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i know it’s over, still, i cling

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Horror settled in Kiyotaka’s veins when Mondo finished telling them all of what he did. With Chihiro. With his brother. Suddenly, it felt as though the raven haired boy couldn’t find oxygen to breathe, like his lungs were refusing to intake air to survive.

No, his mind raced, refusing to piece together the simple puzzle that was just explained to him. He didn’t want to believe what he had just said and he wished he weren’t here, that he would wake up at home and that everything would be the same as it once was. Kiyotaka’s stomach seemed to do flips and he felt like he was going to vomit just like the night before, his hands began to shake and his eyes blurred with tears. Hot, boiling anger bubbled within him.

His quivering hands gripped tightly onto Mondo’s jacket, the fabric feeling cold to the touch. Bitter emotions swelled up within him and he wanted to scream and cry and rewind time and he wished he could have prevented it all—

“Why?” was what he ended up muttering out. It was quiet, barely even heard by himself. “God dammit, why? Why did you kill them?” his voice cracked and shook and progressively grew louder, his grip on Mondo only tightening with every second. Worst of all, it was just explained ‘why’ he killed them, so the question was useless to begin with.

Seething hot tears oozed from his eyes and dripped down his cheeks as his ears rang. He had never felt this angry before, had never felt this sorrowful before. The emotion was unwanted and unnecessary and made him feel as if all hope was lost when in reality, more than that was lost. He was in absolute despair, nothing could make him feel any better in this moment and nothing would ever make him feel any better. Kiyotaka wanted to punch something. Someone.

Mondo’s voice was cool to the touch. It only worsened how bad the other boy felt. “I don’t know how ta even answer ya, Taka,” he replied, voice displaying nothing but shades of black and white. “What can I even say? Punch me if ya want, it ain’t gonna change shit, will it?”

His words rang heavy in Taka’s ears.

“Taka, it’s fine, really!” Mondo assured, though it was evident in his features that no, no it was not. “A criminal like me wasn’t gonna get nowhere even if I did escape, anyway. Where ‘m I gonna go? College? As if!” he tried to lighten the mood but it didn’t do anything. Kiyotaka could only stare down at the floor in frustration. He could try. He would try.

Ignoring what Mondo just said, Kiyotaka whipped his head up and around to the short, robotic bear who stood on the podium. It’s smile had never felt so eerie, but Kiyotaka was determined if anything else. His tears wouldn’t stop flowing and his voice came out in wrecked sobs and chokes and hiccups.

It seemed as if the bear knew what he was going to say before he even opened his mouth.

“Go on!” Monokuma encouraged, voice high and full of excitement. “Say it! Tell me what you want to tell me! I won’t judge!”

“Kiyo.” Mondo’s voice warned, changing from emotionless to concerned. “What are you thinkin’ in that head o’yours?”

It wasn’t just Mondo wondering. It was all his peers, too, and it didn’t pressure him or anything of the such but it sure as hell made him more confident. He only wanted the best for them, and yet one of his first friends had seemingly betrayed him without even meaning to. Yes, it was a fit of rage and jealously that he couldn’t control but Kiyotaka wished with all his heart that he could’ve found the strength within himself to stop all the events that occurred just because he felt he wasn’t strong enough.

But Mondo was strong. Maybe stronger than anybody Kiyotaka had ever known before he even pushed open the doors to this God forsaken Hell. He had never met someone quite as determined as Mondo. He knew everybody had insecurities and everybody had wished and doubts and beliefs, and he knew Mondo believed with all his heart that he would get somewhere if he tried hard enough. It only hurt more when Mondo threw that all away.

It was sickening to think about it. But he would rather let others survive than himself be the only one standing.

“Please,” he whispered, form shaking. “Please just take me instead.”

But that did not satisfy Monokuma as they cupped a small paw to their ears atop their round head, as if asking for him to embarrass himself further. “What was that, Moral Compass? I couldn’t hear you!” they sang, practically bouncing in delight. “Oh, do repeat yourself!”

