It was another still and quiet evening at Nagito's apartment. Even though Nagito was home right now, there weren't any signs of life throughout most of his place: the lights were off, no voices could be heard, no music was playing, and everything had already been cleaned up and put away.
But for Nagito, things couldn't be more vibrant and lively. After all, he was currently chatting with MaizonoFan0205.
At the moment, Nagito was sitting on his couch, bathed in the gentle yellow light from his lamp—the only light he had on—and smiling at his phone. MaizonoFan0205 had just sent a photo of some of his mother's homemade curry, and even though the picture could only be described as mundane, it still made Nagito's heart swell when he saw it. Nagito couldn't even pinpoint why he felt that way—but he always felt so happy when MaizonoFan0205 would send him photos like this.
Although… lately, that happiness came paired with a little nervousness, and today was no exception. After a moment of glancing over the picture again (and trying to steady his nerves), Nagito went back to the chat to reply.
It looks good.
It tastes good to
I should head of now for dinner
Have a good night.
Nagito frowned, absently staring at the chat he still had open; MaizonoFan0205 left so suddenly. Well… it made sense why he did, seeing that he was starting dinner with his family. But, all the same, Nagito's lingering nervousness flared up again, and he knew exactly why it was happening. There was something Nagito had wanted to say—or rather, something Nagito had wanted to do—and he'd missed his chance again tonight.
… Well… Nagito could do it belatedly, right? It wouldn't be a problem if he sent it along now, and MaizonoFan0205 could just look at it later, right?
With fingertips that were charged with frayed nerves, Nagito pulled up his phone's list of apps. He skimmed over the screen, and once his eyes caught on the camera icon—he winced and tossed his phone onto the coffee table, as though it’d burned him.
Then, he groaned and slumped into his couch, tangling a hand in his hair. It looked like today wasn't going to be the day he did it, either—wasn't going to be the day that he sent MaizonoFan0205 a selfie.
Really, it was ridiculous that he was even having this issue in the first place. Nagito had never had any inclination to take a selfie before, and he especially never had any desire to send photos of himself to other people. After all, his looks were horrendous, and he knew he looked horrendous; the world was a better place to have as few records of his appearance as possible.
And yet, ever since about a week ago… there was just something within him that compelled him to send a photo of himself to MaizonoFan0205. No matter how much he explicitly and logically ran over the reasons why it was bad idea in his head, that compulsion within him just wouldn't budge. It was as though some part of himself had woken up, and it refused to rest again until it got its way—even if what it wanted was a terrible, irresponsible idea.
Although, Nagito supposed it all made some sense if he stopped to think about how he even got to this point. It all started nearly a year ago: around then, a war movie had come out, and it had become surprisingly popular. Nagito thought the movie was fantastic—it was full of hope!—and it was when he joined various chats and discussion boards for the movie that he'd first met MaizonoFan0205. Even from the beginning, they'd gotten along surprisingly well, and agreed on a lot of ideas. It wasn't long before they'd decided to open a private chat with each other on a different app, where they started talking to each other regularly. Even though they never met in person and didn't know each other for very long, the way they talked to each other, the things they talked about, the fact that they chatted almost every day… it was already like they were old friends.
During that time, Nagito had to come to learn a lot about MaizonoFan0205. The first things he learned were simple, or obvious: MaizonoFan0205 was a guy, his birthday was February 5th, and he was a fan of the singer Sayaka Maizono (which was yet another thing he shared in common with Nagito). The next thing Nagito learned was that MaizonoFan0205 was very open and honest about himself—maybe even to a fault—and because of that, Nagito learned so much more than he expected. Soon enough, Nagito learned that MaizonoFan0205 lived in the same country as Nagito, he was a year younger than Nagito, and he was currently studying to become a defense attorney. As a matter of fact, not only did MaizonoFan0205 live in the same country as Nagito, he actually lived in the same city, and the university he studied at was about a half hour away from Nagito's apartment. And, MaizonoFan0205's real name was Makoto Naegi.
