Souda Kazuichi was not a Super High School Level Writer.
At least, that’s not what the school had invited him for. Souda had been scouted to Hope’s Peak Academy as the Super High School Level Mechanic, and was much more frequently found engaging in hands-on activities rather than boring book work. He was supposed to be sitting in some dingy garage, covered in grease and oil and reeking to high heaven of a week’s worth of gasoline fumes while an engine roared so loudly in the background you couldn’t hear yourself think.
And yet, here he sat in the early morning hours hunched over a spiral-bound notebook with a cheap plastic pen, pouring his heart and soul onto a piece of paper.
For the last few days now, he’d parked himself at one of the tables out on the open terrace to engross himself in his mysterious morning ritual. Usually the administration didn’t appreciate students doing things that weren’t talent-related or relationship-building during school hours. But it is talent-related , Souda would argue, because his notebook – which looked like he had stolen it straight out of a middle school boy’s locker – had a tacky holographic cover with a sexy red motorcycle on it, and if you flipped to the dog-eared page in the middle, there was a little engine diagram in the bottom-left corner. True to his own style, the cover was bright enough to blind any poor soul who was unfortunate enough to walk into the light reflecting off of it, and everyone hated that damn thing, especially on a bright sunny day.
Souda was also terrible at acting natural when he was clearly up to no good. Whatever he was doing, it was causing a suspicious rosy tint to form on his cheeks, and it was obvious enough to raise a few eyebrows from his curious peers. It didn’t help that whenever someone would walk within a 2-meter radius of him, he’d throw his entire body over the notebook, hurriedly covering the pages with his arms and giving the death-glare to whoever entered his personal bubble. Not that it was scary, but y’know. It’d make you a little uncomfortable.
Anyways, Souda was so deep in concentration, he’d forgotten to watch the clock. When he did finally look up, his heart seized up in sheer terror – it was 2 minutes before the bell. The cheerful Miss Yukizome would have him at knifepoint if he ruined their class’s 3-week stretch of perfect attendance. He shot up from his spot, haphazardly shoving his notebooks into his arms and nearly knocking the table over in the process.
There was no time to worry about where he was going. He burst through the door, skittering down the hallway and rounding the corner at top speed only to run full-force into an absolute brick wall of a man headed in the opposite direction.
They collided in an explosion of books and papers. Souda took the brunt of the impact, ending up flat on his back as pieces of notebook paper fluttered to the ground all around him. When he finally opened his eyes again, the first thing he saw was the very definition of fear itself – looming overhead was the underside of a large, well-groomed pompadour, attached to what was one of the most intimidating-looking students he’d ever seen.
“Gh…! Watch it, asshole!” the other man sneered, clomping over to pick up his own books that had fallen to the floor, and Souda could not scoot his body away fast enough.
“Gahh! Sorry, sorry!” He jumped up and began shoving his spilled notebooks back into his arms, sputtering out words as fast as he could get them out of his mouth. “I-I didn’t mean it! I’m late! Miss Yukizome’s– er, my teacher’s gonna—”
He didn’t have time to stick around and hear what the other student had to say about it. As soon as he’d picked up the last of his belongings, he bolted towards the second-year classrooms, the surge of adrenaline giving him just enough energy to make it into the room with about ten seconds to spare. He collapsed into his chair, and just as he expected, Miss Yukizome walked in right behind him. Success.
“Morning, everyone!” she said, and everyone in the room greeted her back. While she did give a bit of a funny look to the mechanic, who was slumped over in his desk red-faced and out-of-breath, she wasted no time and jumped right into her lesson. “Alright! Open your notebooks, we’re continuing right where we left off yesterday!”
A few groans came from the back, but for Souda, it was just what he wanted. This was the perfect opportunity to keep working on his other hobby. He took out his sexy motorcycle notebook, accidentally blinding Saionji in the process, and flipped it open to the middle... only to be met with a slight problem.
The page was blank.
His giddy smile faded. He flipped through what turned out to be even more blank pages, soon discovering that his entire notebook appeared to be empty. The only thing he could find was a single half-page of notes, sloppily jotted down and dated about two months ago, and it wasn’t even his handwriting. In a panic, he turned it over to the cover – this was definitely the right notebook, his shimmery, sexy motorcycle cover, but there was one thing that wasn’t his - the name Mondo Oowada etched in thick black marker in the bottom-right corner.
Oh no. This was bad.
Yukizome paused in the middle of putting her notes away to look up. It didn’t surprise her that Souda had come to get her attention after class, because for the entire lesson he appeared to be fidgeting nervously with sweat pouring down his temples for no discernable reason – the lesson wasn’t that hard, she thought.
“I-I… I got a major problem!” He was wringing his hands, his eyes darting between her and the other students exiting the room. “I lost my notebook, a-and I think—”
“You lost your notebook?” she said, giving him a somewhat pitiful look. “Well, that’s unfortunate. You know I can’t just give out the notes, though. You’ll have to get them from one of your classmates.”
“No, it’s not that! I don’t care about the notes, it’s…” He had to backtrack when he saw her expression turn sour. “I-I mean, I have the notes somewhere else. The one I lost is… you know… that thing you were telling me about?”
Her eyebrows raised, a look of understanding dawning upon her face.
