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“Finished playing your game already?” Your roommate's teasing tone makes your eyes shoot open. For a moment, all you see is a mix of black and beige, vision clouding with sleep. 

 

You blink a few times. The beige ceiling meets you, reaching above your head. Rubbing your eyes, you stifle a yawn. “I finished the available chapters,” you correct. 

 

“Ah yes, of course, the awaited chapter 3. My apologies for forgetting.” They peer at you from the edge of the bed, leaning forward in their chair. 

 

Rolling to your side to face them, you roll your eyes. “I’m sorry you can’t enjoy good entertainment, Yuko.”

 

“I just don’t find playing a death game fun,” ‘Yuko’ refutes dryly. “Your Turn to Die, was it? Not very welcoming.”

 

“What were you expecting? It is a horror game.” They scoot closer to you on the chair, waving a hand in your face. “Wh- Hey- hey, stop that -”

 

You shoot up, back making a loud ‘crack’ sound. Wincing, ‘Yuko’ withdraws their hand. “Are you… are you okay?” 

 

Humming, you rest a hand on your cheek. “I’ll be fine,” you say. 

 

It’s getting late. You’re tired. There are classes tomorrow and god, you’re so tired

 

They frown. “If you’re trying to guilt-trip me into playing that game, it’s probably working,” ‘Yuko’ mumbles. 

 

“I’m not,” you insist. “Also, why don’t you just give the game a shot? You might like it, Yuko.”

 

“But,” ‘Yuko’ interjects, as usual, “it’s horrible to enjoy playing as someone in a death game of all things. What if it was you?”

 

You pat their cheek, voice quietly calm. “If I was in that situation, in that game, I wouldn’t enjoy it. I wouldn’t be scared, either.” When ‘Yuko’ opens their mouth, you state firmly. “That’s all there is to it.”

 

“Then what would you feel?” 

 

“Who knows? It’s just a game,” you muse. Eyes lidded, you cover your mouth with a hand, yawning again. 

 

“No- it really isn’t.” 

 

“Sorry, what?” You squint, trying to make out ‘Yuko’ from the blobs of colours mixing together. “I’m still half-asleep.” 

 

‘Yuko’ raises a hand, wrapping it around your elbow. Their body temperature is much warmer than yours. “Be careful now,” they murmur. “Don’t try to save everyone.” 

 

“Eh-” you blink, trying not to think too much of the slender fingers wrapped around your limb, warmth bleeding into your skin. “What are you…”

 

“Do you know what my name is?” The sudden change of topics is enough to give you whiplash. “Do you remember?” Their voice contains urgency as their grip on you tightens. 

 

You squeeze your eyes shut. Now you’re hallucinating, it seems. The walls are crumbling, falling apart into nothingness. 

 

“I call you ‘Yuko’ but-” your voice catches in your throat. Oh. Oh. That’s it, isn’t it? 

 

If you open your eyes, they might disappear. Just like the room around you, from existence to nothing at all. 

 

But the hand around your arm is real. Their voice is real. Your memories with them is real, because that’s all you know. 

 

They call your name. You can barely hear him over your own heartbeat. “Say it,” they whisper. “Say my name.” 

 

Your eyes shoot open, staring into jade ones. They burn into you, pleading, demanding that you go on without them. 

 

Choking on the words stuck in your throat, you reach over to their hand, fingers interlocking with theirs. It gives you courage you never had, never thought you needed. 

 

Taking in a shaky breath, squeezing a much larger, much warmer hand- 

 

“Sou Hiyori.”

 

The world cracks. It shatters, shakes, and falls apart into code and numbers you don’t understand. 

 

Congratulations , a robotic voice rings, you have passed the First Trial.

 

Chapter Text

Pressing your fingers against eyelids, you let out a hiss. God, what the fuck everything hurts . It feels like someone repeatedly bashed your head in with a pillow, which is just great.

 

Okay, you think dryly. Your sense of humour really went down over the years. 

 

“Hey. You alright?” 

 

The immediate response to that is a firm no , but you swallow down your words in favour of opening your eyes. 

 

Is that Keiji Shinogi? Why is your life like this.

 

You bite back hysterical laughter, since it’ll probably not be appreciated in this situation. “Just a headache,” you weakly reply. Under you sits a mattress. Above it is some kind of vent. Did you fall through that? 

 

“Here.” Looking up at Keiji blankly, you reflexively take the hand he offers. His grip is firm as it pulls you to your feet. “Up you go.” 

 

Giving him your thanks, he shakes his head, hand going up to his neck. Ah, there it is. The iconic sprite. 

 

Keiji gives one of his default smiles, nodding to the end of the hallway. “Shall we?” 

 

The gears in your head turns. “Ah- yeah. Okay.” It’s not like there was a reason to doubt Keiji, no matter how shady he is in-game. 

 

Other than the whole Megumi business. But you’ll open that jar of tragic backstories another day. 

 

He starts walking. You follow at a respectable distance behind him, mind turning over the current situation. Are you the last one? Has Sara woken up? 

 

Can you change everyone’s fates, if only a little? 

 

“Here we are,” Keiji declares. Your eyes fall onto a group of people, all familiar yet distant at the same time. Some of the cast aren’t here yet, you note. Particularly Sara and Joe. 

 

You exhale deeply, rubbing at your face. Looks like you’ll have to wait for the game to ‘begin’. 

 

This is going to be a long day. 

 

Chapter Text

Right, introductions. You resist the urge to either groan or bash your head against the wall. Both sound good. Maybe both. 

 

There are things that need to be done, like the stupid role cards (thanks for that, Q-taro, Shin ), finding Miley’s body parts (not at all creepy. at all), and Alice , among other things. 

 

If you have to call him Gonbee, you might just break down into hysterics or tears. It’s unclear which one it’ll be.

 

When Sara turns to you, you raise a hand to the lower part of your face, hiding it with a sleeve.

 

You decide against using your real name. Just in case, you reason. 

 

“Yuko,” you say the first name that comes to mind. “College student. Part-time worker."

 

Of course you pick that name you gave them. Of fucking course. 

 

Would it hurt you to be creative for once? 

 

Sara crosses her arms. “Do you remember how you got here?” By her side is Joe, who stares at you curiously, leaning forward with wide eyes. 

 

You turn your head to the side, frown in place. “I was leaving the library after work, but before I stepped outside, I fell asleep…”

 

Nodding, Sara’s eyebrows furrow, attention going to the final participant- Shin Tsukimi. When he introduces himself as Sou Hiyori, your frown deepens behind your sleeve. You make no implication to call him out. 

 

Gin makes a comment of Shin’s job-hopping, and banter ensues. The atmosphere is more lively than before. Until they start talking about First Trials, that is.

 

You suppress a wince, remembering the scene with Kanna in it. “Speaking of First Trials,” you start conversationally. Everyone’s attention shifts onto you. “Did anyone get anything?” 

 

Q-taro perks up, showing the yellow box he got during his First Trial. As expected, Sara goes to examine it, sticking a green-red key in one keyhole. Nao perks up, handing the high-schooler her own. It fits.

 

Unlike in-game, Kanna doesn’t pass out (good thing), but she shakes like a leaf, as if about to drop dead at any moment(bad thing). She managed to hand the key to Sara without issue. 

 

The box unlocks with all three keys. Keiji cautions Sara to stay back, opening the box. “Oh,” his eyebrows shoot up. Sara peeks over his shoulder, immediately leaning back at the sight. 

 

Ah, yes, a fake Miley’s head. 

 

You lean forward as Keiji holds it, eyes roaming around it. No matter how detailed the doll is, you’re an expert on corpses- they won’t trick you that easily. 

 

“It’s fake,” you declare. Keiji nods along to your statement, holding it up for the rest to see. 

 

“Like Yuko said. And there’s a note in the box, too.” His eyes scan the paper. “Assemble my body, for I have no limbs.” 

 

A ripple of unease spreads amongst the group. You take a step forward, wanting to examine the head. Maybe there’s a chip in it, like Rio Ranger’s- ahaha no .

 

But speaking of making progress in the game… 

 

Eyeing the high-school girl, you decide to leave the continuation to her. You have things to do, after all. 

 

“Let’s split up,” Keiji suggests. The group lets out murmurs of agreement, immediately going off into their own groups. Joe and Sara converse before the boy leaves. Shin then approaches the girl, smiling. 

 

Nao, Reko and Kanna stay where they are, conversing between them. That stays the sane in-game, at least. 

 

Your first location, huh? 

 

Well. You know where that is. 

 

Chapter Text

click click 

 

It’s rhythmic, a process that goes on undeterred. If one way doesn’t work, try the other. Keep going until you succeed. 

 

Or something like that. 

 

The first round of investigations have begun, and here you are, kneeling at a door and trying to unlock it with some tools (everyday objects- but you improvise) you found in your coat. You can’t believe these skills actually came to good use. 

 

Who knew you were going to pick locks in a death game? 

 

Footsteps behind you. Tilting, you incline your head to Sara and Shin. “Hey, don’t mind me. Just picking locks. Y’know, the usual.”

 

Shin stifles his laugh by coughing loudly. The protagonist, on the other hand, shakes her head, sighing. “Well, it’s worth a shot,” she mumbles. “Don’t let us stop you, then.”

 

click click click click

 

You smile, movements never stopping. “Alright then. Be careful, won’t you?” Features staying the same, a knowing glint enters your eyes. “Loud noises frighten cowards.” 

 

Opening her mouth, Sara’s about to question that before she closes it. Shaking her head, she sighs, world-weary. “I’ll keep that in mind,” the high-schooler instead says, which you think is fair.

 

“Good luck,” Shin calls out as they walk to the back of the cafeteria.

 

“You too!”

 

They’ll definitely need it, you muse. Especially for Russian Roulette. But that's all about thinking, right? Not actual luck? You're not quite sure. 

 

click click tak 

 

Well. At least you know Shin’s well-wishes work. 

 

Standing up, you stretch out your legs, pulling out the two sticks lodged in the keyhole. Grabbing the knob, you turn it. The door opens. 

 

It’s very… dark in the kitchen. Shadows creep and move as you slowly close the door behind you, locking it with a resounding ‘click’. 

 

This is what Nao experienced in-game? With her dead mentor’s head, no less. Resisting a shudder, you shake your head. Mishima won’t die this time- you’ll make sure of it. 

 

Frowning, you let your fingers follow the walls, until your leg hits something solid. A cupboard, most likely. 

 

You probably look ridiculous, reaching out in the dark to things that aren’t there. But you find something circular in your hand- a knob. Pulling it forward, something attached to the knob shifts.

 

Carefully, you stick your hand inside. Your fingers brush something hard. Is this the box with the kitchen knife? You pick it up, weighing it down in your hands.

 

If you bring it with you, it’ll affect the in-game investigation. But leaving the knife here is too dangerous- especially if Kai has the key to the kitchen. 

 

Your frown deepens as you try to shake off thoughts of slit wrists and abandoned hope. Not again. You won’t let it happen this time. 

 

Opening the box, you place the cover back into the drawer. Then carefully, you poke at the contents. 

 

Something cold and hard. Metal, you guess. Sliding your finger down, it hits a different material, which you guess is the handle. You wrap your hand around it, picking it up. 

 

It’s light. A common kitchen knife. 

 

Setting the empty box beside its cover, you close the drawer. Okay, so you have a sharp weapon now. Great. 

 

Miraculously, you didn't even cut yourself! Handling sharp objects in the dark was never on your bucket list, but you can cross that out now.

 

And obviously, what you do is stuff it into one of the many pockets in your lab coat instead of hiding it like a normal person. 

 

Whatever. You threw common sense away a long time ago. 

 

Inching towards the door, you pause when you hear footsteps. Two pairs, one louder than the other. Both pause in the cafeteria. 

 

“Oh hey, Miss Yuko isn’t here. You think they gave up?” 

 

“I don’t think they’re the type of person to.”

 

“Haha, you’re right, Miss Sara. Maybe they just went to get something easier to pick a lock with, or something. Who knows? We might see them around.”

 

The footsteps continue, then fade. Taking a deep breath, your eyes flutter shut, hand on the door knob to the exit. 

 

You don’t plan on telling them you managed to get in. If they find out, it’ll only work in your favour to be selected as one of the candidates in the Main Game. 

 

It’ll be okay, you tell yourself. 

 

When you open the door, the cafeteria is empty. 

 

Chapter Text

Watching Joe carry two doll limbs is like a splash of cold water to your face. 

 

Shit. How much time do you have left? You haven’t had enough time to smooth out the ‘mock Second Trial’, which isn’t good at all because it’s starting soon!-

 

Calm down. 

 

So what if there’s not enough time? You’ve never had any to work with, yet here you are. 

 

You can work with this. 

 

Turning on your heel, you walk towards the cafeteria, objective clear in mind. 

 

A pair of curious eyes follow your figure, thoughtfully contemplative.

 

Chapter Text

“Having fun with numbers?” You lean against the door, blocking the only exit in the room. Shin gapes at you. 

 

“Wha-” he splutters, before managing a single word, “ How ?”

 

That’s a good question, you think to yourself dryly. But is he expecting to hear about how you played a video game version of the most likely events in a program? Probably not. 

 

Instead, you casually fold your arms, knife pressing against your abdomen through the coat. If you’re being honest, you could handle Shin without it, wimpy bastard that he is. But precautions, precautions. 

 

“Should I report you to the others?” Your tone is light, as if making casual conversation. 

 

“The laptop,” he gestures. “It’s our only hope in escaping. Are you really planning to let it go just because I’m shady ?” His grin sharpens as he moves a hand towards you. “Pot, meet kettle.”

 

Raising an unimpressed eyebrow, you cock your head to the side. “I wonder,” you muse, voice as light as before, “Who the others will believe. You, the liar-” his gaze darkens. “-or me, a harmless kid.”

 

Shin frowns, closing the laptop. “What exactly am I lying about, Miss Yuko?” He speaks innocently, turning to face you. “Mind sharing?”

 

Time to bust out the waterworks and drama. Fun.

 

Channeling as much frustration as you can (from how difficult this is, how tiring and frustrating and god , why you? why is it you of all people, no one must die no one no one -), you clench your fists and hope you’re as good an actor as  they say you are. 

 

“Because you’re not them.” Your voice cracks and you meet his gaze with all the courage you can muster- that’s to say, very little. “You’re not my Sou Hiyori.”

 

He gapes, before plastering a smile on his face. Sweat rolls down his cheek, disappearing behind his scarf ( just like theirs , exactly the same design, colours, everything - ). 

 

You two stay silent, looking past each other’s fake smiles. A liar, you called him. Yet you’re also one by omission. What a great duo that makes.

 

“There are many Sou Hiyori’s, Miss Yuko,” Shin eventually says. “It could be a coincidence.” 

 

“When we’re in a Death Game?” Your voice is much softer, strikes much harder in the growing silence. “When you’re wearing an exact replica of their scarf?” He doesn’t meet your eyes. 

 

Deciding to deal the final blow (just in case, you tell yourself, squashing down the guilt. one can never be too safe.), you say, “Coincidence indeed, hm?” 

 

He flinches, nearly stumbling into a bookshelf. If this were any other situation, you would have laughed. But you know. Dramatic, tense scene and all that. 

 

You walk closer to the edge of the desk, placing a hand on the surface and trapping him between the wall and bookshelf. Shin crosses his arms defensively. 

 

A pause. 

 

Then, a sigh. “I know you have your reasons,” you eventually say. “So I won’t tell the others about it. Yet.” 

 

Shin hesitates, facade slipping slightly. “You have your reasons too, huh?” 

 

“Of course.” The answer comes naturally, as if it’s the most obvious thing. “So let’s work together, yeah?” 

 

He blinks. What. 

 

Covering a laugh, you wave a hand in his face. “Did you think I had no ulterior motives? I’m not that innocent, beanie.” The giggle you let out is chillingly sharp.

 

Shin shrugs, smiling. “I don’t know,” he drawls. “You seem pretty gullible. What would you know that I don’t?”

 

Leaning against the table, you seem almost amused . “Check the back of the door to the Pink Room. It’s…” Your head tilts away. “Well. I just want you to not sabotage anyone.”

 

“How honest,” Shin chuckles. “What makes you think I will?”

 

“Is there anything proving otherwise?” Shaking your head, you push yourself against the table, standing straight. “Just don’t start having homicidal thoughts too soon.” You shoot him a lazy smile, walking backwards to the door.

 

“... huh?” 

 

With a wave and that ambiguous statement, you leave the room. Hearing the door close behind you, you exhale sharply. 

 

This is a dangerous bet. Shin could betray you at any time, deciding that your information (blackmail) on him isn’t good enough. It’s suspicious to withhold so much, too. 

 

Eh, whatever. You’ll just wing it as you go.

 

Carpe diem and all that, right? Why not take it to heart?

 

Chapter Text

God, Miley looks just as pretty as in-game. That is to say, a grinning fairy (sadist) with very sharp teeth. 

 

But still good-looking. 

 

Miley hands a tablet to you. The malicious glint in her eyes makes you wary as you take it. “Ehehe,” she giggles, turning to the rest of the group. “Why don’t we test them out?”

 

Spreading her arms out dramatically, her voice raises in volume. “It’s time… for the Mock Second Trial!”

 

You make sure to stand beside Nao, Mishima on her other side. Alright, time to see if anyone dies. 

 

It might even be you, haha. 

 

Shin grins at you from across the room, eyes conveying his seriousness. He’s read it. Good. 

 

“Vote for anyone you want,” Miley cackles. “Let’s put those tablets to good use, shall we?”

 

Then, Mishima speaks softly to Nao. “Miss Nao, let’s vo-” 

 

Looking around faux-innocently, you say, “We should vote for ourselves, right?” Mishima quiets down, not finishing his sentence. One death flag gone, at least. 

 

Keiji nods. “That makes sense. Who knows what will happen?” 

 

Death, apparently. But okay.

 

Before they come to a safe conclusion, Miley grins, clapping her hands together. “It’s time,” she announces. “Vote for the person you’ve chosen!” 

 

Here goes nothing. 

 

Taking in a deep breath, you press the picture with your name on it, waiting for the results to be tallied. 

 

Loading… loading...!

 

“Well.” The doll sounds disappointed, looking at the results. “Ehehe, looks like no one has to die!” 

 

“‘Die’?” Keiji echoes, frowning. “What do you mean by that? This is just a Mock Trial, right?” 

 

Miley laughs some more. “I never said what would happen, did I?” Giggling some more, white gas fills the room again. “The Main Game begins soon enough- someone will have to die then! Don’t get your hopes up, okay?”

 

She’s gone when the gas clears the room. You blink, waving a hand in front of your face. That was… for lack of better wording, anti-climatic

 

“You’ll keep your end of the deal?” Shin mutters under his breath, finding his way towards you. He relaxes at your nod. “All things considered, this is a pretty good ending,” he continues conversationally. 

 

“I suppose so.” You tug at your sleeves, frowning. There’s always more to be done. Alice and the Red Room, the Second Floor, Shin being attacked for the laptop, etc. 

 

But if Nao isn’t hiding, will Kai launch the attack? Or will he do something else? He doesn’t have a knife, after all. God, this is so off-script and you’re completely unprepared for what bullshit is coming your way. 

 

“Miss Yuko…” Shin carefully considers the person standing in front of him. “You look like you’re about to cry.” 

 

“Releasing my emotions in a healthy way?” Helpless, you smile humorlessly. “Funny you would think that.” Wow. This really sucks. 

 

“Alright,” he says cautiously. “I know I’m in no position to judge, but if you ever want to rant…” Shin trails off, awkward. 

 

( he wouldn’t understand. ) 

 

“Thanks.” You roll your shoulders, hearing something ‘crack’ lightly. “Alright, time to… ruin my life and maybe overthrow the Death Game. Yeah. Yeah, sounds good.”

 

“O-okay. If you say so.” Shin still eyes you warily. “I’ll be… fucking up their programme, hopefully.”

 

“Good job,” you hum. “I’ll leave it to you then.” 

 

Shin nods, making his way out of the nearly-empty room. You frown, considering your options. Is warning him really worth it? 

 

“... beanie?” You call out softly. He instantly turns at the nickname, almost amused.

 

“Yeah, Miss Yuko?” 

 

“Ah, um.” You tug at your sleeves harder. “Stay safe,” you offer weakly. 

 

His lips quirk upwards. “I will.” 

 

Shin leaves and you nearly fall onto the floor right there and then. Why are you always so weak at being sincere? Why is it so hard? 

 

Life really sucks. 

 

You bite down a groan, aware of the other occupants (Keiji. he’s staring.) in the room. Not the time for an existential crisis. Maybe later. 

 

Are you aware that you’re pushing away your emotions? Yes, definitely. 

 

Are you going to do something about that? No. Hopefully, it’ll never catch up to you and you can keep at this for the rest of your life. 

 

Too bad that just won’t happen, will it? 

 

Chapter Text

“... Miss Yuko?” The voice is uncertain. You feel footsteps stop near you, but don’t bother to move. 

 

Instead, you let out a groan, muffled by the fact that you’re on the floor. There’s some shuffling above you, fabric brushing against your arm. 

 

“Are you alright?” What a nice guy. You lift your head up in response. Kai kneels beside you, eyebrows furrowing. “Do you want me to call Miss Sara here?”

 

“No. Just trying to release my emotions in a healthy way.” 

 

“Is it working?”

 

“... no,” you admit.

 

“Does that mean you’ll get off the ground now?” Kai’s lips curl downwards, worriedly gazing at you. 

 

“Maybe,” you muse. “Not a very high chance, though. It’s comfortable here.” The admission isn’t embarrassing and will probably never be. 

 

“On the floor?” He questions.

 

“Yes.” You smile, rolling on your back. Eyeing the home-maker thoughtly, you add on, “Would you like to join me?”

 

“It seems quite unhygienic,” Kai comments. 

 

Humming, you look to the ceiling. “Why did you come here?” 

 

“To check on you, of course.”

 

Your eyes trail away from the walls, looking at the male. Sure, it’s dangerous to confront him like this, but what other choice do you have?

 

And so, you say, “Don’t you want to ask me something?” His eyes widen. For a moment, his calm facade falls away. 

 

Kai quickly wears it again. Putting his ladle to his chin in mock-consideration, he asks, “What do you mean, Miss Yuko?” 

 

Closing your eyes, you come to a decision. It’s bold, but you’ll take your chances. “I’m willing to answer your questions,” you begin, re-opening your eyes. “For a price, that is. Nothing more or less.”

 

The male is silent. He takes a seat next to you, never making eye contact. Voice soft, he asks with the smooth practice of an assassin. 

 

“What price?”

 

“The Sacrifice Card.” Your smile sharpens, much like a certain Floor Master. “Do we have a deal?” 

 

“Of course.” 

 

In other words, you’re screwed. But what’s new, right? 

 

Chapter Text

“I’m frustrated,” is the first thing you say when you enter the Hidden Room, slumping beside the desk. 

 

Shin raises an eyebrow at you. “What happened?” Closing the laptop (to conserve battery. not to pay attention to you or anything. you’re just strangers. why would he?), he sits on the ground, cross-legged. 

 

“So many things.” You pause, reconsidering the statement. “ Too many things, actually. Am I trying too hard?” 

 

“Depends.” Shin shrugs. “What are you trying to do?” 

 

Trying to save all of you from potentially dying, you almost say dryly. But of course, you can’t say that. 

 

“I’m not sure,” you hesitantly reply. “My best? I just...” 

 

(  just want to go home just want to not be here just want to see them again. ) 

 

He pauses, thinking about his reply. “Y’know,” he starts. You look at him. “At first, I thought that you were a hurricane. Going off on your own, being... hm. Doing weird stuff. That kind of person.” 

 

Then he looks at you, the tired college student, and sees past that. “But you’re just a kid,” Shin says softly. “So many of you are.” 

 

You shrug, pulling the lab coat closer around you. “I’m not a kid. I haven’t been since-” You struggle to find the words. “-since my Sou died. Since he was killed by-” Inhaling sharply, you burrow yourself into a sea of lab coat sleeves.

 

Shin looks at you with wide eyes. He mouths that word over and over again. 

 

Killed. 

 

By another participant, no less. Not that he needed to know yet. Just yet. 

 

( why can’t you get over it? people die, life goes on, but you can’t just forget them because you- because you’re- 

 

you thought you were doing better. ) 

 

Raising your head, you’re surprised to find that no tears have made their way out. You take a deep breath. Another. “I have to go.”

 

Shin reaches out his hand, but pauses. “So soon?” He asks, unsure. “You should rest for a bit.” 

 

“No time,” you refute. “Never enough time.” With that being said, you stand, brushing off dust. “I need to go,” you state firmly. “Something’s going to happen soon.” 

 

“‘Something’,” he echoes. “But what?” 

 

You shoot him a tired smile, walking around the desk to tower over him. Instead of saying anything like a normal person, you bend over, opening the laptop. Shin gapes up at you, suspiciously red. 

 

“What are you-” he splutters. Choosing to ignore him, you turn on the laptop, typing in the password. It’s correct. Sighing, you push yourself off the table, taking a few steps back. 

 

“It’s open,” you announce. Shin stares harder.

 

“How-” 

 

“Lucky guess.” Your eyes twinkle with thinly veiled amusement. “Maybe.” 

 

( fake ) 

 

He sees, but says nothing, closing his eyes. “Fine, fine. I guess you’ve got to have some secrets.” 

 

“As do you.” 

 

“Obviously.” Shin cracks a smile, turning away. “Gonna stop kabe-don-ing me?” 

 

“Maybe not,” you muse. “You look cute from up here, beanie. Have you considered a career in modelling?” 

 

“Ack-” his ears grow a dark red. “Are you… flirting with me?” You pick up disbelief from his tone, along with hints of embarrassment. 

 

“Don’t like it?” You teasingly reply instead of answering his questions. 

 

“That’s not the point.” 

 

“What is, then?” 

 

“I- ugh , you’re unbearable.” 

 

“But you like it.” 

 

“No, I- absolutely not -!” 

 

A laugh, not quite fake or real but there all the same. “Yes, yes, whatever you say, beanie.” 

 

He pulls his beanie down to hide his face, whacking at your legs. “Miss Yuko,” he whines. (Shin denies it afterwards, face flushed. it’s obviously a whine.)

 

Yeah, you could get used to this. 

 

Chapter Text

While you’re off doing whatever a suspicious person like you does (interacting with other suspicious people. namely, Shin.), Sara goes to the Red Room, finding an unconscious Alice in a locker. He’s the person who killed Sou, you belatedly think. It’s not a nice thought. 

 

( he killed them he killed them he killed them-! 

 

why can’t he die too? )

 

You cough into your sleeve, waving away the thought. The lack of sleep is really getting to you. Maybe if you ask nicely, you can smash an alcohol bottle over Alice’s head. 

 

Okay, no. 

 

( it doesn’t matter if he had a reason. it doesn’t matter because they’re dead they’re gone you'll  never see them again and it’s all his fault. )

 

“Let’s tie him up,” Sara suggests. Keiji nods approvingly, telling the duo to leave it to him. 

 

That being said, Sara leaves to investigate more. Joe loiters behind, watching the ex-detective tie up Alice with some kind of binding. You bite down the urge to make an inappropriate joke. Not the time or place.

 

“So, um- Yuko?” Joe places his hands on his hips, leaning forward. 

 

“I have been called that,” you say ambiguously because that’s not at all ominous. Crossing your arms, you lean against the wall, eyeing the unconscious body on the floor. “Is there something you need?”

 

Joe shakes his head, relaxing his arms. “I just wanted to talk to you, is all.”

 

Ha. That isn’t bad. Not at all. 

 

“Sure.” You force yourself to relax. As long as you answer in a roundabout way, it won’t necessarily be a lie. It’ll be fine- this is Joe, after all. 

 

The male looks at Alice warily before turning back. He clears his throat. “Are you studying to be a doctor?” 

 

More like a doctor for the dead, but he doesn’t need to know that. Your eyes light up, amused. “It’s something similar,” you share. “Why do you think that?”

 

He shifts his feet. “Your coat. And when you were examining Miley’s... er, doll body, you held yourself a lot better than Keiji, so…” 

 

What the hell does ‘hold yourself better’ mean? Especially when it's in comparison to Keiji? 

 

You decide to not comment on that. For your mental health. “I’m used to checking on bodies,” you say. It’s not exactly wrong. 

 

Just dead ones.

 

“Oh, okay then!” Joe grins, nearly blinding you in the process. “Good to know there’s someone we can go to,” he adds, because he’s nice that way. 