Nagito, on the other hand, was incredibly conservative about how much he talked about himself. Even though it'd been a year, the only thing MaizonoFan0205—Makoto—knew about him was his gender, and the country he lived in.
Sometimes, Nagito had thought about the difference in how much they knew about each other, and whenever he did, it just felt a little… off. Sometimes, Nagito had wondered what it would be like if, maybe… if Makoto knew more about him. Would Makoto enjoy learning more about him, similar to how he liked learning more about Makoto? If Makoto knew that they lived in the same city, would he want to meet up?
… Well, as pleasant as those thoughts were, there wasn't much point in thinking about those kinds of things. Whenever those sorts of thoughts crossed Nagito's mind, he'd hurry to drop the subject and focus on something else. After all, Nagito was a worthless piece of garbage, and he hated talking about himself—so something like that would never happen.
Anyway, up until recently, that was how things were with Nagito. He was incredibly fortunate to have met Makoto, and even though some would say that it was odd for Nagito to feel this way… he still felt closer to Makoto than he had with anyone else. He didn't think he could call Makoto a friend—Nagito knew that a guy like him wasn't worth anyone's friendship—but, all the same, he cherished what he had with Makoto. Makoto was special, and actually spent time with him, and that was more than enough to make Nagito happy.
… Except that it wasn't anymore.
Nagito's mind finally caught up with his present situation, and he frowned at the thought of it. Yes, he'd been happy with how things were with Makoto for almost a year. But, starting last week, that comfortable happiness crumbled, and suddenly things weren't so carefree anymore.
Last week marked the first time that Makoto sent Nagito a picture of himself.
It was pure bliss at first; Nagito's heart soared when he actually got to see what Makoto looked like. But, the moment they ended their conversation, Nagito felt himself get pulled down. All those pointless thoughts about opening up to Makoto that he'd brushed off before came back, overwhelming his mind. No matter how much he tried to suppress those thoughts or distract himself, those thoughts just wouldn't go away. Instead, they strengthened and pooled together in his mind, and they became something that Nagito could only describe as some kind of presence. A presence that wanted more, that tried to push Nagito closer to Makoto, that made Nagito think about things that would never happen—and it wouldn't take no for an answer.
And that new part of his mind was the reason why Nagito had been struggling to take a selfie every evening for the past week. He wanted to send Makoto a picture of himself, for reasons he couldn't fully grasp himself. But he hated how he looked and hated the thought of taking a selfie—he couldn't even bear to turn on his phone's camera.
Nagito frowned at his phone, still laying on the coffee table, as though its very existence offended him. Thinking about this whole situation left his mind feeling beat down, and he didn't have any more energy to fight with himself about this tonight. Leaving things like this felt unsatisfactory—Nagito knew that he'd go over this same struggle again tomorrow—but he felt too drained to do anything about it now.
For better or for worse, he decided, today was just not going to be the day that he sent Makoto a selfie.
It was the afternoon of a different day—just after the lunch rush—which found Nagito sitting in a booth by himself at a small restaurant. He was waiting on his order to come out, and in the meantime, he was staring at his phone, with his brows furrowed. He should take a selfie here, shouldn't he? After all, it was quite common for people to take selfies when they ate out, as a way of sharing details about their day. At least… Nagito was pretty sure it worked that way.
And if there was any restaurant that Nagito would tell Makoto about, it was definitely the one he was in now. It looked like it was just another cozy hole in the wall, but the food here… the food was so good, that eating it was like a transcendental experience. Actually, Nagito had to wonder… did Makoto ever eat here? There was a slight chance that he would've, but—
“What’s wrong, gorgeous?” a carefully smoothed out voice asked. “You seem down.”
“Ah, it's nothing, really,” Nagito absently answered, still staring down at his phone. “I was just wondering if I should take a selfie while I'm here, and send it to someone I know online…” Finally, Nagito looked up to see who he was talking to—
—only to see that it was the owner and head chef of the restaurant himself, Teruteru. He wore an inviting smile as he set down Nagito's meal on the table, and then slid into the booth across from him. “Ooh, a long distance relationship? Now I'm curious.”
