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(CANCELLED) Just Let Out Your Feelings

Chapter Text

 It took Sayori all of her effort to not jump out of her seat, leap across the cafeteria table, and force Monika to look behind her.

"Hey." She whispered, pointing, "Someone's looking at our poster."

Monika's eyes widened, and she almost dropped her fork into her salad. Her one lunch break where she wasn't busy, and someone pays attention to the poster? It's like the stars were aligning in her favour.

She subtly turned her head to look behind her, quickly turning back before anyone could notice, sighing in frustration.

"I didn't see well, and if I look again, people will judge." Monika said, "Describe them."

Sayori looked again at the poster, the one that Yuri had made for them, advertising their brand new Literature Club, of which there were only three members, one short of the minimum required to be an official school club. A short girl stood in front of it, looking up at it, sipping her juice box.

"Um, she's short." Sayori noted, "Has to look up to see it."

"We put it at eye level…" Monika said, "If she decides to not join because we put it too high-"

"Okay, she has pink hair. Real skinny. I think she's a first year! I would know her if she was in the school last year, right? It's only September! ...Wait, what if she moved here recently-"

Monika took a sharp breath in and hopped out of her chair.

"We have to talk to her."

"What?" Sayori said as she pulled a cookie out of her lunchbox, "Oh, but I wanna eat my cookie…"

"This is more important than a cookie!"

"H-How can anything be more important than a cookie?" Sayori grumbled, showing off the smiley face icing on it, "Look! It's happy to be eaten!"

"Cookies are replaceable! People who could join our club are not!"

Sayori reluctantly put her cookie down and stood up.

"Fine." She pouted.

Yuri walked up to the table, carrying a sandwich.

"Oh, hey… Sorry for intruding, but…" Yuri managed to say before Sayori picked her cookie back up and shoved it into Yuri's free hand.

"Stay here and protect the smiley cookie!" She said, "We have important President and Vice President matters to attend to!"

Yuri frowned as Sayori and Monika walked off.

"...Hmph." She muttered to herself, "Guess I'm bringing both flavours of tea."

Natsuki stood in front of the poster, craning her neck to see what was written on it.

LITERATURE CLUB!
A quiet, laid-back environment to write and discuss literature of all kinds!

Literature Club?

Natsuki wondered why this poster in particular stood out to her, pasted somewhat lopsidedly in the middle of a random cafeteria wall, covered in purple and black.

Perhaps it's fate?

If Natsuki had her way, the poster would be pink and white, proven by many to be the cutest colours in the world. Then again, if Natsuki had her way, she'd be reading her manga right about now.

She didn't have much time to dwell on that, however.

"Good afternoon!" Monika said as she walked up next to Natsuki, "How are you?"

Natsuki winced, whether it be at the sudden noise or the sudden socializing, and, without thinking, replied.

"Who the fuck are you?"

Natsuki's face turned slightly red from embarrassment, but she tried to keep her composure.

"Just act like that was on purpose." Natsuki thought to herself.

Monika pressed her mouth into a poker face, trying not to look too distressed at this short girl swearing at her.

"Oh, wow, that was rude..." Monika thought to herself.

Sayori awkwardly put her fingers together, trying to think of something to say.

"If I say something stupid, then we won't have a new member, and Monika will be sad." Sayori thought to herself, "But if I say nothing, then maybe we won't have a new member and it'll be my fault still! I want my friends to be happy…"

Yuri watched this from afar, eating her sandwich.

"I put too much mayonnaise on this." She thought to herself, "I'm drowning in mayo."

"Well…" Monika said slowly, trying to break the awkward silence, "I'm Monika! President of the Literature Club!"

"I'm Sayori!" Sayori chirped, "Vice President and Nice President!"

"Okay, that explains some questions I had." Natsuki replied, sticking an arm out to lean against the wall on in an attempt to look cool, "But, uh-"

"We need you to join the club!" Sayori blurted out, "We need one more member in order to make it an official school-sanctioned club, please just join!"

"...Sayori." Monika said in a deadpan tone.

"We might as well get to the point! You have an issue with skirting around conflict!"

"I do not!"

"I saw you in Debate Club, remember? You always started your arguments with 'That's a good point, but…' and-"

"That's called being polite!"

"No, it's called not wanting to start anything, Monika! You don't go full out!