 

Even though you knew how puppy-like the boy was in-game, you did not expect that. 

 

Hiding your lower face with a sleeve, you nod, averting your eyes. “No problem.”

 

He grins again. “Right. I’m gonna go find Sara now, so-” the smile falters when a glance is thrown in Keiji’s direction. Looks like in-game or no, the boy’s suspicious of Keiji. “-stay safe.”

 

Stay safe. 

 

Haven’t you heard those words before? 

 

“Yeah,” you say quietly. “I will.” 

 

Throwing a wave in your direction, he leaves the Pink Room. For a moment, you feel hands wrapped around your elbow, in your hand, and it still feels warm and familiar and you can’t help but be reminded of- 

 

Shutting your eyes, you will the memories away. You can’t afford to break now. 

 

When you open them, you meet Keiji’s inquisitive gaze. He smirks playfully, kneeled over Alice. “Tired?” 

 

A breathy chuckle escapes you. “Wouldn’t you know, old man?” Going to squat beside Keiji, you poke at Alice’s forehead. He shifts but doesn’t wake up. 

 

“Respect your seniors,” Keiji grumbles. 

 

“Are you deserving of my respect?” Your smile turns sharper. Keiji eyes you with what can only be wariness, which really isn’t a good thing. “What should we do with the body?” 

 

“You do realise it’s still alive, right?” He plasters on a fake smile, shaking his head. “He’s not dead.” 

 

“Still a body,” you shrug. “Do you want to carry it to the bar?” 

 

“That’s a long way.” Keiji chuckles, rubbing his neck. “Can you take it?”

 

“Is that worry I hear?” You move to grab Alice’s ankles. Keiji makes a show of scooping under the prisoner’s elbows, pulling him up. “I’m more afraid of your back breaking, really.”

 

“We’ll see,” he says, being that much of an asshole. You really hope that he doesn’t get hurt- you’d have to check on him as the only one with actual medical experience. 

 

Alice sure is heavy. What does he eat in prison? 

 

Keiji grunts, walking backwards with body in tow. “This is going to take a while. Maybe I should just carry him.”

 

“Is this too troublesome for you?” 

 

“... yeah,” he answers warily. “I don’t think I like the look in your eyes.”

 

“Let’s keep going,” you suggest, completely ignoring Keiji’s last comment.

 

The detective groans. “It’s always the quiet ones,” he grumbles. 

 

It’s been a long day. You’re helping an ex-detective carry the unconscious body of a prisoner (murderer). Also, you’re stuck in a death game, which most people seem to forget. 

 

At least you haven’t curled up on the floor and started crying. That’s a big plus. 

 

Even though you’ve already fulfilled at least half of that statement. 

 

“Hey, medic. You know that might twist his foot the wrong way, right?” He raises an eyebrow, lips quirking upwards.

 

Okay, scratch that- you’re very close to doing it. So, so close. 

 

“I don’t care,” you state matter-of-factly. 

 

And frankly? You really didn’t.

 

Chapter Text

“Yuko!” The voice, panicked, followed by quick footsteps. When you turn, Sara’s eyes are wide, laced with worry and trepidation.

 

“Sou. He was- someone attacked him. Can you go check on his injuries?” Worry, but not for Shin. For the laptop. Maybe even about a potential threat to the group.

 

Ah. It’s that time already? 

 

Nodding, you follow Sara to the cafeteria. Shin sits in one of the chairs, half of his body stretched across a table like a glorified cat. Keiji hovers beside him at a respectable distance. 

 

“Hey. Are you dead?” 

 

Looking at you as you place yourself on the table beside him, Shin stares at you, face blank. A moment later, he replies. “Obviously not. I sure feel like it, though.” 

 

You wave a hand dismissively. “Do you remember what happened?” 

 

“No. I… I think I blacked out.” Shin raises his head, only to groan and rest on the table again. “My head is killing me,” he whines not for the first time. 

 

“It’s just a concussion,” you reply. “And since you have enough energy to complain, it’s probably a minor one.” 

 

Pulling off his beanie, you place it on the side to run your fingers through his hair. Brushing past the bump at the back elicits another groan from Shin. Kai really doesn’t hold back, does he? 

 

“The only thing he can do now is rest,” you tell the detective duo. Sara clutches her hands together worriedly, with Keiji looking a bit calmer. 

 

“Is there anything we can do to help?” 

 

A pause as you try to rack up on your brief knowledge of living people’s injuries. “Something cold. Like an ice pack, maybe. There isn’t any medicine so I can’t do much…” 

 

“No,” Sara says firmly. “It’s good that we have you here, Yuko.” Her charisma and bright ideals almost makes you believe her words. 

 

Fingers still running through Shin’s hair, you look down at the half-conscious male. You could have stopped Kai. Even if he took the laptop, no one had to get hurt. 

 

But you didn’t. That’s your choice. 

 

“Don’t try to find the attacker,” you eventually say. “Not now, at least.” Clarifying at Keiji’s doubtful gaze, you continue on. “It’s easier to check everyone’s alibi if we’re assembled together, instead of going around everywhere.” 

 

“Like you do?” You scoff, sticking your tongue out at the male.

 

“That’s my decision, Keiji.” 

 

You go silent as Shin makes a stifled sound, fingers treading in teal hair. Soft but messy. It’s familiar. Comforting, if you dare say. 

 

The look on your face makes Keiji swallow his words, though you’re not exactly sure what he sees. 

 

“I’ll stay with him,” you tell them. “So please don’t worry too much.” 

 

Sara nods, though haltingly. “... okay. We’ll come by later if we find anything.” 

 

“That would be appreciated.” 

 

As their backs fade away, you turn to the kitchen, sighing. It seems as if Kai made his choice. He had already made it, despite what you told him. 

 

Soon, they will all have to make a choice. 

 

The kitchen door opens, with someone stepping into the room. He looks at Shin with a blank face, along with eyes that whisper hundreds of apologies, but will never be enough. 

 

When he walks up to you and slides something across the table, you know then. 

 

“Your payment, Miss Yuko.” Eyeing the item, you pick it up to inspect it. Somehow, it isn’t as ominous as everyone else in-game made it to be. There’s no despair, no regret to be found. 

 

“I’ll accept it, Kai. Thank you.” 

 

Since you’ve made your choice, it’s only right to stick to it. 

 

You stare. The Sacrifice Card stares back. 

 

No turning back now, huh?

 

Chapter Text

“My name is… G-Gonbee. Gonbee Yamada.” Alice looks away, clutching his shirt nervously. The chains around his wrists rattle with each movement. 

 

You bite back the comment on your tongue, looking away. (do something do something that will make him regret make him suffer make him atone- ) Shin stands a bit further away from you, stifling laughter. 

 

At the fake name or half-assed lies, you’re not sure. Probably a bit of both. 

 

“Some old-fashioned name,” Q-taro comments. 

 

“Like you’re any better, Cubetaro Burgerburg!” The prisoner’s retort makes Shin snort, shoulders hunching over. He leans against a bar table, wheezing. You roll your eyes. 

 

“Why you-” Keiji interrupts the duo of comedic fools. 

 

“Okay, okay.” And just when some people were expecting him to finally be the policeman he claims to be, Keiji turns to the high-school girl. “He’s all yours, Sara.” 

 

From aside, Reko groans, muttering something about cowards. Nao pats her back sympathetically and- 

 

Oh yeah. Almost forgot Mishima’s still alive. Shocker. 

 

Interrogation going on, you try your best not to look at Alice directly. It just doesn’t seem right, looking at… 

 

No. You told yourself that everyone would escape. And helping everyone escape includes Alice, even if he’ll just go back to prison. 

 

( he doesn’t deserve such mercy. he needs more punishment. more.

 

“What’s your occupation?” Sara manages to break Alice’s shell with a bit of coaxing.

 

“I…” Alice smirks. “I am a salaryman.” You watch as Shin double over, near-hysterical laughter escaping from underneath his scarf. Even you have to admit it’s kinda funny. 

 

Sara raises an unimpressed eyebrow. “In that kind of clothing? You look more like a prisoner,” she dully points out. 

 

Comedy act in Death Game. Hilarious.

 

“Wh-! I’ll have you know that the prison uniforms have horizontal lines and not vertical ones!” He huffs indignantly, bright-coloured hair swaying as he shakes his head. A pause. “You tricked me!” 

 

Alice’s voice is so shrill and betrayed that you cough into your sleeve, hiding a smile. What are you? A sadist? God- 

 

“Surely everyone has perma-borrowed a few too many video games before?”

 

But surely, not everyone has killed someone before? Excluding maybe Keiji? 

 

Thinking back on it, this is really messed up. 

 

Wait. Did you just realise that? You’re in a Death Game for goodness’ sake. 

 

You tune back into the conversation, unwilling to deal with whatever bullshit your brain comes up with. 

 

“I thought to myself, ‘yikes! A big yikes…! Indeed.’” Alice nods, as if what he said made all the sense in the world. But really, it’s just making Shin laugh (and presumably suffocate) into his scarf. 

 

Then, they talk about the Russian Roulette. Speaking of which, does Sara still have that gun? It disappeared in-game after Chapter One Part One, if you remember correctly. 

 

“So this misunderstanding was caused… by my own ingenius self?” Alice gapes, before shaking his head. 

 

“Uh, yeah.” Joe blinks, leaning forward. “Sure.” 

 

Your life is one big joke and you’re the punchline. 

 

“I see.” He nods, before his eyes shoot upon, swinging his bound wrists out. “Now, untie me!” 

 

Wow, and you thought you were the dramatic one. You rub your temple against the soft material of your sleeve. “And why should we? You seem like you’ll be more of a nuisance than a help.” 

 

Alice looks at you, eyes widening. “You’re-!”

 

Tilting your head sideways, you smile absently. “I’m?” By prompting him to continue, you watch as he falls apart. 

 

“Y-you’re… uh, you’re a- a doctor! That’s right,” Alice shakes his head, fists clenching. “I’m terrified of doctors! So please…” 

 

( please don’t tell anyone. ) 

 

“Okay,” you raise your hands up lazily, in mock surrender. “If you say so.” 

 

Alice sighs as you take a few steps back, standing beside Kanna. You don’t miss the way Reko narrows her eyes at you. Suspicious already? Hm.

 

Turning to the rest, you fold your arms. “Should we untie him?” 

 

Joe startles into motion, going up beside you. He bends down to untie Alice’s bindings, ignoring the group’s startled gazes. You step away to give him space, leaning against the bar counter. Alice himself looks pretty surprised, actually. 

 

Even though you knew this would happen in-game, it’s quite annoying. It’ll be harder to find him since he’ll wander around, too. 

 

The two of you need to have a talk, after all. 

 

A very long one. 

 

But you’ll save it for later. 

 

Chapter Text

Now that Alice (no. no. don’t think about him. about them . just don’t.) is free, it means that the Main Game draws closer. The Second Floor is already open too. 

 

Things are going to get messier. You let out a sigh at that thought. Boy, do you miss college life.

 

The loans, the long lessons and tiring internship, the empty house you always find yourself going back to no matter how much you hated it for its suffocating silence and haunted memories...

 

Yep. Worlds better than whatever this is. 

 

“Oho! So you’ve finally come.” The painting moves, dramatically gesturing in the limitations of the portrait.  You blink. So this is Meister? 

 

Huh. 

 

“Were you… waiting for me?” Leaning against the armrest of the nearest chair, you make sure not to look at the - ahem - other aspect of the room. 

 

“Am I? Or were you waiting for me?” He tips his hat at you, mock-bowing. “How are you enjoying the little gifts, by the way?” 

 

“‘Gifts’,” you echo. “Surely you don’t mean the doll?” Finally turning to face it, you eye the doll that was modelled exactly like you. Lifeless, unmoving, a corpse in all aspects if one ignores how wrong it all is. 

 

It’s beautiful. Not that you would ever admit it. 

 

“That too, I guess.” Meister adjusts his fedora, pulling out a pipe to place in his non-existent mouth. What bothers you is that the tip of the pipe does disappear. “But it’s fun, isn’t it? To know the future?” 

 

“We consider enjoyment quite differently,” you reply dryly. “And it’s only one of the supposed futures that might happen.” 

 

“But the most likely, no?” Meister, if he could, grins, spreading his arms out openly. “Make things interesting, and we’ll spare the other participants.”

 

Linking your hands together, you sigh softly. “Everyone except for me, huh?” 

 

“Don’t worry too much! We’ll preserve your corpse just how you like them.” The painting laughs, finding something -you don’t know what- funny. “As an incentive. Turn around!” 

 

“I already saw the doll.” You turn anyways, because fuck it, you’re talking to a painting so why not, right? 

 

“No, no, you’re looking the wrong way!” Meister, akin to a child, points upwards. “Over there!” 

 

You let your eyes trail to the ceiling. Nothing. There’s nothing there? When you’re about to turn back to Meister- 

 

bam

 

A part of the ceiling opens up, allowing something to fall out. 

 

“... oh.” 

 

Entangled in wires attached to the ceiling, the body lies in mid-air so gracefully and still that you- you’re- 

 

They look at you through hazy green eyes, a perfect replica of the person you knew (know. still know.) But it isn’t them . You’ve seen their real body, hair matted with dry blood, face stained with tear tracks, chest caved in from force and this isn’t them. it isn’t it isn’t it- 

 

“Do you like it?” He laughs, so carefree and void of the guilt and hopelessness that comes with death. 

 

“I-” Your voice cracks. It looks like them, exactly the same. Even if it isn’t them, it’s just like them and you can’t look away . “I hate you ,” the shadow of yourself whispers, to the memories of the dead and to the dead themselves.

 

You’re not sure who exactly it’s meant for, but you spit the words out all the same. Meister seems even more amused. “Finally showing some real emotion, hm? It looks good on you,” he laughs, calling you by that name. 

 

“It’s Yuko,” you grit out. “I go by Yuko now.” 

 

“Of course you do,” he replies easily. “I’m surprised you’re still holding on to something so… sentimental. Your other A.I was never like that.” 

 

Even if fake, they still look the same. It hurts, seeing shadows of what you know has been lost. 

 

Of what you know will never come back, because things can’t go back to how they used to be. You know that the most, wished for it to not be true the hardest. And yet. 

 

“Well, you know what your price is.” Meister turns the pipe in one hand, eyeing it in good taste. “As you always do,” he acknowledges. “So do your best, ‘Yuko’. Or you’ll die otherwise.” 

 

What is death to someone who has no reason to live? Bitterly, you can’t help but think this way. 

 

Then again, you need to save everyone, that’s why…

 

That’s why you’re doing this, right? So you need to- to- 

 

You close your eyes, not taking in the still mockery of a body, or the stunted movement of a painting, or the memories that come one at a time, as if to haunt you until your last breath. 

 

If you live without going forward, it’s the same as dying. 

 

And in a way, you already are, aren’t you?

 

Chapter Text

There are ghosts following you. Not real ones, you’re sure- merely figments of an overused imagination, a guilty conscience, that sort of thing. 

 

But there is always one, much brighter than the others. They smile softly, warmly, so fondly reminiscent of home. You think that they’re the most painful one of them all, because they never did anything wrong. 

 

Even if you cursed them, cried, screamed and shouted and begged for them to leave, they stay, smiling so fondly, reaching out to hold your hand. 

 

Even if they can't touch you, they try anyways. Time after time after time, and yet you're always so scared of it, of them reaching out. Because on the off-chance they made contact with you, you're afraid of them letting go again. 

 

( When their hand brushes through yours, merely a ghost and fragment of the person you know, you can't help but feel disappointed and relieved at the same time. )

 

Your ghosts come in many different shapes and forms. Some are from the corpses you see at work, others are from those you left behind in your own selfishness. 

 

Theirs are from a better time, when you two were happier. Breathing so softly, they might not be breathing at all. And maybe they aren’t. Or can’t. 

 

( “Hiyori!” You take their hand in yours, smiling wistfully. They smile back. “I-” 

 

You can’t remember what you say. Maybe you don't want to. Or are you just afraid of their reply?

 

Maybe it’s better if they don’t. 

 

Chapter Text

“Hey! Yuko, wait up!” Footsteps follow after. 

 

You turn to face the speaker, who jogs to catch up with you. “Hello,” you greet. “Do you need something, Reko?” In all actuality, you knew that she would confront you sooner or later about Alice. 

 

Still didn’t make it any less troublesome, though. 

 

“Nah, I just wanted to check on you is all.” Reko waves a gloved hand, eyes flickering from side to side. “How about we go around together? To the Second Floor,” she suggests. 

 

Unable to find a reason (excuse) to decline, you nod. The musician smiles, albeit tense, walking towards the stairs. You follow. 

 

Reko, you note dully, has firm footsteps. Not heavy ones like Q-taro, but ones filled with self-confidence and experience, much like every other empowered female you’ve come across. 

 

It’s kind of nice. Certainly better than your erratic mannerisms and soundless footsteps. She has an air that remains unyielding, yet so, so kind

 

Abruptly, you’re reminded of another with a familiar presence. 

 

Not a very good way to spend your day. Especially when you’re thinking of dead people. 

 

“So,” Reko begins conversationally. “That prisoner guy, Gonbee , was pretty weird.” Straight to the point, huh?

 

“In a way.” Carefully, you choose your words. “He was. I can see why he’s lying about his identity, but his attitude isn’t doing anything to help his situation.” 

 

“... what?” Reko blinks. “H-he’s still lying?” Her voice nearly reaches the higher octave- a feat that deeply impresses you. “What makes you say that?” 

 

You, faux-innocent asshole that you are, frown. “Oh, did I say that? I think I meant ‘he was’.” 

 

Reko turns, stopping at the bottom of the stairs. She swallows. “Y-yeah, that makes sense. But y’know…” The musician pauses. “The two of you seemed to know each other.” 

 

Smiling briefly, you shrug. “Do we?” 

 

Taking the silence as an answer, you walk up the stairs past her. “Come on,” you call out, halfway up. “Aren’t we supposed to search?” 

 

With your words, Reko snaps out of her dazed state, continuing up the stairs. 

 

“But do you, though? Know each other, I mean.” 

 

“Do you?” 

 

“...” 

 

After the two of you get to the top, you turn to her, more serious than playful. “Reko.” 

 

She jumps at your bland tone. “What’s up?” Clenching her fist into the rock-on sign, she gestures you to continue. 

 

“I don’t think Gonbee’s a bad person,” you admit. It’s hard- you hate to say it, but it’s the truth. “Sure, he might have done some… stuff before this, but he means well.” 

 

( but he still killed them, didn’t he? by his own hands. 

 

even if you say this and that, it doesn’t change the facts. his actions cannot be undone. he has to live with the consequences and guilt bearing down on him. forever. 

 

just like you. 

 

and yet, if you can’t move on, isn’t it as good as being dead? ) 

 

“You think so?” Reko’s voice is harsh, her eyes colder. “But you barely know him. How can you say that?” 

 

Turning to the four doors and what lies beyond bars, you quietly reply. “What do you think about him, then? You’re his sister, after all.” 

 

“I-” She, in a state of shock, takes a step back, foot slipping on the edge of the stairs. 

 

When you reach out to take her hand and pull her back, the two of you stumble, collapsing in a heap on the floor. Reko scoffs, rolling on her back. “You…” She hesitates. “You saved me.” 

 

Mimicking her, you eye the ceiling thoughtfully and- hey, wait, didn’t this happen before? Talk about deja vu. 

 

Absently, you rub at a forming bruise on your elbow. “I guess so. What about it?” Saving everyone is what you’ve been doing for the past few hours. Is this a new hobby? You don’t really like it that much. 

 

“You know about… Alice, too.” She turns her head, critically examining you. “How?” 

 

Not even batting an eye, you wave a hand dismissively. “Alice and I know each other, somewhat.” By association of a dead person. 

 

Same thing. 

 

“Then you know about-” Reko sighs, rubbing at her cheeks harshly. Her makeup smudges slightly, but not obvious enough to point out. “So you know he’s lying about his identity.” 

 

“Yep.” 

 

“And you know we’re blood-related.” 

 

“Mhm-hm.” 

 

And you were teasing me about it?” 

 

“Not how I would phrase it, but essentially, yes.” 

 

Reko gapes. “Yuko, you ass ,” she says in a shrill voice. “I was going to have a fucking heart attack with all the stuff you were saying.” 

 

“But you didn’t,” you quip. “So it’s all good, yeah?” 

 

“That’s-” Reko pauses, then sighs. “Alright, fine. Just promise that you won't tell anyone about it?” 

 

“For now.” 

 

“... for now.” She reluctantly agrees, sitting up. “But how exactly did you two-” 

 

A door opens behind them, followed by two pairs of footsteps. One stops. “Ah,” a deep voice says, smoothed with dry amusement. “What’s this?”

 

“Hi, Keiji,” you greet without turning. There goes their possible respectable image of you. 

 

You contemplate throwing yourself off the stairs. It’s very enticing and the stairs are just so shiny. What if, right? 

 

Noo, don’t kill yourself you’re so sexy haha. 

 

“Why are you two on the floor?” Sara frowns, visibly concerned. Did you just make your junior of like, four years, worry about you? 

 

“Problem children,” you say instead, grinning unabashed. “We’re problem children.”

 

Reko groans. “Stop pretending to be such an over-enthusiastic villain,” she grumbles good-naturedly. “We all know you’re a good kid.” 

 

That causes you to splutter, the first time anyone has seen you visibly… well, disconcerted. Other than maybe Shin. 

 

“I’m not- that isn’t-” you make a frustrated sound, hiding your face behind your sleeve. “What does that mean .” 

 

“Oh,” Sara mutters, much too softly for you to hear. 

 

Keiji chuckles. “Oh, indeed.” 

 

“What,” you say flatly. 

 

“You’re quite easily flustered, aren’t you?” The ex-detective’s voice raises your hackles, with that idiotically smug tone and grin you know is there. 

 

“No. Shut up. I’m not flustered, just in an extreme state of denial.” He snickers. “I’m really not .”

 

A hand pats your shoulder comfortingly. “Okay, lighten up with the teasing.” Reko is undoubtedly your saviour, nearly falling down stairs be damned. “Did you find anything in those rooms?”

 

Sara, ever the serious role model, nods. You peek out of your sleeve to look. Her hair looks weird when you’re looking at it upside-down. 

 

“There’s a puzzle, but it looks like we’re missing something, so we’re going to check the First Floor in case something new appeared.” 

 

“Check the room with the weird picture,” you suggest. “I think there was a doll look-alike the last time I was there.” 

 

“... doll?” Sara, unnerved, shifts her weight onto her other foot. “What doll?” 

 

Ah. Since Kanna never needed a change of clothes, her doll didn't appear. 

 

Inhaling, you push yourself up, hit with a small bout of vertigo. You press a hand to your forehead. “Doll look-alike,” you repeat. “It’s pretty realistic, with the clothes and everything.” 

 

( they looked realistic too, didn’t they? 

 

that doll. )

 

When you turn to look at them, Keiji’s eyebrow is raised. “Huh.” Rubbing at his neck, he grins wryly. “That sounds promising. Why don’t we go check it out, Sara?”

 

The girl nods, which motions you and Reko to move, opening a path leading down the stairs. “Thanks for the tip.” Sara turns to you, smiling slightly. Wow, she’s so nice. 

 

And speaking of which, you can’t really remember the last time someone thanked you. Which is just great, because fuck human courtesy. 

 

“No problem,” you manage to say. Are you blushing again? You probably are. 

 

Keiji, bara arms, whatever people call him, has the biggest shit-eating grin you’ve seen from him yet. “Well, little miss adrenaline junkie’s finally falling in love,” he teases. 

 

“Get out.” 

 

“You got it.” No. You really didn't. With that being said, Keiji and Sara descend, leaving the Second Floor to become yours and Reko’s hangout place. 

 

Reko, observing you, says, “I can see why they keep teasing you- your reactions are fun.” 

 

They’re really not, you despair. 

 

Suddenly, the idea of having high blood pressure doesn’t seem that far away now.

Chapter Text

( “It’s raining sakura petals,” you muse. They chuckle in response, bringing a hand out. 

 

“Really? I couldn’t tell.” Playfully, you tug at their scarf. “Ow.” 

 

“You know…” Grinning, you lean nearer to them conspiratorially, voice lowering. “If you catch a sakura petal, your wish will come true.” 

 

“Hm. Is that so?” Looking up thoughtfully, they send you a cheeky grin. “Shall we try it?” 

 

Unbidden, you return the smile. “Of course.”

 

“You look sad, meow.” Gin stands before you, hugging his cat plush. Tilting your head to the side, you feel it brush against the wall. 

 

“And what makes you say that?” 

 

“Woof. Because you look happy at the same time,” he says. 

 

“Do I?” Your eyes close. “Well, I was thinking of something nice, so I guess that’s it.” 

 

Gin sits cross-legged in front of you, eyebrows knitted together. “If it’s a good memory, then why are you sad?” 

 

“Happy stuff makes people upset, I suppose.” You straighten your posture. “It reminds them of what used to be… and what can never be again.” 

 

“So you’re living in the past, meow?” Gin blinks at you, wide-eyed yet strangely understanding. 

 

You smile softly. “I hope I’m not. But it’s easy to slip back into the past. Things were-” better? Easier? No, not those. “- happier, back then.” 

 

The male shuffles closer, leaning forward. “Are you happy now?” 

 

“Not really,” you admit. It’s surprising, how easy it is to tell the truth to one who asks. “Not as happy as I could have been.” 

 

Gin stays silent, before coming to a decision. He pushes his plushie into your hands, making you blink in surprise. “You can give it back to me later, meow,” he declares. “But you need it more than I do, so…” 

 

You look down at the smiley face stitched into the toy. Then softly, you speak. “Gin’s really mature, huh?” 

 

He puffs out his chest. “Of course I am, woof!” 

 

“Thank you, then.” 

 

Nodding, the male lightly taps your knee with a gloved hand. “That’s my favourite, so treat it well, and it’ll treat you just as good, meow! So rest up, big sis Yuko.” 

 

“I… I’ll try.”

 

Leaning forward, he narrows his eyes in an imitation of Joe. “You better! Big sis Sara and big bro Joe are really worried, you know, woof?” 

 

“Are they? I’ll have to go thank them later, then.” You muse to yourself, squeezing the plush in your grasp. It’s soft and oddly reassuring. How strange. 

 

“But you gotta rest first, okay? Don’t push yourself too hard, meow.” 

 

“If you say so.” You smile, hugging the plush. “I’m sure I’ll rest well with your plush with me.” 

 

“Good!” 

 

You really are surrounded by kind people, aren’t you? 

 

( Calling out to you, they open their palm. In it laid a single sakura petal, slightly crumpled from force. “I got it first,” they sang annoyingly. You roll your eyes. 

 

More curious than anything, you ask. “What are you going to wish for?” 

 

A pause. They look down contemplatively, picking the small petal up between his fingers. Waving it at you, they grin. “I wish,” he says, “that we can be together like this for as long as possible.” 

 

You laugh. “Hiyori, you’re so cheesy!” 

 

“Don’t be a sap, Hiyori,” they say in a false high-pitched tone. “Yeah, yeah, I know.” Letting the petal drift through his fingers, it floats away, along with their dream. 

 

“Besides,” you continue. “If you say a dream out loud, it won’t happen.”

 

They flick your forehead, chastising you. “Don’t be such a downer. A wish is a wish- don’t you know that the best?”

 

As you rub the afflicted area, you elaborate. “Wishes are due to human nature. If one were to wish hard enough, then it’ll probably happen.”

 

When you say those words, they grin wider, taking your hands in theirs. “So if I wish for it with all my heart, then it will surely come true. And thus, I will.”

 

You stare at them, before bursting into a fit of giggles. “I see,” you concede. “Then I’ll wish my hardest too.”

 

“Now that’s the spirit!” 

 

And the two of you wished under the sakura trees for the inevitable to wait a little longer, to stay together a few moments more. With all you can give, you wish. 

 

Thus, it will come true. 

 

And even then, you were happy. Of course you were. You were together, after all.

 

The wish has come true and it has ended. Such is the way of human mortality. 

 

But with each year, as the sakura petals bloom once more, I’ll be waiting for you. 

 

Under that sakura tree. ) 

 

“Sleep well, meow.”

 

Chapter Text

“I’m going to have a conniption,” you declare in the flattest voice possible. Your eyes speak of your readiness to accept death as your own, embracing them with wide arms and a ‘fuck you’. 

 

“Don't do it.” Shin shakes his head, resting his head on the bar counter. 