Nagito inwardly cursed himself for being careless. Teruteru was the last person he wanted to talk to about this—his food was great, but his personality was… maybe not the best. “It's not like that,” Nagito said, trying to sound as polite and uninteresting as possible.
“Is that so?” Teruteru leaned over the table, resting his chin in his hand, and giving Nagito a flirtatious look. “I can't say that I buy that. I've got the most photogenic food in the country, but I've never seen you take any pictures while you're here—and you come here a lot. Your online friend must be someone special.”
Teruteru was right on the money—Makoto was incredibly special, after all—and Nagito once again cursed himself as he felt his cheeks warm in response to that. “Really, it's not like that at all. I… I just wanted to do something a little different today.”
“Mmhm.” Teruteru clearly didn't believe him. “Listen, let me give you a little piece of advice about that. If you really want to take things to the next level, then send your friend a picture of your loins. That'll really spice things up between you two!”
“And if that doesn't do the trick, then you can send me the picture instead. Actually, just in case—you should send me that picture anyway. I promise I'll give it the appreciation it deserves.”
“… I hope that's not the usual tactic you take with people you meet online.” Nagito's smile was pleasant, but his voice was chilling.
“It isn't, is it?”
“Ha ha, hey, would you look at that! I think I left the refrigerator running! Gotta go!” Teruteru hurried to slide back out of the booth, before scurrying away to the kitchen.
Nagito sent a glower after him, before turning back to his food. Of course he never enjoyed Teruteru's advances, but more than anything else, he was upset at himself. What was wrong with him today, anyway? He hardly ever told other people about his useless thoughts or his problems, and yet he did it just a few minutes ago. And he did it without noticing, as though his words just snuck out of his mouth. And, above anything else, the person he told everything to was Teruteru. Seriously, what was with him?
… Well, at least the food was fantastic, as usual. It really spoke to Teruteru's talent for cooking: by the time Nagito was halfway through the meal, he had already completely forgotten about that upsetting conversation, and his sour mood was replaced by genuine cheerfulness. Enjoying Teruteru's food really was a unique experience, and it put Nagito's mind at ease for the rest of the afternoon.
That evening, however, when Nagito returned to his nightly ritual of agonizing over taking a selfie, he remembered Teruteru's “advice” from earlier. For a moment, his mind very helpfully suggested that he actually send Makoto a photo of his genitals. After all, doing so would cause Makoto to stop talking to him, and if that happened—Nagito would never again have to worry about sending him a selfie, right?
… Needless to say, today was not the day that he sent Makoto a selfie.
“S-so, what you’re saying is… you n-need help sending your friend a selfie?” Mikan asked, sending Nagito a concerned look. It was the evening of a different day, and the two of them were currently in Mikan’s apartment—next door to Nagito’s—spending some time chatting and catching up.
“Yeah, that’s the problem I’m having now. It’s absurd, isn’t it?” Nagito asked, turning to Mikan with a smile. “It’s such a simple thing, and people do it all the time! Even children can send each other selfies! But of course, a worthless guy like me…”
“Why don't I help?” Mikan chirped, showing off one of her rare smiles, as she laced her fingers together. “D-do you mind if I look at your phone?”
Nagito simply nodded in response as he unlocked it and handed it over. What was she planning to do…?
Mikan glanced over the screen, and her brow furrowed. “Um… where’s your camera?”
“Oh, excuse me,” Nagito said, as he took his phone back for a moment to pull up the app. Of course, ever since the Selfie Ordeal started, he deleted the camera icon from his home screen…
“Thanks. Now, let’s see… ah, if you press this button here…” She tapped the button to switch the camera to selfie mode, and sent Nagito a small smile. “See? That’s how you do it!”
“Um…” Nagito blinked at her, trying to figure out what she was getting at it. It took him a few moments before he realized—she must’ve thought that he was having trouble because he didn’t know how to switch the camera.