“Yeah, it’s that one. I think I might have accidentally got it mixed up with someone else.” He held up the notebook and pointed at the name written in the corner. “Do you know who this is?”
“Mondo Oowada…?” she said, inspecting the cover with her hand pressed up to her chin. “Yeah, I’ve heard that name before. He’s part of the 78th class. They gave us a little briefing on all the new students a while back – I guess he’s the Super High School Level Biker Gang Leader, if I remember right. Pretty scary guy.”
The Super High School Level Biker Gang Leader? Shit, this was going to be harder than he thought.
“I-I mean, he’s nothing one of my students couldn’t handle!” She reassured him with a pat on the shoulder, seeing his face go completely pale. “You’re an upperclassman now, right? Go show ‘im who’s boss! Er... within reason, I should say!”
“I know you can do it!” She spun him around to shove him out the door. “Your teacher’s got things to do! Use your resources! Good luck!”
The door slammed behind him, and he heard the lock click. Crap.
“Some help she is,” he mumbled to himself. “What a pain… ‘use my resources’, she says… what the hell does that even—”
A brilliant idea interrupted the thought. Of course! He had a perfect counter to the Super High School Level Biker Gang Leader all along. Although, considering what he was recruiting his help for, maybe it wasn’t the best idea…
...Oh well, he could probably risk it. With his target in mind, he shot off down the hallway, knowing he couldn’t have gotten too far.
The sound of squeaking sneakers gave him away. Even though his target knew what was coming, it still managed to knock the wind out of him.
“Kuzuryuu!” Souda shouted, practically tackling him from behind. “What’s up, buddy?”
“—Oof! Hey!” he said, wriggling in his grip as Souda hooked an arm around his neck. His face turned a dull shade of pink, still embarrassed to be seen in such a position in front of his classmates. “Dammit, Souda, what do you want?”
“Hey, hey, don’t be like that. I got a favor to ask of you,” he said with a wink. “It’s an easy one this time, I promise.”
“I’ve already done you like ten favors, asshole. You’re gonna have to start paying these back eventually,” he said dryly. He edged himself out of Souda’s hug and straightened his vest out around his waist.
“Yeah, yeah, put it on my tab,” Souda said, waving him off. “So here’s the deets. I lost my notebook before class, and—”
“You’re not copying off mine. Forget it.”
“...That’s not what I was askin’!” His expression turned serious. “Listen, this is urgent. Someone stole my notebook, and I have to get it back, like, ASAP, or else… I’m probably gonna get in big trouble for it... cuz of some of the content…y’see…”
“Why? Have you been drawing weird stuff in it?” he asked. His brow then furrowed. “Wait… it isn’t something Sonia-related, is it, you bastard?”
“N-No, it’s just… other stuff! I can’t say, alright?” The mechanic’s face was heating up again, noticeable even in the dimly-lit corridors of Hope’s Peak. He was easily flustered to begin with, so Kuzuryuu didn’t pay it much attention. What was most interesting to him was Souda was very clearly embarrassed about something and he wouldn’t say what.
“Don’t tell me…” he said, his face cracking into a smile, “it’s a diary? Are you keeping a diary?”
He snorted, and Souda shook his head. “No! Err, not like a real diary, but… I-I can’t say! I just can’t let anyone read it!” he said vehemently. “It’s… it’s got all my secrets in it....”
“Tch. What the hell kinda secrets have you got to hide?” he asked.
“Bad ones. Trust me,” he said. “So I gotta get this thing back before the whole school reads it, because I’m seriously in trouble. My high school career’s on the line here. You gotta help me.”
He considered it for about a half-second. “No.”
“What?! Why not?” Kuzuryuu turned to leave, but Souda jumped in front of him and seized him by the shoulders before he could walk away. His voice raised to such a level than the entire hallway could hear them, a high-pitched whine that was impossible to ignore. “C’mon, man! You’re like, my soul friend! You gotta help me!”
“H-Hey, shut up! Quit calling me that around— ” His head spun around towards the rest of the students walking past them, accidentally locking eyes with a certain swordswoman as she made her way to the common area. She gave him a polite nod as she passed, and his face turned an even deeper shade of red. “ —around everyone! It’s embarrassing!”
Kuzuryuu pushed him off once more. “What the hell do you need my help for? It’s your stupid notebook!”
“Because the person who stole it is apparently the Super High School Level Biker Gang Leader. And you’re, like… y’know…” he lowered his voice into a nearly-inaudible whisper, leaning in to make sure no one was listening. “...in a gang. ”
“It’s not a secret…”
“So yeah. That’s why I need you,” he said, his face lighting up. “You just gotta go sweet-talk ‘em for me. He’ll probably give it back if you ask.”
“You say that like it’d be easy or something,” he said. Souda gave him his most pathetic expression yet – a technique he’d clearly mastered. He sighed deeply and looked up at the clock. “Well… it’s not like I don’t have enough free time. What would I get out of this if I were to say yes?”
“I’ll throw another favor in the favor-bank! How ‘bout that?” he said, patting him on the back. “Sweet deal, huh? And then I promise I won’t bug you until the day I die. Probably.”
“I should start charging you interest for the other ones,” he replied. While there was a slight pause while he mulled over his decision, he gave in after another deep sigh. “Make it two.”