"Ngh?! At least I don't blurt things out in… in front of our…" Monika slowly turned to look at Natsuki, still sipping on her juice box, "Our potential… Our potential new club member… Oh God, I'm so sorry."

Natsuki quietly cursed her existence for letting her have to socialize for longer than five seconds with a pair of strangers before shrugging, "Um, well… I don't have much else to do… When is it? During lunch?"

"..Isn't it on the poster?" Monika said.

"No."

"Oh, Yuri…! It's after school everyday, up on the second floor. We've been having unofficial meetings in Mrs. Taman's room… With her permission, of course! We have tea, and we talk about things, and we have a good time, and…"

"Sometimes Yuri reads a poem to us, and it's always good…" Sayori added, "Uh, and scary… scary good."

Natsuki tried her best not to look too excited at the prospect of having an excuse to stay out of her home so often. Most clubs only met up twice a week, or during lunchtime, but daily? That's a dream come true.

"I'll guess I'll come by." Natsuki muttered, "But, y'know, don't expect me to join or anything. I'll burn that bridge when I get to it."

"Shit, that's not the saying." Natsuki thought to herself, "Act like it was intentional! Play it cool!"

"Isn't it cross that bridge?" Sayori said.

"I know, it, uh…" Natsuki slowly replied, "It's a reference… To a book…"

"Oh, okay!"

Truth be told, Natsuki hadn't touched an actual book in years, only manga.

God help her.

"Just don't bring any strong scented items or be too loud." Monika said, bringing back up her professional persona, "Yuri has a sensitive nose and sensitive ears."

"I'm allergic to certain types of medicine!" Sayori chirped, before awkwardly tapping her fingers together, "But, uh… that doesn't matter, I guess!"

It was at this point that Natsuki realized that her juice box was empty, and she was still trying to drink out of it. Should she keep sipping? Should she just say something?

"...Okay." Monika said, breaking the silence, "We'll see you later… uh…"

"Natsuki." Natsuki replied.

"Okay! We'll see you later, Natsuki!"

Natsuki took a sip of her empty juice box in an attempt to not have to say anything else, but the telltale sound of empty slurping echoed out of the box. She sweated nervously, now having no excuse to keep her mouth shut. Natsuki prayed that they would just leave and not extend their goodbyes beyond a reasonable point.

"Oh, I'll throw that out for you!" Sayori said, grabbing the box, "See you!"

As Sayori skipped off, Monika following behind her, Natsuki felt a sudden sense of dread.

What did she get herself into?

Across the room, Yuri finished off her sandwich and stared at Natsuki. She pursed her lips, wondering what exactly her two new friends had to do with this girl.

"Oh, hey, Yuri!" Sayori said, snatching her cookie back, "Thanks for protecting my cookie."

"Don't mention it…" Yuri muttered.

"Ugh, my salad is all soggy now…" Monika whined, "But Presidential duties come first!"

"So, uh… what's with her?"

"Who?"

"Her."

Yuri pointed at Natsuki, who was now sitting at a table all by herself, tapping her fingers against the surface.

"That's Natsuki!" Sayori said, "She's coming to our club meeting today!"

"She what?" Yuri replied, "You actually won her over?"

"We need to wow her…" Monika mused, "We need to make her think 'Yes! I want to give up countless hours of my life for this!' We need to…"

"We need to what?" Sayori asked.

"I was hoping I'd be able to come up with an idea before the end of that speech."

"Four members makes a full school sanctioned club…" Yuri said, "I suggest we show her the nuances of the different types of writing, and how they all help strengthen the work if done well!"

"...Or we could get some more smile cookies." Sayori said, munching on her cookie, "It's hard to not want to do anything when you're eating something so joyous!"

"Cookies don't have any connection to literature!"

"But they're tasty…"

"Okay, everyone!" Monika said as she clapped her hands together, "We'll do both! Sayori, you buy the cookies! Yuri, you get your spiel ready! I'll… I'll… Uh…"

"Help me buy the cookies?" Sayori said.

"Help you buy the cookies! We'll split the cost! How much do you have?"

"...Well…" Sayori muttered, averting her gaze, "Uh… negative eight dollars and thirty two cents…"

"...Oh."

"Plus, I owe some money to some people…"

"Not surprising."

"And… And I kinda need you to… foot the bill…"

"...I'll buy the cookies, and you'll…"

"Oh! I can write some poems!" Sayori chirped.

