Daiya always told him he had to be strong. His first memory of his brother was when he was young. He was holding onto his brother as they hid in the closet. Their father, who's name he could barely remember, was grumbling in front of the tv, and their mother, who was far too kind for her own good, was crying softly in her room as she bandaged the latest wound that their father gave her.
Daiya held him and pet his hair while he cried. "S' gonna be okay, Mon...s' okay. Ya know why?"
He shook his head. He was too young to imagine anything different. This was the only world he knew, and even someone as young as him knew it was wrong, that everything about it was wrong.
"Cause yer strong. Ya gotta be. If yer not..." Daiya looked away. He was too young to know what his brother really meant then, but as he got older...after their mother died, he learned exactly what it meant and just how true it was.
They started the gang soon after her death. They had money left to them in her will and some money that Daiya made working part time after school. They bought a bike with it. It was old, kind of ugly, too, but she was a beauty to the two boys. Daiya was always more charismatic than he was, and he could only watch on with pure admiration as other boys like them flocked to his older brother. They saw him as a leader, and they all worked to get them all bikes. It was hard, but they did it.
His first time riding was exhilarating. He had never known it was possible to feel that free, and he fell in love with it immediately. There was something addicting about it, and the adrenaline rush of running from the cops only made it better.
At first, he hated the fighting. He was an angry guy, sure, but after his father, he just wanted peace. But being part of a gang meant they had to fight for territory. He was good at it, too. He was really good at it.
Daiya always patched him up afterwards and patted his back. Seeing the pride in his brother's eyes always made him happy. He had to be strong, and he was. If he wasn't...he tried not to think about it, but the sight of his mother's body was hard to forget.
So was that when his brother's retirement came and everyone doubted him, he challenged his brother to that race? He had to prove he was strong. He had to be strong...stronger than their dad, stronger than Daiya or else... He was angry and brushed his brother's pleas for him to stop and listen. Daiya was always wiser than him, but for once, he didn't listen. When he fell behind, he started driving on the wrong side of the road. He heard Daiya scream for him to stop, that he would pull over and stop right there if he just got back on the right side of the road. He didn't listen. He kept going until...
Truck lights almost blinded him, and as his miserable life flashed in front of his eyes, he felt Daiya knock him out of the way...so why...why did his leg go and kick Daiya's bike...
He screamed when he realized what had happened. Traffic stopped when Daiya, the brother that taught him so much, that cared for him when no one else would, that loved him more than anyone, became a bloody stain on the pavement. He could tell from where he was against the side of the road it would have to be a closed casket funeral. He didn't understand...why did he do that? Why did he kill his brother? People crowded around him and told him his brother sacrificed himself for him, but he knew the truth. He had proven he was stronger than Daiya...hadn't he? So why was he so afraid? Why was he afraid of telling anyone what he did?
His brother's ghost haunted him as he went to Hope's Peak. After his brother's death, he built up the gang even more. He got into more fights than ever. The wounds stung without his brother helping him, but he didn't think on it. He liked it or maybe he hated it. He wasn't sure anymore.
Kiyotaka Ishimaru was the only one in his class that really stood out to him. They were all unique...sure, and Sakura interested him, but Kiyotaka was special. He wasn't sure why though. Maybe it was because he was always following him making sure he kept in line. It annoyed him, but not because it was happening. Something small and paranoid in him wondered if Kiyotaka somehow knew. He wondered if he knew that what he did, and it scared him.
Then, Kiyotaka cornered him and confirmed his worst fears. He knew. He knew that he murdered someone and how weak he really was, but then, Kiyotaka surprised him.
"We aren't too different actually."
"Huh? The hell ya talkin' bout?"
Kiyotaka smiled at him. He never saw the disciplinarian look like that. Normally Kiyotaka had a rather bright smile, but now, eyes were entirely lifeless. The smile made his skin crawl a little, but he liked it, too. "I mean, I too, murdered someone who I respected for my own sake."
He told him his story: the story of a boy who's life and future were destroyed by his grandfather. The boy who worked until he collapsed from exhaustion every day to please the old man who wasted his. The boy who murdered him in cold blood to free himself from him and to make him pay for driving his father to suicide.
To say he was moved would be an understatement. Kiyotaka was strong. He was stronger than Mondo was and probably would ever be, and he both hated and admired that. So when Kiyotaka held out his hand and asked for him to help him with something, he took it without a second thought. He was a weakling, but he hoped that Kiyotaka would make him strong.
They ended the world together. That reality didn't really hit him until he watched the great monuments of the world Daiya always wanted to see in person one day collapse one by one. He wasn't sure what happened. First, they were killing the steering committee during the day and going on moonlit walks talking about everything and nothing, and next, they were slow dancing to the symphony of screaming, gunshots, and burning that had turned into white noise to him by now.
He wasn't sure how it happened, but no one could say he was weak, right? They couldn't. Not when he was standing next to the strongest man alive and still breathing as he held him close. He wasn't sure why Kiyotaka loved him so much, but he loved that he was loved. He loved the feelings of warmth and safety that Kiyotaka gave him, but there was something else, too. It gnawed at him. It kept a distance between them and kept him from fully understanding why any of this had to happen.
If the weak are meat for the strong to eat, then he had been devoured whole by Kiyotaka Ishimaru. He hadn't even realized it. If he was relying on Kiyotaka to be strong, then that only made him weak. He wasn't stupid, but he was blind enough to not see it. It finally hit him as he rested his head on the other's lap and closed his eyes. The images of his mother and brother haunted him as Kiyotaka stroked his hair oh so similarly to his brother did that day. He had to be strong, but for Kiyotaka for the man who destroyed the world, the only option left for him was weakness.