“And you gotta let me read it.”
“...No! No deal!” he said quickly, shaking his head. “That’s askin’ too much! C’mon, be fair!”
“Fine,” he said. “Three favors, and you gotta cover my food and beverage expenses for the next week. You want this notebook back, right?”
Souda’s face scrunched up. Sometimes he forgot who he was dealing with.
“Alright.” He gave him a limp handshake. “Deal.”
“So where’s this guy supposed to be at?”
Kuzuryuu followed Souda down into the unfamiliar area of the new school building where the younger students’ classes were being held. Since most of the first years had not been let out for lunch yet, the halls were eerily empty for the middle of the day, and the only sound besides the muffled voices coming from within the rooms were the echoes of their footsteps on the tile floor.
“I dunno. I just figured he’d be over here,” Souda said, glancing around a corner. “Maybe he’s over here?”
“This better not take all day, kid,” Kuzuryuu mumbled. His patience was already wearing thin. “Do you know anything about this guy besides his SHSL title? Like anything that would give away where he’d be hanging out? Because if he’s in class right now, this is gonna be a huge waste of time.”
“Well, I heard he’s…” The thing Chisa said about him being a ‘pretty scary guy’ came to mind, but he decided it would be better to keep that detail to himself. “...I dunno. He’s a year below us, though, so we got this.”
“Well, obviously, dumbass. We’re in the first-years wing so I kinda assumed. Do you know what he looks like?”
“Y-y-yeah, kinda… I mean, I didn’t get a real close look, but— ” He gasped suddenly and yanked Kuzuryuu back by the collar, pulling him around the corner they’d just walked past. “ —Oh! That’s totally him!”
He squinted at the figures parked at the other end of the common room, and his jaw nearly dropped. “...That guy?!”
When Kuzuryuu had pictured the biker gang member, he’d pictured some scrawny delinquent with a tough-guy complex looking for something to prove; someone who was all bark and no bite. Sure, the bosozoku were tough in numbers, and occasionally there’d be a standout member that the yakuza would recruit into their ranks, but in general they were annoying rats that just got in the way of the family business. What he was not picturing, however, was a 187-cm beast of a man who looked like he could break him in half. Super High School Level, indeed.
“Yeah. That’s the guy who walked off with my notebook,” Souda said in a hushed voice. “Just go over there and butter him up a li’l.”
The biker wasn’t doing anything particularly threatening – just sitting at a table near the window with his feet propped up, apparently skipping class and doing nothing talent-related unless being a delinquent counted towards his work requirements. However, he wasn’t alone, accompanied by what looked to be two of his classmates: a smaller feminine figure who was typing away peacefully in front of a laptop, while the second, a red-haired male, was sweating his way through some bookwork nearby. Regardless, they were outnumbered.
“‘Butter him up’ a little… what the fuck is wrong with you? Have you looked at the kid?” he said. Had Kuzuryuu had his trusted bodyguard watching his back instead, he’d feel comfortable walking up to the guy in any situation – however, since Souda was definitely no Pekoyama, he didn’t feel quite as safe.
“Yeah, that’s why I hired you,” Souda said. “He’s in a gang. You’re in a gang. You know how to deal with these kinds of people. Just go get it.”
“Not that kinda gang!”
“Yeah, well…” he trailed off. “You’re an upperclassman. Just go haze him or somethin’.”
“Haze him?! You’re an upperclassman too, you jackass! You go haze him!” he argued quietly, then shook his head. “That’s stupid! We can’t do that anyway, it’s against school policy!”
Souda stalled for a few seconds, and then blurt out, “—Quick! Now’s your chance!”
He shoved him out into the open, and Kuzuryuu immediately went reeling backwards, knocking into his chest and starting somewhat of a kerfuffle. While the two pushed against one another, the student on the laptop looked up and watched for a few moments, getting the attention of the other two at the table in case they hadn’t noticed already.
Kuzuryuu was the one to point out they weren’t exactly being quiet anymore. “H-Hey, stop it, you idiot! Or we’re both gonna—”
Both of them froze upon hearing the voice shout over them from afar. On the other side of the room, the student in the black jacket had raised himself up from his seat, running his fingers through his pompadour and looking none-too-pleased about his peaceful afternoon relaxation session being interrupted by a couple of unfamiliar hooligans.
“...Son of a bitch!” Kuzuryuu grunted. “I’m not getting into a confrontation over your stupid notebook! I’m out!”
Souda tried to latch onto him, but Kuzuryuu gave him another shove, then dodged around the corner leaving the mechanic out in the open looking like a deer in the headlights as the other student approached. The biker sauntered over, cracking his knuckles and gritting his teeth, and Souda began to wonder if this was his divine punishment for what he’d written in that notebook, because he was beginning to feel the fear of God in him right about now.
He stopped about a foot closer to Souda than he was comfortable with, then scoped him out head to toe. “Hey. Ain’t you the kid who ran into me earlier today?”
“N-No…” he answered sheepishly.
“Yeah, you are, you crazy fucker. I’d recognize a kid who looked like you anywhere,” he said, cupping his fist with his other hand. “Was hopin’ you’d come back here so we could settle this like men.”
“H-Heh, well…” His lip twitched, and he took a step back without intending to. “That’s kinda… not what I was hoping…to do...”