Yuri instantly cringed at the idea of Sayori, simplistic and idealistic Sayori, writing poems for the new member instead of her, but she somehow managed to will herself into keeping her mouth shut.

"That's great!" Monika replied, "See you guys later today!"

Nobody moved.

An awkward silence ran over them as Monika blushed.

"We… We still need to eat…" Yuri muttered.

"Please don't rub it in, I'm already embarrassed enough as it is."

Chapter Text

Yuri stared blankly at the piece of paper that sat right in front of her, scratching her head with her pencil. Of course the one time she wanted to go off on one of her rants is the one time she completely loses any enthusiasm for anything.

Truth be told, Yuri just wanted to go home and curl up in her bed. New people, new situations, they scared the everloving shit out of her more than any surreal horror novel ever could. It took so much out of her just to join, and now she had to deal with someone new? Yuri felt like screaming.

Monika walked into the club room, holding two boxes of cookies, panting nervously, Sayori right behind her.

"No, you can't have another!" She said.

"Why not?!" Sayori whined, "I promise it'll be the last!"

"You said that three cookies ago!"

"It's not my fault my metabolism's fast, Monny!"

"Augh! You know I don't like that nickname!"

"Gimme a cookie and I'll stop!"

"No!"

"Monny!"

"You're killing me!"

Yuri looked at the two friends with a sense of... yearning? Jealousy? A lot of weird emotions bubbled up in Yuri, and none of them were particularly pleasant,

"Oh, yeah, me and Sayori have been friends since we were… seven." Monika said to her when she first applied to the club, "Don't worry about being excluded, though! The Literature Club is dedicated to making new friends through the art of the written word!"

As long as she could remember, Yuri was lonely. While it was true she never put out the effort to make friends, she felt that somebody should have rolled along by now. She was weird, she was awkward, she avoided big crowds and social situations like the plague, and she was a social outcast in the truest sense of the word.

"Sayori!" Monika yelled just a little bit too loud for Yuri's tastes, "This is for Natsuki!"

"One more, Monny." Sayori muttered, "One. More."

"No! Yuri, what do you think?"

"I, uh-"

In Yuri's pant pocket, there was her pocket knife. Not specifically a pocketknife, but a knife that was in her pocket. Yuri bit her lip in anxiety as she put her free hand in her pocket and started poking her finger against the tip, the feeling of pain echoing through the end of her finger. Her mind focused less on the sudden question, and more on the knife.

Yuri thought about her knife very deeply. When was the last time she sharpened it? Is it her purple one, or her black one? Should she purchase that sparkly knife off of Amazon? With a sigh, Yuri turned to look at her clubmates.

"There is the slightest possibility that Natsuki may be even more voracious and greedy than you, Sayori." She said simply, "Thus, I would recommend saving some until she comes."

Sayori winced at the mention of greed, and shifted her weight across her feet nervously.

"While I agree with your statement, Yuri, you don't need to call Sayori greedy." Monika said, "This club is a happy place, and I will not accept insults."

"...You did it again." Sayori mumbled.

"Did what?"

"Skirted around conflict. 'I agree, but-'."

"Well, you do need to save some for Natsuki!"

Sayori frowned before giving her biggest smile.

"Alright! I won't eat any more of them! Promise."

A knock came from the door, and Monika froze in surprise.

"Quick!" She yelled, "Act natural!"

Natsuki walked in, her backpack dangling off of her shoulder, only to see the entire club staring at her, Monika beckoning her with a pen in hand, Sayori's legs bent like she was about to jump, hands curled up near her face, and Yuri standing back on to her, turning her head around to look at her with a book in her hand.

"...Uh." Natsuki said, "Am I interrupting something?"

"Welcome to the Literature Club!" Monika replied, "We, uh, we were-"

"Oh dang." Sayori said as she pulled a rubber duck out of her pocket, "I forgot I had this."

"Why do you have a rubber duck in your pocket?!"

"Uh, I got it from a prize box in a restaurant."

"...Sayori, those are for kids-"

"I'm 17! I'm still a kid!"

Natsuki stared longingly at the trinket, the rubber duck wearing a yellow flower around its head, the bottom half green. It's so tacky, so useless, yet…

"I'll be honest." She said, "Out of all the things to show me, that ain't half bad."

"You can hold it!" Sayori yelled as she shoved it into Natsuki's hands, "It squeaks!"