 

“Well,” you say. “How else am I supposed to radiate my utter lack of empathy?” Settling beside him, you stretch your arms out on the countertop before folding them together daintily. 

 

Shin levels you with an unimpressed stare. “You don’t.” 

 

“That’s no fun.” If Shin were a lesser person, he would have said that you were pouting. But no. The sheer imagery is just- 

 

No. 

 

Unhinged, he snorts. “You think letting out bouts of hysteria is fun ?” He shakes his head in disbelief. 

 

“What’s wrong with that? To each their own, right?” You mime raising a glass to toast,  smile not quite reaching your eyes. Then- “Ugh,” you slump forward, mimicking Shin’s movements. “I really feel like taking a smoke now.” 

 

He raises an eyebrow. “Only in your twenties and you’re already picking up on bad habits.”

 

“I like suffocating on the smoke in my lungs,” you tell him cheerily. “And if I die faster, then that’s that.” Your words are laced with dry, biting notes, spoken with a calm you barely have. 

 

“Sounds painful.” He looks at you directly. “You’re like, a masochist, huh?” 

 

“Exactly!” Like a child, you tilt your head, grinning brightly at him. Forcibly so. “But I’d like to think of myself more as a sadist…” 

 

“A sadomasochist,” Shin suggests. 

 

“But that’s usually reserved for the bed,” you hum. The male stares at you, spluttering. His ears tint a vibrant red colour. 

 

“You’re not denying it,” he feels the need to point out. Turning sly eyes to him, you smile whimsically. 

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” 

 

The flustered reply you get in exchange is, in your opinion, so worth it. 

 

Chapter Text

Looking through your muddled thoughts, you exhale softly.

 

Currently, Keiji and Sara are making their way to the Kitchen, key in possession. It seems like your doll was replaced by a Sara doll, which is how the duo managed to complete the puzzle. 

 

It seems even with your 'omnipotent' knowledge, it isn’t quite enough to stop the Main Game entirely. 

 

Too bad then. You’ll just have to resort to the next plan. Which is to say, you’ll wing it as you go because with the Butterfly Effect and all that, you’ve already messed things up quite a bit. 

 

Some omnipotent knowledge you have, huh? Chuckling, you lean against the wall. Gin, plushie returned, tries to scratch at the door knob. It isn’t working, no matter how amusing it is. 

 

“Hiyaa!” With scratch after scratch, Gin throws out a different martial arts move. Joe cheers him on from the side, careful to not get in the way of his ‘special moves’. 

 

Now that you’ve gotten some sleep (for once, surprisingly enough), your head is clearer. You’re not sure if that’ll be of any use, but ehh. 

 

“Big sis Sara!” Gin cheers, stopping in his activities to bound up to her. She smiles, patting his head fondly. “Did you get the password, meow?” 

 

“We did,” Keiji answers. The boy throws him a dirty look, hugging Sara’s legs. “Geez. Your boy gang is more trouble than it’s worth, Sara.” 

 

Rolling her eyes, she hugs Gin back. It’s a soft, tender moment between them. You look away. 

 

After, she pulls out a box. It’s the one that's used to store the knife. “Yeah, we did find a clue. But we need to try it out first, okay?” Gin pulls away, nodding ecstatically.

 

Sara goes to the Black Room door, glancing at the inside of the box, then unlocks the door. It opens with a sound ‘click’. Not paying it any mind, she moves to the entrance of the White Room, unlocking it as well. 

 

“Done,” she announces. “Let’s go check the inside, shall we?” 

 

Gin bounces up to her, nodding. They enter the White Room. Keiji follows after, door closing behind them. 

 

Joe turns to you, gesturing to the Black Room, awkward. “Do you wanna go check it out?” 

 

“Sure,” you reply. 

 

One more step closer to the Main Game, huh? 

 

Following the male in, you close the door. You’ll have to try your best, then. 

 

Chapter Text

“Ehehe.” Miley grins in front of a tropical backdrop. “Welcome to the Main Game!” 

 

The table in front of you has a spread of dishes, but you reach out for a glass of water, sipping as you watch the screen. White light, blackout, and here you are. 

 

It’s only been a day or two, yet it feels like a lifetime. You’re almost prepared to knock out again. On a bed this time, hopefully.

 

Haha. If you survive the Main Game, that is. 

 

Not a very high chance with the card you have. 

 

But then again, there’s a saying that goes ‘I’ll rest when I’m dead.’ And honestly? That’s the closest you’ve ever related to something. 

 

God, you need more sleep. 

 

“-now that you know what roles there are, please place your card against the screen.” You look at the card, before pressing the back part below Miley’s face. The Doll twitches. “I meant the side with your role on it.” 

 

It’s not a recording, then. Snickering, you flip it over. 

 

“Alright! Now you’ll be given time in the Final Supper Room to eat or think up a plan. Use your time well, ehehe.” Her grin widens, showing a full set of sharp teeth. “When time is up, go on to the Main Game area. If not…” 

 

With the implication left unsaid, Miley gives an exaggerated bow. “Thank you for participating in the Main Game.” She flickers on-screen, fading into darkness. 

 

The Dolls having a flair for the dramatic seems to be a common occurrence. That’s fun, you suppose. 

 

Downing the entire glass, you slam it onto the table with more strength than you actually feel. Great. Main Game. Death. You’re going to die a very painful death if this goes wrong. 

 

And knowing the organisation, they’re making a special punishment for their favourite omnipotent bullshit prophet. Much worse than the wrigglers or crushing of lower intestines. 

 

Ugh. 

 

You’re this close to losing it. 

 

Chapter Text

“So you came,” he notes. Tugging his scarf tighter around him, Shin frowns, looking around the area. “It’s kind of weird around here, huh?” 

 

You agree easily, glancing at the hourglass-like tables placed in a circle. Thirteen. So seven people will have to be chosen for the next round. But t’ll be fine as long as it isn’t you. As long as the Sacrifice isn’t chosen. 

 

Really, the only thing you need now is good luck and a stable mental health. 

 

No, wait, that’s impossible. Guess you’ll just have to settle for sad tragic backstories and hallucinations like the others. 

 

“Hey beanie?” Shin turns to you curiously. “What’s your role?” 

 

You watch as he blinks. “Curious, Miss Yuko?” Grinning, he tugs at his beanie. “I never took you for the type.” 

 

“If you don’t want to tell me, you can just say it outright,” you muse. “I’m not going to condemn you or anything just because you change the subject.” 

 

Shin freezes. You laugh slightly, shaking your head. Birds of the same feather flock together- no point lying to a liar. 

 

“Then what’s yours? Surely it can’t be something ridiculous like the Sacrifice Card?” He crosses his arms, eyes flickering as Nao walks in to join the rest. “I’ll tell if you do,” Shin offers. 

 

Oh, the irony. What are the odds? 

 

You tilt your head, hiding your lower face behind a sleeve. “Hmm. Now that you mention it, I have a great idea.” Eyes flashing with no hint of remorse, you smile whimsically. 

 

“Oh.” Shin looks on the verge of either amusement or pain. “Okay.”

 

“Now, don’t look so disgruntled.” You tug at a few of his teal locks from under the beanie. “Or is your injury affecting the obvious joy you should feel at my ingenious self?” 

 

He rolls his eyes exaggeratedly. “As if,” he scoffs. “But my injury is hurting, thanks for asking.” Then, adding as an afterthought, “Though, you could have asked in a less narcissistic way.”

 

“I could have,” you acknowledged. “But I didn’t.” 

 

Miley stands from her seat at the head of the circle. “Well, it looks like almost everyone’s here. Ehehe,” she grins. “Looks like we’ll have to kill off those who aren’t.” 

 

Light footsteps. “Eugh… K-kanna’s here…” 

 

Ahh, you’ll have to ask Sara and Shin to look into Kanna’s mental health after the Main Game. Not telling anyone about Kugie will do more harm than good, it seems. 

 

“Great! Everyone’s here.” You could have sworn Miley pouted for a moment. “Ehe… please get to your tables. We’ll be commencing the Main Game soon.”

 

Small name cards line each table, along with a brochure. It’s quite hard to see from afar, so you never noticed them. 

 

Taking your place between Mishima and Reko, you settle for flipping through the list. Just the rules, nothing new. Looks like they won’t be giving you any free bonus this time.

 

Well, looks like your cavaliere servente won’t be helping you out this time. 

 

“A manual of basic Main Game rules are in the paper on your tables.” Miley points at the pieces she holds, the exact same one as everyone else’s. “You have a set amount of time to decide on seven canditates for the next round. Then, you will pick one person by a majority vote.” 

 

Looking at the group’s uncertainty and suspicion at each other, Miley grins, as if she’s watching reality TV. And if this is like another certain Death Game, maybe it will be. 

 

“Begin,” she announces. The heavy toll of a bell rings throughout the room, soon followed by a stifled silence. No one speaks. 

 

“We have to discuss eventually,” Mishima says. “Shall we discuss our roles, then?” 

 

It’s a good idea, but really, who can say except for the Keymaster themselves? You’re not even sure if it’s still Sara or someone else. Boy, this is going to get complicated. 

 

But Sara doesn’t speak up. No one does, really.

 

Making a decision, you raise a hand mid-air, gaining everyone’s attention. “If no one’s going to say it, then I will,” you say in a hilariously flat tone. “I’m the Sacrifice.” 

 

Now that instills some sort of reaction from everyone else. 

 

Shin mainly looks disbelieving, with everyone in various states of confusion. In the end, Keiji’s the one who voices their concerns. “Are you really? It seems as if you’re just saying it to save your own skin.”

 

You lean an arm against the table. “What if I am?” Casually, you shrug with a grace perfected over years of experience. “No one can say for certain. Or is another supposed Sacrifice willing to come out?” 

 

Eyeing the others who shuffle uneasily, you smile lightly. “Thought so.” 

 

Q-taro points accusingly at you. “I ain’t trusting you, Yuko. Who’s to say you ain’t the Sacrifice?” 

 

“Then vote for me.” Leaning your weight on your hands, your smile digs deeper, turns sharper, twists and pulls . “I don’t mind.” Q-taro glares. You return the favour with a close-eyed smile. 

 

“Okay, let’s push that aside for now,” Keiji says. “We can deal with that later. For now, we need to find candidates for the next vote.” Nao jumps, shocked at the thought. 

 

“Y-you can’t really be thinking!-” Wide-eyed, she gapes, wrapping her arms closer to herself. “You can’t be thinking of actually- actually killing someone!” 

 

Sara frowns. “We don’t have a choice,” she says firmly. “That’s why we’re here.” Your eyes flicker towards her, before going back down to your table. 

 

Don’t have a choice? They’re making a choice right now by continuing the discussion. 

 

But you say nothing, watching the conversation go on. 

 

“Someone attacked Sou before we interrogated Alice,” she informs the rest. It incites a few gasps from the group. “Let’s talk about your alibis during that time.” 

 

A natural-born leader, huh? You can see it. 

 

From across the room, Kai makes eye contact with you. Calm as always, despite having no alibi for the time. Tapping his ladle to his chin, he considers something, before nodding.

 

I see. And that is your plan? 

 

Hysteria reaches, grabbing at you with greedy hands. You having a plan? What a joke. 

 

Of course. 

 

Chapter Text

“I was with Miss Yuko at that time.” You blink slowly, wary eyes glancing at the male. He looks back unapologetically. 

 

Huhh. Kai’s using you for his own benefit? 

 

“Yeah,” you continue the lie, lips twisting into a wry smile. “Actually, Kai thought he saw something suspicious, so he went to check it out. That’s when Sara came to ask me about beanie.” 

 

“So you two were together the whole time?” Keiji cocks his head, staring at the two of you for a few moments longer. 

 

“That’s what Kai said.” You scoff. “I know I’m suspicious and all, but if I did attack beanie, he wouldn’t be suffering from a concussion.” 

 

Yes, you can do much worse with your suspiciously detailed knowledge of human anatomy. But they don’t need to know that. 

 

“If it’s any help,” Shin chirps in, “I don’t think Miss Yuko did it.” Alice’s face scrunches up, showing a hint of disbelief.

 

Right, a big thank you to Shin for protecting your near non-existent dignity. 

 

But it seems like the discussion isn’t going anywhere. At this rate, time will be up and the votes will be a mess. Sighing, you roll your shoulders. 

 

“Since this has come to a standstill-” Nao eyes you with thinly-veiled suspicion. You can understand that. “-let’s take this in another direction. Why was beanie attacked?” 

 

In your peripheral vision, Shin freezes up. The smile on his face stays on, never once faltering. 

 

You continue talking. “Is it because he just looks that weak? Or was it just for fun?” 

 

Nao speaks up. “Who would attack someone for fun!?” Beside her, Mishima places a hand on her shoulder, instantly calming her down. “Who would do that?” She whispers, expression haunted. 

 

“Who would,” you muse. “It seems everyone here has a somewhat decent alibi…” Eyes landing on the home-maker for a few moments longer, you snort, looking away. “I guess.” 

 

“So you know something,” Sara interprets. “But what, exactly?” 

 

“Hmm.” More for show than anything, you twirl your hair contemplatively. “There was a reason beanie was attacked, though you should know that already. Wanna share, Sara?” 

 

The girl stills. Joe looks over at her worriedly, as do most participants. She shakes her head. “Fine,” she concedes. “I’m sorry for not telling all of you, but there was a Hidden Room after all.”

 

Ooh. Things sure are getting heated. 

 

Sara, ignoring the outraged responses, continues speaking. “There was a laptop inside. Sou had a go with it, and he managed to figure out the password.” 

 

“And what was inside?” Mishima’s glasses glint. “Floor maps? A way of escape, perhaps?” 

 

The hacker shakes his head. “It’s just a bunch of code,” he says, though he knows better. “And the rest of the files were locked.” 

 

Nao frowns. “How did you figure out the password, then?” 

 

For a moment, Shin’s gaze lands on you in a silent question. You shake your head briefly. No need to raise more suspicion to yourself. 

 

“Lucky guess.” Shin lies instead, grinning. “It’s nothing special- unless you can find anything out with ‘Passcode1’. If not, there’s no use.” 

 

“Why would the password be so easy?” Reko crosses her arms, eyes narrowed. “These people won’t just leave hints lying around, right? What’s the point in that?” Geez, people these days are so demanding. 

 

“But,” Sara interjects. “It might contain information they don’t need, but we do .”

 

“We aren’t getting anywhere with this. The laptop is already gone and we can’t find anything on Sou’s attacker.” Keiji runs a hand down his face. “Let’s talk about something else,” he suggests. 

 

“Process of elimination,” Mishima mutters. “Who’s the most useful to us? Least useful?” 

 

Nao looks at the professor, betrayed. He shakes his head in reply. 

 

Desperate times call for desperate measures, you suppose. 

 

Well. Time to point some fingers. 

 

“I, for one, think Gonbee’s pretty shady.” Crossing your arms, you nod your head in his direction. He jumps. “Let’s secure the first vote, yeah?” 

 

“H-hold on a minute!” Reko slams her hands on the table. “That’s-!”

 

“It does make sense,” Keiji murmurs. “Gonbee hasn’t helped or interfered with our work. Having him in the vote is a good idea.” 

 

Alice smirks. “Hm… if that is what you all have decided on.” 

 

“You’re calm about this,” Q-taro says. “Ain’t you scared of dying?” The prisoner eyes him, scoffing at Q-taro’s one-sidedness. 

 

“It is what it is,” he says. You begrudgingly find yourself respecting him (slightly. the respect is very slight.). Alice is alright, you suppose. For now. 

 

Keiji nods. “One vote down, six more to go.” 

 

The musician looks away, gritting her teeth. If you’re a lesser person, you might feel guilty. But really, morals aren’t something you can pretend to have. 

 

“If we’re talking about least useful…” Q-taro jerks his chin out, aggressive in his actions. “Then how ‘bout Yuko over there?” 

 

Seriously? You’ve already said that you’re the Sacrifice, haven’t you? 

 

Fine, be that way. 

 

“Sure.” You shrug with same calmness as Alice. “Go for it.” 

 

“Wha-” Q-taro blinks slowly. He points an accusing finger at you. “But you just said you’re the Sacrifice!” 

 

“Yep,” you nod. Then, leaning forward, you speak lightly. “But I don’t mind if you vote for me. You’ll just be signing off your own death.” 

 

Not that you’d let them. 

 

Q-taro flinches away, pulling his cap down to hide his face. A dull sort of emptiness creeps into you, as if separating your mind from body. 

 

( foolish humans.

 

You blink, fingers digging your palm. Dissociation sucks and you’re not planning to deal with that shit right now. 

 

“Vote for me if you wish,” you say tightly. “That’s your choice to make.” Forcibly, you relax your shoulders, easing up on the nails digging into your skin. You’re in control here, remember? 

 

Okay. 

 

“But if you’re going to vote for me…” Hiding your lower face behind a sleeve, you look away. “Then I’d suggest voting for Kai too. We’re-” you meet his surprised stare head-on “-accomplices, after all.” 

 

Relishing in the chaos you’ve caused, you close your eyes. 

 

Time to play the game, hm? 

 

Chapter Text

( “If it’s for you, anything.” 

 

“Wha- why would you say that?” 

 

“Because I- well. I trust you.”

 

You felt as if he wasn’t telling the entire truth, yet you didn't point it out. 

 

“I trust you too, Hiyori.” 

 

“Haha. Thank you.” 

 

Trust is such a fragile thing, isn’t it? ) 

 

Sara frowns. It seems like she’s been doing it quite often- unsurprising, considering the situation. “What do you mean by that, Yuko?” 

 

Blinking slowly, you drag your gaze up from the table to look at her. “Kai… lied about his alibi. We weren’t together when beanie was attacked. No alibis or anyone to verify our words.” 

 

“But why did you… did you two plan this?” Shin gapes, looking between the two of you. 

 

Your lips slowly twist into something sardonic, an almost amused look on your face. “I went along with it since I didn't have an alibi either.” Raising your hand, you stop Sara from interrupting. 

 

“Do you think just because I gave beanie a brief check-up, I’m innocent?” You laugh, voice softly bitter. “I don’t do anything useful to the group, nor am I trustworthy. It’s only right to vote for me. Except you can’t, since I’m the Sacrifice. I’ll die anyways.” 

 

Silence mocks you as the other participants stare. Your only form of defence now is your smile, the only thing hiding your emotions, pushing it down, containing it. 

 

“Let’s move on to the next candidate,” you say evenly. 

 

“And who would that be?” Keiji smiles, though he moves his hand to his shoulder, fingers turning white against dark clothing. Seems like all the trust you’ve built up is falling apart. You expected as much. 

 

“The most useless, of course.” Pausing, you take in a deep breath, mentally preparing yourself. “Kanna.” 

 

Said girl stills, fingers bunching up together. Her face tints a slight green. “K-kanna isn’t…” She doesn’t say anything else after. Nao immediately jumps on your case. 

 

“How could you say that!? She’s just a child! Do you- how- how could you even think about killing a child ?” 

 

“Will you take her place then?” Flexing your fingers, you stare down at your hands. There’s still some pen ink smudges on them. Absently, you rub your fingers. It doesn’t go off. 

 

Nao recoils as if burned. “Of course I would! Anyone who wouldn’t is a monster! Letting a child die for us is-” 

 

“It’s merciful,” you clip on. The artist stares at you, piercing through your harmless (as of yet) smile. “Sure, their execution would be painful, but it’s much better than being alive, playing this game, killing other people.” 

 

“That’s…” Nao’s voice drops to a whisper. “That’s horrible. You just want to live a little longer. It doesn’t matter who you sacrifice on the way, as long as you’re not the one affected, huh? You- you monster !” 

 

Her voice turns to a shriek, hands slamming down on the table. It echoes throughout the room. Miley perks up, amused. 

 

This situation is extremely funny to you. Mockingly hilarious, if you dare say. 

 

“Many of us are,” you point out. Then you shake your head, loose locks falling into your face. “But since you’re willing to take Kanna’s place, shall we vote for you instead?” 

 

“If you’ll allow me, Miss Yuko,” Mishima interrupts. “Please don’t do that.”

 

His expression is one of a disappointed adult. Unfortunately, you’re immune to other people’s disappointment seeing as you’ve already disappointed yourself. 

 

Well. The more the better or something, right? Playing the bad guy has always been fun, in a twisted sort of way. 

 

Besides, you need a new hobby. Why not try some acting? 

 

 

( if only you remembered what it was like to not lie. to not be contaminated by sick thoughts, to tell the whole truth without hiding yourself. would anything be different? 

 

it's too late for that now. )

 

 

 

Chapter Text

( “There’s always a beginning and an end. It’s just the way things work.”

 

“... even us?” 

 

“Especially us.” ) 

 

Kanna is shaking when she makes the proclamation. Everyone is staring at her. And at you. Obviously, they would trust the little girl more than a liar. 

 

“What do you have to say for yourself, Yuko?” Sara closes her eyes, trying to relax her clenched jaw. “Conversing with Meister like that…” 

 

In your peripheral, Miley perks up, just as curious to know what her co-worker was up to. 

 

You don’t reply. It’s a card you aren’t willing to give it just yet, this early on in the game. So instead, you play with your sleeve, maintaining the tense silence in the room. 

 

( don’t think of that fake don’t think of them don’t think don't think don’t think- )

 

Keiji rubs his neck, eyes moving shiftily. “Yuko,” he starts cautiously. “Are you with the organisation?” 

 

If only.

 

“No,” you say evenly. “But they seem pretty hellbent on destroying the nice balance of self-depreciation I’ve got going on here.” Sending a flat look at Miley, she meets it with a cheerful wave.

 

“Just a few more minutes to go,” she adds excitedly. “Better hurry up and vote!” 

 

Everyone seemingly ignores her, focused on you instead. Searching for a tell, you muse. Not that they’re going to find any. 

 

“Hey, Yuko.” Eyes drifting over to Joe, you nod your head at him to continue. He looks away, arms crossed. “You- are you being forced by the organisation?” 

 

“It’s…” As you trail off, your grip on your elbow tightens. “It’s complicated,” you pick out eventually. “But there’s nothing to be done. I’m not doing anything for them.” 

 

Other than being their current source of entertainment, you really aren’t. Nor do you want to do anything related to them.

 

Yet here you are, hm? 

 

Feeling your shoulders sag, you sigh. “What a waste of time,” you muse to yourself. Looking around you, your eyes land on Kanna. She flinches, cowering away from your gaze. 

 

To think she would speak up against you. Does she hate you that much? 

 

Well, you did try to get everyone else to vote for her. So. Yeah, maybe. There’s a high chance. 

 

It’s a bit too late to regret anything now. 

 

( “So this is your decision?” 

 

“...”

 

“You hate me this much, huh? I… I never knew.”

 

“No. I don’t-”

 

“Hush. It’s okay, I’m not upset. Just disappointed. Maybe even betrayed.” 

 

“I guess I deserve it.” 

 

“Yeah. I want to hate you so much right now, but I can’t. Even after all this, I still remember all the good memories. No- rather, all of them were good ones, weren’t they?”

 

“Mhm-hm. They were.” 

 

“And even if I die, I should at least tell you this.”

 

“...?”

 

“I-” 

 

Like always, you've forgotten what they said. ) 

 

“Shall we move on? Our time is limited, after all.” And so you smile, again and again, trying desperately to not feel betrayed or disappointed. 

 

You don’t deserve that much. Not in the slightest. 

 

Chapter Text

Eventually, the ones decided for the next vote go like this: Kai, Mishima, Shin, Alice, Keiji, Sara, and yourself. Not too bad, really. It’s only after a long discussion takes place that these people are decided on, however. They really need to work on their time management skills. 

 

You’re still surprised Sara makes it through. Maybe not everyone trusts her, after all.

 

Miley brushes away your thoughts, voice going over the restless silence between the participants. Everyone’s tense, waiting, praying for a miracle. 

 

The Laughing Doll twirls something in her hand. It’s a switch with a red button on top. Oh, that’s the thing that’ll help in your horrible, pathetic death. Great. 

 

“Finally, it’s time to decide on a single candidate… and let them die.” Her lips curl into something vaguely discomforting. “Ehehe,” she giggles. The switch turns and turns, around it goes. Is that meant to be threatening? “Your time starts now.” 

 

You pinch the skin of your hand, trying not to show your annoyance. What a metaphorical battlefield this is turning out to be. “Okay. Let’s get some things out of the way.” 

 

Pausing, you sigh, feeling a headache coming on. The others watch you with various degrees of wariness and suspicion. “Is the Sage anyone who has been left out?” 

 

No reply. Following in-game, then? 

 

“I… it’s me,” comes a reply. You turn to look at the speaker. Joe. Of fucking course. Even without the Sacrifice Card, it looks like his determination to save Sara wins out against the human morality of lying or whatever. 

 

Keiji perks up. “If that’s the case… who’s the Keymaster, Joe?” 

 

Seemingly making up his mind, Joe sets determined eyes on Sara, before moving to look at the blonde. “Sara’s the Keymaster,” he claims, voice firm. His eyes burn, but it’s not from guilt or insecurity. 

 

How nice, to have someone you want to protect at all cost.  

 

Q-taro furrows his eyebrows. “Why didn’tcha say that earlier? Now Sara’s in the next round.” 

 

“It’s actually a good plan,” Keiji says. “Since if we knew he was the Sage, we all would have voted for him.” 

 

“And having the Keymaster in our final selection limits the number of people we can actually vote for,” you drawl out. “So there’s more room for discussion.” 

 

Kai’s calm demeanour stays, but it's not really there either. He’s sweating, clutching his ladle tightly in one hand. You can see his mask slipping. Slowly, it tethers to the edge, balancing, balancing-

 

falling. 

 

“We don’t have much time, so let’s discuss.” Sara takes the lead, going over topics that you’ve already heard before in-game. 

 

Suspicion is thrown to Keiji and Shin, mostly, but it’s only a matter of time until-

 

“I’m… the Sage…” 

 

Ah. There it is. 

 

You cross your arms, eyes filled with a bland sort of amusement. Like when one watches two birds hopping around each other, or sees a decent commercial. Or a death game. That works too. 

 

“Meow!? But didn’t big bro Joe say that he’s the Sage?” Gin’s wide eyes flicker between the two, unsure who to believe. 

 

“Y-yeah! I’m the Sage.” Joe leans forward, sweating. They both look nervous, though for different reasons. “So what are you talking about, Kai?”

 

It’s funny, how they both try so hard to save the same person. In a way, Sara really is an angel of death, hm? 

 

No. No, no, don’t think that way. They’re both doing their best, so you suppose you can push them in the right direction. 

 

“If that’s the case, then how about this?” Looks like you’ll have to steal a trick from in-game. The organisation won’t claim copyright, will they? Ahaha. 

 

Both Kai and Joe turn to face you, equal parts despairing and terrified. You continue speaking. 

 

“What’s the picture on the Keymaster card?” 

 

Joe blinks. “Huh? It’s a key, obviously!” Kai looks away, closing his eyes. Not answering is a choice in itself, you suppose. 

 

Q-taro holds onto his hat, nearly crushing it in his grip. “Why aren’t you answering?”

 

You see the exact moment Sara understands your question, and the bitter realisation of who’s really the Sage. Her eyes flicker from Kai to Joe, terrified of what’ll come next. But it’s okay. 

 

It’ll be okay. 

 

“So we know who’s the Sage now,” you muse, still as vague as ever. “And we know who to vote for. That was fast.” 

 

“What d’ya mean by that?” Q-taro looks at you, anger blazing through squinted eyes. “Joe’s the Sage, ain’t he?” Ooh, he snapped. 

 

“That’s for you to find out.” 

 

Q-taro opens his mouth to either retort or curse your existence, you’re not quite sure, before Sara interrupts. “I think I know what you’re trying to say, Yuko.” 

 

“Do you now?” You ask cheerfully, leaning forward to look at the girl. “Let’s hear it then- who’s the real Sage, Sara?” 

 

God, you’re almost proud of yourself. 

 

Chapter Text

Alice:  1 vote

Kai: 5 votes 

Keiji:  2 votes

Mishima:  1 vote

Sara:  0 votes 

Sou:  2 votes 

Yuko: 3 votes 

 

Well, everything ( almost everything) went according to in-game. It’s only right to expect the same result. 

 

Still doesn’t change the fact that you’re dying first. Haha. You wonder if the others will give you an easier death? 

 

“And the one chosen by majority vote is… Kai Satou!” Miley claps. The sound echoes through the entire room, encasing it around silence. She seems quite happy, killing off a traitor (or a person in general). 