But it took him too long to reply, and Mikan already turned back to his phone, upset. “Oh no, of course I m-messed it up! L-look how dark the picture is, you can’t even tell what’s going on! Here, let me show you!” In an attempt to recover her (completely unnecessary) tutorial, Mikan stood up and began walking closer to the lamp, gesturing for Nagito to follow.
“Ah, you don’t need to show me, I already kno—”
With a loud clatter and a yelp, Mikan had fallen over. By the time she landed, the cord of the lamp had tangled around her arms and legs, tying them together, and leaving her in a rather revealing position.
… For as long as Nagito had been neighbors with Mikan, and for as many physics-defying mishaps as he's seen her go through, he still couldn't help being stunned whenever something like this happened. He needed another moment to shake off his daze, and then, he set to work on freeing Mikan and calming her down.
Later that day, when he’d gotten back home and back to failing at taking a selfie, he noticed a new photo in his camera roll. Curious, he opened it up, and—why.
Now flustered for an entirely different reason, Nagito was quick to delete the perfect panty shot Mikan inadvertently left on his phone.
Today was definitely not the day that he sent Makoto a selfie.
Nearly a week after Nagito first told Mikan about his problem, the two of them were eating lunch with some of Mikan's friends—Mahiru, Hiyoko, and Ibuki. To be honest, Nagito hadn't wanted to go out with them; even though he'd met with them a few times before, he still felt incredibly anxious in their presence. Mikan and her friends were all talented and full of hope, and even though he'd become relatively comfortable around Mikan by herself, being in the company of all four of them at once… it was far too much!
… But, Mikan had insisted on arranging this meeting, saying that Nagito could ask Mahiru—a professional photographer—for help with taking his selfie. He thought it was a lost cause at this point, but he found that he couldn't bring himself to turn down Mikan.
And so, here he was, his stomach churning, as he sat at an outdoor table of a cute restaurant, quietly working through his lunch among the other girls. He could hardly focus on what the others were talking about, and he didn't notice how the food tasted, as he anxiously waited for a lull in the conversation. When everyone finally quieted down—and with an encouraging smile from Mikan—Nagito finally spoke up. “Say, Mahiru,” he started, forcing himself to face her general direction. “Do you have any advice on how to take a selfie?”
“A selfie?” Mahiru turned to him, already looking a little flustered. “Come on, I know I’m a photographer, but asking for advice on that is a little ridiculous, don't you think?”
“I know the perfect advice!” Hiyoko said, drawing everyone’s attention away from Mahiru and her ever-reddening face. “Just don’t.” She shot Nagito a cheeky smirk. “Any picture with you in it is gonna be a total failure.”
“Ah, you think so too?” Nagito said, smiling. “Then it was a lost cause from the beginning… I suppose it can’t be helped…”
“Aw, come on! Don’t be like that!” Ibuki called out, raising her arm in the air for a moment. “Anyone can take a selfie! Selfies are the language of love, after all!”
“Of—uh—” Nagito felt his thoughts crumble and scatter like a falling Jenga tower, as he tried to figure out what Ibuki was getting at.
“Here, let Ibuki show you the way! Selfie Device, please!” She held out her hand expectantly, and Nagito was still too frazzled to think better of unlocking his phone and giving it to her. Even though his camera app was still missing from the home screen, Ibuki found it right away, and already had the selfie cam on in record time. “Now, lights, camera—action!” She took the photo, and just when Nagito started thinking again about why this whole lunch was a bad idea, she already handed him his phone back.
“See? Easy peasy! Done in a jiff!” Ibuki said, puffing up her chest.
“Ha ha… you definitely make it look easy. I can barely even make myself turn the camera on…” Nagito smiled sheepishly, before turning to look at Ibuki's selfie. Even though she took the picture in mere seconds, Nagito thought it looked wonderful. In the photo, she had a wide friendly smile, and was holding up her hand in a peace sign. Her eyes looked bright in the sunlight, and her long colorful hair framed her face and shoulders nicely. There was no doubt about it… a beautiful person like Ibuki would certainly make any photo she was in be beautiful as well.