“Yeah. Seems we got a little problem here,” he growled, then leaned down to give him a cold glare right to his face. His pompadour pressed against his forehead. “I think you took off with some of my stuff. ”
Souda didn’t answer, at least not in any intelligible way, only managing to get out a series of blubbering noises that sounded vaguely like apologies as he fumbled with his bag to find what he needed. He whipped the item out as fast as he could, expecting to get his ass beat if he moved any slower. Pointing his head towards the ground, he held out the notebook with both arms stretched forward, too scared to meet the gaze of the student in front of him – it wasn’t wise to make eye contact with gorillas, he’d been told.
A few tense moments passed. The biker stood silently, the glare of the glittery notebook reflecting onto his face, until he noticed the name written in the bottom-right corner.
“...Oh?” Souda looked up, and instead of finding a look of unbounded rage, he found an expression of pure glee.
“Hey, yeah, that’s mine!” He snatched it out of his hands and flipped it open to the half-page of notes in the middle, and his huge grin grew even wider. “Nice, still here! Thanks, I might’a needed these. Thought I was gonna have to get ‘em from a classmate or somethin’. Pain in the ass, I tell ya.”
It was like there was a different person in front of him than there was ten seconds ago. Souda stood dumbfounded for a moment, gawking up at the biker’s face, only to snap out of it when he was given a playful punch in the shoulder.
“Thanks bro, you’re a total lifesaver!” he beamed. “We must’ve switched by accident. Nice taste, by the way. You a Kawasaki fan?
“...Yeah!” he replied, nodding excitedly, a feeling of intense relief washing over him. “So do you have my notebook, too?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s what I was gonna tell you,” he said, bringing his face up from his page of notes. “Yeah, I did. Anyway, I lost it. Sorry dude.”
Souda could have choked. The punch-in-the-gut feeling from what he’d just been told was almost worse than the actual punch in the gut would have been.
“You… you lost it?!” Souda cried, careful to not let himself look overly upset to avoid pissing the guy off again. “How?! You only had it for like two hours!”
“Yeah, I know. My bad,” he said, scratching at the back of his head. “I don’t know how it happened myself. I just opened it, and there was all this weird writing in there, like… I don’t know how to describe it. Buncha crazy shit. That’s how I knew it wasn’t mine.”
“Well, what the heck! Where is it?” he asked, starting to break into a nervous sweat. “You didn’t, like... throw it away, did you?” Souda was already mentally mapping out the locations of every garbage in the school.
“Nah, of course not. One of my classmates, though, she’s this Super High School Level Writer or whatever, so I figured she’d know somethin’ about it cuz it seemed like somethin’ she’d write,” he explained, gesturing with his hands as he spoke. “So I showed it to her, and she was all like ‘this isn’t mine’, so I was like ‘whatever’ and asked for it back, and then she wouldn’t even give it to me! Crazy fuckin’ bitch… I couldn’t lay my hands on a lady, though, so she ran off with it. I’m sorry bro. I tried.”
The Super High School Level Writer… had his notebook. His writing. And she was probably judging him for it. Right now. This was a nightmare.
“Th-That’s…” Souda stammered. “Where is she?”
“Jeez, dude, you look like I told ya somebody just died,” he said. “That chick’s easy to find if it’s that big of deal. She’s either gonna be in the library or following that Togami bastard around somewhere. You know who that guy is, right?”
Of course. Everyone in the school knew the name Togami the very second his polished leather shoes stepped through the front gates. Though infamous, he was also rather elusive, so checking the library first would be an easier bet if they wanted to hurry up and get this over with. It was also a much more pleasant thought than the idea of anyone as high-profile as Togami being anywhere near his notebook, because that was the scariest possibility yet.
“Yeah, sure!” He looked back at Kuzuryuu who was still carefully watching the exchange with his head poked around the corner, and who was mouthing ‘ask him what she looks like’ in a manner as obvious as he could make it. “Oh yeah, what does she look like, by the way?”
“Her? Ehh, she’s…” He made some kind of wavy hand gesture. “Plain-looking, I guess. Long braids, black dress, big round glasses. Always looks pissed off for some reason, but that might just be when I’m around. Name’s Touko Fukawa.”
“‘Plain-looking’... great. We’ll figure this out, I guess” he said. He looked over his shoulder again at Kuzuryuu, who was impatiently waving him to come back. “I better go! Thanks!”
“No prob, bro. And sorry about your notebook!”
He walked back towards the table that his friends were still seated at, and Souda hopped behind the corner where Kuzuryuu was hiding. He looked to make sure the other student was far enough away, then lowered his voice to speak.
“So he didn’t have it! Apparently—”
“I heard, dumbass,” said Kuzuryuu bluntly. “So you’re going to the library to find this girl, then?”
“ I’m going to the library? Alone?” he said. “You’re coming too, dude. You agreed to do this with me, remember?”
And so he didn’t have time to protest, because Souda was already dragging him towards their new destination whether he agreed to it or not.
The new library was a far cry from the one in the old school building, a state-of-the art facility as opposed to the old, decrepit location that smelled of must and mahogany. Despite this, the hallway leading there was still empty and windowless, located in a central part of the building that was new enough that it still had somewhat of a sterile, uncomfortable vibe. Kuzuryuu was following a few steps behind Souda, because every time they’d walked side-by-side he’d awkwardly brush hands with him, and he began to wonder if it was intentional or if Souda just didn’t have any self-awareness.