Sayori watched anxiously as Natsuki squeezed the toy, a long and painful sounding quack echoing from within.

"Please love it and stay." Sayori thought to herself, "Why did I do that? That was so absolutely stupid and awkward and weird and this is why Monika is my one friend-"

"Not half bad." Natsuki said, "I like shit like this."

An awkward silence enveloped the group before Monika clapped her hands together.

"Okay, everyone!" She said, "First and currently only order of business: Yuri! How is your novel doing?"

Like any artist, Yuri both loved and loathed the idea of talking about her work.

"I, uh…" Yuri stammered, blushing and playing with her hair nervously, "Well, y-you see, I…"

"She's writing a book." Sayori whispered to Natsuki, "Don't ask me what it's about, 'cause I don't have a clue."

"I'm writing the scene where the librarian stabs herself out of pure lust for the main character." Yuri said, her tone becoming more sturdy, "And since they're in a dungeon together, they-"

"Didn't you say they kissed already?" Monika said.

"No! ...Yes! It's a different timeline! A-A loop!"

"Like a repeating story with differences across each iteration could make it big." Natsuki scoffed.

"Groundhog Day." Sayori said.

"...Oh."

"I-It doesn't matter!" Yuri finally stammered out, "I've been working on it, leave me alone!"

"...We gotta write books here?" Natsuki asked.

"No…" Monika said, "...Unless you want to."

"No! No. No fucking way."

Natsuki felt regretful when Monika frowned, but didn't say anything else.

"Okay, everyone!" She continued, "Guess it's time to read!"

A loud pop echoed from across the room.

"Ah, kettle's boiled!" Yuri said, "I'll get that!"

"Real quiet kettle…" Sayori replied.

"It's a newer model."

As Yuri went to tend to that, Natsuki plopped her backpack on a desk and sat on the chair, slouching, legs spread. She pulled out a manga and flipped through it. Sayori watched this as she sat down, absentmindedly crossing her legs at the hip as she put her feet on another chair. She took a box of the cookies and opened it, offering one to Natsuki, who eagerly chowed down.

"Whatcha reading?" Sayori asked.

"Parfait Girls."

"What's it about?"

Natsuki wanted Sayori to leave her alone, and let her read her manga in peace.

"Buncha girls cooking stuff."

"Like what?"

"Cupcakes."

"Ah! You like cupcakes?"

And then Natsuki made a fatal mistake.

"I like baking them more than I do eating them."

"You bake cupcakes?!"

Natsuki's blood went cold. Oh no. Oh no. She was gonna have to bake for- Fuck!

She quietly looked over to Sayori, who beamed with a brilliant aura of pure joy. Natsuki internally cursed her very existence.

"Sometimes." Natsuki said, hoping Sayori wouldn't press the issue.

"Can you bake some for us?"

Oh, fuck no.

Sayori didn't really understand why Natsuki quickly mumbled out an excuse and stuck her nose back in her book, but Sayori knew better than to beg for cupcakes from a stranger… Delicious, tasty, decadent cupcakes…

"You got another one of those comics?" Sayori asked.

"Manga."

"You got any other mangas?"

Natsuki internally cringed, but pulled out another manga from her backpack, shoving it into Sayori's hands. Sayori beamed.

"Listen." Natsuki muttered, face turning red, "If I see so much as a single crease in any page of that, you're buying me a whole new box set, got it?"

"Yep!"

"A-And don't look into this too much, alright? I'm not giving this to ya because we're friends or anything, I just appreciate another person who's willing to look at manga as an art form, literature if you will."

Sayori nodded in understanding, and Natsuki let out an unsure smirk.

"Right, now leave me be, got it?"

"Completely. Thank you!"

As Sayori started reading, Natsuki watched the other girl. Sayori smiled as she read the first few pages. Luckily for both of them, Natsuki had brought two really light manga: enough to last one club meeting, but not enough to go over the imposed time limit, and they were the start of a series each.

Monika sat down, scribbling her inner thoughts and feelings into her poetry book while Yuri read The Portrait of Markov yet again. Yuri sighed as she adjusted her posture, crossing her legs at the ankles.

"Yuri?"

"...Excuse me?"

"Do you have a problem?"

"Uh… no?"

"You let out a big sigh there, are you sure you're doing fine?"