“I understand now,” Nagito said after a moment, with a tone of realization. He looked back over to Ibuki with an earnest smile, saying, “It's perfect. Thank you so much!”
“Uh…” Even Ibuki seemed a little taken aback with how seriously Nagito was taking this, but she quickly recovered. “No problemo! Ibuki saves the day again!”
“I can finally stop worrying about this… now that I have a selfie I can send him…”
There was a light clatter at the table that seemed to stop the whole world for a moment, as everyone dropped their utensils and just stared at Nagito.
He blinked as he looked back at them. “What?”
“U-um… I think…” Mikan stammered, as she tried to put her response together.
“I think you’re an idiot,” Hiyoko spat out, and the glare she sent at Nagito gave him the feeling that she was grinding her heel in his back. “It’s obvious what your problem is: you just need to grow a pair and take the damn selfie already!” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. Then she continued, her voice now lacking bite, “You already know it’s gonna look bad no matter what you do, right? Then why even worry about it?”
Everyone turned to her, stunned. While she stammered and tried to get the others to stop staring at her, Nagito just felt shock. Part of him wanted to counter what Hiyoko said, but… another part of him had to admit that, somehow, she kinda had a point.
Another evening had come, which found Nagito laying across his couch, phone in hand, as he chatted with Makoto. A new doughnut shop opened near where Makoto lived, and he visited there with a friend of his earlier today. Makoto had just sent him a picture he took from his visit, and even though Nagito felt so happy and smiled so wide when he saw it, he could feel his heart clench, too.
The photo was another selfie—it was Makoto, and next to him was his friend, Hina was her name. They were both grinning, and they were holding some of the most elaborate-looking doughnuts that Nagito had ever seen; seemed like they were sprinkled with candies and covered in unusual glazes. It was a nice picture, and Nagito had trouble tearing his eyes away from Makoto’s face… there was a spot of glaze near his mouth…
Nagito sighed as he rested his hands and phone on his chest, and stared at the ceiling, thinking about how he should respond. Even though Makoto was hesitant when he sent his first selfie, since then, he’d become a lot more easygoing about it. More easygoing, and definitely more generous. Nagito wasn’t going to fight it, but, all the same… he felt worse and worse with each selfie he received. By now, it had become unbearable.
With a hint of reluctance, Nagito picked his phone back up, and returned to his conversation.
(Hina said it was alright for me to send this btw)
The one I've got was called gummy graveyard
It had gummies baked inside
Cookies and cream sprinkled on top
Def gonna go again lol
You look like you were enjoying yourself.
It was great
The conversation stopped there, and Nagito felt his anxiety return with a vengeance. It was too much, and above everything else, Nagito didn’t want to put the issue off anymore, didn’t want to just wind the conversation down with pleasantries so that he could feel awful again tomorrow. He didn’t know what to do, though, which left him paralyzed. The minutes dragged on, with nothing happening on either end, until finally, Makoto sent another message.
Its getting late
I should go
Nagito could feel his heart beat faster at that, and he hurried to try something—anything—just to make things be different this time.
Yes? What’s up?
Nagito started typing a response, but once he was halfway through… he didn't really like it, it sounded too panicked. So he deleted the whole thing and tried again, but… once again, didn't really like he wrote, so he cleared it out. Then he tried a third time, and then a fourth time, and then—he let out a frustrated sigh and buried his face in his free hand. It was no use, he could never waste Makoto's time explaining something so absurd and pointless…
You still there? Everything okay?
Yes, everything's fine.
Don't worry about it.
I can't help but worry
Is there something bothering you?
Nagito imagined Makoto's face—that beautiful, wonderful face—marred with concern, and it made him feel a pang in his chest. He didn't want to waste Makoto's time, but making Makoto worry was even worse.
So, Nagito took a deep breath, and tried again.
Yes, there's something bothering me. But I'm not sure how to explain it.