“So why the fuck are you dragging me with you still?” Kuzuryuu asked, holding his arms behind his head. “You scared of the Super High School Level Writer, too?”
“I could use the moral support,” he said simply. “Also, I need you in case I need to make some ‘negotiations’.”
Souda made a money-pinching gesture with his fingers, and Kuzuryuu shook his head.
“Don’t,” he sighed. “So tell me. If this thing ain’t notes, and it isn’t some kind of weird drawing, and it isn’t a diary, then what the hell is it?”
Souda drew his lips together, and shoved his hands into his pockets. “It’s nothin’.”
“It’s nothing?” he asked. “Then why do you need it back so bad?”
“I can’t tell you.” He shoved his hands deeper into his pockets, and Kuzuryuu only grew more frustrated with him. In no mood to deal with his childish behavior, he circled around and cut him off.
“Souda,” he said forcefully. “If you don’t tell me what’s in that fucking notebook, I’m not helping you.”
“Ghh… fine!” he whined, his face turning red in a mixture of annoyance and embarrassment. Tear droplets lined the corners of his eyes. “But you can’t laugh or get mad, okay?”
He eyed him apprehensively. “Sure. I promise.”
“Okay.” Souda took a deep breath. There was no point in stalling. After checking over his shoulder to make sure no one else was nearby, he continued. “It’s… have you ever heard of something called ‘friend fiction’?”
There was an uncomfortable silence.
“F… Friend fiction?” Kuzuryuu stuttered.
“Yeah. At least, I think that’s what it’s called,” he said, scratching the back of his neck. “Miss Yukizome said I got a ‘lot of emotions’ and that I needed an outlet for ‘em or something. She said I should try a new hobby, and that maybe I should look into writing. But I didn’t know what to write, or who to write about, so she just told me to write what I know, and… yeah. I used some of you guys.”
“...Friend fiction?!” Kuzuryuu’s face soon matched the color of Souda’s. “You’ve been writing fiction about us?!”
“What the fuck?!” he shouted, then had to remember to keep his voice down due to their proximity to the library. “Who’s in it? Am I in it?”
“Maybe,” he said quietly. “You’re a cameo.”
“Hey, you said you wouldn’t get mad!” he said, wringing his hands again. “It wasn’t supposed to get out in the open, okay? It was just supposed to be for me! It’s embarrassing!”
“You stupid… stupid… son of a…” He was about to rip him a new one before remembering he’d just promised he wouldn’t get angry with him. As much as it killed him, he held his tongue, because Souda also looked like he was about to cry for real and he wasn’t ready to deal with that either. Kuzuryuu waved his hands in front of himself. “Hey, hey, fine! Okay! I won’t tell anyone, alright? Just… friend fiction … what the hell were you thinking?”
“I’m pretty sure everyone’s done it. It’s perfectly normal.”
“No, it isn’t! Nobody does that!” he argued, then remembered who he was arguing with. “God dammit, fuck! Let’s just get this stupid thing back so I never have to think about it again!”
Kuzuryuu stormed off ahead of him towards the library, and Souda had to jog to catch up. He moved awfully fast for having such short legs – Souda was about to make a comment on it before remembering the last time someone had taken a particularly pejorative jab at his height, and the ensuing broken nose that left a bloody trail all the way down to the bathroom. The mechanic didn’t have much common sense most of the time, but at least he had a good sense of self-preservation when it mattered.
As they entered the room, they were careful not to let the large doors slam behind them. The new library was massive, featuring vaulted ceilings and a maze of bookshelves and tables, and a comfortable atmosphere unlike the hallway leading up to it. It wasn’t very busy – Hope’s Peak’s campus was so large that most students found more interesting spots to study – but there were a few odd students seated throughout the room either reading or typing away on their laptops, and the girl they were looking for could have been anywhere amongst them.
“So how’re we gonna do this?” Souda asked. “Search the perimeter?”
“I dunno. You’re the one in charge,” Kuzuryuu whispered. “She’s the SHSL Writer, right? Find someone who looks like they’re writing. Let’s just walk around.”
They weaved in and around the bookshelves, trying not to make it too obvious that they were glancing at screens and peeking at notebooks as they passed. Most of the tables out on the open were occupied by the more academically-inclined students, and a few of them shifted uncomfortably as they became aware of the strangers snooping over their shoulders. The two of them didn’t know their way around the library very well, so their search took a bit longer than intended, but soon they stumbled upon a particular girl who stood out from the others – one who didn’t have a textbook open in front of her like the rest.
Though the new library was fairly well-lit, the table she was camped out at was easy to miss, located in a secluded spot in a shadowy corner of the room. The girl certainly matched the biker’s description: plain in appearance, hair done up into twin braids, and a long black dress that went down to her ankles, and who appeared to be hunched over a spiral-bound notebook, jotting down something with a pencil in hand and not paying attention to anything going on around her. Souda gave Kuzuryuu an elbow.
“I bet that’s her!” he said excitedly. “I bet that’s my notebook, too!”
