing against the inside of his trousers as he weakly attempts to crawl forth. He puts a meager amount of weight upon his elbows in his useless bid, but even the smallest inkling of pressure is enough to render him almost motionless, meek flailing ceasing abruptly when the sole of a hefty boot is pressed to the back of his head and painfully mashes his damp forehead to the ground below.

Terrence exudes a muffled grunt of bother, but the muscular male pressing his weight down against his skull appears to be rather indifferent, looking as though the being beneath his shoe is nothing more than a squirming cockroach. "Shut the fuck up, terf."

Kokichi barely has any sense of what in the world is unfolding all around him. Half-heartedly, he makes to move a hand, a leg, his head-- anything, really, but he finds himself unable to even make a single muscle in his body twitch, completely paralyzed as he silently sits there.

Anything the people before him are uttering is nothing but white static to his tainted ears. His brain has broken down; what is he supposed to do or say? What do you even say in such a situation?

"Hey, that the guy we looking for? He's so small.."

"That appears to be the case. Daichi, Mei, do not do anything to frighten him any further. He already seems rather shaken by what he had to bear witness to."

"..Huh? Can I even frighten someone? I thought I was cute, Osamu-chi.."

Osamu stands quietly, merely sparing his companion a knowning look as he brushes the back of his hand against his chin and rubs at the shred of blood there. Grey irises peer silently beneath blond lashes as he studies his two companions, swiftly ensuring their well-being and safety and expelling a sigh of relief at the tired smile gracing Mei's lips and the playful wink Daichi sends his way.

Good, neither of them had gotten hurt.

The small boy with the dark, purple locks seems to be in a good shape as well-- at least physically. The poor thing looks to be rather shocked, if a bit scared as his eyes frantically dart among the three, unfamiliar faces standing before him-- no, it's one eye that peeks through the curtain of messy, unkempt hair, Osamu notes briefly.

They need to be careful in their approach, seeing as his shoulders and skinny fingers are so violently aquiver. Osamu fears that if they were to act too much out of haste it would only mean disaster and--

"Don't look so scared, alright?!" Mei wobbles a few careless steps toward the speechless boy, glowing cheeks lifted cheerfully with her wide, toothy grin as she extends an arm with her thumb sticking up to form a thumbs-up in a peculiar means to appease him.

Osamu only sighs, ascending a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. He is already developing a migraine. There those clowns go again..

Strangely, however, Kokichi doesn't seem that distressed by the blonde girl's sudden outburst, only shrinking away slightly and examining her with an alarmed gaze, nose hidden behind his school bag as he cautiously glimpses over from behind it. The sound of his own trembling breathing is obnoxiously loud, makes him flinch away even as the inkling gently brushes against his ears.

Upon closer inspection, the fresh-faced blonde looks more like a woman than a girl as her golden tresses frame her high cheekbones and dangle over the brims of her shoulders, cherry lips spreading into a kind smile and holding a sense of odd childishness that manages to placate Kokichi's apprehension just a fraction.
Unfortunately, however, that does not last for long.

 

"Yeah!" Roars Daichi's deep voice, comes out jovial and blithe and accompanied by the bellow of a vociferous laugh that pierces through the air like an iron cannonball. He cards large, thick fingers through his slick, dark locks of hair, each of his steps booming and deafening as they manage to reach Kokichi with just three wades of his massive legs. "We're not the bad guys here! So don't worry!"

The older, bulky boy nods his head with a wide grin and sets his hands akimbo, leaning down slightly to meet Kokichi's cowering figure and quivering eyes-- blissfully unaware of the way he starts shaking like a leaf the moment Daichi's large form casts a shadow over his body, which was so miniscule and tiny in comparison.

An audible whimper abandons Kokichi's mouth and makes his mouth tremble with the sound, the entire expanse of his face having gone horribly pallid-- resembling the whitness of a sheet in hue as he stares up at the intimidating person before him with his eye broad and disbelieving in pure horrification.

Osamu makes to speak up and ease the tense aura that spread like the plague, but his voice dies at the back of his throat when Kokichi lets out a soft breath and slowly closes his weary eye, torso descending limply with a blur of motion and landing against the ground with a dull thud.

His thin arms slacken against the dry grass below when his fingers loosen their death grip from around his school bag, chest rising and calming along with his gentle breathing and expression placated and peaceful as his head lolls to the side. Purple locks spread around his skull like a halo of wildflowers, so dark in color they are almost black, twining with the fragile stems of tiny blossoms and unfurling in a messy bundle of inky violet.

It takes some time to realize just what had happened, surprisingly.

"Huh?! Daichi, what the frig, man?!"

"Did you.. did you just scare him to death, you troglodyte?!"

"H-Hey, I didn't fuckin' mean to! And he's not dead, he just passed out and-- how was I supposed to know he would just pass out if I talked?!"

"Hah! Y/n-chi's gonna have your friggin' head!"

"S-shut up, you--!"

"..Enough already, you two. Just take him to the car and we shall worry about it later. We can't stay here for long."

"Right away, Osamu-chi!"

"Y-yeah! You got it, boss!"

...

...

 

"... Damn moron."

"Hey! I told you I didn't fuckin'--!"

"Fufu! Daichi's a big poo-poo head who can't do anything right! If you keep being like this you'll drop him, too!"

"I FUCKING HATE THE BOTH OF YOU--"