It's stupid, anyway.
If its bothering you then its not stupid
Can we talk about it?
I think it'll help you if you talk
And I want to help you
A pained smile spread across Nagito's face, and he felt warmth in his chest. He still thought his problem was stupid, still hated himself for having it in the first place… but there was something steadying about Makoto's words. Something that gave him strength to keep going.
All right, we can talk.
My problem is that I want to send you a selfie, but I can't.
Nagito's fingertips trembled, and he felt a painful lump in his throat; he was grateful that he didn't have to talk. For now, he typed deliberately, focusing on writing one sentence at a time.
It's a stupid problem. People send each other selfies all the time.
But for me, I can't. I guess you could say, I can't work up the nerve.
It's ridiculous, isn't it?
You can laugh if you want. Call me a pathetic piece of trash. You wouldn't be wrong.
But it is wrong!
Even if its not a problem that a lot of people have
Its still a problem for you
And its giving you trouble
And I want to help you feel better
His breaths came in short, and his eyes stung, and—was he about to cry over this? Why was he feeling so emotional all of a sudden? It really wasn't like him…
He rubbed his eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. When his vision came back into focus, he saw new messages from Makoto.
Don't know if this is a good idea or not
But why don't you try sending a selfie now?
I don't want to make you do something you don't want
But if its bothering you
Maybe you'll feel better if you just get it done with
Anxiety rushed Nagito at the prospect of taking a selfie now, and he could feel that familiar churning in his stomach, that racing of his heart, that he'd suffered through for the past few weeks.
But. This time… this time there was something else, too. This time, he wasn't alone, forcing himself to take a selfie; instead, Makoto was directly asking for one. Could it be said that Makoto wanted to see it? Could it be said that Makoto would be disappointed if Nagito didn't send it?
Alongside the anxiety, Nagito could feel another force rushing through his blood, a force that could take on anything. Could that be called courage?
Are you still there?
Can you hold on a moment?
It really couldn’t be too hard, Nagito thought, although he felt his heart pounding. He saw Ibuki take a selfie the other day, and she did it so fast—it was over quicker than getting shots at the doctor’s office.
Just don’t think about it, just don’t think about it, just don’t think about it…
Reluctantly, Nagito forced his eyes open—he hadn’t even realized that he’d closed them—and he saw that the picture he sent had finished posting to the chat.
And the chat was quiet.
Nagito scrolled up to the photo he posted—he avoided looking at it before he sent it—and he felt his heart beat in his ears. Once he got a good look, he could feel his insides clench in disgust. The pale blue light from his phone highlighted how sickly his skin and hair looked, and—what was with that face he was making? His eyes were shut tight, mid-flinch, and it looked less like he was sending his friend a selfie, and more like he was about to get hit with a baseball—
A new message was posted to the chat, and he scrolled back down to look.
Don’t take this the wrong way but
Nagito already felt his heart drop, and resignation filter in, because of course, even Makoto would hate—
I think your really pretty
… Pretty? …
… It felt so warm…
Nagito jolted, feeling something hit his stomach. It was his phone, he must’ve dropped it… was he spacing out? He picked his phone back up, and saw that there were new messages.
I know your a guy
Being called that by another guy
That’s honestly what I think
Is that alright?
Want to meet up?
That would be great
Nagito was not entirely aware of himself as he continued talking to Makoto, making plans to meet up in person. He could feel his heart pounding again, but somehow, this was different from earlier. Now, it felt warm, and… and happy, like someone had opened a window and let in a fresh breeze and sunlight.
It wasn’t until the next morning that Nagito’s mind fully caught up to what happened. At first, he felt horrified, when he realized how forward he had been—asking Makoto to meet up like that, out of nowhere. But then he realized that somehow, he’d actually been successful, and any horror he felt was overtaken with the absolute giddiness that swelled up inside him. He was actually going to meet Makoto, face-to-face, and see Makoto’s smile, and talk to Makoto in real time, and hear Makoto’s real voice…
And Makoto thought he was pretty.