“Well, go talk to her then, you idiot,” he replied.
Souda stepped forward, and Kuzuryuu followed a few steps behind him, bracing for the worst interaction he’d seen from him yet. The girl didn’t notice them coming until they were a few feet away, and she immediately tensed up at their presence – they weren’t off to a good start.
“Hey...” Souda asked casually. “Are you Touko Fukawa?”
She hesitated, scooting her notebook closer to her chest. “W-What difference does it make? Are you here to ask if I’m taking requests? Because if that’s the case, y-you can turn around and leave.”
“No, but…” he said, a bit startled by her sudden rudeness. “Have you seen a notebook with a motorcycle on it recently? Because I just so happened to lose one today, and—”
She sat up straight in her chair, as though some sort of powerful realization had suddenly come about her. Souda and Kuzuryuu looked at one another.
“...Keh!” she forced a laugh through her nose. “Th-That was yours?”
“Y-Yeah, I’m here to get it back, ‘cuz apparently you have it,” he said, nodding at the one laying open in front of her.
She grinned, but not out of hospitality. “I knew it… you looked like the type, w-with the greasy hair, and the backwards cap… it was s-so obvious a man wrote that filth.”
“...It was?” he asked, confused. “Is that… bad? I-I mean, some of it must’ve been good!”
“Repulsive,” she replied callously. “All of it. No emotion, a half-assed excuse for romance, nothing but physical descriptions, and n-not to mention, utterly disgusting word choice and a horrible grasp on anatomy!”
“Hey, wait a sec,” Kuzuryuu stepped in, side-eyeing Souda suspiciously. “You said, “romance”... what kinds of things does that entail?”
“ ‘Romance ’, feh... th-that’s a joke,” she scoffed. “I’m talking your friend here wrote some filthy, uncensored, bodice-ripper smut.”
He was lucky they were in a library, because Kuzuryuu looked as though he were on the verge of unleashing about a hundred explosive-laden profanities. Souda began to sweat like he’d just been accused of murder.
“I-It’s not like that!” he tried to pacify him. “...Not all of it!”
She wrapped her arms around herself. “I-I can picture it now, your sweaty hands, holding that fat pencil, getting all h-hot and bothered…”
“I-I admire a drive like that, though, even if all you did was spew out utter garbage,” she smirked. “I-It’s a shame, though… I was in the process of a full line-by-line critique and a complete rewrite when some idiot came and stole it from me.”
“What?!” the two of them exclaimed. A few nearby students looked up at them.
“You heard me. I don’t have it anymore, s-so go away,” she said. She showed them the dull, non-sexy cover of the notebook that was in front of her, then shoved her nose back into her work.
“What the hell! Who stole it?!” Souda asked, only to be met with a few long seconds of silence. He planted his palms on the table to get her attention again, and she met his gaze with a dirty scowl.
“Like I’d know her name,” she sneered. “Some animal of a woman saw that obnoxious cover shining from the other side of the library and just had to come over… she said she recognized it and had this ‘feeling in her gut’ that it belonged to someone she knew, a-and then ripped it out from under me mid-word. Eughh, it’s making me sick just picturing her, f-flaunting those disgusting triple-D’s with her shirt buttoned down halfway like some kind of—”
“Oh!” Souda exclaimed. “I bet it was Owari! She’s the only one I know with tits that big!”
“D-Don’t say that so loud!” Kuzuryuu said.
“Whoever that is,” Fukawa sighed. “I don’t know where she is, s-so stop asking me questions.”
“Dammit… dammit! If it’s Owari, we gotta go!” Souda said, looking up at the clock. Their classes would resume in about 30 minutes. “If she makes it back to class with that, I-I’m…”
Kuzuryuu didn’t say anything, standing behind him with his arms crossed and his lips sealed. Souda gulped.
“...A-Anyway, thanks for the info!” he said with a wave, and a large bead of sweat trickling his forehead. “Sorry to bother you!”
A grunt was the only reply he got from her.
He spun around, only to find Kuzuryuu was already halfway to the exit. He chased after him, slowing to a quick trot after one of the staff members gave him a dirty look, and made it to the door a few seconds behind him.
To his dismay, Kuzuryuu was impatiently waiting for him on the other side. Souda held the door propped behind his back, letting it shut as slowly as possible. It wasn’t that he was being courteous by not letting it slam – he was stalling for the inevitable scolding he was about to receive.
“Close it.” Kuzuryuu ordered. “All the way.”
Souda’s mouth twisted. The second the door clicked shut, Kuzuryuu grabbed him by the collar and ripped him towards his face.
“You didn’t say it was porn!” he said through gritted teeth. “You’ve been writing porn about us?!”
“I never said it wasn’t!” he said, holding his hands up in surrender. “And it’s not ‘porn’, that makes it sound bad! It’s romance!”
“...God dammit! That’s too much!” he growled. “I don’t care what it is, or what you call it! As soon we get that thing back from Owari, it’s going into the incinerator!”
He released him in a huff, and Souda gasped.
“Nooooo, I worked hard on it! You can’t do that!” he whined, but Kuzuryuu wasn’t inclined to feel sorry for him this time.
“I can, and I will, because I’m not gonna let anyone else read that shit either! You better hope I don’t get my hands on that thing first! So hurry up, because if we’re late to class, I’m gonna...”