 

“You were right,” the Laughing Doll continues. “The Sage was Kai Satou, the Keymaster was Sara Chidouin, and as for the Sacrifice…” 

 

Her smile falters, happiness becoming muted. “Well, you’ve known who it is from the start! It’s Yuko !” 

 

Gasps from the participants. Why is everyone surprised? You literally told them that you were the Sacrifice. 

 

Okay, maybe that’s a little suspicious.

 

The one who seems the most surprised is Shin. As if he couldn’t figure out whether it was a truth or lie until it was too late. It’s quite disappointing- even the liar doesn’t trust you. Surely, that says something. 

 

Making eye contact with him, there’s a sweet sort of sadness in his eyes. Regret, apologies. That sort of sappy stuff. You immediately turn away. 

 

Bit too late for that now. 

 

“So before we get to the main course, the Sacrifice will be our appetiser!” Miley steps up to you, still twirling the switch. The red button taunts you, peeking above her fingers slightly.

 

A pause. You tug your coat closer to you. She stares at you with some form of bitter amusement. “What a martyr, revealing your role early on so that no one would vote for you.” 

 

“I wouldn’t call myself that.” Subconsciously, your lips pull into a thin smile, filled with a tired dullness that only comes from experience. “But I’m quite happy it’s come to this conclusion. This is the easiest route, after all.”

 

“Oh? In what way?” A challenging glint enters Miley’s eyes. Her lips pull back into a snarl, predatory in everything but looks. Even now, she looks pretty, you internally lament. 

 

In response, you pull out the kitchen knife, placing it the flat side against her neck. Miley blinks, looking at you, amused. The edge barely brushes under her chin, yet she still looks calm. 

 

“We can both kill each other in an instant,” you point out. “And we can both die slowly. It’s not very nice attacking a Floor Master, but…” Schadenfreude colours your features, mirroring Miley’s unhinged grin. 

 

“I mean, it’s only right- Meister was quite aggressive in his… persuasion methods.” You pause, eyes watching Miley’s expression. 

 

Her smile drops. “What?” Miley’s smile immediately returns, much tenser than before. Voice deceptively smooth, akin to how a knife cuts through alkali metals. 

 

Strange how a threat to slit her throat doesn’t faze her, but her co-worker being an ass does. 

 

You shrug. “He started it,” you tell her cheerfully. 

 

“Well, that’s no good,” Miley murmurs. “I’ll have to deal with that ah, annoyance before anything else.” Saying that, she looks at you expectantly. “Are you going to kill me?” 

 

“Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Drawing out your words, you press the knife closer to her throat. The Doll barely gives a reaction. “But I won’t,” you say with a hint of finality. She sighs, dejected. “I know the consequences, Miley.”

 

“Hmph. Looks like you got off lucky this time, Yuko .” The switch in her hand disappears while she’s talking, into the many hidden pockets of her costume. 

 

She steps away. You let her go, placing the knife back into your lab coat. Miley eyes it, almost torn between disbelief and amusement that you did it right in front of her. 

 

Amusement wins out. The Doll giggles (scary), reaching out to tuck some loose strands of hair behind your ear (scarier). Surprised, you nearly reach to grab her wrist and… sprain it? Break it? Who knows (scariest). 

 

The action is not lost to you, of course. Her long (extremely long, sharp, ridiculously pointed nails) brush against the skin of your neck. You inhale, watching her warily. 

 

Miley smiles. Of course she does, the asshole. 

 

“I’ll have to forfeit this Main Game in favour of dealing with Meister,” she hums. You don’t really want to know what she considers ‘dealing with’, so you don’t ask. “Rule-breakers are no good.” 

 

Just go with it. “Sure,” you offer up to interpretation. 

 

“Looks like…” Miley groans exaggeratedly, rolling her shoulders. “Ugh. Safalin and Ranger are getting you bunch early.” 

 

Good. That’s a good thing. If the game continues on, they’ll have three days to attempt to break out, despair, then maybe (hopefully) actually break out. 

 

Tough day? More like a difficult life. 

 

“Don’t look so happy,” the Laughing Doll (because how ironic is that ) chides mockingly. “Those two are going to annoy you so much, you’d wish you were dead.” 

 

“Can’t make me wish for something I already want,” you return with an equally mocking tone. 

 

Miley takes another step back, clapping her hands together to get everyone's attention, as if they weren’t already staring daggers into you and her. “Alright, get out. I have to clean up, which is a lot easier without blood!” 

 

A door opens in the wall, with an irritatingly large ‘exit’ sign over it. Waving her hands at you, she pushes you towards the door. “Don’t be arrogant now, Yuko .” When you turn back, she bares a feral, manic grin. “I’ll rip your throat out myself.” 

 

Can’t wait. Looking forward to it. 

 

Sara snaps out of it first, gripping Joe’s elbow and Gin’s hand as they walk to the next floor. The rest go, few at a time, walking past you and the Doll. Shin pauses, as if wanting to talk to you, but hesitates, walking away. 

 

Huh. Weird reaction. 

 

Miley smiles and waves you away, pushing you in the exit’s direction. 

 

“Off you go now. Don’t die too soon!” 

 

You step through the exit, being enveloped by darkness. 

 

Chapter Text

( “The dream must end.” 

 

“... I know.” ) 

 

When you wake up again, it’s to a dimly-lit room. Blinking once, twice. Then you close your eyes again, still breathing. 

 

Alive. You’re still alive, huh? 

 

“I was dreaming,” you murmur in a daze. Pressing a hand to one eye, you stare up at the beige ceiling. Or was it another memory you’ve forgotten? These days, you can’t really tell. 

 

“Hm,” you muse absently. 

 

Moving your fingers, you gaze at the faded ink on your hands. Blue and black and black and blue. Funny how you concentrate more on ink stains than on your current situation. The human thought process sure is weird. 

 

Well. It’s time to go. 

 

Pushing yourself up, you eye the blanket draped over you thoughtfully. Someone was here, then. Someone who still trusted you enough to take care of you. 

 

The feeling presses down on you, a burden. Feelings, id and superego. With all these things in mind, someone still helped you. Even with basic courtesy, you wouldn’t think they would help you all the way here. 

 

How troublesome. You huff, standing up to look around the room. It seems similar to in-game Sara’s room, with the chairs arranged in a slightly different manner. 

 

At least the organisation has good tastes. If they choose a different industry, the hospitality industry would be a good choice. 

 

Going around the bed, you open up the wardrobe, finding several sets of the same outfit folded neatly. Towels and other necessities lined the lower shelf. Like you said- hotel.

 

Finding nothing else of interest, you turn to the door. It’s time to go out and learn that your actions have consequences, or whatever. 

 

The thought makes you pause. No matter how arrogant you act, you’re still a coward with a flair for the dramatics. In all actuality, you’re surprised with how long you’ve managed to get away with the bullshit you stir up. 

 

And this is, of course, the moment the door opens. 

 

“You’ve awaken.” He stands tall, clutching onto his chains. 

 

You look up at him, at how he avoids your gaze. “I can tell,” you reply dryly. Suspicion seeps into your tone as you eye him. He fidgets. Good, you still got it. “What are you doing here?” 

 

Shifting his weight from one foot to another, Alice eventually makes eye contact with you. “I merely wanted to see how you were doing.” Meeting your skeptical gaze, he hastens to explain. “You fainted after the… previous event.” 

 

Haha. Event, indeed. 

 

“Still, you didn’t have to come all this way.” Leaning against the door frame, you cross your arms, smiling sharply. “What did you come here for?” 

 

Alice stares a little longer, slowly shaking his head. “I pity the you who cannot trust anyone,” he tells you. 

 

You pause a little longer than necessary. “Huh,” you eventually say. “Does it look like I care?” Without waiting for a response, you continue talking. “But I don't think you're here just to... ah, reminisce the past, Alice."

 

He hesitates. Chains clink together as he lets his shirt go, only to grip it harder. “It’s… we were worried.” 

 

Letting a frown overtake your features, you ask, “About what?” 

 

Then, he sighs of all things. Speaking slowly, as if explaining to a child, Alice elaborates. “The others are worried about you .” 

 

Your mind stutters a halt. “What,” you say flatly. 

 

“It is as I said,” Alice shrugs. “When you suddenly fell while walking, Sara Chidouin had caught you in her arms, then carried you here.”

 

Sara did that? Charming. No wonder she’s popular with the ladies. 

 

Wait, no, out of point. Go back to the conversation. 

 

( but to think that they would be 'worried'. is it human courtesy at work or something else? how strange they are. )

 

“That’s awfully nice of her,” you comment instead. 

 

Alice rolls his shoulders. “You’re expecting her to ask you for something in return,” he points out blandly. “How horrible, to think of life in profits and losses.” 

 

“You know me so well,” you admit easily. “Though- it does makes things easier to have that mindset."

 

“I believe it is merely what you think is right.” Then, a pause. “May I come in?” 

 

Eyeing the male, you shrug. “I don’t know- can you?” 

 

He clears his throat a bit too loudly, before lowering his voice. “I would like to talk about- that is, Sou Hiyori.” A long silence. The male looks afraid, as if you’ll start beating him up. 

 

It’s very enticing. 

 

Stepping aside, you let Alice in, locking the door behind you. No words are spoken, only brief glimpses of emotions and the past. You close the door behind you, locking it.

 

No one else needs to know of Sou Hiyori. Not now and hopefully not ever. 

 

A secret that one has already taken to the grave- one that you and Alice don't plan on telling anytime soon.

 

( it didn't have to turn out this way, yet it did. funny how fate works. 

 

but... if this is your decision, then i'll gladly accept it. 

 

you and me both. ) 

 

Chapter Text

Breathe in, breathe out. You tilt your head backwards, taking in the 'fresh' air. Relaxing before the shit show everyone calls Chapter 2 starts, you tell yourself indignantly.

No, that's not it. From the time you woke up, you already knew it.

 

Something’s changed. 

 

You sit in the middle of the ‘outdoor’ space given, basking in artificial sunlight. While everyone is off searching through the Third Floor, you’re here, sitting on the ground. Some help you’re turning out to be. 

 

But it feels different. Maybe it’s because no one has died yet, or that Ranger and Safalin haven’t made an appearance. 

 

No. It’s something else. Something… different. 

 

“Yuko!” Turning to the door, you’re met with a frantic brunette. Raising a hand, you wave a casual eyebrow at the male.

 

“Hi.” Joe pauses at your relaxed demeanour. Ah right, you’ve been nothing but overexcitable these past few hours (days?). Maybe you should tone it down a bit. 

 

“Wait, this is no time for-” The male shakes his head frantically, slapping his cheeks firmly. You blink at the sound. “You need to come with me!” 

 

“Ah, why?” Standing up from the floor, you stretch calmly, never looking away. 

 

“It’s an emergency!” Joe swings his hands frantically. The motion slows down as he’s slowly taken in by your calm aura. “Yuko, please,” he drags out. 

 

Too bad then. You’ll come back to the Relaxation Room later. 

 

Moving towards the male, you step out of the room to look up at him. “So what happened? You look pretty stressed out.”

 

“Well there’s… I’m not sure how to put it.” Joe hesitates, moving to go to the next location. You stay by his side, looking at him curiously. “Um, we may have messed around and turned on an A.I of you?” 

 

“An A.I,” you say flatly.

 

He nods, confirming what you just heard. “An A.I.” 

 

This is turning out to be an even bigger nightmare. You’re already a difficult person, but now there’s two of you? Ew.

 

With nothing else to say, you roll your shoulders, nodding at him. “Alright, let’s deal with 2.0.” 

 

Joe grins back, genuinely relieved. 

 

You two makes some small talk on the way there (which part of Japan are you from? what university do you go to?), filling up the awkward silence. It's nice, having meaningless conversations without worrying about upsetting someone. 

 

The boy is fun to talk to- a rare compliment coming from you. Joe’s really something.

 

But of course, all things, good or no, must come to an end. 

 

When the door opens, letting blue light flow out, Sara peeks her head in. “You’re here…!” She’s worried, which is out of character for her. 

 

Taking your hand, she pulls you in, Joe not far behind. You blink, sight adjusting to the darkness. Many screens line the room, though there are a few more screens than compared to in-game. More cameras and A.Is, then. 

 

In one screen to the right is-

 

‘You’.

 

Eyes filled with a vindictive softness, they stare at you, fingers interlocked together. An exact replica, just like that doll .

 

“Hello,” they hum. “You’re quite late, aren’t you?”

 

This is going to be a pain to deal with.

 

Chapter Text

“So,” they drawl out, peering through the screen with half-lidded eyes. “With the basic vibes I’m getting, you must be the person I’m based on.” 

 

Wow, asshole.

 

You feel a headache coming on. It hasn't even been two hours since you last fainted. Running a hand through your hair, you grind your teeth, tugging at the strands. 

 

Don’t punch the tiny A.I. God knows the Floor Masters will damn you to hell and back. 

 

“Oh, did little Miss overemotional get their feelings hurt?” The A.I taunts, tilting their head mockingly. “How surprising. You can show emotions?” 

 

If you punch the annoying piece of shit, you will get hurt. Do not get hurt, no matter how much you want to punch them. It’s not worth it. 

 

“Big words coming from a program,” you drawl out, tone just as flat. You don’t feel like reciprocating their annoying taunts, feeling much more calmer than you have in days. 

 

Okay, it might be worth it. 

 

They stare at you, eyes narrowed, as if they can see through you. Hilarious, since you’re even lying to yourself. 

 

Eventually, they open their mouth to speak. Then hell comes. You see your (admittedly short) life flashing past your eyes as Tia Safalin appears on every other screen.

 

“Ooh. Who went and started up the A.I program?” She sniffles, with all Safalins on-screen doing it simultaneously. Real creepy, crying lady. 

 

Your A.I looks upwards, unimpressed. They might have rolled their eyes, if you look close enough.

 

At least the both of you agree on one thing. 

 

“Now, now, Safalin- be a doll and come out, why don’tcha?” Rio Ranger appears from behind the screens, presumably the Prize Room or whatever. He holds several expression cards in one hand, all varying degrees of bastard-ness. 

 

Safalin cries harder, sobs echoing through the room. “Uwaah- you’re so insensitive, Ranger.” 

 

Unneeded conversations occur, much more annoying when compared to your time with Joe. You rub your ear, wincing at the Floor Masters and their flakiness. Not that you’re one to talk, you suppose.

 

Finally, (god, finally ) Safalin comes out. The screens she previously possessed turn off, leaving the one with your A.I on.  It takes time, but Ranger explains the rules of the next three days after everyone has assembled. Gold stars, Attractions, yadda yadda, if you don’t get them then die or something other. 

 

“And that’s it!” Ranger changes expression cards expertly, talking continuously. “You bastards got it?” 

 

Silence. The Dress-up Doll waves the hand holding the ice cream. “Anyways, that’s all for now. You bastards better not give us any trouble, aight?”  

 

Then, his eyes land on you. Ranger switches expression cards again, leering at you with unreadable eyes. “Ooh, so you’re that bastard Sue Miley’s favourite.” 

 

You brush some strands of hair out of your face, the epitome of calm. “Am I now?” 

 

“Heh,” he changes cards again. “You’re a bastard just like her. It'd be interesting to watch her kill you.” 

 

That’s not good at all, but if your life is already a burning hellfire, you might as well just go out with a blast, huh? 

 

Wait, can Ranger even feel emotions? Isn’t that at the end of Chapter 2 Part 1, when he becomes ‘Laizer’? Honestly, what the fuck Gashu, Safalin. Just…

 

“Sure,” you lie cheerfully. ‘Interesting’. What a strange word to use.

 

Ahahaha. You feel like crying. 

 

Ranger’s stares linger a bit longer before he turns away. “Alright, you bastards, this way!” Turning, he stalks to where Safalin comes from, behind the screens. Everyone hurries to follow. Afraid of the consequences, probably.

 

It turns out to be the Prize Room. Gashu stands in a corner, as steadfast as always. He doesn’t even blink when Kai enters, or when Ranger starts his explanation. 

 

How awkward. 

 

Token trade is going to be a bitch, since there are more people and therefore more tokens and profiles to aim for. And- 

 

Oh no. That means your profile is up too. But it’s not like you’ll trade that many to anyone. Unless someone steals it, for who-knows-what reason.

 

No no no no- you can’t let anyone see what’s in it. Never. 

 

“Alright, you bastards, that’s it. You have three days, so you better get those gold stars.” Ranger’s eyes darken gleefully. “Or else.” Keeping that bland tone as always, he and Safalin go off, leaving the participants to their own devices. 

 

Right after, you turn towards a certain person, stalking towards them with certain intent. It garners some attention-not that you mind.

 

“Let’s buy each other’s profiles.” The man, leaning against the wall, startles when you yank his chains. “What do you say, Gonbee ?”

 

“W-what?” Alice, genius that he is, utters out. 

 

“You’re not willing to get involved with us, so my profile is safest with… well, you.” Smiling faux-sweetly, you both know that it isn’t true. “And besides, you wouldn’t want anyone getting their hands on your profile either, yes?” 

 

It’s a threat, obviously. But Alice and Reko dug this hole themselves when they decided to keep lying. 

 

Much like you are, but hey- at least you’re somewhat better at it. 

 

“Hold up, Yuko.” A hand finds its place on your shoulder, causing you to tense up. “Don’t be hasty now.”

 

Letting go of Alice’s chains, you tilt your head back to face the speaker. “Why are you stopping me, Keiji?” 

 

“‘Cause you’re cute.” Keiji grins. You raise an eyebrow before looking away, unimpressed. “Okay, okay. Don’t trade your tokens so easily. What about everyone else?” 

 

“I don’t trust them,” you admit flatly. “Or myself, for that matter.” 

 

Gashu looks forward stoically, as if not paying mind to the conversation. Everyone else is watching you two with mild interest. What is this? A family drama? 

 

“Well, why not have faith in us? It’s fine if it’s just Sara.” He’s still holding onto your shoulder. “How about it, Yuko?” 

 

Maybe you can kick him. If you catch him by surprise, he might let go. 

 

( “I trust you.” 

 

“... don’t.” )

 

Your body goes slack, hand subconsciously coming up to rub your right eye. “Okay,” you sigh. “Okay. Let me go.” 

 

Keiji’s hand leaves your shoulder. You hunch further, tugging at your hair roughly. There’s not much of a choice. Attractions, Token trading, it all needs cooperation with others. 

 

If you want to make it to the next Game, you’ll have to follow Keiji’s advice. But there’s quite a few death flags, what with Q-taro’s ticket to escape and all that. Especially the Attractions.

 

Especially the Attractions. 

 

“Ready to listen?” Keiji raises an eyebrow, arm falling to his side. 

 

( you don’t want to trust any of them. never again. not after that happened with them

 

but you don’t have a choice. you never did.

 

it was always their choice. ) 

 

“... yeah.” Turning your back to Alice, you muster what remaining strength you have, smiling brightly at the detective. “Okay. Let’s 'trust' each other, shall we?”

 

( they always said that phrase, though you never quite understood until much later. how did it go again...? ah, right.

 

  fake it till you make it! )

 

Chapter Text

Tokens clink together in your hand. Sara smiles at you as she holds her newly-gained tokens carefully. As if it were a treasure, or something rare. 

 

Your tokens aren’t worth much. In the general scheme of things, they’re only needed so that people won’t end up in ‘last place’. Except they don’t know that yet, mindlessly trading for who-knows-what. 

 

Keeping your new tokens, it fills up space in your pockets. “Thanks,” you murmur. 

 

She glances at you with a strange look. “For what? All we did was trade tokens.” 

 

Unlike Sara, you have many things to hide. 

 

Even from yourself. It’s just like that. 

 

( you're scared of what you'll find if you dig deep enough. ) 

 

“For… ‘trusting’ me, I guess.” You shrug gently, eyes scanning the many boulders of the Ruined Corridor. Have they found the other Rooms? 

 

“Why wouldn’t I?” Sara shakes her head, clearly upset with your words. This ‘Sara’ isn’t like in-game’s her. Not burdened by grief or death, by dying last words spoken by those who tried to protect her. 

 

( though the same can't be said for you. )

 

If she isn’t now, she will be soon. The organisation won’t let everyone live forever- you know that much. You and Kai survive now due to their whims. 

 

Decisions. It all comes down to that. 

 

“Other than the fact I was conversing with the enemy,” you reply dryly. “I can think of a few other ways.” 

 

Sara shakes her head, more aggressively this time. “I trust you,” the high-schooler blurts out. Even now, you see her sincerity, hear her determination, feel your heart constrict just a bit. 

 

 

You open your mouth, yet no words come out. After clearing your throat, you finally manage out something. “... thanks, Sara.” 

 

“Don’t thank me,” she denies quickly. “It’s my decision.”

 

“Right.” Standing in awkward silence, you look away to the exit, where warm light spills out of the other room. “Well, I’m gonna go do another Attraction. You coming?” 

 

The high-schooler immediately perks up. “Sounds great! Which one do you want to do?” 

 

“Ah, I was thinking…” 

 

( envy is, admittedly, something you've felt all your life. why can't you be more like her? like them? always smiling, always being true to yourself, never wavering...

 

haha, you're so jealous. ) 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It hasn’t been obvious, but you’ve been avoiding your A.I for most of Day One. 

 

Okay, scratch that- it’s really obvious. Especially when said A.I refuses to speak to anyone until they can get to you. And ‘anyone’ refers to Keji, whose chosen you to be his new friend (victim).

 

Yay. 

 

“No,” you repeat. Folding your arms, you eye the blonde with thinly veiled distress when he grins. 

 

“Aww, c’mon Yuko. It’s just a chat with yourself. Why the big fuss?” Keiji rubs his neck, looking away casually. “Take one for the team? Pretty please?” 

 

The last thing you want is him using his ‘detective vision’ on you. Distress and discord? In your heart? 

 

More likely than anyone would think. 

 

“My answer doesn’t change, Keiji.” You sigh, rubbing your forehead. Headaches, headaches. Perhaps you’ll risk it with Safalin’s ambiguous healing methods. 

 

“Alright, fine,” he gives up surprisingly easily. Weird, for someone who’s been harassing- talking to you for the past few minutes. “Don’t look at me like that- I know when to stop!” Keiji raises his hands defensively.  

 

“You also know how to manipulate people,” you’re all too happy to add on. “I’d be wary facing against the good cop. Governments are scary.” 

 

A flicker of something (agreement?) flashes in your eyes. To your annoyance, Keiji hides it away just as quickly with a neck rub and cheery grin. 

 

“I’ll stop bothering you if you answer one question of mine.” 

 

No getting out of this, huh? Detectives sure are persistent. 

 

“We’ll see if I answer it.” Keiji smiles again. You both know you’re cornered. Hell, you willingly shoved yourself into that pathetic corner because you had no choice. 

 

There’s a pause. Why do detectives like dramatic tension so much? It’s not like this is, what, a Shakespearean play or anything. 

 

“Are you afraid of facing yourself?” Eyes moving to meet his, Keiji innocently grins, knowing full-well the bomb he just dropped. 

 

“I don’t understand your question,” you say with a straight face. Knowing the answer and saying it are two completely different things. And you still are, always will be, a coward. 

 

( the truth is, you are afraid. why shouldn't you be? there are so many things to be scared of. ) 

 

“Oh, really?” Keiji raises an eyebrow. “I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.” His tone is flat, torn between amused and disappointment. “But if that’s what you say…” 

 

Somehow displaying an aura similar to Joe’s and a kicked puppy, Keiji pouts. You immediately look away. “If you keep doing that, I’ll punch you, Keiji.” 

 

“Wouldn’t mind if it’s from a cute one like you,” he replies teasingly. Huffing, you turn away, biting your lip. 

 

As if finding this situation either funny or ridiculous, you flash him a brief smile. “Trying to seduce me into talking, eh? What a smart, arrogant ex-detective you are.” 

 

“Is it working, at least?” While Keiji flutters his eyelashes, you stifle a laugh. 

 

Letting out a fake cough, you pull your hand away. “I believe it is,” you reply faux-sweetly. “Though I have a few… terms and conditions.” 

 

He sighs. “Alright, shoot.” 

 

Does he- did he just- 

 

God, detectives are terrifying

 

“No one in the room while the A.I and I are talking-” one finger from your hand goes up “- and no participants listening in on our conversation. Including you.”  Another finger goes up. Showing a peace sign at Keiji, you tilt your head slyly. “Capiche?” 

 

The male chuckles, as if it’s the easiest thing ever. “Capiche,” he easily agrees. 

 

Here we go. 

 

Chapter Text

“Why do I exist?” You pause at the question, looking at the screen awkwardly.

 

Of all the things you were expecting, questioning human (or A.I) mortality was pretty low on the list. Turning away from the A.I, you clear your throat. “Um, pardon?” 

 

The A.I frowns, as if frustrated. “I have your memories,” they start. “And I have your personality. But I just don’t get it. Why do you do what you do?” 

 

Blinking slowly at the screen, your hand reaches up to tug at your hair. “Aren’t A.Is supposed to replicate human thought processes?” 

 

“For some, yes,” they state flatly. “But I don’t understand it. Why was I created to copy someone else?” 

 

“Cause it's fun to emotionally traumatise people?” You smile cheerfully, giving them jazz hands. When they turn to shoot you the flattest look possible, you blanch, giving a more serious answer. “The organisation’s pretty… um, eccentric. Don’t you know that?” 

 

They tilt your head, much like you constantly do despite the neck pain it gives out for free. “No?” Uncertain. Why are they uncertain? “I don’t know about this organisation, unlike you. All I know is that they created me.” 

 

What. 

 

“So you have no memories of the Death Game?” Your voice wavers. “Not even the First Trial ?”

 

Flinching from the loud noise, they scowl. “I don’t,” they snap back. “Get a hint. Why do you think I’m asking you of all people?” 

 

Ouch. If you had any self-preservation left, you would have been hurt. 

 

Too bad you don’t, haha. 

 

“Good to know,” you muse instead. “Looks like I got all the interesting stuff, so I’ll be taking my leave now.” Pushing yourself off the table, you walk around it, fully intent on the door. 

 

“Hold on.” Their voice stops you. Frustration seeps into their tone, akin to a whiny child. “We’re not done yet!” 

 

Bleh. Is this how other people see you as? 

 

“Yes, we are.” Stating the words firmly, you roll your eyes. “And if you wanted to complain about Alice, I’m not having any of that.” 

 

Finally, you turn back. 

 

They look horrible, skin pale and covered in sweat. Eyes wide, mouth open as if shocked you could guess their intention. Struggling to find words, they quiet down to a whisper. “Why?” 

 

Unable to resist, you scoff, harsh and mocking. “Why? Oh please, get over yourself.” Sneering at them, you take delight in their little flinch. “If you were really my A.I, you would know why. Too bad you aren’t, huh?” 

 

“What does that mean!?” Bursting out, their hands claw at their hair, desperate to have answers instead of questions

 

Laughing hollowly, you turn back to face the door. “You weren’t able to complete your job,” you hum. “Not a perfect A.I. Not good enough to be me . You’ll probably get deleted soon enough.” 

 

“But that’s-” Why do they insist on this matter so much? Really not a good 'you' replica. 

 

“At least make your existence useful,” you cut them off flatly. “Maybe then you won’t be a copycat.” 

 

That’s impossible, obviously. Your A.I is programmed to be you. If they can’t even do that, then they’re nothing

 

Of course, they don’t need to know that. 

 

“Well, bye then.” Raising a hand in a lazy wave, you huff, not getting a response. 

 

How rude. They’re not like you at all. It’s boring. 

 

( if things were different, you could have turned out that way. like that A.I. you could have cared more about others, yourself, human mortality. 

 

but this is a different route. you’re different. 

 

things will definitely be different. ) 

 

Refusing to spare another glance at the A.I, you take light steps out of the room, relishing in freedom that programming stuck in screens didn’t have. 

 

“Oh, Keiji,” you greet casually. “Listening in?” 

 

Chapter Text

He immediately puts his hands up. “The only thing I got was you threatening them, if that’s what you’re worried about.” 

 

“I did threaten them,” you admit easily. Running a hand down your face, you can’t help but sigh deeply. “But don’t worry, you didn’t miss out on anything fun.” 

 

Keiji’s eyebrow raises. It goes higher at your strained smile. “Everything alright with the A.I now? No more silent treatment?” 

 

“Hopefully.” You pause, trying to process your previous conversation. “But give them a night or so to. Um, think about what I said?” Sheepishly flashing Keiji a smile, you start walking towards the bedrooms. He follows, stepping beside you.

 

“Alright, sure.” Keiji eyes you for a moment before tearing his eyes away to concentrate on walking. “Got anything interesting?” 