"Well, uh… The pure and raw emotional struggle of The Portrait of Markov sometimes makes me question our nature as human beings. Do you ever question our moral fibre? How maybe the world is more chaotic than we think, and we do not belong anywhere?"

Monika's gaze quietly drifted to her poetry book.

"Yeah, I kind of get that."

They both looked over to Natsuki and Sayori, who were both reading manga.

"...Are they reading comic books in Literature Club?" Yuri asked.

"As long as they're happy, I couldn't care less." Monika said, "That's my duty as Club President."

Yuri gently picked up her tea and took a sip. How childish is it to read comics in a club dedicated to literature? It was so…

Despite her flowery vocabulary, Yuri couldn't find the right words.

She almost dropped her tea as a realization hit her. Her stupid speech isn't done. God-fucking-dammit.

As Yuri grabbed a pen and some paper, Sayori spoke up.

"Miyako is my favourite character, I think." Sayori said.

"What, the annoying comic relief?"

Natsuki will admit she only read the first few books in that series.

"Yeah, her."

"Really?" Natsuki scoffed, "All she does is eat and cause trouble for the rest of the gang."

Sayori frowned, and Natsuki instantly felt regretful.

"Y'know…" She continued, "Not like there's an issue with that, you like what you like."

Silently, Sayori looked from the manga to Natsuki, and then back again.

"She…" Sayori said slowly, "...Nevermind."

Natsuki felt like punching herself in the face as Sayori hid her face behind the manga, immersing herself into the world of bright colours and happiness that lied within.

"Way to go, asshole." Natsuki thought, "You made her fucking sad. What the fuck is wrong with you? You gonna apologize? Nah, nah, you fucking won't, you value your reputation too much."

When even your own head is ridiculing you, you know you fucked up.

"Jesus Christ, why does this matter anyways? If she can't handle her fave getting criticized, then why bother trying to talk to her?"

"Hey! Hey. You were a dick about it! You don't know shit about her… Maybe Miyako reminds her of, like, a dead relative or something equally sappy."

"She went into a depressive spiral over fucking manga! ...Wait, I do that all the time. Ugh! Fuck it! Apologize. Say something. Do it. Don't be a dick!"

As Natsuki opened her mouth, Yuri stood up.

"I-I have my speech done!" She said, "...I'm not interrupting anything, am I?"

"Well done, Yuri!" Monika replied, "No, no, go on, I'm sure nobody will mind, right?"

Sayori nodded her head, and Natsuki shrugged.

"O-Okay…" Yuri muttered, "Well, uh…"

She talked lengthily about how different styles of writing can help strengthen the work if done well, how surrealist descriptions and overt unreality could provoke more fear than any blood and gore fest ever could. Yuri's tone became more confident and smooth as she talked on and on.

"I'm so confused." Sayori thought.

"Oh my fuck, just stop already." Natsuki thought, rolling her eyes.

"Yes!" Monika thought, eyes glistening with happy tears, "This is perfect!"

"And that's all I have to say about that." Yuri said.

Monika instantly clapped, making Yuri blush. A few seconds passed before Natsuki and Sayori both remembered to applaud.

"That was so beautiful, Yuri…" Monika sniffled, wiping away her tears, "Anybody else got anything to share? Sayori?"

"I don't share things often, though…" Sayori muttered.

"...You sure? No pieces of poetry, or…?"

Oh fuck. Sayori forgot to write a poem for today's meeting.

She forced the widest grin she could grin.

"Oh, yeah!" She said, "I have a wicked poem to share! It's, uh… It's…"

"She forgot." Monika inwardly sighed, "Why didn't I expect this?"

"You write poems?" Natsuki said, coming off as more abrasive than intended, "I mean, not that I didn't expect it, it's just-"

"I write a lot of poems!" Sayori replied.

That wasn't a lie, she has many, many, many poems strewn about her bedroom floor, it's just…

Life is like a flower!
It blooms beautifully in the sunshine
Needing love and care
Roots spiralling through the ground
There's pretty colours everywhere!

But flowers wilt
Winter comes
Flowers die
People die
Please let me die
I'm begging you just let me die
AAAAAAAAA

Sayori cringed. They sucked, they were depressing, they sucked and were depressing.

"Well, come on!" Monika said, "I would personally love to hear it!"

Sayori swallowed the spit that was gathering up in her throat and coughed.