“Execute me instead!” he yelled, voice strained. “Please! Just take me instead of him!”

At the loud confession, he could hear Makoto mutter a small ‘no, Ishimaru’ before gasping.

Mondo’s eyes bugged out of their sockets. “No fuckin’ way! Hey, stupid bear whattcha’m’callit! Don’t ya dare take his dumb request!” the taller boy was becoming nervous and Kiyotaka felt all eyes on him.

Monokuma only stroked their chin in fake thought. “Hmm… most interesting, indeed! I don’t know what to do!” they exclaimed, turning from Mondo to Kiyotaka. “Innie, meenie, minie… oh! Wait!” they hopped down from their podium and skipped up to the two of them, glancing behind them both and at all the other students.

“What?” Kiyotaka sneered. “Please! Please just take me instead! I couldn’t care any less about what happens! Just please let me take his place! Please!”

“Sounds like the Ultimate Moral Compass is so intent on breaking the rules, huh?” the bear joked, looking at Mondo as if waiting for him to laugh, too. “You want me to break the rules that bad? Give me an offer already!” they roared with laughter.

The irony of the moment got into Kiyotaka’s head as he was breaking one of the main rules. The true killer should always be punished for even attempting to graduate and nobody else would be blamed for their sins unless they were wishing for a massive death wish. But Kiyotaka didn’t care anymore. He couldn’t bring himself to look the stupid bear in it’s eyes.

“Oh, come on now, Ishimaru! Look me in the eye and say ya wanna break the rules, then maybe we can have an arrangement.” Monokuma huffed.

And so he did. “If you don’t take me in his place, I might as well die with him,” he tightened his fists. “Violence against the headmaster is the worst crime of all, I thought.”

Monokuma’s comical eyes widened and they began to shake with laughter, their paws clutching at their stomach as if it would burst open. “Ha! Oh, I can’t take it anymore! What a cheesy, sad drama this is! It reminds me of The Notebook or whatever.” they let their voice echo the courtroom and then they rubbed at their eyes. “What does Mondo need to say, again?”

From beside him, the mentioned boy screamed in frustration. “Ya fuckin’ dingus! Don’t ya understand that ya can’t even break that fuckin’ rule? It ain’t make any sense! Why break the rule for one damn person?” he asked bitterly, spitting even. “Is there some damn rule that says only Kiyotaka can die if he wants to? ‘Cause I don’t fuckin’ think there is, ya stupid bear!”

Monokuma only smiled wickedly. “Who says we can’t change the rules? I am the headmaster, after all!” they leaned to the side. “I can break as many rules as I want! If the moral prefect wants to finally break one, who am I to deny such a joy? Plus…” they trailed off, adding dramatic suspense. “It would be kinda fun to see the perfect prefect have to go through such a dreadful execution, wouldn't it? I mean, we already have it ready, so why not?”

And for the first time that he was there, Kiyotaka felt a shred of relief. But, like every day he spent in this school, he felt fearful. Terrified. Already had an execution ready for him? What, was it really that bad? If Leon’s was anything to reference…

Was this the wrong choice?

“Everybody! It seems there’s a change of plans as you’ve heard!” Monokuma yelled, shoving the two boys in front of them aside and facing all the students who stood in anticipation. “Your hard work meant nothing! How ironic, isn’t it, Ishimaru?” it jabbed.

“Anyway, let’s get this show on the road! I’ve been waiting for this trial to end.” they cheerfully added, reaching behind them and grabbing the massive hammer that seemed to appear out of thin air. They hopped back on the podium, swinging the hammer down onto the big red button.

Everyone watched as it made a small click and right after came the deafening sound of metal scraping against metal, a long chain falling down from the ceiling and aiming directly for Kiyotaka’s neck. His heart sped up as it clamped tightly against his neck, and his hands flung up to grip at the heavy collar in order to free himself.

I can’t breathe, was what ran through his head. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. Please, let go, I can’t breathe!