 

“Nothing much,” is your immediate reply. Other than lack of Death Game memories. And different thought processes. But you can’t tell Keiji that, haha. Definitely not. “You?”

 

“There’s some pretty neat places in the ruins. Q-taro found one.” Pausing outside what you assume is Keiji’s room, the two of you face each other. “Wanna go check it out with me tomorrow?” 

 

His casual words startle a laugh out of you. “Let’s go do an Attraction while we’re at it,” you add on jokingly. “And I’ll supervise you and that A.I’s playdate, too.” 

 

“Sounds good.” Keiji grins, turning partially to open the door. You take a step back. “It’s a date, then.” 

 

( he won’t show his back to you. 

 

‘trust’? sweet words coming from a liar. ) 

 

“Right.” And because you can’t stop the slight twitch of bitterness , you say, “Sleep well, Keiji.” 

 

“I will,” he lies straight to your face. Stepping inside the room, he sends another wry grin your way. “You too, Yuko.” Then he closes the door. 

 

Both of you know you won’t. Neither will he. That’s why this situation is so ironic, isn’t it? 

 

On autopilot, you turn, heading down the hall to your own room. Everyone else sleeps, flooded by dreams of their own making. Keiji thinks up nightmares in his waking hours, of those he killed and of gunshots and chains. 

 

You stare up at the ceiling, wondering about how much you could possibly fuck up. About how much you’ve already screwed up in your life and so many others. 

 

The walk back to your room is silent. 

 

Chapter Text

Attractions are much tougher than in-game gives them credit for. 

 

You cough, hand shooting up to cover your mouth. From beside you, Kai looks on worriedly, hands fluttering but hesitating to make contact. 

 

“Miss Yuko. Do you want to sit down?” Again, you let out a cough, frame shaking. Weakly, you nod, letting Kai’s arm wrap around your shoulder gently, as if afraid to break you. 

 

It isn’t as if the Attraction itself is hard. Somehow, the near-death experiences aren’t the hardest part- it’s the sheer stress of it all.  

 

Yeah, yeah- you, the one with arguably the most shittiest burden here, is complaining about stress. 

 

In all honesty, you kinda expected this to happen. Your body can’t handle stress for long periods of time without releasing it healthily (haha, never)- and what better way than to fall sick? 

 

Kai guides you to the Lobby, setting you down in a seat. As you hide more coughs behind your sleeve, your hand curls into the material of the sofa, nails digging into soft fabric. Distantly, you wonder if property damage will give you a punishment. 

 

Getting sick really sucks, huh. 

 

“Would you like to visit Tia Safalin?” The homemaker kneels beside you, carefully placing a hand to your forehead. “Your temperature is high,” he notes. 

 

Before you can give a reply, another cough tears at your throat, making you turn away. 

 

“You two alright there?” A low voice captures your attention. Reko. Of course. More people to see you at your most vulnerable. 

 

( more people that know. more people that can take advantage of that fact.

 

no. no, no, no! this is all wrong.

 

you're the schemer here. the liar. the fake. for as long as this stupid game plays out, you always will be.

 

how can you afford to break now? ) 

 

Fine ,” you choke out. “Just- just get me some medicine from Safalin. And no shady pharmaceutical techniques.” Your words feel harsh against your throat, burning with each breath. 

 

Kai shifts, standing up fully. “Miss Reko, please take care of her. I’ll be back soon.” 

 

“Alright,” she agrees easily. Through narrowed eyes, you see the fuzzy image of Reko. Maybe the lights are blocking your view. “Hey, Yuko. Kai just left to get your meds, okay?” 

 

( why did you do it? bro? why did you do it? 

 

you’re not… the Alice i know isn’t a murderer. big bro isn’t a murderer. you aren’t him, are you? you’re not him at all! 

 

you’re not my big bro. you’re not Alice. yeah... that must be it. you’re just a look-a-like. yeah. yeah! 

 

when i go home, big bro will be there. he won’t be a murderer, he won’t be in prison, he’ll be at home and we’ll sing songs with the band and- and- )

 

Looking at Reko for another moment, you close your eyes, resting your head against the seat. Tired. Were you always this tired? “Sure.” 

 

Somehow, you couldn’t bear to look at her. 

 

And when Kai comes back, suspicious medication in hand, no words have been exchanged between you and Reko. But there's an agreement. Maybe there always had been one. 

 

Neither of you will talk about him. Of an estranged brother, or of a murderer. 

 

( when you saw the two interact, with a single panel separating them, you couldn’t help but cry. 

 

a sister who didn’t know the truth, a brother who chose not to tell the truth- they were both so sad, so tragic. so you cried for their broken relations, for the years that went by with no contact. you cried for the poor brother, who loved his sister so very much. 

 

in truth, the one who was most sad, most tragic, was you. ) 

 

After eating the medication, you’re taken back to your room by Reko. She pats your elbow as you enter your room drowsily, too dazed to understand the meaning behind her actions. 

 

“Get well soon, Yuko,” she says simply. 

 

You fall onto the bed, still maintaining that same gracefulness you constantly shove away in favour of the floor. The door closing behind you has a note of finality to it. 

 

Maybe Alice isn’t the only thing you two have in common. Who knows? You certainly don’t. 

 

( one spring is spent alone, underneath that cherry blossom tree. you catch a petal in your palm, a soft pink splattered white.

 

upon it, you wish a different sort of wish. ‘if only the siblings could mend their relationship. if only they could be happy. if only, if only-’ and with a heavy heart, you let the petal fly, hoping that it can fulfil your wish. 

 

there is nothing else you can do other than wish. and so, that’s what you do. 

 

if only the sister wished the same. maybe then, it would have happened. as for the brother… 

 

well, that’s what he’s been wishing for from the start, isn’t it?) 

 

Chapter Text

Sitting on the steps, you rest your head on your knees. It’s been an hour or so now. No one has come in during that time, so why are you waiting? What are you waiting for? 

 

The ‘Room of Lies’ stands slightly away, door firmly closed. Just beyond the stairs lies the ‘exit’. 

 

Yet here you sit, waiting for something. Anything. 

 

“Miss Yuko, so this is where you were…” Looking up, you blink at the familiar figure. “I was trying to find you,” he explains, hands gesturing. 

 

“Hey Mishima,” you greet softly. “You found me, I guess.” 

 

Said male pushes his glasses up, smiling ambiguously. As always. “Would you mind if I joined you?” 

 

“Go ahead.” You cross your arms over your knees, resting your head again. Mishima walks to you calmly, settling beside you at a respectable distance. “So, what’s up?” 

 

“No, it’s just…. well, we heard that you were sick.” He chances a glance at you. “And you don’t seem to have fully recovered.” 

 

From Reko, then. But ‘we’? 

 

“It’s just fatigue,” you dismiss easily. Mishima frowns at that. 

 

“Fatigue is a matter of concern, Miss Yuko. You should be resting.” Mishima adjusts his tie, clearly unsettled. “Your lack of self-perseverance is indeed worrying,” he adds. 

 

“Thanks.” Dryly, you reply to his words. “But I know how to take care of myself, Mishima.” 

 

“Knowing something and acting on it are two different things. Are you taking care of yourself?” He turns to face you, seriousness lacing his every word. How moving, to have someone worry for you. 

 

Before you can give him a reply, another presence enters the room. 

 

“W-what are y’all…” He grits his teeth, sweating nervously. 

 

Ah, so Q-taro is contemplating it after all. 

 

How disappointing. To think a coward like him would escape while abandoning everyone. 

 

“Oh, Q-taro,” you greet casually. “What are you doing here?” Stretching out your legs on the steps, you tilt your head at him, eyes digging into his every move. 

 

“I was just… wandering, y’know? So why are you two…” When Q-taro attempts a smile, it comes off as pathetic. Too fake to believe, too wavering to even be considered as a smile. 

 

Pathetic. Just pathetic. 

 

Mishima, also sensing something off, adjusts his glasses. “Were you really just wandering, Q-taro? It seems to me that you were planning something else.” 

 

The professor is smart. He catches on quickly, too. 

 

Good.

 

And because you can’t help but add fuel to the fire, you point out, “That’s an awful lot of tokens you got there, Q-taro.” 

 

He flinches, taking a step back. Sweat pours over his skin heavily. His breaths are faster, harder. Eyes flickering from you and Mishima to the top of the stairs. 

 

Q-taro’s panicking. Badly so.

 

“Is something wrong?” Mishima frowns, peering at the male carefully. “You look unwell," he points out gently.

 

Another step back. Stifling a yawn, you peek at Q-taro through half-lidded eyes. “If you’re thinking about escaping, you should rethink your options, y’know?” 

 

With those words, Q-taro takes a step back. And another. Then he turns, running out of the room. Mishima and you watch him go, not attempting to call him back. 

 

“So.” You look at Mishima awkwardly. He smiles back, just as tense. “Do you want to uh, go somewhere else? Or maybe tell someone about this?” 

 

“Yes. That seems… appropriate.” Mishima clears his throat, unable to say anything else. 

 

There were a lot of ways that could have gone wrong.

 

But it didn’t, did it? That’s why you and Mishima are here now. It’s why Kai and Joe are still breathing, why so many others aren’t. 

 

If the game is complicated, you’ll just have to make it such that you’re playing on even grounds. 

 

That is to say, dirty. 

 

Chapter Text

Whenever Nao sees you, she immediately evacuates the area. If Mishima is with her, he sends you a nod before disappearing elsewhere. If it’s Reko accompanying her, she’ll give a casual wave. 

 

You suppose it’s because you haven’t outed Alice’s true identity to anyone, despite your shitty villain act in the Main Game. Or maybe she thinks you’re an alright person. 

 

Eh. Doesn’t matter. People are free to have their own opinion on you. 

 

Reko’s opinion, it seems, is that you’re in need of a friend. 

 

“Yo,” she greets, stepping ‘outside’. “A bit late for meditation.” 

 

Not turning around to face her, you opt to look forward, into the gentle darkness that envelopes you. Barely seeing anything, barely thinking. Meditation is relaxing. Good for relieving stress, too. 

 

And boy, do you have a lot of that. 

 

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping, Reko?” Hearing shuffling from behind, the musician walks forth, sitting beside you. Her shoulder bumps into yours, in a friendly gesture. You suppress the urge to move away. 

 

Reko leans forward, palms supporting her. “You should be too,” she points out. “Especially since you were sick earlier.” 

 

Good point. 

 

“But I’m all better now,” you whine. “I even took a nap and everything.” 

 

“Still. Rest is good.” The female sighs, shaking her head at you. “Ever heard of taking care of yourself? It’s a thing, y’know.” 

 

“It’s just…” Pausing, you let out a sigh of your own. You’ve been doing that quite a lot lately, haven’t you? “I can’t rest just yet.” 

 

Reko snorts. “I’m not an idiot, Yuko. There’s a difference between trying your hardest and running yourself dry.” 

 

Your words get stuck in your throat. Huffing, you look away stubbornly. “Why do you care, Reko? It’s my decision. Besides, who's to say I can't do both?” 

 

“Well,” she draws you. “I consider us friends, for one. And even if we’re not friends- as someone who cares about whether your spark dies out, I’m telling you that it’s okay to take it easy.” 

 

Letting her words sink in, Reko playfully bumps her shoulder into yours. You let her. 

 

( words have so many meanings, so much emotions to them. you may never truly understand.

 

is it alright to just take it all in anyway? )

 

“Is it-” you pause. Reko hums softly, as if encouraging you to continue. You do. “Is it really alright? To not do everything I can to save everyone?” 

 

If she notices your voice wavering, she doesn’t point out. “You’ve practically done it once,” Reko answers. “And it’s fine if you can’t save everyone. We’ll save ourselves when the time comes.” 

 

You’ve… never thought of it that way. Maybe it’s because you’re still thinking of some of them as in-game characters, rather than humans. Maybe you’re too caught up with the ‘future’. 

 

 

Maybe you’re thinking about this too hard. 

 

Hesitantly, you lean your body towards Reko’s, bumping your shoulder into her’s ever-so-shyly. She grins. 

 

Chapter Text

“I really hate this place.” Squinting, you try to make out the other in the darkness. “So,  Kai, why are we here?” 

 

His hand brushes your upper arm, carefully asking for permission. At your hum of approval, he grips onto your elbow. “We’re here to scout, Miss Yuko,” he murmurs into your ear. “In the Pink Room.” 

 

“Of course we are,” you sigh. Gesturing to the exit with a hand, you hope he can see you. “Shall we, then?” 

 

Kai’s answer is to walk towards the door, footsteps completely silent. You groan. Assassins and their bullshit. “Let’s go,” he urges. 

 

For someone whose job is to stalk and/or kill people, Kai’s surprisingly impatient. Then again, he’a never killed anyone before, so. He opens the door, waiting for you to go before slipping out himself. 

 

Y’know, for someone whose job is to butcher corpses, you’re unnervingly relaxed. Is this a symptom of emotional numbness? 

 

And digressing from that mess of a topic, you slap your cheek, relishing in the slight sting. Yeah. That’s enough thinking for one day. 

 

Kai eyes you warily. Gesturing at him to continue walking, you rub your cheek harshly. 

 

This entire plan is beyond your expectations. Sure, maybe Kai would have taken initiative. You can accept that. But this is supposed to be Sara and Keiji’s role, not the job for people who are supposed to be dead

 

Okay, maybe you’re a little annoyed. 

 

“It’s locked,” you intone monotonously. “Oh, whatever will we do?” 

 

Kai stares harder at the knob, seeing something you can’t. “The password is the number of participants who are not allowed to drink.” He reads in careful, measured words, as if worried someone is listening in. 

 

Well, they probably are. Too bad you and Kai don’t acknowledge the fact. 

 

Eyeing the door, you ask rhetorically, “Drink what? Water?” Strangely enough, you can see the spike holes on the knob, but not the words themselves. Huh. Probably because you’re weird that way. 

 

He sends you an astonished look. “You can’t see it?” 

 

“Ah, no? What makes you think I can?” You take a few steps back, turning to go back into the Cafeteria. 

 

Kai frowns, answering simply. “It just seemed that way.” At those words, you pause. Do you really seem like such an omni-potent asshole? Are you that good at faking arrogance? 

 

Then hesitantly, you reply, “I don’t have a sixth sense or anything. Unlike you or Keiji or whoever else whose life got fucked up, I’m pretty average.” Kai seems unimpressed, which causes you to scoff. “Acting high and mighty doesn’t mean shit, Kai.” 

 

( actually, it means that you're repressing your emotions and releasing them in an unhealthy method but. go off. )

 

 

“You don’t.” When you give him a questioning glance, he clarifies. “I don’t believe you are conceited, no matter what you may say.”

 

“Um,” you manage. “Thanks…?”

 

“Do you not believe me?” Kai starts walking down the hall, with you struggling to keep up. “You can tell whether I’ve said a lie.” 

 

“No, that’s not-” you run a hand through your hair, frustrated. Embarrassed, you wave a hand, as if dismissing your words. “It’s just… it’s been a long time since anyone said something like that.” 

 

Kai blinks. “I see,” he replies simply. 

 

How strange, to be so affected by another’s words. Despite knowing that words are dangerous, despite you using them to hurt , you still want to believe him when he tells you that you’re not such a shitty person. 

 

You want to believe in him. Kai Satou. Despite not knowing him for so long, you’ve survived death with this failure-assassin. You want to trust this homemaker who’s best dish is Egg Benedict. This idiot stalker who can’t physically express emotions. 

 

Really, all the people you surround yourself with weirdos. All of them. 

 

( … trust, huh? 

 

now that you think about it, you can see it happening. )

 

Chapter Text

The bar is dark. Amazingly enough, you don’t bump into anything on the way there. With Kai’s gentle grasp, he pulls you towards what you assume is the board.

 

Squinting, you sigh. Yep, still no night vision. 

 

“I’ve been wondering,” Kai starts conversationally. Oh no. “But of all the names written here, there’s no sign of a ‘Gonbee Yamada’. Is he perhaps…?” 

 

Glancing at him, you turn away with a frown. “You’ll find out sooner or later,” you reply dismissively. 

 

Kai shoots you a look you can’t discern in the dark. But you don’t really want to bother playing guess the emotion, so you don’t. He reads the board carefully again. 

 

“He won’t hurt your precious Sara, Kai. Gonbee’s too good for that.” Turning away, you eye the shelves contemplatively. Maybe one drink wouldn’t hurt. 

 

The male doesn’t reply to your statement. “I have the passcode,” he says instead. 

 

Looking away from the alcoholic drinks, you push back a disappointed sigh. Too bad you’re still underage. Then again, when did that ever stop you? “Alright. Should we go back?"

 

“No drinks,” Kai declares, realising your intentions almost immediately. “Alcoholism is unhealthy, Miss Yuko.” 

 

See? This is why you’re always so stressed out. Health and all that. Yay. 

 

“I don’t mind,” you muse to yourself. “Not like I have long to live, anyway.”

 

“... what?” 

 

You laugh softly. “Oh, it’s nothing important, Kai. Especially since it doesn’t harm your dear Sara.” Giving him a reproachful glance, your eyes are drawn to the shelves again. 

 

Maybe next time.

 

“Let’s go,” you settle on saying. “We’re running out of time.” 

 

And if you’re feeling awfully scandalous, you might just sneak some alcohol back to the Third Floor. 

 

Chapter Text

Cursing under your breath, you pull Kai into the Hidden Room as the sound of footfalls approaches. While you lean against the door, ear pressed to it, Kai gives you a confused glance. 

 

Sara and Keiji. If they’re here, then that means Gin is, too. And that’s no good- you can’t have more suspicion drawn on you now. 

 

Looks like your time here is up. 

 

The detective duo talk between themselves, discussing their next step. With more words exchanged, someone walks nearer to yours and Kai’s hiding place. 

 

Gripping onto the handle, you tighten your hold as they try to open from the other side. After a few more tries, they give up. You aren’t willing to feel relieved just yet. 

 

“It’s locked,” the feminine voice -Sara- says. “Let’s try someplace else.” 

 

“Whatever you say, Sara,” come Keiji’s cool voice. More footsteps are heard, going down the hall to somewhere (hopefully) far away. You breathe out. 

 

Sparing a glance at your companion, you let go of the door knob. “Time’s up, Kai. We need to go back.” Hoping he’ll agree, you find yourself left disappointed.

 

“Let’s continue,” Kai insists firmly. When you shoot the male a resigned look, he stares right back unrelentingly. 

 

You know that if you reject him, he’ll understand. But he’d probably continue on alone and get himself killed. That, you’re not too keen on. 

 

“Fine.” Relenting with yet another sigh, you narrow your eyes at him. “But,” you watch Kai tense up. “We leave the moment I say so. Got it?” 

 

Watching him consider his options is like waiting for paint to dry. “Alright,” he eventually agrees. “Let’s hurry up then.”

 

He didn’t have a choice in the first place. You would have bullied him into agreeing. 

 

At least you’re spared the effort. 

 

Pressing your ear to the door once more, you don’t hear a sound. Satisfied, you stand upright, opening the door as gently as you can. 

 

Kai immediately exits when you motion to him in… a crude manner. Let’s go with that. You follow him out at a steady pace, closing the door while Kai messes with the Pink Room’s lock. 

 

It opens. 

 

The design of the room really throws people off, you think distantly. Pink carpeting, pink walls, cute furniture- all a way to lower someone’s guard. Why would anyone doubt this room? 

 

( layers and layers of paint hide away white-washed walls, bleached into off-colour and stripped of its red splatters. 

 

isn’t there another room just like this one? ) 

 

Kai goes over to the heart-shaped vent. How focused, you muse. Dedicated and firm. Truly the ‘perfect’ bodyguard. One that’s manipulated by Sara’s father with the promise of familial love and a home, no less. 

 

You’re not exactly impressed. Kudos to him, but you’re different. 

 

“Are we making progress?” Dryly, you eye the soft toys (or at least, you think they’re soft toys) lining the floor. If you could actually see, you’d probably take one with you. Maybe cut it up, see if there’s anything inside. 

 

Right, human morality is still a thing. 

 

The answer to your question is to, apparently, yank off the vent. Great. 

 

Carefully placing it the side, Kai glances at you, asking a silent question. You nod. He crawls up into the vent first. The soft murmur of shuffling following behind him. 

 

Lingering around for a bit longer, you turn to the door again. What if Sara and Keiji came inside? Should you call him back while you still can? 

 

... no. If this is Kai’s decision, then so be it. 

 

You’ll at least see it through to the end. 

 

With that thought in mind, you sigh, severely disappointed with yourself. Bending your knees, you enter the vent. 

 

The path through is cramped, and the odd shape of the vent nearly makes you want to curse Miley. But you don’t, because you won’t give her the satisfaction. Never. 

 

As you near the exit, the lights flicker on. Some of it spreads towards the vent- a blessing, you think distantly. 

 

Of course, this is when Kai chooses to ruin the moment. 

 

“Can you unlock the door?” While you get out, Kai’s already set to work, fiddling with the computer in the corner. The lights are much better than eerie darkness, which you appreciate. 

 

Peeking a look from behind Kai, you see him typing quickly. Much faster than your eyes can follow. “I can,” you hum. “But do you really want me to?” 

 

He pauses mid-code. Kai knows how to code, huh? You slip that particular slip of information away for future use. 

 

“You’re here to help me,” he points out. “Or you wouldn’t be here.”

 

That’s inconvenient. Kai knows your intentions and is making full use of it. You expected him to at least have decent courtesy to not point it out. 

 

Guess you expected wrongly. 

 

Sighing heavily, you run a hand through your hair. “How rude,” you mutter, just loud enough to hear. Your hand slips into your pocket to dig out the necessary tools as you speak. 

 

Whatever. Might as well give it a shot.

 

Chapter Text

Pulling Gin under your table, you hush him as silently as you can. The boy stops struggling upon recognising you, staring with wide eyes. “Meow!? Big sis Yuko…?” His eyes drift to the other. “Kai?” 

 

“Miley’s over there,” you murmur, effectively silencing the boy. Gin grips onto your arm. His plushie is nowhere in sight, so you’ll just assume he left it behind on the Third Floor. 

 

Of course, hiding under a Cafeteria table while the organisation’s little minions talk ambiguously, with the detective duo standing a distance away is now your current profession. Sadly enough, you don't get paid. 

 

And with a bonus of zero dollars and zero cents, you can’t hear Miley and the unknown person talking. This is so great. You bite down the hysteria you feel. 

 

What an eventful day this is turning out to be. 

 

Sara and Keiji presumably leave, making some form of noise that attracts Miley’s attention. The conversation (which you conveniently can’t hear) halts. 

 

Kai stares into the darkness long and hard. “We should wait it out,” he announces quietly. Gin scoots closer to you, hugging your arm tighter. 

 

“Hey, big sis Yuko?” The male asks quietly, soft paws brushing against your skin. You hum. “What are you two doing here, woof?” 

 

Now you have to lie to a kid. This day sure is getting better. 

 

“I could ask you the same,” you retort instead. “Gin, what were you thinking ?” Berating him firmly but not unkindly, you place a hand on his head. “You came here alone?” 

 

The boy nods, as if ashamed. His head bows. “I just wanted to do something useful,” Gin mumbles out. 

 

Instead of lying to a kid (omission and diversion don’t count), you made him upset and depressed, which is somehow even worse. 

 

God, when did you get babysitting tacked onto your responsibilities? This isn’t what you want. 

 

“Well,” you soften considerably. “At least get someone to accompany you.” Patting Gin’s head again, you remove your hand. “The more the merrier, after all.” 

 

His nods are vigourous this time, hand (paw?) coming up to punch the air beside him. “Woof! I will!” 

 

Aww. 

 

Unable to help yourself, you poke his cheek, which makes him huff. “But really, don’t tell anyone that we came down here. It’s a secret, Gin.”

 

“Okay, meow,” he agrees readily. “You can count on me.”

 

Nodding wisely, you realise that Gin can’t actually see you. Or can he? What exactly are the limitations of this ‘sixth sense’ of his? 

 

…. you decide to not think about it too hard. It’s probably better for your (frankly pathetic) mental state. 

 

Done with your inner argument, you sigh. “Gin’s one of the more trustworthy ones here.” As you talk, your head tilts in a serene sort of way. “That’s comforting.” 

 

Gin brightens, scooting closer to you. From behind, you hear Kai shuffling, as if making himself comfortable on the floor. 

 

Somehow, you always end up on the ground one way or another. 

 

And strangely enough, the fact comforts you. Lie on the ground and slowly let the earth reclaim you, is how it goes, right? 

 

You don’t particularly mind. 

 

Chapter Text

The Room of Lies is open. 

 

When you stand before it, contemplatively, you wonder if you should let in-game go as planned. But Sara could always go with someone else- namely, Joe. How would the organisation act then? 

 

Having it follow in-game is your safest bet. Even if you put Reko and Alice on the line. 

 

You’ll just have to make sure that there’s no mistakes. 

 

That’s right. No one has to die yet. 

 

No one else has to die. 

 

“... Yuko?” With a gasp, you snap your head to the exit, where Reko and Sara came from. The high-schooler frowns, confused. “Hey,” she says softly. “Everything okay?” 

 

( you don't want to cry. it's weak and humiliating and pathetic. when you cried, they became upset. they would hold you close, whisper empty words, yet they never meant any of it. 

 

so when they said that it'd be alright, you agreed. it had to be. 

 

if you continued to bask in self-pity, they'd get bored of you, wouldn't they? ) 

 

“It’s all peachy,” you lie cheerfully. “Why’d you ask?

 

Reko moves her hand to her face, gesturing at her eyes. What? Placing a hand on your cheek, you inhale sharply. 

 

Are you crying? Seriously? 

 

( nononono- please don't look at me please look away please-

 

if you look at any longer, you'll see all the imperfections. )

 

Immediately swiping at your eyes, you step away from the door. “Don’t let me stop you,” you laugh wetly. “You should try the dea- the new Attraction.” 

 

One of them -Sara- watches you, concerned. “Do you want us to stay with you?”  Her voice is soft, comforting. You close your eyes, letting more tears roll down your face. 

 

( you never did deserve kindness. it was a blessing given out by people like Sara. by people like them

 

even if it never felt like one. )

 

“It’s alright,” you breathe out. “I… I’ll be waiting for you. So go.” 

 

Uncertain, the duo glances at each other before hardening their resolve. “We’ll come back.” Reko says, determined. Sara nods, agreeing with the sentiment. 

 

“Okay,” you say, knowing full well that one of them won’t come out as themselves. 

 

The door opens, with both of them entering the darkness. As it closes behind them, Reko chances one final look at you. She smiles awkwardly, hand going up in a wave. 

 

You smile back. 

 

Chapter Text

Leaning against the plush covers, you sink deeper into the material. Maybe if you try hard enough, you’ll sink all the way in and never come back up. 

 

Okay, that’s enough horror stories for the day. Forcing yourself to sit up, you sigh. At least in the seat, you could relish in comfort and hide from your problems.

 

“So there you are, Miss Yuko.” 

 

Yet another problem this way comes. Stacking all of it higher and higher, until it eventually topples over. 

 

Immediately, you lean backwards, sinking into the chair once more. The speaker snorts, tapping your elbow. Given no response, he takes your elbow in one hand, pulling you up from potential freedom. 

 

“Why,” you whine, already missing the soft feeling. “Beanie, why .”

 

Shin huffs, taking a seat near you. “Suffocating because of a cushion is no good, Miss Yuko. What would everyone else think?”

 

“Good riddance, I guess.” Leaning against the arm rest, you sit in horrible posture. “Is someone bullying you again? Does little miss ‘Yuko’ have to deal with any other bad children?” 

 

You coo mockingly, watching him try to control his repressed laughter. He shakes his head, tugging off his beanie to mess with it. With hair as messy as Shin’s, you’re surprised it doesn’t get tangled up with the beanie. 

 

Eh. Questions, questions, you suppose.

 

“Tempting, but no,” Shin replies. “I just wanted to ask something. Or maybe more than just one something. Y’know?” 

 

“Go ahead.” Sprawling across the sofa, you peek your head over the armrest to look at him lazily. “No promises to answer them, though.” 

 

He groans. “That’s unfair, Miss Yuko.” 

 

“No, it’s not,” you shoot down. “All you have to do is ask the right questions. Y’know?” The last part, which you parrot back at him, incites a long-suffering sigh, much to your amusement. 

 

“Be that way.” Shin grumbles. He falls back into the seat. “Oh shit, this is really comfy.”