"Well, um…

Life is a beach

Wait, no, start over-

There's sand between my toes
And water in my nose

Okay, okay, wait, I-

I build a lot of castles on the beach
Tall towers made of sand
Sand is just tiny rocks
But somehow it sticks together
Barely held
I build my tower high
Triumph fills my heart
But nothing lasts forever
The tide comes in
My work is washed away in seconds
Nothing is permanent"

Monika sweated nervously, barely having paid attention to the poem out of sheer anxiety.

"Nice." Natsuki said, "Simple, easy to get. I like it."

Yuri held in her scathing criticism, and Monika held in a sigh of relief, sweat running down the back of her neck.

"Okay, everyone!" Monika blurted, "It's time to go now. Don't bother cleaning up, I'll clean."

Yuri didn't take the hint to have a club-minus-Natsuki meeting as well as Monika hoped and instantly left the classroom.

Natsuki looked between Monika and the door, pursing her lips.

"I'll help." Natsuki said, "It's the least I can do."

"Ahaha!" Monika chuckled, "Gosh, you don't have to! I'm sure you're eager to run on home and take a nap or something."

Natsuki almost felt like laughing. Almost.

"No, no, it's the least I can do. I like it here."

Sayori and Monika exchanged shocked glances, before smiling widely.

"...What are you two so smiley about?"

"Are you gonna join the Literature Club?" Sayori chirped, "Oh, I'm so happy! You can bake cupcakes and bring your mangas and we can talk, and-"

"Sayori." Monika seethed, "She didn't say that-"

"I'll join."

"You'll what?"

Natsuki shrugged, "Not like I got much else to do."

"Yes!" Sayori yelled, "Official recognition as a school club! More friends! My life has meaning again!"

Monika and Sayori exchanged a high five as Natsuki picked up the kettle.

"Anyways," She said, "Enough cheer, where does this go?"

"...Oh, Yuri forgot her kettle." Monika grumbled, pinching the bridge of her nose, "Ugh! I'll bring that to her."

As Monika left the room, Natsuki and Sayori stood there for a second, silent, before Natsuki spoke up.

"So, how do we clean up, exactly?" Natsuki asked.

"Oh, it's easy!" Sayori replied, "We just put all the chairs up so the janitor can sweep up later."

"Sounds simple enough."

Sayori nodded as she grabbed the chair she was sitting on earlier and put it on the desk it came from, Natsuki joining in on the thrilling chair action.

"So, the club's every weekday, right?" Natsuki said, "Same time, same place?"

"Yep! Well, unless there's an emergency… Ah! Why don't we exchange phone numbers!"

Sayori winced a little as Natsuki pulled out her old-as-balls pink flip phone.

"Oh my God, it doesn't even have a keyboard or anything." Sayori thought, "That must take forever, imagine taking multiple button presses for a single letter-"

"You gonna keep gawking, or are we exchanging numbers?" Natsuki said.

"Oh! Oh. Hang on, let me put my number in."

Big mistake. Sayori had no idea how to work this fossil of a phone.

"Lord, take me out." Sayori thought, forcing a smile, "How do I do anything?"

"You want me to do it?" Natsuki said.

"I, uh…"

Natsuki snatched back her phone and clicked a couple buttons, and grinned.

"Yo, what's your number?"

As Sayori recited her number (not by memory, of course, she has her phone, she's not an animal), Natsuki quietly tapped away at her incredibly-unbelievably-holy-shit-old phone.

"You got all that?" Sayori asked.

"Yeah, yeah." Natsuki said dismissively, "C'mon, let's finish cleaning."

"FRIENDS." Natsuki thought to herself, "I HAVE FRIEND! I CAN'T WAIT TO DO THING WITH FRIEND! Don't fucking blow this."

"You pretty much already did." Another part of her brain said, "You didn't apologize."

"Oh fuck."

"Oh hey, by the way." Natsuki said, almost dropping her chair, "Miyako is alright."

"...Uh, okay?"

"JUST FUCKING SAY IT YOU DIPSHIT"

"It's okay to like her! I was… I was a dick about it."

Sayori smiled, and Natsuki instantly panicked.

"VULNERABILITY!!" Natsuki's brain screamed, "YOU ARE VULNERABLE!!"

"But don't expect me to like her or anything!" Natsuki spat out, "I'm not impressionable, or, uh…"

Sayori nodded and put another chair up.

"It's fine!" Sayori said, "You bringing the next one tomorrow?"