He trailed off, his mind distracted by the thought of what kinds of horrific things were lurking in that notebook. The image of Souda’s self-insert seducing his classmates haunted him to his very core. He didn’t want to know what he’d been writing about anymore, because if his eyes had to read an erotic, titillating description of Pekoyama – penned by Souda’s sinful hand, no less – he was sure his soul would leave his body on the spot. He had to stop himself from imagining it.
“...Fuck! Fuck you! C’mon!”
He sped off again, seemingly in a bigger hurry than Souda himself. There were two places where Owari could be found if class wasn’t in session: the first was the roof, and the second was the cafeteria, so if they were lucky it would be the latter. She wasn’t hard to find – even for a girl, she towered over most of her peers, and she was the type whose exuberant personality was difficult to ignore. If she was with Nidai, she’d be even easier to find – they’d just have to follow their trail of destruction.
Before long, they were in the hallway that led to the cafeteria. Unlike the rest of the day, they were finally met with a pleasant surprise – Owari just happened to be right down the other end, having just exited the cafeteria with a plate full of chicken wings that she was apparently smuggling out to bring to class.
“There!” Souda shouted. “Let’s go!”
Kuzuryuu had no objections. They rushed down the hall to greet her, dodging around the other students headed in the opposite direction and muttering a few weak apologies as they banged shoulders with a few of them. They were lucky neither the prefect in the grade below them nor security were anywhere in sight, because they wouldn’t have made it to the other end with the commotion they’d caused.
They skidded up to Owari, and instead of greeting them warmly as her classmates, she quickly hoisted her plate above her head.
“Hey, hey, I didn’t get these for sharin’!” she said, a wing hanging out of her mouth. “I mean, I could, but then I gotta go get more, and that lunch lady’s already pretty pissed at me, so—”
“Owari!” Souda said as he tried to catch his breath, ignoring her other comment. “Were you in the library earlier today?”
“Mmm…” she pondered, chewing on the half-stripped bone. “Oh yeah! I was just explorin’ and found some kinda secret roof tunnel that went there. The ventilation system in this place is pretty freakin’ sweet. I didn’t even know we had a place like that here. Why?”
“Did you take a notebook from anybody? A shiny one?”
She thought about it for a few seconds, then raised her eyebrows, popping the bone out of her mouth and setting it down on her plate.
“Ohhh… See, I knew it belonged to someone, I just couldn’t remember who,” she said, absentmindedly picking her ear. “Anyway, I turned it in to that ‘rotten orange’ lady. I think she’s the teacher. You’ll hafta ask her.”
“Sure, I guess,” she answered. “She knew whose it was right away. Wouldn’t tell me or nothin’, but she seemed pretty sure about it. Was lookin’ at it like it was cursed or somethin’. I didn’t think it was that bad.”
“Crap! Miss Yukizome’s gonna… I-I mean, wait… you read it too?!”
“Yeah, a little,” she said. “Didn’t realize it was yours, though. Eh, I’ve seen worse. But you got some weird ideas about what nipples are for, kid.”
Kuzuryuu’s rage bubbled below the surface. Some very specific erotic images came flooding back to his mind, and he had to compose himself before speaking.
He inhaled. “That notebook is fucking toast, Souda.”
He took a couple steps back, looking as though he were preparing to race him to it. Souda glanced around frantically, calculating the best way to get there first. He had to make a quick decision – if Kuzuryuu beat him there with his fast little legs, he’d never see his hard work again.
“Owari,” Souda said with sudden authority. “I need you to do me a huge favor.”
“I need you to hold onto Kuzuryuu for a whole minute, and don’t let go.”
Kuzuryuu spun his head towards him. “...Hah?!”
Before he could react, Owari had swooped in and wrapped him in a one-armed bear hug, her plate of wings still expertly balanced in the other. Despite his attempts to wiggle free, he was entirely powerless in her hold, and he could do nothing but curse with reckless abandon as Souda bolted down the hallway.
Shockingly, his plan had worked. For the first time in ages, Souda was amongst the first ones to make it to their afternoon class. However, one person beat him there – Miss Yukizome, who was leaning against her podium with a pen propped between two fingers and a notebook open in front of her, and who had been patiently waiting a certain someone to show up.
“Souda-kun,” she said with a frightening calmness to her voice. “Would you like to come here?”
He stepped forward, and Miss Yukizome smiled sweetly, though one could tell she had something to say beneath that saccharine grin. Souda paused in front of her, waiting for her to say something, but it seemed she was going to make him speak first. He rubbed at the back of his head.
“Heh heh… I don’t suppose you happened to have a notebook turned in today… did…you...?”
She nodded silently.
“Do you have it right now?”
She nodded again.
“Can I... have it back...?”
She shook her head slowly, her overly sugary smile still plastered on her face.
“I think I’ll be keeping it for a about 24 hours,” she said, tapping her pen to her chin, “just to give you some time to think about a few things. And then tomorrow, we’re going to have a little conversation about what’s appropriate to write about your classmates. Sound good?”
His stomach twisted. He tried to play it casual, but she knew. She knew. His crooked smile did nothing to mask his guilt.
“Y-Yes, Miss Yukizome.”