 

One finger going over the armrest to poke at his side, you snort at how much he sank in. “You’re going to die of asphyxiation at this rate,” you point out, as if you weren't contemplating just minutes before. 

 

“Then let me,” came the muffled response. 

 

“... that’s not going to work out.” Reaching a hand over, you tug at his scarf, pulling him up again. Shin groans, as if having lost something significant. “If you die under my supervision, everyone would get on my case.” 

 

With a delicately raised eyebrow, Shin tilts his head, adjusting his scarf with one hand. “Is that all you worry about?” 

 

“Oh, no,” you wave a hand, letting it drape onto the armrest. “I’m stressed out by everything. This isn’t even half of it.” 

 

“That’s not good for your health,” he states blandly. 

 

“Yeah. I know.” Channelling as much resignation and tiredness as you can, you answer him. 

 

“Which brings me to my first question- are you taking care of yourself?” Shin eyes you curiously, watching as you tense up. And as if catching yourself, you relax again, never peeking over the armrest to meet his gaze. 

 

“In a way, sure,” you reply vaguely. He’s about to ask you more when you decide to sit up, nearly falling off the chair in the process.

 

Shin yelps, arm reaching out to help. You motion it away, stabilising yourself with as much dignity and primness you can muster. That is to say, a pathetic amount. 

 

“Let’s go do an Attraction,” you announce, standing up from the chair. The hacker eyes you warily.

 

“What?” 

 

“Attraction,” you state near passively-aggressively, pointing at the Ruins Corridor or whatever it's called. “You, me, let’s go.” 

 

He gapes at you. “... what?” 

 

“I’ll-” Pausing, you let out a drawn-out (probably more than necessary) sigh. “If we survive this Floor, I’ll answer all your questions.” At Shin’s unimpressed gaze, you add on, “Really, beanie. I will.” 

 

( ‘if’. that’s quite a word, isn’t it? 

 

if they love you, if you love them, if, if, if. 

 

more than once, you find yourself hating that word. there are so many chances and possibilities that come with it- yet this is the future that was decided. 

 

… 

 

‘if’ they could ever forgive you- )

 

The male still looks unconvinced, knowing full well that both of you might not survive the Third Floor. But at your firm gaze, he wavers. 

 

“Fine. Whatever. Let’s go.” Shin tugs at the scarf, loosening it around the shirt collar. “We better get those damn stars, or I’ll be pissed.” 

 

You smile, half amused and half relieved to escape the potentially dangerous questions.

 

“Sure,” you easily agree. “Let’s.” 

 

But of course, you can’t escape forever. 

 

The truth is a dangerous thing. It’ll always come to light, one way or another. By the organisation’s hand or your own, you’re not sure yet. 

 

All you can do now is hope for the best. 

 

How pathetic is that, huh? 

 

 

Chapter Text

Resting your head against the covers, you stare blankly at the door. It’s a new day, filled with drama and Attractions. 

 

Also the Third Trial or whatever. 

 

You’re currently on the floor. But it’s all good. It’s not like you accidentally tripped, fell onto the ground, and decided it wasn’t worth it to get up. And it certainly wasn’t a few hours ago. 

 

Definitely not. 

 

Someone knocks on your door, two gentle taps echoing in. “Um, good morning Yuko. It’s me, Joe.” His voice raises higher. “I saw that the lights are on, so I thought you might be awake. Unless you aren’t?” 

 

Stretching your legs across the floor, you lean into the side of the bed. “Come in,” you sigh. 

 

Admittedly, you’ve been lazing around for the past few hours. The floor is, amazingly enough, meditative. Much more than it has any right to be. 

 

The door opens. Joe steps in, leaving the door wide behind him. His eyes dart across the room, eventually falling onto the figure on the floor. Serenely, you raise a hand. “Yo.” 

 

Joe struggles to speak, but eventually says, weakly. “Why are you on the floor?” 

 

“It’s relaxing,” you insist. “Of course to you, my poverty ways are too difficult to comprehend.” Stretching your arms, you plant your hands onto the bed to get up. 

 

The male gives a dramatic huff, hands situated on his hips. “My lack of income will definitely surprise you,” Joe says in a snotty, uptight voice. “Why, I can’t even afford carpeting !” 

 

You snort, hands slipping on the bed. “Oh shi-” 

 

Getting cut off, you lie on the floor again, lying dead on the ground. Joe pauses. “... you alright?”

 

“No,” is your immediate reply. “But hey, thanks for asking.” 

 

“Is there something I can do?” His voice is uncertain but his words are sweet. No, Joe himself has a kind personality. Certainly a best boi. 

 

You lift your head up, peering at him through bleary eyes. “Attraction?” 

 

“Sounds good,” he shrugs. “Want me to pull you up?” Joe offers, offering his hands to you, the floor dweller. 

 

Unbidden, you let out a carefree laugh, taking his hands. “You know me so well.” 

 

Today is going to be a good day. No matter how much contact you've made with the floor so far. Even if the Third Trial looms behind you, ready to put you through the entire mess that's Clone Reko. It’s all good. 

 

You’ll make it through.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Now, the First Place gets a special bonus!” Ranger hops up and down, seemingly excited if not for the fact that oh, you don’t know, he can’t feel excitement in a good way? 

 

Just saying. 

 

“So congrats, Q-taro Burgerberg. Stand over there.” The Doll gestures to a space behind him with the hand holding an ice cream. “As for second to sixth place, in no particular order, it’s Keiji Shinogi, Kanna Kizuchi, Kai Satou and hm, Gonbee Yamada and Sou Hiyori.” 

 

With that group directed to another side of the room, Ranger turns to call out for seventh to twelfth place. You join the others as they move to the right. 

 

“And with a pathetic amount of zero points… coming in last place is Gin Ibushi!” Ranger taunts the boy, getting him to stand just in front of Q-taro. “Now,” his eyes darken. “Let’s begin the Third Trial.” 

 

The floor under your feet rises. Nao holds onto Reko, who steps away from the artist. From across the room, barricades appear, trapping the others inside. 

 

Q-taro and Gin are locked onto a flashy dartboard. A large gun is pointed at Gin. He struggles to get out, to no avail. 

 

“Hey, what’s the big idea!?” Voice frantic, Q-taro shouts at the two Floor Masters. Looking away, you observe the steadily panicking group you’re stuck with. Mishima deviates towards you. 

 

“This is quite troublesome, Miss Yuko,” he greets. You smile wearily in response. 

 

Shaking your head, you reply. “As it always is.” Turning to look back down, you frown as a red button appears in front of Q-taro. 

 

“And this is your advantage as first place.” Ranger continues on casually. “If you press it, you’ll switch places with last place! Won’t you save the life of a child, Q-taro Burgerburg?” 

 

While the Dress-up Doll continues to mock him, Safalin taps his shoulder. “Eughh Ranger, don’t be mean…” She sniffles.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Ranger waves her off. “There’s a time limit of five minutes, so you better get started!” 

 

The two stand comfortably, watching the chaos erupt. Assholes. They’re getting off of this, aren’t they?  

 

“But what can we do!?” Nao flails her arms, nearly hitting Joe. She pauses, muttering a slight apology before turning back. “We’re all the way up here!” 

 

Joe points at the boards behind them. “There must be something,” he insists. “Look, some of the numbers don’t make sense.”

 

Sara frowns. From beside you, Mishima starts to mutter under his breath. 

 

“There’s nothing we can do,” Reko snaps. “Nothing’s here!” You sigh, rubbing your temple. Reko’s personality really did take a turn in the past three years. No wonder they’re so different.

 

“We have those,” you interject, gesturing to the numbers. “Three screens with different numbers. One of them is the timer, so we just have to figure out the other two.” 

 

Sara frowns further, hands tightening by her sides. “Length, width, weight, height... what could be 25.6?” 

 

Good. They’re thinking about what you said. It’s progress, if anything.

 

Her classmate sends her a worried look. Then, as a thought occurs to him, Joe snaps his fingers. “It probably has something to do with Gin. That’s the only way-” 

 

“Weight,” Sara realises. Immediately heading to the edge, she cups her hands over his mouth. “Gin!” 

 

The boy looks up, eyes teary. “Big sis Sara…?”

 

You feel a bit bad for him. 

 

Sara frowns, determination blazing in her eyes as she continued asking. “What’s your weight?”

 

He blinks. At Sara’s serious face, Gin thinks for a moment before shouting back. “Um, um, 25 kilograms, maybe? I’m not sure!”

 

“Close enough,” you muse. Then raising your voice, you turn to the others. “What about the other screen?” 

 

“Perhaps…” Mishima slowly nods. “We have to make the number to be the same as Gin’s weight? Is that what it is? A weighing scale?”

 

“There’s nothing to use to weigh here,” Nao points out. She seems to have calmed down. Unlike Reko, who settles for agitation.

 

Sara, on the other hand, seems to be the most panicked. It’s not unusual, seeing as she cares for Gin like a sibling would. 

 

Although it means Sara’s out of commission. 

 

“How about we jump?” At your suggestion, Nao shoots you an almost exasperated look. What? You’re just following in-game. 

 

“Yeah!” Joe agrees readily. “It’s worth a shot, right?” 

 

Mishima nods, with Nao hesitantly following his example. Sara looks between the group and Gin, clearly distracted. The musician looks on impatiently, arms crossed. “Well? Let’s do it!” 

 

The scene is hilarious, despite the serious mood. If you were any less manic, you might have even laughed. 

 

But of course, you don’t. You jump instead. 

 

A different tile makes a hollow noise. Pausing, Sara runs up to it, Reko stepping away. Digging her fingers into the space between the tiles, she jams it up, pulling it aside. 

 

With all the force exerted, a piece of the tile falls into the hole. The numbers go up to 0.2 kilograms. 

 

Stepping towards the hole, you eye the bottom of it curiously. “Wow, that’s deep,” you comment. The spikes protrude out of the ground, sharp and dangerous all the same. Falling into them sure would be painful.

 

Looking at you hopelessly, Sara stifles a sob. “What now?” 

 

“First off, you need to calm down.” Your hands reach out to take the tile Sara holds, dropping it into the hole. It increases by 0.7 kilograms. 

 

“Second of all,” Joe adds on. “We’ll be okay, Sara. Y’know?” He grins, standing beside her. 

 

The girl takes in a deep breath, exhales, and repeats the process. Slowly, she nods. “Yeah,” she sighs. “Right.” Her hand reaches into her pocket, pulling out a familiar coil of wire.

 

Oh hell no. 

 

“Does that even work?” You raise an eyebrow, looking at the thin wire pointedly. Spider thread is a thing, sure, but seriously

 

Joe stares at it blankly, equally as unbelieving. “Uh, you sure about that, Sara?” 

 

In response, the student takes the wire in both hands, pulling it. The wire snaps. Joe blinks. You blink. Sara stares down at her hands. 

 

“Moving on,” you all but declare. “Where did you even get that from?” 

 

“The Room of Lies.” Staring down at the wire, she sighs, dumping it into the hole. The weight barely increases. “Reko and I went in there to get the extra stars, but…” 

 

“But?” Joe prompts, taking a step back from the hole. He guides Sara away as she furrows her eyebrows, thinks, then looks up at Reko with wide eyes. 

 

“When we came out, something was different. You were different,” Sara states bluntly. Flinching, Relo takes a step back. Nao watches on, not knowing who to go to. “You’re not the Reko that was with me and Yuko before we went in, are you?”

 

“The hell you talking about, Sara? I’m the only Reko here!” She curls her hand into a fist, clearly unsettled. 

 

Poor girl. If only she knew. 

 

“Hey bastards!” Eyes drawn to Ranger, you watch as he switches to a more manic expression card. “Time’s up,” he announces cheerily. 

 

“No-!”

 

Gin’s shriek echoes in your ears. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

After that heart attack of an event, Ranger goes on to explain that no, Gin won’t die just yet, but will most certainly die at the second shot. 

 

You nearly throw your shoe at the Doll. It’s certainly tempting.

 

Instead, you look back at Sara. “So,” you continue forcibly. “Let’s discuss- if this isn’t our Reko, then who is she?” 

 

Reko looks at you, stunned. “Yuko, you don’t believe me either?” 

 

“Just looking at all the options,” you wave her off. Sending Reko a warning smile, you continue. “We’ll figure out what to do later, push comes to shove.” 

 

Except you’re actually planning to push her into the hole. Like, really. Your moral compass is fucked up as it is. What’s another sin added to your collection? 

 

“That’s...” Sara hesitates, but starts recounting when Joe steps closer to her.

 

It’s exactly like in-game. They head in and takes the Stars and string. The lights go off. Sara grabs Reko’s hand, exiting the room. 

 

But when she turns to look, the only thing she holds is a glove. Reko appears a few moments later, not missing a single punk accessory. 

 

What a horror story. You shake your head, internally glad you left before they came out. Now, that’d be a nightmare and a half to deal with. 

 

“No!” A voice from below attracts your attention. Right, Alice is here too. “I know Reko like the back of my hand. She’s definitely her!” 

 

Ever consider that you’re still hiding your identity, Gonbee? No? Okay, go on.

 

Keiji turns to him, arms crossed warily. “How would you know?” Alice stutters, paling when he realised his mistake. The ex-detective, of course, notices. “What’s wrong, Gonbee?” 

 

“I-” Sending an apologetic look to the other group (probably Reko), Alice clutches at his shirt, teeth gritted. “Reko’s my sister. I know her better than anyone else!” 

 

“What?” Keiji is, surprisingly, caught off-guard.

 

You roll your eyes at the dramatic scene. “We can figure that later,” you call out. “Let’s save Gin first, yeah?” 

 

The conversation of the Yabusames come to a halt, with the topic of fake Reko being brought up again. With Alice fighting for her and the lack of A.I Mishima’s destruction, the discussion goes into a standstill. No progress. It’s worrying, seeing as Gin’s running out of time.

 

Joe turns to you and Sara, voice dropping to a whisper. “What now?” 

 

Sara thinks. Then, taking out item after item, she settles on a crumpled piece of newspaper. Your eyes light up in recognition. 

 

“Reko,” Sara calls out. The musician immediately looks at her, desperate to prove that she’s real. That she’s not a fake .  “If you’re not someone sent by the organisation, please sing a song by Samurai Yaiba.” 

 

Ah. Here comes the hard part.

 

The musician sings without hesitation, pouring her heart out into every note, every lyric. If you could understand music, you’d say it’s beautiful. A masterpiece, even. 

 

From below, you watch the colour drain from Alice’s face. Sara frowns further, crumpling the newspaper clipping at the edges. 

 

It’s too late for Reko- rather, fake Reko. The high-schooler reveals the clipping she has, pointing out that Reko would never sing a Samurai Yaiba song. Not after they disbanded. Fake Reko cries, going into an existential crisis. 

 

There’s not enough time. Everyone’s in panic- who do they sacrifice? Gin? Fake Reko? Who? Can’t they save both? 

 

And like the foolish, absolutely moronic  dumbasses they are, everyone leaves it to Sara to decide. 

 

She’s the main character in-game, sure,  but she’s also a teenager , despite what everyone seems to think. Human morality your ass, they’re all just afraid to be responsible for another’s death. 

 

The fact is what makes you step forward, gently pushing Sara into Joe’s arms. He catches her, watching you with wide eyes. You wink, walking forward. 

 

“Yuko…” Fake Reko raises her hands up warily, clearly afraid. Her eyeliner is smeared, mascara running down her cheeks. She looks like a mess. Frankly, it’s not a very good way to go. 

 

Not saying anything, you grab her shirt collar. You hear her choke, coughing harder as you drag her closer to the hole. 

 

Fake Reko claws at your hand. The pain doesn’t register as you continue walking. “No!” She shrieks, high-pitched and desperate and she wants to live - “Yuko, please, no- please, Yuko-

 

Her shrieks turn louder as you pull her closer, yanking her collar to push her down the hole. Reko’s screams echo, louder and louder, until-

 

Silence. 

 

The numbers increase, going beyond Gin’s weight. Ranger laughs, loud and undignified. “And with that, the Third Trial is over!” He wheezes, flipping through his expression cards. “What a climax!”

 

Alice slams into the walls confining him, teeth bared. “Where’s my sister!?” 

 

Safalin finally pipes up, hands clutches together nervously. “The Room of Lies… go to the Room of Lies if you want to see her.” 

 

“Yeah,” Ranger shrugs, manic expression card making yet another appearance. “Though dead or alive is yet to be seen.” 

 

Great. Another mess to clean  up. It hasn’t even been what? Five minutes? 

 

You can’t help but send a look to the bottom of the hole. Fake Reko’s head is pierced through cleanly with a spike, no blood flowing out. Closing your eyes, you breathe out shakily. 

 

Looks like you know what the schedule of bad dreams will include tonight. 

 

But before that, you have a certain pair of idiots to save. 

 

Their names? Alice and Reko Yabusame. 

 

What a day this is turning out to be, huh? 

 

 

Chapter Text

You’ve never seen Alice angry before. Sure, depressed and miserable, but never this

 

Desperation is a scary look on him. 

 

“Give me back my sister.” His voice is cold, reminding you of the feeling of touching ice with your bare hands. It burns you on in the insides, though you don’t know why. “ Give her back .” 

 

Unsettlingly enough, a fake Reko’s head lies in Safalin’s hands. If you didn’t know better, you’d believe it. Certainly, the fake looks realistic enough. 

 

“Aww, how sweet,” Ranger mocks. “You bastards want her?” He goes to pick up fake Reko’s head by the hair, hanging it up for -what? The world?- to see. “If you want her that badly, here!” 

 

Immediately, Alice goes to catch fake Reko’s head. You’re startled into motion to, going up to his side. From behind, someone calls your name but you don’t- can’t hear them. 

 

There’s so little time to make mistakes. Concentrate. 

 

“Reko- Reko, I-” Alice chokes on his words, tears forming in his eyes but never falling. “I’m so-” 

 

( good. don’t cry. don’t cry just yet. 

 

it’s too early for that- there are too many things to be done. so keep your tears. 

 

this isn’t over yet. ) 

 

Standing by Alice’s side, you tangle your fingers in fake Reko’s hair, swinging it up, up and away, mimicking Ranger’s actions just moments before. 

 

It (she?) explodes, metallic bits scattering across the ground. Alice stares at the air, hands reaching out, trying to grasp something that isn’t there

 

Your hand burns. It hurts, but you don’t look. Even giving it a brief glance might make the pain worse. Yep, time to ignore your problems like always.

 

Ranger stares at you, eyes wide and unblinking. Beside him, Safalin flutters about, muttering on about going to the Medical Office and oh, they’re injured, Ranger. Injured! Oh noooo, eughhh… 

 

“Wow,” Ranger eventually breathes out. “You’re amazing, aren't cha, Yuko?” 

 

Gritting your teeth, you try to ignore the pain of whatever-degree burns you got. “Where’s Re- the real Reko?” You hiss as a flash of pain shoots through your arm. “And no more games, Ranger.” 

 

He switches cards again. “You’re real interesting, y’know? Too bad you’re already taken. And by that bastard Miley too.” Nudging Safalin indiscreetly, she fumbles with some buttons, which causes the pillar to open up. 

 

Reko -the real one this time, thank goodness- steps out, a bit winded but overall fine. She looks at you and Alice, exhaling deeply. “... you’re alright.” 

 

Absently, you wonder who that’s meant for. It’d be nice if Alice and Reko made up. 

 

“Well bastards, enjoy the rest of your limited time!” Rio switches cards with one hand, spreading out the other. “The Main Game’s coming soon. Look forward to it!” 

 

Only when Rio and Safalin leave (by a secret exit. the door disappears when it closes. hm, you’ll look into that later) do you allow yourself to glance down at your hand. 

 

Huh. It’s a lot worse than you expected. 

 

Losing your footing for a moment, you fall forward. A hand reaches out to stabilise you. Upon turning to face them, you can’t help but smile gratefully, though albeit strained. 

 

“Thanks, Sara.” You wince as you move your arm. Sadistic bastard you may be, but masochist you are not.  “Lucky how things turned out this way, huh?” 

 

“Not lucky at all,” she retorts, wrapping an arm around your shoulder. “You’re injured. Badly. And Gin’s…” Sara pauses, sucking in a breath. “Well, Keiji went to get the medicine, so I think it’ll be alright.” 

 

As you lean into her, you sigh, slightly less unburdened. “Well, that’s fine. I’m a bit more expendable compared to everyone else.” 

 

Moving slowly towards the exit, you leave behind Alice and Reko, who are, in what appears to be, a tearful reunion. Sara sends you a disapproving look. “You’re not expendable!” The female insists, stubbornly. 

 

Shaking your head, you laugh lowly, as if knowing something she didn’t. “Alright,” you concede for now. 

 

Your companion huffs, cheeks puffing out in a cute manner. “Just like that!” She gestures with her free hand towards you, careful to steer the both of you on course towards the Medical Office. 

 

Raising an eyebrow, you face her. “Like what?” 

 

“Always acting like you know something more , yet never sharing,” Sara grumbles. “It’s like you don’t trust us, or like you…” A beat. “You don’t think it’s worth sharing. Or that you’re worth something.” 

 

Ding, ding. Got that right. 

 

Nudging her softly, you make an effort to scoff and roll your eyes. “It’s not like that. I just like being an all-knowing asshole.” 

 

Or pretending to be one. At this point, they’re both the same. 

 

“If you say so,” Sara hums. “But if you ever want to get anything off your chest, you’re free to talk to any of us. You know that, right?” 

 

Coughing to hide your startled face, you give a slow nod. “I- well, now I do.” 

 

Who knows? Maybe one day, you’ll really tell them. All of them. 

 

Just… not today. 

 

( deep down, you know that you’ll keep pushing it off. maybe tomorrow, next time, just not today- all excuses to escape from the truth, yourself. 

 

‘hopefully, you’ll never have to tell them.’ that’s what you’re thinking, right? 

 

coward. ) 

 

"Thanks," you grin cheekily. "For offering to be my confidante." 

 

"It's nothing. You deserve it, after all." Sara pauses, processes her own words, then nods, agreeing with the sentiment. "This is the least I can do." 

 

You're silent for a moment. It must seem strange, with your head tilted downwards and an empty smile frozen upon your lips. 

 

"... Yuko?" The high-schooler sends you a worried look. "Are you okay? Is the pain too much to handle? We'll be there soon so-" 

 

"No." You shake your head, moving your fingers around. Apart from the burns and blood, it seems pretty unremarkable. "It's fine, Sara. Really. I've seen worse." 

 

She stares at you. "That's not... comforting," the girl eventually throw out. "Do you get injured often?" 

 

The two of you come to a pause outside the Medical Office. You hum. "Depends." With a coy smile, you unlatch yourself from Sara, opening the door with your uninjured hand. 

 

Whatever question she has, she doesn't say. Not in front of everyone else, at least. 

 

You can accept that. 

 

"Hey, guys! What're you-" A shriek. "Yuko!? What did you do!?"

 

"Thanks, Joe. Real romantic notion you've got going on. I'm swooning."

 

It's been a long time since someone worried about you. Even you yourself never had the time or energy to waste on something so meaningless.

 

Actually, it's kinda nice. 

 

... not that you'd ever admit that out loud. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Though you’re not too keen on Safalin’s suspicious medical treatment, the others (namely Sara and Gin) urge you to take it. So, by peer pressure, here you are. 

 

“How horrible, how horrible,” the Crying Doll chants, making a dying noise at the back of her throat. You wince. Miley’s sadism and Ranger’s schadenfreude, you can handle. This? Ehh, not so much. 

 

As you hold out your injured hand (two degree burns. of course. of fucking course.), you raise an unimpressed eyebrow. “Mind healing me?” 

 

Safalin’s incomprehensible muttering continues. It’s getting kind of irritating. Sure, her design is great and all- you can get behind that. But personality wise? 

 

Well. There’s a reason why she’s known as a harlot in your book.

 

Maybe you should stop being so mean, you lament. Safalin hasn’t exactly done anything wrong, other than being herself. Look, she’s even treating your wound! 

 

A flash of pain runs up your arm, causing you to jolt. You shoot her an accusatory look. The Doll whimpers, though her eyes are filled with anything but regret. She even looks like she’s enjoying it. 

 

Fucking sadists. 

 

You sigh, contemplating swinging your leg at Safalin. Reflex is a thing, right? Would it be considered attacking a Floor Master? Hopefully not.

 

When a curious finger digs too deep into raw skin, you decide enough is enough. Grabbing Safalin’s hand, you tug her down so that you two are eye-to-eye. 

 

“Hey,” you greet casually. “Get on with the healing part or I’ll make you , Safalin.” 

 

It’s been a long day. 

 

She lets out a high-pitched ‘eep’, pulling her arm away. Then she giggles. Before you comprehend what the fuck just happened, she turns away, looking for her medical equipment.

 

Masochism. Terrifying.

 

It’s been a very long day. All you want to do right now is to go back to room, hide under the covers, and never come back out. Yes. That seems appropriate. 

 

But here you are, stuck in the Medical Office. With a sadomasochist. Alone. 

 

Haha. What a great plot. 

 

( when you look at your hand, there’s the dull realisation that Alice could have died. you stopped that from happening. you saved him? 

 

it’s not enough. it’ll never be enough to repay him for what he did. even if he says it is, even if you wish it to be true, it never will be.

 

... you think that’s okay too. it’s only fair, right?

 

honestly, when did anything you do become enough? ) 

 

The day continues to get longer. You sigh. 

 

And when Safalin comes back out with redacted in her hands, you suppress a shudder. There's a manic glint in her eyes that you don't particularly like. It's alarmingly creepy. 

 

Looks like you'll be in quite a bit of pain, huh. Oh noo. 

 

If only the day could end. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hand healed and Safalin gone, you’re in a much lighter mood than you have been all day. Not much can ruin it now, seeing as there were literal death traps avoided. It’s a good feeling. 

 

Waggling your fingers, you frown at the phantom pain that shoots through your arm. Ow. So you still feel pain despite being completely healed? What a rip-off. 

 

Not like you expected anything less from Safalin's... medical treatment but still. After that traumatising event? Disappointing, really.

 

Plus, the conversation happening down the hall promises certain pain and destruction. You sigh, half tempted to go back to Safalin for painkillers and half tempted to just walk away from it all. 

 

Still. It’s probably an important conversation, huh? And someone would probably drag you in sooner or later, so you might as well join in now. 

 

Preparing yourself for imminent doom, you step inside. 

 

“Big sis Yuko!” Gin bounds up to you, grabbing your hand (the one that wasn’t injured. thank god). “You’re okay now, meow?”

 

Curling your fingers around his paw, you swing your arm playfully, Gin’s following suit. “As well as I can be.” Slightly worse than that, truthfully speaking. But you're not complaining. “What’s going on here?” 

 

“Well, y’know who Gonbee said he was big sis Reko’s brother?” This topic, huh. You nod. “That’s what they’re talking about, woof.” 

 

Oh. Okay. 

 

You nearly hit yourself. No, not okay. Since Alice’s identity is revealed, he might just reveal Shin’s identity. In turn, those two idiots might reveal yours .

 

The light mood from earlier drops into a forcibly calmed panic. How do you go about this now? 

 

“So Gonbee Yamada is actually Alice Yabusame?” Mishima pushes his glasses up. They haven’t noticed you. “And Alice Yabusame is… a murderer?” 

 

“Yes,” Alice nods. His grip on his shirt tightens. “But Reko… didn’t wish to be associated with me, so I pretended to be someone else.”

 

( how many times have you seen it happen? how many times have you seen their relationship break further, seen Alice looking away in that self-deprecating way because of what happened? 

 

it’s not Alice’s fault. it’s not. please don’t blame him, Reko.

 

you’re the one who should be blamed. you’re the one who made him do it. 

 

please make peace with Alice. he deserves that much. he always has.

 

please. ) 

 

Some participants take a step back from Alice, sending him wary looks. Reko herself stands far away, arms folded across her chest, not even bothering to look at him. You frown.

 

Things are getting messy. Maybe you should try clearing it up.

 

Clearing your throat, you gain everyone’s attention. “Yo,” you greet. Alice’s eyes widen. “Why’re you ganging up on Gonbee like that?” 

 

The first to move to your other side is Shin, who greets you with a fake smile of his own. “How’s your hand?” 

 

“Peachy.” You sigh, cracking your fingers. “But Safalin was pretty ah, annoying. Also, you avoided my question.”

 

Nao blurts out her words instead before anyone can answer. “Did you know?” 

 

You blink, eyes purposely not meeting Alice’s. “Um, know what exactly?” From beside you, Shin sighs, as if he expected this. Huh. 