"Y-Yeah! Yeah."

"DON'T BE WEIRD AND SINGLE HER OUT NATSUKI, FIX THIS."

"Anyways, you got any, like, recommendations for the other members?" Natsuki continued, "Yuri probably wants something all artsy-fartsy, I guess that might narrow it down, but Monika? I have no clue about her."

"It's not that big of a surprise," Sayori said, "But she loves romance. The sappier and mushier, the better."

Sayori looked at the door for a second before leaning in closer and whispering.

"She just wants someone to sweep her off her feet like that."

"Oh, gross!" Natsuki said, sticking out her tongue playfully, "You would think someone as popular as her would have that already!"

"You'd be surprised. I've known her forever, and I don't think I've ever seen her dating or with, like, a boyfriend ever!"

"People are asking her out, right?"

"Haha, are they ever! Monny has to turn them down by the boatload!"

Natsuki laughed along, and Sayori sighed happily.

"Yep, Monny would like some romance." Sayori continues, "No idea about Yuri, though."

"Really? No idea?"

Sayori shrugged.

"We only met this year. She joined Literature Club and, boom, she's in my life."

"Huh, weird."

Natsuki put the last chair up on the desk, and stepped back, hitting her back against another desk.

"Oh, fuck-"

Crash!

Sayori watched in horror as Natsuki fell into the desk, knocking it and the chair on top of it over. Natsuki landed on top of the desk, sliding it just far enough for her to hit the next desk over, the chair falling off that desk and landing on the tiny girl.

"Oh my God, Natsuki!" Sayori yelled as she ran over, picking the chair off of her new friend, "Are you okay? Nat? Nat, are you okay?!"

"How the fuck did I do that?" Natsuki muttered, standing up, dusting herself off, "I'm cool, don't worry about it."

"Are you sure?" Sayori kept yelling, "I know some first aid, I-"

"I just fell, that's it. I've been through worse, it's cool."

"I-"

"It's cool."

"...I'll get some bandages!"

"I'm not even bleeding-"

Sayori ran off, and Natsuki bit her lip.

"Sayori, wait!"

And that's how Monika came back to see Natsuki covered in bandages from head to toe, looking like a messy mummy, Sayori wrapping more around her.

"Oh my God."

"Just go." Natsuki said, "We're clean, just… leave."

"Oh my God."

Chapter Text

Don't want to go to school.

Don't want to go to school.

Don't want to go to school.

Sayori groaned into her pillow as she rolled onto her other side. What time is it? What day is it? Is she late?

She looked over to her alarm clock. An hour late. Great.

Why bother?

Sayori muttered nonsense into her pillow before perking up.

The Literature Club.

God, it's bad enough she went out of her way to annoy the new member Natsuki yesterday, asking her about baking and manga and wrapping her in bandages, but she couldn't just bail on her like that. It's bad enough Natsuki seems to care a little bit about her, but she can't let that energy go to even more waste by abandoning the club…

Sayori snorted, snot running down her face as she sat up. Ugh, might as well take her time, right?

She checked her phone, the only messages she had coming from Monika.

No surprise there. Nobody else should ever text Sayori. It's bad enough Monika could ever spend her time and energy like that, but-

"Shut up." She thought to herself, "Shut up. Did you take your meds? Betcha didn't. This isn't you. Monika likes hanging out with you. She probably texted you something nice and everything."

Sayori opened up her phone to a picture of a blue jay on a pole that looked to be screaming.

Monika: This bird reminded me of you, Riri! <3

Riri? Oh no, this is revenge for the Monny thing…

Sayori cracked a small smile. Birds are pretty awesome, if she does say so herself. They can just… go. With a flap of their wings, they zoom off into the distance, far away from everything and everyone. They're bright, they're beautiful, they're arguably fluffy…

Plus, a blue jay? That's not something you see a lot in this area.

Sayori: he has no style, he has no class, this birb screams at his own ass

Monika: Sayori, did you just wake up?

Sayori: um

Sayori: maybe

Monika: You missed physics! I took notes for you too!

Not that that was a weird occurrence. Monika always seemed to pick up the slack for Sayori whenever it came to notes… Sayori never got to pay back the favour, considering Monika almost never missed classes, and Sayori was never at class while she wasn't.