As he was dragged into a dark room, his thoughts went haywire. He was going to die. He wouldn’t even be able to think in a second. He was going to die in front of his friends and there wasn’t a single thing he could do about it because he was the one who proposed the idea in the first place, all for Mondo. He would rather die than have anybody else. He wished dreadfully that he could’ve saved Chihiro and Leon and Sayaka and everybody else who may fall into the trap next.

He wanted to tell them he was grateful for them, that he was so, so overjoyed to have met them even in such a gloomy setting. If he weren’t about to die, he would’ve tried to spend more time with them, but it was no use. It was just a fantasy. Just a dream. Just his imagination.

All his hard work stopped here, as Monokuma so kindly reminded everybody. Everything he worked for was torn down and it felt as if he were nothing again. Maybe he wasn’t ever anything. Maybe, he was always nothing from the very beginning.

Shut up, he told himself. What would everyone else think of him if he said that aloud? He was something and he always would be something unless no one ever remembered him. His friends would remember him like how he heard in stories and his friends wouldn’t ever forget who he was because he was something to them and they were something to him. No matter what happened, he was always going to be something.

And suddenly, he felt awfully scared. He didn’t want to die. But he remembered where he was and why he was here and he changed his mind. Sure, he did not desire to die but it was worth it, wasn’t it?

If he had to die for everybody else, then that was okay for him.

When the lights snapped back on, his arms felt tight. His cheeks felt dry. He couldn’t try and he was hyper aware of every movement.

His left arm was pinned up by a machine behind him and a rough, metal cuff was tightened around his hand as if keeping it in place. His other arm was strapped to his side as he moved slowly atop a moving vehicle. Around him, he noticed the tall buildings and all the miniature Monokuma’s that stood around and booed at him, signs in their paws read things such as go away and we don’t want you here.

He realized where he was. It was almost like a parade. Kiyotaka’s mouth was shut and he began to sweat bullets, his left arm moving on its own thanks to the machine behind him. He felt his peers’ eyes train on him, even though he could not see where they were.

Suddenly, a sharp pain from behind caused him to shut his eyes tightly. One of the Monokuma’s had thrown… something at him, maybe a sign or a piece of food or a knife, but it was something to inflict pain. And then, he caught one on the left side of the vehicle throw a razor blade at him, which hit his thigh and cut straight through his uniform, earning a cry from his lips. Another one threw a tomato at his face, but he managed to barely miss it. Tomato juice dropped down from his cheek to his chin.

It became more frequent as they threw razor blades, fruit, their own signs, shoes, knives and rocks. The pain went from agonizing to unbearable, and the loudening boo’s from the crowd only made it worse and worse. His eyes welled with tears as his legs and torso and face were cut and bruised from the blades, his left hand swelling from the cuts.

And then, that was when he spotted Monokuma atop a slightly shorter building holding a sniper rifle in their hands, eyes wide open and a grin on their face. It dawned on him that this pain would only get worse, as the only things they threw at him now were blades. Tears rolled off his cheeks as blood obscured his vision and he felt his arms becoming way too warm. His legs were bloodied and his cheek was swollen.

He screamed as knives buried themselves into his legs, his arms still waving and his body shaking under the tight shackles.

And finally, he watched as Monokuma aimed the point of the rifle at his eye, the red dot making him squint. And then, it aimed towards his forehead, the suspense building as the only thing Kiyotaka could hear anymore was the ringing in his ears. His mind begged for the bullet to finally be shot, for the pain to just be over and for him to just finally be let free from whatever the hell this was. He begged for his peers safety, especially Mondo’s, who was probably watching with terror on his face. He begged for his life to fade away from him all too soon.

The bullet shot and struck him right in the center of his head. His body slumped. His hand stopped waving. He couldn’t do anything anymore and he wouldn’t ever do anything for the rest of eternity.

Kiyotaka Ishimaru was dead in place of Mondo Oowada, who stared in horror with shaking hands as his friend was propped up on the vehicle, lifeless, blood adorning his clothing and skin. Mondo gripped harshly onto the fence as he felt himself become weaker by the second.

He could only mutter out the name of his friend over and over again before collapsing to the ground.