 

“That Go- Alice was hiding his identity.” Nao narrows her eyes at you, clearly distrusting. You can’t exactly fault her. 

 

“Who’s to say?” Shrugging, you answer the artist’s question in a light tone. “Maybe I’ve seen him somewhere, like on the news. He used to play for Samurai Yaiba, yeah?”

 

Unfortunately, that’s not the right thing to say. After Nao comes Q-taro, whose posture tenses. 

 

“How'd you know he was from that group?” So suspicious. While the daily dose of paranoia is fine, the game seems to have affected some for the worse. Too bad, you can’t win it all.

 

“It’s easy to piece together,” you reply dismissively. “The other Reko was a fake because she sang a Samurai Yaiba song, even though Reko swore to never sing one again. I’m sure Keiji figured it out too.”

 

Revealing information that they already know. Nice. 

 

With that, suspicion of you is cleared. Q-taro still eyes you disbelievingly, but at least backs down. Nao merely stares. You don’t find yourself particularly caring.

 

Straightening your posture, you push down your tiredness to bring up a dainty smile. “What’s wrong with…” You hesitate. His name feels weird on your tongue, so long since you’ve spoken it out loud.  “Alice being here? Aren’t we all in this together?” 

 

“He’s a murderer, Yuko,” Reko states flatly. Smile in place, you blink back idly. The musician stares, sighing exasperatedly. “Do you really want a killer here in a Death Game?”

 

Alice’s eyes stare pointedly in the other direction. Poor boy. 

 

“I don’t mind.” The prisoner’s head snaps to you, before looking down. You pretend to not notice. “He hasn’t done anything, nor has he gotten in our way. Isn’t it alright?”

 

“Yet,” Q-taro interjects. “He ain’t done anything yet, but he could.”

 

Wow, thanks so much for the support. 

 

Pressing a hand to cover your eyes, you breathe deeply. Then exhale. “Alice was hiding his identity- he had a lot more chances to do something then. You really think he’d try something after you put your guard up?” 

 

Keiji scrutinizes you. “Why are you defending him, Miss Yuko? Not even his own family is doing so.” 

 

From behind, you watch as Alice stiffens before slumping, defeated. It’s a low blow and he knows it

 

Letting go of Gin’s hand, you cross your arms over your lower rib cage. “That’s my decision, Keiji," you answer icily. “And he kept his word- he didn’t join in or disrupt us until Reko’s safety was at stake. You can’t fault someone for going against their word for that.”

 

Alice meets your eyes, half in disbelief and half in an emotion so gentle, you have to break away from his gaze. 

 

( how laughable. to think someone would look at you that way ever again. he’s looking at you the same way they used to, before everything happened.

 

sometimes, you wish that they were still here. maybe you could have returned that emotion. 

 

isn’t that funny? )

 

“Besides,” you start softly, knowing full well what could happen. “I... I trust him.”

 

And for the first time, you don’t lie about that. 

 

Chapter Text

“What were you thinking!?” He takes your shoulder, shaking it roughly. “Oh, yes. Unlike me, you aren’t thinking at all!” 

 

“Alice…” You blink, trying to make him out through blurry images. “Why are you here?” 

 

“Huh? Huh?” Alice gasps, as if offended. He probably is, knowing him. “You’re my friend,” he grumbles. “Really think I’d let you die off with that uncultured being?”

 

Footsteps. You inhale sharply. “I’m right here, y’know. And they’re my friend. too.” They smile as they always do, all-knowing and sly. “Whatever they decide is their choice. I’m just giving them the options. Don’t get into other people’s business, Yabusame.” 

 

( like you ever had a choice at all. ) 

 

“Sou Hiyori,” he snaps. “You are pressuring them into dying with you. If you were once a friend, then you absolutely are not one now.” 

 

They frown, tone light as he chides Alice like how one would a child. Playing along, mocking the male, as if they expected it all. 

 

Knowing them, they probably did. 

 

“Now now, Yabusame. ‘Dying’ is such a crude term.” They huff, taking another step forward. Alice moves in front of you. “I’d say that we’re moving on, from the humanity that has stained us. Wouldn’t you agree?” 

 

“You must be very wrong,” he replies coolly. “Seeing as you’re the type of person who loves to poison others with your thoughts. Just like you’re doing with them.” 

 

Without meaning to, you grip the back of Alice’s shirt. “It’s not their fault,” you mumble lowly. As if trying to convince yourself, rather than him. “It’s not their fault. It’s not their fault. It’s-” 

 

“Entirely Sou Hiyori’s fault, and they know it.” You shudder. Unable to help yourself, you peek out from behind Alice’s back. 

 

They’re still smiling. 

 

“I’m only doing this because I love them,” they say in a sing-song voice. When they make eye contact, you recoil, as if burned by those blazing green orbs. “So…

 

“Come with me, okay?” 

 

( to what? hell? )

 

 

Chapter Text

You don’t think you’ll be able to sleep. Not after today. 

 

Leaning into the chair, you stare out into the artificial garden. No movements, no sounds, nothing but your scarce thoughts accompanying you. For once, it’s… tranquil. 

 

“Oh,” a soft voice breaks the silence, followed by shuffling. Tearing your eyes away from the scene, you see warm colours shrouded in darkness, along with wild pink. 

 

“Can’t sleep?” You feel a wry smile creep onto your face. What are the chances? 

 

More shuffling. Nao hooks her fingers under her smock apron, not even sending a glance your way. She looks out into the garden. “... yeah,” she eventually answers. 

 

It’s progress. 

 

Easy is the best way to go, you decide, curling in on yourself. “Want to sit down?” You wave at the seat opposite to you, basking in artificial moonlight. 

 

( if only time stopped. maybe you could enjoy this silence a bit more, enjoy the everlasting loneliness that creeps in. it’s tempting. so tempting to do just that, to stay like this forever. 

 

but that’s not right. you have to go. 

 

… go where? ) 

 

Nao hesitates, rubbing the apron material in her hand. She looks down, then up at you. Taking a distinctive step forward, the artist continues walking until she reaches the seat, then plops down. 

 

You’re making more progress in one night than you have the entire Death Game. Why are you not surprised? It’s you, after all. Always you. 

 

The two of you sit in silence. Nao fidgets from time to time, eventually calming down and sinking into the chair. Settling in, you curl up into yourself further. 

 

“... I didn’t think you could trust anyone,” she says in a low murmur.  You fold your arms on your knees, resting your head on it. 

 

“I didn’t think so either.” Offering at least that up, you close your eyes, feeling Nao study you intently. “Then again, what do I know?” 

 

“Yourself.” 

 

The one word, said with such certainty, gives you pause, before you break out in a light chuckle. “Huh,” you muse softly. “To know one's self is- it’s disconcerting.” 

 

Nao asks, curious. “Why are you so afraid of knowing?” 

 

( there are so many answers to that. so many things you could say in response. but what? what exactly is the real reason? 

 

you know why. 

 

because if you look deeper, you’ll see all the imperfections. you might know yourself, yes, but at what cost? 

 

it’s just like they always said, isn’t it? 'fake it till you make it', or something equally as pretentious. better to pretend to be someone else than hate who you really are. 

 

and when you forget, then that’s just perfect, isn’t it? 

 

you can finally be your ‘perfect self’. isn’t that great? 

 

if they say it, then it has to be true. if it isn’t… then what’s the point in trying anymore?

 

Bitterly, you shake your head at the artist. “I can’t answer that,” you answer bluntly. “Not now.” 

 

Nao stares at you for a moment longer before looking down. A twinge of… something enters her eyes. You’re not quite sure what it is. What do people see when they look at you? 

 

( so many things. they see so much, feel too much, are too soft for their own good. 

 

humans are generally like that.

 

weak. fragile. that's a person, alright. 

 

you find yourself not minding it. )

 

“Okay,” she whispers into the silence. It sounds so light, yet heavy all the same. “If it’s time, will you tell me?” 

 

Struggling to find words, you bury your head into your knees instead. “I… I don’t know. I don’t know if I can. Not anymore.” 

 

The darkness feels more overbearing than comforting. You feel miserable. 

 

It wouldn’t be the first time, nor would it be the last. 

 

Nao keeps silent, as if thinking over her answer. She glances back at that artificial garden, with its little plants growing within four little walls. 

 

Maybe she's trying to believe it's real. That you're both not confined here. 

 

( you find yourself wanting to do the same. escaping reality always is the easiest option. 

 

then again, you never did make things easier for yourself. ) 

 

"... I don't mind." Nao opens her eyes, looking directly at you. "I'll wait for your answer." 

 

And for once, you don't have anything to say to that. 

 

 

Chapter Text

( once, you might have loved them. the human heart is a fickle thing, after all. who’s to say what you can or cannot feel? 

 

them, apparently.

 

you think that you still have the capability to love, despite everything. you want to love yourself and others. you want to be happy again. is it so wrong for an ordinary human to think this way? 

 

they're ordinary hopes for an ordinary person. you're glad for it. 

 

except… is it what you deserve? does your happiness matter anymore? will it ever, to the people around you? 

 

they’re gone now. aren't you free? 

 

you’ve done all an ordinary human can. ordinary, meaningless actions. so much, so little, all at once.

 

it still isn’t enough. ) 



( is it wrong to miss them? 

 

you find yourself doing it, again and again. making mistakes, not learning from them- you're such a fool, aren't you? 

 

two years. slightly more than that, though it feels like forever. maybe it'll go on like this, for eternity. 

 

when is it time to move on? ) 

 

 

( the emotions you feel for him are messy and complicated. it’s warm and gentle. it’s miserable and suffocating. feeling everything yet nothing at once. 

 

of course they’d be the only one who could ever make you feel this way. they’re special, after all. 

 

to you especially. 

 

you wonder if you were ever special to them. in a good way. did they ever say so? or give you some form of acknowledgement? 

 

hopefully, by the time you realise the answer, you’d already have gone mad. ) 



( they never did tell you anything. it was all secrets and games with them, wasn’t it? 

 

you just wish you realised it before it was too late. maybe then, you would have been happier. who knows?

 

because the choice has been made, there's no going back. such are the rules you have to play by. ) 



( it’s hard to find happiness when you felt it most with them.

 

no. no, it wasn't happiness at all, was it?

 

just a bitter, corrupted sense of contentment. ) 



( hm? if I could make a wish? well… 

 

that’s a secret, Hiyori. if I tell you, then it won’t happen, see? 

 

pfft. sure. I’ll tell you when it’s fulfilled. if it's fulfilled. 

 

wait till then, okay? 

 

yeah. it’s a promise. ) 



( you never did tell them what you wished for. a bit too late for that now. 

 

hm? what you wished for…? that’s- 

 

well. you just wished for them to be happy, is all. 

 

hopefully, they can do that in hell. ) 



( anger and sadness grow from the same branch. they are, essentially, the same. you don't feel one without feeling the other.  

 

of course, you've felt both in relatively large amounts over a particular matter. 

 

really, all you want to do is sock them in the face. is that truly too much to ask for? )  



( fake it fake it fake it- what an absolute faker you are. 

 

you want to blame them for this. because of them, you turned out to be this absolute atrocity. it’s so easy to just… push all the blame on them. 

 

and yet. you’re still here, not even making an effort to change. it’s better this way, isn’t it? people like you better if you’re like this. 

 

so it isn’t their fault. once, it might have been. but now? it’s all yours. it's all on you now. 

 

because you know that you’re wrong, yet you don’t do anything to change. ha. haha. 

 

you’re a monster just like them. how fitting. ) 

 

 

Chapter Text

The first card you get is a Commoner. 

 

It’s a humble start. You can work your way up from there and- pausing in the motion of turning off your tablet, you frown. Then what? 

 

Okay, you’re not off to a very good start. But you can improvise.

 

A notification from your tablet. Trading’s begun, huh? Pulling it out, you open the device, coming face to face with your Commoner Card. No change. 

 

Right, it’s not like anyone would give you the Sacrifice Card right off the bat, or at all. Funny you’d think that way. 

 

You’re really nervous about this. Laughing softly, you push some strands of hair away from your face. This isn’t good for your health, you muse jokingly. Absolutely not. 

 

There’s knocking on your door. 

 

“Hello, it’s… Alice.” Taking a few steps towards the voice, you hesitate. Should you really see him now? “I’m not expecting you to open up or respond,” he adds quietly. “Just… listen to me, won't you?”

 

( don’t you trust me? ahaha. well, you used to listen to me, at least. 

 

now? not so much. what’s wrong with playing by my rules? there’s nothing wrong with that. 

 

just listen to me, alright?

 

let’s play a game. it'll be fun! ) 

 

You exhale-  as softly as you can. Bringing your hand up to cover your lower face, you edge closer to the door. It’s quiet. In a clear, unassuming way.

 

“If,” he starts, dropping his voice into a whisper.  “If you get the Sacrifice Card, trade it with me.” 

 

That’s… not what you want to hear. At all. It’s the exact opposite, and it’s so dumb that Alice would think you’d do that. How dare he.

 

Grabbing the doorknob, you unlock the door, opening it to face him. Alice startles, taking a step back. 

 

“You don’t owe me anything,” you say lowly. “And I’m not such an ass that I’d give death to someone else.” Narrowing your eyes at him, you jab a finger in his direction, watching him stumble back further. 

 

“No, that’s not-” Alice pauses. Then he sighs. “Well, I thought you’d the same for me.” 

 

He’s not wrong. 

 

Waving a hand, you lean against the door frame. “I’m disposable. Superfluous. Non-essential. Of course I’ll do something as stupid like that. I’m me .” 

 

Saying the word with so much hate, you’re surprised you haven’t melted into a puddle of self-depreciation and bitterness. Of course it’s always you. It has to be. 

 

He chuckles, in all seriousness. “As always, you’re too self-sacrificial,” Alice comments idly. 

 

“Pray tell, what’s that supposed to mean?” Defensively, you fold your arms across your chest, as if that will block out his words. You both know he’s right. 

 

That doesn’t mean you have to accept it. 

 

“I think you know what.” He fiddles with his chains, letting it clank together rhythmically. Such is the musician, you suppose. “ They did this to you.” 

 

When his tone turns accusing, you nearly slam the door in his face. But you resist the temptation. This is a conversation the both of you need to have. 

 

In fact, it’s been long overdue. And while you’d rather not have it right before the Main Game, is there really a choice? 

 

“This isn’t their fault at all,” you insist. “It’s mine. Only mine. How could you even say that, Alice?” Your words fall flat, sounding hollow to even yourself. 

 

( really now. is there still a point in fighting for them? ) 

 

“Because it’s true. Do we not know this fact? That person was-” 

 

( no. you can’t listen to this. you just can’t . ) 

 

You interrupt him. “So?” 

 

Alice gapes. “What do you mean ‘so’? You and that person were close once, yes, but it isn't that way anymore. It hasn’t been for a long time.” He says it mournfully, knowing full well what the implications are. 

 

“That’s not…” Why do you keep defending them? “Our relationship wasn’t like that. We were-” 

 

Yeah. The two of you used to be happy. Together. 

 

Just not anymore. 

 

He stares at you with those pitiful eyes, always acting as if he's unable to express what he truly wants to. It’s why he resorted to music, following his sister. And where did that lead him? 

 

You can’t meet his eyes. 

 

“Sou Hiyori was toxic,” he says softly. “And we’re both glad he’s dead.” 

 

The words are stuck in your throat. Why won't it come out? Why are you so hesitant? 

 

Just what exactly are you scared of? 

 

Alice steps closer but you don’t face him. “Yuko,” he calls out. You flinch. His voice sounds so sad, so regretful. He shouldn’t be. “Yuko, look at me.” 

 

The truth. It’s so scary. When did you start thinking this way? 

 

Pushing your fingers against your closed eyelids, you will the tears away. What a crybaby you are. 

 

( pathetic, pathetic, always so pathetic. 

 

you imagine hearing their voice repeating those words by your ear, whispering ever so sweetly until it becomes true. until you believe it, too.

 

as pathetic as always, aren't you? hehe. )

 

“It’s not true,” you murmur brokenly. As a prayer, perhaps, to whoever is listening. “It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s-” Your voice cracks. A tear spills out. “It can’t be true.” 

 

( there is no god, no saint to offer you protection. with no advice and no guidance, it's just you, you alone in this dystopia. )

 

“Yuko…” Alice reaches out to grasp your upper arm. 

 

A notification breaks the moment. You jolt away from his hand, pulling out your tablet. His eyes linger on your form before he looks away, doing the same. 

 

Rubbing your eyes, you unlock the tablet. Another trade, huh? Wonder what that’s all about, you think dryly. You watch the card on the screen remain the same. 

 

“Oh,” Alice murmurs, gazing at his tablet. Taking a step towards him, you peek over his tablet curiously. “Wh- hey, don’t-” 

 

Ah. The beginnings of a plan form in your head. Now's not the time to wallow in misery, overthinking mistakes of the past. 

 

“Sage Card, hm? That’s quite troublesome for someone as uninvolved as you.” Sending him a cheeky grin, you wipe your cheeks with your sleeves. “Would you like to switch? I have a Commoner Card.” 

 

Eyeing you warily, he turns off his tablet. “No,” the male clears his throat. “It’s alright. We still haven't finished-” 

 

“You’ll be in danger,” you chirp. Alice halts at your words. “Just how will you protect Reko like this?” Tilting your head, you send him a close-eyed smile. “I can use the information much better than you can.” 

 

“That’s… true.” He admits it warily, as if he knows exactly what he’s getting into.

 

Your grin widens. 

 

At this moment, Alice probably realised he just sold his soul to the devil. Or something as traumatising as that. Who knows? 

 

Certainly not you, haha. 

 

Definitely. 

 

( there's not enough time. it doesn't matter whose fault it is in the end- the truth doesn't change. you're messed up. a disgusting sinner with nothing you can atone with. 

 

but that's okay. you can repent later. 

 

let's play the game for now.

 

isn't it fun? ) 

 

 

Chapter Text

Somewhere in between the third and fourth trade, Kai breaks out the laptop he’s kept hidden for three days, pretending to have ‘found it’ in a hidden room. 

 

Yeah, no, you’re not believing that bullshit. 

 

Kai’s prepared to clear any suspicion towards him, it seems. The passwords are all changed to some generic words, and Gin casually points out how Shin was having trouble figuring it out, which incites a laugh from the others.

 

Well, you’re not exactly paying attention, so you can't say for certain. 

 

Then the file on Sou Hiyori pops up, and everything goes to shit. Just like you expected. Even after death, they still manage to stir up trouble.

 

Yet, when you look at the screen, into those familiar eyes you’ve known for so long, you can’t help but freeze up. 

 

( they’re dead. dead . they can’t hurt you anymore. 

 

why are you still terrified of them? ) 

 

Someone grabs your shoulders. “Breathe, Yuko,” they demand, shaking you. “Deep breathes.” 

 

Ah. You were so in shock that you stopped breathing. Truly amazing. Is this what fear does to a person? 

 

Following the speaker's advice, you breathe in, out, mechanically repeating the process. It hurts. It hurts to breathe, to think, to live- 

 

( if so, perhaps you should stop. ) 

 

“Are you feeling better?” Keiji. He helped you? 

 

“Oh. Yeah,” you manage out. “I-” Squeezing your eyes shut, you let out a shaky breath. “Fine. Just fine, Keiji.” 

 

Carefully, his hands leave your shoulders. You open your eyes, trying to not look at the screen. That was close. Nearly lost yourself there, aha. 

 

Inhale. Exhale. “Where’s beanie and Q-taro?” 

 

Joe glances at the corridor leading to the ruins. “Q-taro just up and left. Sou had to use the bathroom, I think.” He frowns. “Most of you look like you recognise that person.”

 

Not just recognise, but yeah. 

 

( so much more than that. we are all deeply interwoven into each other's fates, no matter how much we don't want to be.

 

this is how it is. how it always will be. just like that.

 

it gets kinda old sometimes. )

 

A notification rings out. You blink. That’s fast- another trade? It’s make itthe fourth one of the morning. 

 

Pulling out your tablet, you watch it start up through half lidded eyes, careful to not show anyone the screen. Sara sends you a worried look. You smile reassuringly. 

 

The thoughts in your head scatter like the last petals of spring upon looking at the screen. Washed away into a new season, a new era. 

 

A new Card. 

 

Really now, after all this time? It’s disappointing to get your hopes up, only to have it fizzle out. 

 

Closing your tablet, you drop it back into your lab coat pocket. Huh. And you didn't get the chance to play around with your Sage card. Really, it's too bad.  

 

( you should probably stop pushing down your feelings. 

 

then again, do you know anything else? ) 

 

“Right, well,” you sigh. “I should probably go look for Sh- beanie. Maybe drag him to the Medical Office if he’s sick.” Without hearing their answers, you wave, walking off to the Ruined Corridor. “Have fun hacking.” 

 

As you walk down the hallway, you tug harshly at your hair, letting a few strands fall through your fingers. 

 

That was close. If Keiji had put you through interrogation knowing the state of your heart, you’d be found out. Your identity, your past, everything .

 

Especially them. 

 

Gritting your teeth, you kick a stray rock away. No one can find out. Not yet. It’s an important piece in the next Main Game. And if things are going the way you expect them to, you might as well go all out, right? 

 

Sou Hiyori. Even from the dead, they’re playing unfair. 

 

You bite your lip, feeling the dry skin break underneath. The taste of blood comes soon after. Rough and metallic. Swiping it with a hand, you flick it away, watching it land on the floor near some rubble. 

 

( unfair. always so unfair. 

 

that’s just how you like to play, huh? 

 

alright then. I'll give you a grand finale. 

 

shall we set the final stage? )

 

There's an entrance near where your blood lands. Yet another hidden room, another stupid secret.

 

Unbidden, you enter, barely taking note of the white-washed walls and the two empty beds that lie within. One used to hold a crying child, the other a sister with a bleeding heart. 

 

( there was more blood to come after that. ) 

 

Nearer to the further bed is a phone. It looks somewhat familiar. You bend down to pick it up, flipping it over in your hands. 

 

Then you throw it against the wall- as hard as you possibly can. 

 

( glass shattering, device tilted oddly. it's destroyed now, because of you. Kanna might never find peace with a fake message, might never fall to ruin. 

 

at least she won't end up like you. )

 

When you exit the room, you leave behind something broken.

 

 

Chapter Text

It’s like watching a tragedy in three acts. Maybe four, if you give it some comedic relief and filler. You’re not too picky about your entertainment. 

 

But seriously? This is just sad. 

 

Walking up the stairs, you’re surrounded by hopes and dreams that should be crushed sooner rather than later. All they’re doing is hurting themselves- even more so than usual. Perhaps you’re just pessimistic. Or wary, since you know what’ll happen. 

 

( perhaps they're the ones at fault, for wishing for so much. you don't know. it's not for you to decide. 

 

but isn't it always your fault anyways? you shouldn't push the blame to others.

 

don't be selfish. ) 

 

Either way, this is the third act, where everything goes to shit. As all third acts do. Not that they know it yet. 

 

Tilting your head down, you let your hair hide your face. Who’s the one having fun here? The organisation? You? 

 

“Miss Yuko, you alright?” Shin pats your shoulder. “You’re falling behind. We gotta catch up, or they’ll leave without us, y’know.” 

 

He sounds relaxed. Cheerful, if not a bit anxious. Does he really believe that they can manage to escape? That they can even hope to think that? It’s… laughable. Even the liar falls when bribed with the temptation of freedom. 

 

What a plot. A ridiculous story, made by an equally foolish dream. 

 

The only thing you feel is hate. It’s what threatens to bring you under, into that sea of bitter anger and jealousy. If only you could still be like them. To dream, to hope in such an unrestrained manner. You bite the inside of your cheek. 

 

( they wouldn't have let you, anyways. )

 

Looking up, you smile breezily. “I should say the same to you, beanie. Aren’t you the delicate one?” 

 

Shin retracts. For a moment, you think he sees past your charade, but he merely blinks, shakes his head to himself and smiles back genuinely . And he laughs. Genuinely. 

 

There's a first fir everything, you suppose.

 

“Really,” he mock-sighs. “I thought you’d be nicer to me, considering all that I’ve done so far.” 

 

What? Lie just like you do? Like how you’re doing right now? 

 

You tilt your head, closing your eyes as your smile widens. “Nice? Don’t know them. Friend of yours, beanie?” 

 

The rage threatens to tip over. 

 

( so desperate to gorge on hope, that these fools willingly blind themselves. really now. 

 

the only hope they should ever seek out in is death. )

 

He gasps, playfully offended. Walking to the next platform, Shin turns to face you, eyes narrowed. “After all I’ve done,” the male huffs. 

 

Waving Shin away, you continue on, walking past him. “Yeah, yeah. Let’s go pick up the broken pieces of your heart, ‘kay?” Back facing him, you run a hand down your face, grinding your teeth. 

 

Then sensing a gaze on you, you forcibly relax, rolling your shoulders. Someone’s watching? 

 

Your eyes scan through the group, before meeting a pair of curious eyes. Keiji.  He rubs his neck, a larger-than-usual grin adorning his face. Worryingly, his eyes glint red. Detective vision, then. 

 

He  can tell. You don’t particularly mind, though it does feel like an invasion of your privacy. 

 

Sending him a sweet smile, you nod. The ex-detective returns the sentiment, looking away. There’s no point hiding anything from him, is there? 

 

And with that, the curtains rise up to the second scene of act three. Despair, losing hope, giving up and returning to 'hell'. 

 

It’s all very funny.

 

You grin alongside your companions. It's not unusual, since you do smile a fair bit, and you're all on the way to 'salvation'. Indeed, it's a joyous occasion.

 

The smile that adorns your face is not a happy one.

 

 

Chapter Text

( you bury your head into your crossed arms. face burning, you attempt to hide it to no avail. they chuckle, calling out your name. 

 

peeking out from your makeshift bundle shyly, you smile. “Hiyori,” you murmur fondly. 

 

they reach out, taking a few strands of your hair in their fingers. absently, they twirl it around. “Say…”

 

“Go on.” 

 

their fingers stop. “Do you love me?” 

 

it’s an innocent question. yet you can’t push off the slight chill those words bring. when you raise your head, the strands pass through their fingers with the action. 

 

“Of course I do,” you’re quick to reassure. they smile, dazzlingly, brushing cold fingers across your cheek. 

 

at the drop in temperature, you let out a squeak, hiding your face away again. they hum pleasantly. “Will you love me forever?” 

 

you don’t see the face they make as they say it. not knowing their expressions, whether they’re smiling or not- it’s scary. so very scary. 

 

instead, you can only laugh breathlessly. “Forever is a long time.” quietly, so as to not break this peace between you two, you say. 

 

“I know. Why do you think I ask?” amusement taints their voice. you hear shifting. “So, let me ask you again- will you love me? For eternity” 

 

tilting your head upwards, you allow a smile to grace your face, as you utter those words that stay with you for just as long- forever. 

 

“Of course,” you whisper. they smile in that all-knowing way they love to, leaning over to place a butterfly-light kiss on your lips. 

 

“Good.” ) 

 

“... Yuko.” Despite someone calling your name, you don’t bother to turn to face them. 

 

Burying your face into your knees, you sigh. “What do you want, Keiji? Gave up on trying to escape?” Your voice turns mocking, though you immediately shut up once those words are uttered. 

 

Finally, you’ve accepted your emo self. Sitting in a dark and enclosed area (Ruined Corridor), alone, fate left to the organisation to decide. 

 

Haha. Is it time for a mid-life crisis? Probably, yeah. 

 

Keiji walks past, turning to crouch in front of you. “Hey,” the male greets casually. “Wanna talk?” 

 

“About what?” The reply is muffled, but Keiji can get the idea. You chance a glance towards the male. It’s dark- Keiji can barely be made out in the dully-lit corridor. 

 

Yet his eyes gleam red. 

 

“What do you have in mind?” Keiji eventually sits on the ground, crossing his legs and staring at you expectantly. You curl in on yourself more. 

 

Dangerous. He’s so, so dangerous. 

 

( just like them . ) 

 

“Can I just… not talk?” Your voice grows softer and softer as you hide in your crossed arms again. 

 

You feel the shrug and dry smile without seeing it. “There’s that option too,” Keiji answers wryly. “It’s your choice, really.” 

 

( choice, huh? funny he’d say that. ) 

 

But then again, this is a good time to get information. Right before the Main Game, too. It’ll be much better than just sitting here, moping in self-pity. 

 

Guess you’ll have to suck it up. “... say, Keiji,” you lift your head to meet his gaze. 