Red-faced, he retreated to his desk, and had to wait in silent shame for the rest of his class to show up. Maybe he wasn’t cut out for this writing business after all. Kuzuryuu popped in a few minutes later, sweaty and disheveled, and Owari followed him in a few steps behind with a suspicious lack of wings. It was a toss-up whether she’s actually eaten them all in that time frame or if they were laying scattered all over the hallway, but knowing Owari the latter probably wouldn’t have stopped her anyway. As Kuzuryuu sat down, Miss Yukizome gave him what appeared to be a respectful nod, which he assumed was a thank-you for putting up with all of his classmate’s bullshit – he didn’t know just how much she knew.
(The period after class was spent by Souda arguing with him over whether his help still technically qualified him for three favors and a week’s worth of free vending, since he’d never even spoken to the SHSL Biker per their initial agreement – somehow, Souda managed to argue himself into a hole, so Kuzuryuu walked away with two weeks’ worth of free vending and two extra favors anyway.)
Hope’s Peak’s hallways were silent during the dead of the night, save for the light footsteps of a girl who was dodging around corners to avoid the security cameras that were monitoring the darkened corridors. It was surprisingly easy to sneak around – the overnight security didn’t seem to take their jobs very seriously, at least not compared to the daytime crew – so with little in the way of resistance, Peko Pekoyama picked the lock to class 77-B and snuck inside.
The Young Master was typically very tight-lipped about sharing excessive details about his day, but since his absence didn’t go unnoticed, he did slip a few tempting bits of information about his adventure with Souda – something about a notebook full of fiction about their classmates, and apparently, its contents extremely sexual in nature, and that he wanted nothing to do with it and wouldn’t share any more than that. Pekoyama, however, was far too curious to let such a thing go, so if Kuzuryuu wasn’t going to share the juicy details, she was going to investigate without him.
The notebook sat unguarded in Miss Yukizome’s podium, its bright cover screaming for someone to notice it as though it were a key item in a video game. Pekoyama gingerly removed it, careful not the disturb any of the other objects nearby, and opened the cover to find out what hidden horrors lurked within.
Inside was pages upon pages of scribbled text. It was not one big long story, but apparently a series of short stories, and all labelled accordingly. Souda’s handwriting was near illegible, but one thing did catch her eye immediately: the name KUZURYUU written in big thick letters on top of one of the pages she’d opened to at random. It did not stop there – as she flipped through, the name KUZURYUU kept popping up, all the way up through a page labeled KUZURYUU 6. It was odd, to say the least. She turned back to the first, and with a sense of slight unease, she began to read...
by Kazuichi Souda
I sat in class, behind Kuzuryuu. He was the badass of the entire class, if not the entire school. He acted tough, but he was actually a sweetheart, but don’t say that to his face. He was cute, but also kinda hot, like if I were describing him like I was a girl and he was my crush, but he’s not, I’m just saying. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of body he was hiding under that vest or if it was more toned than mine. Suddenly, he dropped his pencil and it rolled back to me. ”Um, your pencil?” I said. ”Sorry, I must have dropped it by accident” He said back. His voice was gentle yet seductive and low. I gave it back, and felt his soft, warm, and dainty fingers touch mine.
"So amazing” I whispered to myself, only to realise he heard, because the most adorable smile grew on his face, showing a dimple that pressed into his cheek. ”Heh thanks” He said as I felt myself blush, and he blushed too. Suddenly, he pulled me in, and I gasped at the sudden touch of his warm lips on the spot right under my ear. ”I should repay the favor. . .” he whispered. We were in the middle of class, but I could feel the bulge growing in my pants. His hand reached out and grabbed my zipper and teased it a little before unzipping my jumpsuit a little, just like the time with Hanamura’s sexy sexy soup except this time he wasn’t trying to zip it back up. I felt his strong arm wrap around my waist and his hot breath on my neck. ”We can’t do this in class” he said, and I agreed. We had to go. . . Now. His smile grew wider and he grabbed me by the wrist and we went into the hallway and ended up in a little janitors’s closet. He made sure no one was looking and closed the door, we both knew what was happening.
He ripped my shirt off, followed by his, and his lips crashed into mine, kissing me hungrily. The gentleness in his voice was gone, and now it was a husky voice. Our lips met gingerly and an indescribable feeling erupted in my body, engrossing all my senses into it. The kiss got more intimate. I couldn’t help but inhale his masculine cologne and thought to myself, damn, I have to buy that because I’d totally have girls all over me. I pulled away from the kiss to look at his tattoos (note: does kuzuryuu have tattoos? ask) that started from his wrists, going up his arms, across his chest and down his torso and also on his neck. I traced one of his abs.
”Wow” I whispered in awe. He was truly beautiful. He looked badass, but his heart was pure. His lips tickled my chin and I could feel his peach fuzz. He then moved down and licked at my erect nipples and then even lower to the other part of me that was now erect. (my dick). I gasped. Kuzuryuu then began to
Pekoyama couldn’t read any more.
If there was such a thing as cursed fiction, she was holding it. She closed the notebook, taking a few moments to reflect on what she’d just read, and knew what had to be done. Her next stop would be the incinerator, because if Kuzuryuu ever had to read what was written on the rest of that page, she was sure the school would be a smoldering ruin the next day.