 

“Hmm?” The male’s grins spreads further, amused. “Asking a question for once? What a shocker.” 

 

Ignoring that comment, you shake your head. “You’re not the Keymaster, right?” 

 

A halt in the conversation. Keiji narrows his eyes at you. Slowly, his hand goes up to grip his neck as he looks away casually. You breathe out silently. “What do you think?” 

 

“Hmm, well you’re definitely not the Sacrifice." You roll your shoulders, leaning against the wall. 

 

He stares at you blankly, before realising. Raising an eyebrow, Keiji slowly shakes his head. “Wow.” 

 

'Wow', indeed.

 

Resisting the urge to punch him in his pretty face, you chuckle darkly instead. “I need your help.” 

 

“Oh?” Keiji tilts his head coyly. “What’s this now?” 

 

You smile back, just as slyly. “Interested, detective?” 

 

“Sure.” The male straightens up, leaning forward. His grin returns in full force. “Tell me more, Yuko.” 

 

He’s listening. 

 

That’s good. It’s not like he had a choice, anyway. 

 

“If you say so,” you shrug lightly, smile curling upwards regardless. 

 

But you can’t talk too, huh? It’s not like you had a choice, either. 

 

“Go on.” 

 

Chapter Text

There are a total of seven trades. 

 

You’re not too sure about the specifics, but it goes something like this: the first trade is… well, something. Second trade is when Alice gets the Sage card. 

 

And of course, this is when you manipulate Alice into trading with you. This results in the third trade. During this time, Kai breaks out his laptop and Shin performs his shenanigans on it. Also, you may or may not have broken down just a little bit and destroyed public (is that what it is?) property. 

 

But good news! For the fourth trade, you get the Sacrifice card. It’s a lovely shade of ‘fuck you, you’re going to die’. Absolutely killing it. Get it? Get it? 

 

Haha. You’re not very funny, are you? 

 

There are three trades afterwards. Currently, you have no idea what went on during this time, so you're just. Neither here nor there, I guess. 

 

And now we’re here. 

 

“Heyy bastards, welcome to the Main Game! Ready to finally see someone die?” Ranger appears on-screen, looking as giddy as a blood-thirsty machine can be. 

 

You don’t answer. Opting to focus your attention on the glass of water on the table, you take it and swirl the cup around. 

 

“Don’t worry,” the Doll cheers faux-happily. “Someone will definitely die today, so let’s all do our best, yeah?” Tilting his head at the screen. his expression (card) turns almost menacing. 

 

The liquid in the cup nearly tips over the edge. Some drops roll down the surface, onto your hand. 

 

Great motivational talk, Ranger. 

 

“Anyways! You’ll be given some time before the Main Game. Come out when it’s time, okay?” The expression card turns to a mocking one. “Or we’ll get to start the fun early.” 

 

… he’s actually doing a lot better than Gashu, in your opinion. Kinda glad Ranger didn’t die, even though he is a total pain to deal with. 

 

Well, you win some you lose some.

 

“See ya then! Don’t do anything incriminating, bastards.” With that, Ranger flips his expression card as the screen goes black. 

 

You stare at the cup of water. Is satiating your thirst considered incriminating? 

 

No, wait, stop. Why are you worried over this. It’s literally just water. 

 

Holding that into account, you quickly down the entire glass. 

 

Then, you proceed to choke. 

 

Slamming the now-empty glass onto the table, you wheeze as you hack out the water that went down the wrong pipe. Oh god, oh fuck, that went horrible wrong. 

 

And that’s how you spend the rest of the time- kneeling beside the table, glass still in hand, as you stare down at the sad, miserable puddle on the floor while contemplating your existence. 

 

It’s a good philosophical endeavour. 

 

Moving on. You decide to never mention what transpired in the Final Meal Room to anyone. If the staff of the organisation decide to laugh over you during their break times, then who are you to judge? 

 

While you stand idly in a corner of the Trial room, Ranger pops up beside you. “Hey, bastard, that was pretty funny! Really thought you’d die for a moment there.” He sighs. “Too bad you didn’t.” 

 

“Thanks,” you mutter. “Real encouraging there, Ranger.” 

 

“Oh, don’t worry.” The Doll waves the hand holding an ice cream around. “I won’t tell that bastard Sue Miley, so you can rest easy.” 

 

You sigh, almost amused at the situation. “In the grave, six feet under, I'm sure.” 

 

Ranger chuckles, fake and condescending all at once. “Aww, don’t give up.” He switches expression cards, turning on manic mode again. “Just sacrifice everyone, and you’ll be good to go.” 

 

“Ha. Haha. Like hell I will.” Pausing, you collect your thoughts, trying to calm yourself down. “I don’t have enough self-preservation to do that, remember?” 

 

Tilting his head, Ranger looks at you critically. Eventually, he rolls his eyes. “Whatever, you bastard. At least make it interesting.” 

 

“I will.” 

 

Your conversation ends there. 

 

And really, you don’t plan on leaving without making a scene. Where’s the fun in that? 

 

If it’s interesting they want, it’s interesting they’ll get. 

 

( this is all a game to them, isn't it? to all of them. it's why this seems like a joke that goes horribly wrong, why it is an extremely bad joke. 

 

but as always, you'll play along. what other choice do you have, right? 

 

just like a nice, little doll. ) 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

You sigh. What is this, exactly? 

 

The participants are discussing what they saw on the laptop- or, more specifically, what Kai wanted them to see. 

 

( you’re not sure what to think about this. the murderer, the fraud, and… well, you’re not sure what you are, but you’re there.

 

it's all coming together. ) 

 

“Sou Hiyori is dead,” Alice says slowly, turning to look at Shin. “I do not know who you are, but I know for certain that the one I killed was also called Sou Hiyori. Is this yet another ‘coincidence’?” 

 

( there is no such thing as coincidence. there is only people, things, events that are all connected one way or another. 

 

everything has a reason to it. this is a fact that’s deeply engraved into your bones, your every action. it is what determines fate. 

 

you learned it from them , after all. only the best. ) 

 

Looking away, Shin tugs down his beanie. He looks nervous now. It won’t be long until he finally gives in, decides to spill his 0% chance and secret identity and all that. 

 

At this point, you don’t really care. Even if he tells on you, there’s really nothing they can do. 

 

Your eyes linger on his scarf, which slips down his neck a fair bit. Pink. Orange. Red and black. Polka dots and patterns and why is it so familiar -

 

( in another timeline, you might have gone a bit over the edge. or more than just a bit. a lot more. 

 

you, who misused the information that you’re given. you, who decided who lived or who died, who controlled and planned it all out at a mere whim. 

 

at a simple scarf with an everyday pattern. 

 

but that’s alright. this isn’t that timeline, so it doesn’t matter now. 

 

however… everything is connected, no? that’s why there are so many paths, so many possibilities to the unforeseen -for most- future. it’s all the same. 

 

soon. ) 

 

“You reacted pretty strongly to the other guy’s picture, too.” Reko’s voice comes off as accusing. Perhaps slightly betrayed. “So that means you know that person.” 

 

Sara shifts uncomfortably. Her hand goes up to her blazer pocket, where some sort of evidence undoubtedly lays. 

 

It’s too late. Far too late. Rather, there was no point from the beginning. 

 

You close your eyes, listening to Shin’s denial spread into a spider web of lies. So much effort for the sake of maintaining a persona. So much desperation for the sake of increasing that 0%, as long as it isn’t completely zero .

 

The thing about going this route is that it gets lonely. A tragedy, if you will. 

 

With no one to depend on, eventually you’ll start believing the lie yourself. It’s that kind of thing. The feeling of warping reality and the illusion that you yourself created. 

 

Ha, haha. If you were anymore foolish, you would think that you were talking about yourself. 

 

“Keiji and I went to the First Floor via a secret room,” Sara confesses, continuing despite Joe and Nao’s shocked comments. “We found a…  list of statistics of all the participants. It’s probably the percentages of your survival rate, calculated after being done by A.I programs.” 

 

Ah? All the participants? 

 

Sara smoothes out the papers on the table. “There are 21 participants listed out here,” she begins slowly. “But none of them are ‘Sou Hiyori’. Everyone’s names are here… except for yours. In fact, the only one that really fits is a ‘Shin Tsukimi’.” 

 

( oh. she did it after all. 

 

now the ‘you’ from before doesn’t exist. 

 

it feels like a burden is lifted from your shoulders. another piece of the past, gone.

 

you feel free. just a bit more than usual. it's a nice feeling. ) 

 

Letting the implications sink in, you watch as Sara looks away. Shin recoils into himself as more participants start to look at him in distrust. 

 

( see? isn’t it lonely? 

 

i told you. and as always, i’m right. you have to listen to me, or things will get worse. 

 

loneliness is so very scary. aren’t you scared of it? you should be. 

 

don’t worry. i’ll be here for you. 

 

just depend on me, okay? ) 

 

Alice stares at you. He’s probably confused, since your own name was changed to ‘Yuko’. Well, he can’t exactly say anything about that without revealing you, so he keeps quiet. 

 

You rub your wrist. As your nail brushes past a vein, you can’t help but shake your head at the situation. 

 

Trust is so fragile. So hard to gain, so easy to lose. What a stupid concept it is. 

 

“And what about it?” People turn towards you, listening to what you have to say. “Even if beanie did lie, he still did  help  us. Or did you forget your attempted escape? Which we couldn’t have done without his hacking ability?” 

 

Shin pulls at his scarf. The one to protest against you is, of course, Q-taro. “What about it? That failed in the end, so who’s to say he's really ‘helping’?” 

 

“I’ll say it,” you answer frankly. “Do you believe he would try so hard to put on an act? Why not just press a few buttons and call it a day? None of us would have known any better.” 

 

Q-taro opens his mouth to retort. You silence him by bull-dozing your way through, determined to make your point. 

 

“Most of us are strangers. We barely know each other, barely trust another with your own life. Of course a few of us would lie.” Gesturing to Alice and Shin, you run a free hand down your face.

 

Keiji’s eyes glint, as if he had been waiting for this opportunity. “Does that include you, Yuko?” 

 

Oh shit. 

 

You narrow your eyes at the blonde. “... pardon?” 

 

The pause in your answer gives him all he needs, because he gives that smug cheshire grin again. Your fingers twitch with the urge to hit him. This isn't part of the plan. “You’ve been lying to us too. Isn’t that right?” 

 

When he says that out loud, into the air between you two, you think your heartbeat might have stopped for a moment. 

 

How does he know your name? 

 

( don’t worry, she sings. I'll take care of it. they’ll never know your little secret. 

 

why? you can’t help but ask, full of suspicion and distrust. why do you help me? so that I’ll be in your debt? 

 

she waves a hand. no, no. of course not. why can’t I indulge my favourite participant? 

 

favourite… 

 

you’re so cute, being all panicked about revealing yourself. but it’s alright now. slowly, she reaches out to stroke your cheek. her touch is gentle, so unlike her previous actions. 

 

don’t worry, she continues on cheerfully. your identity is safe, 

 

Yuko. ) 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Looks like Alice and Shin weren’t the only ones keeping secrets,” Keiji chuckles. You grip onto the edge of the table. The corners dig into your skin but you pay it no mind. 

 

Sara waves the papers she received from Miley. “But Yuko’s name is on here.” 

 

“Of course it is,” you murmur harshly. Miley said that she would erase the 'you' from before. So why- how does Keiji know that name?

 

If this is the organisation's sick way of telling you that you can never escape from the past, then they can go shove that up their ass. What the fuck. 

 

Perking up at your words, Gin’s grip around his plush tightens. “Meow? What do you mean, big sis Yuko?” 

 

Tilting your head down to the table, you avoid making eye contact with anyone else. No. It isn’t over for you. Not yet. Not so soon. 

 

( you refuse to go down so easily. not again. ) 

 

You look up. “It’s obvious,” you clarify. “Because ‘Yuko’ is my name.” 

 

Keiji raises an eyebrow. “Well, can’t argue with that.” Then he shrugs. “Still pretty suspicious, though.” 

 

It's getting kinda annoying with how Keiji keeps bringing up sensitive topics and throwing them out. At least he's going back to the plan. Or you hope he is. 

 

“And why’s that?” Reko frowns, crossing her arms. 

 

“Oh,” he blinks. “Right, you and Yuko weren’t here when we opened that folder. Neither were Shin and Q-taro, but…” 

 

What? What folder? 

 

This better not be what you think it is. 

 

Keiji continues, undeterred. “There was a file labelled ‘Sou Hiyori’, with all his personal information attached. And there was mention of his ah, significant other, who is coincidentally a participant in the Death Game.” 

 

Wow. Way to be obvious, Kai.

 

You send a pointed look at said male. He sends an apologetic frown your way, but does nothing about clearing up the mess his information started. Great. 

 

“I don’t see why that’s connected to me,” you utter out. Keiji’s eyes brighten at your words. 

 

Oh no. 

 

“Tell us the truth, Yuko. Who are you, really?” 

 

( a liar, a fake, a sinner. 

 

what should you go with this time? there are so many options.

 

maybe you should just admit the truth. that you're nothing more than a disgustingly selfish human. an accomplice to this game, to death themselves.

 

but who are 'you', really?  

 

it's too bad that the person who had all the answers went off and died. ) 

 

Looking directly at Keiji, you smile. His eyes widen at your change in attitude. Absolutely mad, you’re sure you must look. What else than ‘non compos mentis’? 

 

“Yuko is a name I called them ,” you muse. Tilting your head, you let out a soft giggle. 

 

“But since they’re dead, it’s fine if I use it for myself, right?” 

 

( give it back to me. give everything back to me. 

 

my name. don’t take it away ever again. don’t say it, don’t use it, don’t even think about it. 

 

stop implicating me. haven’t you had enough? 

 

… no. there was one last crime I was involved in. my sin. you know it as well as I do. 

 

you died, after all. and you implicated me once again. 

 

give me back my innocence. my ignorance and happiness. give it all back to me. 

 

I want to stop playing. I want to give up. but I can’t. I know I can't- I've known it from the start. 

 

go big or go home. except there’s only one option here, and that’s to sacrifice it all. 

 

or rather, I’ve already lost everything, so I might as well play, huh? 

 

at least I’ll find solace in the fact that you gave everything up too. ) 

 

 

Chapter Text

Mishima frowns. “Pardon me, but what’s your relationship with Sou Hiyori?” At the question, Alice winces, looking away sympathetically. 

 

Opening and closing your mouth, you think of the answer silently. “We’re friends. Lovers. Something in between.” You blink. “Does it matter now? They’re already dead.” 

 

( ironically, their death gives you more stress than the real person ever did. you suppose it's karma. ) 

 

The artist flinches at your bluntness. Curling in on herself, Nao tightens her lips, yet doesn’t speak up. Reko shifts in her spot, hand subconsciously reaching out, but falters. 

 

“I’d think a loved one’s death would hit harder,” Keiji comments. “You don’t look like someone who’s grieving.” 

 

“Do I? Well, it’s something like that.” You twirl a lock of hair between your fingers absently. “Our relationship is complicated.” 

 

( your mind is clear, yet everything else is murky. are they or are they not? alive, dead, keymaster, sage, commoner, sacrifice. 

 

and in the middle of it all is them. 

 

fucking Hiyori. really, this is such a mess.  ) 

 

He eyes you skeptically, but continues his interrogation. “What does Sou Hiyori have to do with-” Keiji waves his hand around vaguely “-all of this ?” 

 

What an obvious question, with an equally obvious answer. You hum softly, examining your fingernails. 

 

Sara’s eyes dart across the room. Her gaze lands on your figure, uncertain. “... Yuko?” 

 

At her voice, you snap your head up to meet your audience once more. Putting your hand down, you roll your shoulder contemplatively. 

 

“Hmm.” You pause. “Fine, here’s a million dollar answer to a million dollar question.” 

 

Tilting your head, you smile coyly at the other participants. 

 

“‘Everything’.” 

 

Keiji raises an eyebrow. “And? That means?” 

 

Disappointed with their reactions, you sigh. No fun. They have no taste in the dramatics.

 

“Figure it out yourself,” you reply dispassionately. “I can’t say."

 

“Can’t? Or won’t?” Joe furrows his eyebrows. “You make it seem like you don’t have a choice. Is the organisation forcing you?” 

 

Ahaha. He catches on quickly. Sara’s rubbing on to him, you’re guessing. 

 

“Not exactly.” You look down into your hands, dully tracing the lines in one palm. 

 

( hey, won’t you play with me one last time? don’t worry- this game will go on even after i die! impressive, right? well, it'll only work out if you play, of course... 

 

and you will. I know you will. 

 

geez, you’re so impatient. calm down. everything will be revealed in due time. as it always is. 

 

it’s something I've been working on for a long, looong time. 

 

have you heard of a ‘majority vote’? ) 

 

“It happened before this game started,” you muse. “Another game only they and I knew how to play. Even after death, they…” Your smile turns bittersweet. “Oops. I’ve said too much.” 

 

Joe crosses his arms. “Your relationship sounds like it’s been through some rough times,” he comments. 

 

His words startle a laugh out of you. “It’s that obvious, huh? Well, it wasn’t always like that. I just…” Trailing off, you pause completely, biting your lip. 

 

( you what? why can't you remember? is it because you don't want to? or... )

 

“Alright, time’s up!” Ranger claps his hands together, silencing the group. “Now, vote for those you’ve chosen to go to the next round!” 

 

The screen of your tablet lights up. As you take it in your hands, you’re met with the faces of all the participants. 

 

Pressing on your own face, you watch the screen load. 

 

You don’t have much time left, huh? 

 

( it's not like you had much to begin with, either. ah well. no use complaining now. )

 

“Alright, all the votes are in!” Ranger jumps, startling Safalin and almost making her fall out of her seat. “Let’s see who we got.” 

 

Why not take a guess? The answer should be obvious, anyway, you think dryly. 

 

But of course, you play along as you always do, shutting your mouth up tight. Votes tallied, the results appear on-screen. You can't muster the energy to care, but you have a vague idea of who'll go on. 

 

( now that that's over with, let's proceed on to the next round, shall we? 

 

the final Game awaits. ) 

 

 

Chapter Text

( they laugh at the world itself. 

 

how pitiful, they muse. this horrible world, with all these disgusting humans living in it. everything about it is just so sad. don't you agree? 

 

you can’t help but think that they too are pitiful, though saying it out loud would anger them. so you stay silent, watching them laugh

 

and laugh, 

 

slowly falling apart. 

 

how pitiful, you think. if only they could feel happiness. would things have been different? ) 

 

Ranger cackles. “Would you look at that? By majority vote, only four people were voted for.” He changes expression cards. “I like the drama, but this won’t do! There’s still room for three more people.” 

 

Cracking your knuckles, you tune out Ranger’s words. It’s surprisingly calming. A repetition of crack, after crack, after- 

 

Okay, you might have pushed it too far. 

 

“Since it’s come this far, us Floor Masters will choose who goes on!” The Doll jumps like an overexcitable child. “Ooh boy. Let’s see…” 

 

You stare down at your hand blankly. First you burn it in an explosion, now you accidentally dislocate a finger. 

 

How does one dislocate a finger? Accidentally ? Oh my god. 

 

“Kanna Kizuchi,” Ranger calls out. “Sara Chidouin.” His eyes glint before he announces the last name. Probably cause of Gashu. Who knows? “And Kai Satou. Congratulations! You three are chosen for the second round.” 

 

Coming to a decision that one injured finger wouldn’t disrupt the Main Game, you stuff your hand into your lab coat pocket, then focus on what’s happening. 

 

Several participants (namely Joe and Gin) argue against the decision. They (more specifically, Joe) even volunteer to take in another’s place. Sara shakes her head, reassuring them. 

 

Must be nice. You wouldn't know.

 

“Got anything else to whine about?” Ranger switches expression cards impatiently. Waiting for no answer, he continues talking. “Then let’s begin! The second round.” 

 

Oh, joy. 

 

“Let’s get this over with first.” Q-taro’s the first to speak up. He jabs his thumb at himself, clearly agitated. “I’m the Keymaster, so don’t go voting for me, y’all.” 

 

Insistent complaints stem from the rest of the group. They stop once Keiji raises a hand to speak up. 

 

“Actually, I can vouch for him since I'm the Sage.” The ex-detective smiles sheepishly, rubbing his neck. “Q-taro's the Keymaster. We actally can’t vote for him.

 

Nao grimaces. She’s been oddly silent for this Main Game. Hm. 

 

“On the other hand,” Keiji continues casually. “We can discuss another matter.” He meets your eyes briefly, sending a slight nod your way. According to plan, then. “Hey, Kai, be honest, won't cha?” 

 

The homemaker shifts the cooking utensils in his hand with a slight frown. “What are you talking about?” 

 

At the question, Keiji grins, unhinged. You cough into your sleeve. Detectives sure are scary. 

 

“You’re a traitor, aren't you?" 

 

His pan drops to the ground in a clatter. The sound echoes throughout the room. Kai grimaces, but doesn't pick it up.

 

So dramatic. You roll your eyes.

 

Voice sombre, Kai fiddles with the other kitchen utensils in his hand. A pause. The home-maker struggles to form words. "... do you have proof?" 

 

Keiji's grin matches that of Miley's, you note dryly. That's not good. Not good at all. 

 

"Yeah," he says. "I do." 

 

 

Chapter Text

“We didn’t touch on this last time, but remember how Shin was knocked out? He got a concussion. The laptop was taken away, too.” 

 

The hacker winces, rubbing at a spot on his head. Has it not recovered? Your uninjured hand twitches to check on it. Catching yourself in the motion, you pause. 

 

Are you… worried for him? 

 

No, no. That’s ridiculous. Why would you be? 

 

Keiji continues talking. “The only person here with an object hard enough to knock someone out cold is you.” He gestures to the pan on the floor. “Plus, you’re pretty strong too. Strong enough to at least knock someone unconscious." 

 

“That’s no reason to blame him,” Q-taro spits out. Arms crossed, hackles rising, the baseballer’s agitation increases. “Anyone could have done that.” His voice turns accusing.

 

“But who's the one who found the laptop again?” Keiji pauses, letting everyone recall the previous events. A gasp comes from Nao. “That’s right. It’s you, Kai. All the evidence leads up to you.” 

 

Plus, the fact that you already know this is a huge bonus. So. Yay for you, right? 

 

Kai maintains that calm demeanour of his, waving his ladle thoughtfully. It seems more like a nervous tic. “Is that not all circumstantial evidence? You used to be a detective, so you should know- circumstantial evidence is not accurate.” 

 

“Really?” The blonde raises an eyebrow, unimpressed. He almost seems to be stifling a grin. 

 

Oh no. If this is what you think it is- 

 

“Yuko would say otherwise, though.” 

 

Goddammit. You sigh. At least he isn’t pushing the ‘real name, fake name’ thing anymore. See? One good point already. 

 

“Sorry, Kai,” you say unapologetically. “We’ve been blackmailing each other, but there’s really no point since Keiji exposed most of my secrets. Also, the thing with your laptop and them ? Yeah, no, I'm not going with that." 

 

Therein lies your second good point: no one knows of your ‘future’ knowledge. Yet. 

 

He nods. “Of course, Miss Yuko. I apologise for that too, by the way.” Kai’s tone is indifferent. You can’t help but still at that. “The emotional trauma you’ve been through is much worse than I expected,” he states blandly. 

 

Your first reaction is to laugh. “Whatever do you mean, Kai? Emotional trauma?” 

 

Alice winces at the words. Yes, he would know the brunt of it, having known and killed the largest reason for the mess that is ‘you’. 

 

“Of course,” Kai nods. “You’ve been denying it for what? The past few years now? That the one called Sou Hiyori wasn’t ah, abusing you?” 

 

( it'll be alright. calm down. there we go. 

 

see? that wasn't so bad now, was it? )

 

“Shut up,” you hiss lowly. Gin flinches. You straighten up, schooling your face into a less menacing look. “This is about you, Kai. Don’t try to divert our attention away.” 

 

Dismissively, Kai shakes his head. “I’m not doing anything, Miss Yuko.” 

 

“Really?” You narrow your eyes, voice biting. “Then stop breathing.”

 

“No,” he replies back flatly. Tightening his hold on his ladle, Kai’s lips press together. “Are you truly going to betray me, Miss Yuko? Both you and I know that this is a double-edged sword…” 

 

“You never had my trust in the first place." Smiling daintily, you continue speaking. "Besides, don't you think it all comes around?" 

 

Kai blinks slowly, processing the words. "Pardon?" 

 

Making a sweeping gesture with your hand, you say, "We, who were supposed to die in the first Main Game, are still here. It's only fitting if we die first." You tilt your head curiously. "Am I wrong?" 

 

"So you're the Sacrifice." The home-maker pauses, feeling the need to point out, "Again." 

 

Nao's hands shoot up to cover her mouth. Amongst the participants, similar reactions occur. Keiji raises an eyebrow. He's probably wondering why you outed yourself so early. 

 

Well, you'll make do. Probably. You're trying to be optimistic. 

 

"And I'll take you with me," you tell him. "Wouldn't that be nice?" 

 

( really, what more do you have to lose? ) 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Have you finally lost your mind, Miss Yuko?” Kai shakes his head. “Please do not drag me down as well.” 

 

You close your eyes momentarily. “Scared, Kai? If not with me, Gashu will get you eventually. Or is that what you want?” A mockingly commiserating smile spreads across your face. 

 

“I,” he interrupts, “Do not believe you have a right to invade on my private affairs.” 

 

A bit too late for that,” you simper. “Should have thought about that before you went around flaunting Hiyori’s relationship with me.” 

 

“It was a necessary evil.” The way he states that pisses you off, for some reason. He's so frank, so honest. You scoff, dismissing his reason with a wave of your uninjured hand. 

 

“Like how you were stalking Sara?” 

 

Said high-schooler coughs loudly at your words. Everyone else reacts, just as shocked. Joe frowns, looking between Kai and Sara. “What? What ? So you mean to say that guy was Kai?” He points at the home-maker. “ This Kai?” 

 

Casually, you shrug. “I’m sure Sara knows as well as I do,” you hum innocently. “Though I wonder why she hasn’t brought it up.” 

 

The male turns his head to Sara quickly, only to pause and rub his neck from the sudden movement. “Sara,” he manages out. “Is- is Yuko right? You knew ? And didn’t tell me?” His voice holds a hint of betrayal as he frowns. 

 

“No, that-” Sara bites her lip, looking down. “I’m sorry, Joe. I didn’t want you to get involved.” 

 

“Get involved,” Joe repeats. Then, voice turning shrill, “ Get involved !? Sara, I-” He sighs heavily, hand going up to his breast pocket. “I want to protect you,” he confesses softly. 

 

“Joe…” 

 

He shakes his head. The lightning hair clip in his hair, slips down slightly from its' original position. “Kai.” 

 

Answering in a steady voice, Kai doesn’t falter. “Yes?” 

 

“I’m voting for you,” Joe announces firmly. “You have good intentions, but you’re just-” he falters, then continues on. “I’m sorry Kai, but I can’t trust you anymore.” Others nod along, sharing the sentiment. 

 

Well, isn’t that ironic? Seeing as Kai has done nothing but protect Sara all along- even at the cost of his life. 

 

( you're technically doing the same. 

 

no... this is for your own convenience, is it not? that's right- you've never been a 'martyr'. 

 

just a foolishly selfish coward. ) 

 

The home-maker simply nods. He turns back to you, though the action is considerably stiffer. “Is this what you wanted?” Kai asks, expression unreadable. 

 

“Not really,” you reply back. “If possible, I wanted Q-taro to be voted for.” Nervous shuffling from the baseballer’s general direction. “But y’know, Keymaster and all that. It’s too bad, really.” 

 

Kai’s frown deepens. “Why Q-taro, of all people? I don’t believe he did anything wrong.” 

 

( dangerous. )

 

“Is that so?” You smile again, looking more amused than anything. “Hm. I see. Feel free to form your own opinion.” 

 

“You know something.” Keiji states this flatly, though his words are accusing. “I said to drop it, but… there’s something else, isn’t there? About this ‘game’ you mentioned before.” 

 

A laugh bubbles from your lips, dry and bitter. “Which one?” 

 

Keiji purses his lips. “Everything,” he decides on. “Tell us everything.” 

 

( you have so much to lose. wait, that’s not right. you’re risking everything for this. for a stupid, foolish game that you should have walked away from years ago. 

 

they want to know everything? what right do they have to? 

 

as if you'd ever tell anyone. the rules are there to be followed, after all. and you'll do just that. 

 

isn't that right, Hiyori? )