Sayori: aaaaa thank you, youre such a good friendo

Sayori: monnyyyyy youre too good to me stoppit

Monika: I try. :)

Monika: You doing okay over there? You sick?

Sayori: only slept in cause im useless lol

And Sayori ruined a perfectly good conversation again. Way to go, you stupid sack of shit, you instantly made your best friend uncomfortable in the blink of an eye.

Text messages travel so fast, you wouldn't be able to see it if it were tangible, or at least that's what Sayori assumed, and she fucking made it worse faster than that text. Way to go!

Monika: Please don't say that, Sayori, I really value you as a friend, and I can't imagine a life without you. It's okay to take a mental health day if you want to, I can find someone for your math.

Sayori: nah, nah, im coming, dw

Monika: You didn't hear this from me, but your English class is watching a presentation on drinking during pregnancy right now, so… Take your time.

Sayori: theyre what

Monika: This school is weird.

Sayori: youre telling me…

Sayori yawned and rolled back into her bed for five more minutes of sleep, and…

Oops.

Shit, that was more like five hours.

Monika: Sayori, you okay?

Monika: Sayori?

Monika: Sayori, please answer me.

Monika: Sayori?

(1 missed call from Monika)

Monika: Sayori, it's third period now and I miss you and I'm worried, please pick up.

(3 missed calls from Monika)

Monika: It's lunch, and I'm eating food without you… You still asleep? You must be hungry…

Monika: Yuri's acting all weird here and it's just her and me, she keeps talking about a third eye or something? Please text me back if you're awake.

(3 missed calls from Monika)

Monika: It just occurred to me that maybe I am being clingy again, but I am incredibly worried and my hands are shaking, so…

Bellus: Your mobile data plan has been reset. Thank you for using Bellus!

Monika: Last class, and you're still not answering… Sayori, please tell me if you're okay??

Sayori sweated nervously. Oh my God, Monika's flipping out again.

Sayori: i just woke up!!

Monika: You slept through all those calls????

Sayori: ya

Monika: Oh thank goodness, I was all worried and planning your funeral and everything, ahahahaha!

Sayori often wondered why Monika bothered to keep her extreme attachment to her covered up, it's not like Sayori didn't already know this, or beg her to get a little bit of help…

Real hypocritical of her, she knew. But Sayori didn't deserve help. Monika did.

Sayori: im comin for the club, so keep a chair out for me B-)

Monika: Will do!! <3 <3 <3

And so, Sayori got ready as fast as she could, and ran like Usain Bolt on speed to school, entering just as the dismissal bell rang.

"I'm here!" Sayori yelled as she borderline psychotically burst into the Literature Club, "I'm here, don't worry, I'm here!"

The entire club stared at her, Natsuki holding a cardboard box. Monika grinned widely.

"Ahaha, you could've just stayed home!" She said, "You didn't need to come for us!"

Sayori knew on some level that Monika was lying, but Sayori felt differently on another level.

"She's disappointed in you for sleeping all day." Sayori thought, "She wants you out of sight, out of mind."

"Wait." Another part of her brain said, "Stop that, she doesn't want that, you Hot Topic emo bitch, just calm down and breathe. Breathe… She was freaking out all day because of you, y'know? She obviously sees something in you."

Monika flashed her a smile.

"What the fuck do you see in me?"

"I was just about to let you guys touch my prized manga collection!" Natsuki said with a grin, showing off her little fang, "Aren't you guys lucky?!"

Yuri rolled her eyes.

"Oh gosh, I'm so excited!" Sayori replied, "You got me the second issue of the one I read yesterday, right?"

"English Majors? Yeah, man!"

"Sweet!" Sayori cheered as Natsuki handed her the book, "Thanks!"

"I, uh… Just remember: don't crumple it."

"Aye aye, captain!"

"Sweet? Aye aye, captain?" Sayori thought, "Sayori, you're overcompensating too much."

"I heard from a certain reliable source that you like icky sicky romo shit." Natsuki continued as she pulled out a couple of books and handed them to Monika, "So… I pulled some shit together, y'know? Don't think anything of it, Sayori just told me out of the blue, I didn't ask or anything like that…"

Monika blushed as she opened up one of the manga.

"...Oh, uh… Thank you."

"I said think nothing of it…"

Natsuki turned to Yuri and handed her a manga.

"And you, Little Miss Cryptic, I had no idea for." Natsuki said, "So I chose something artsy-fartsy. It's horror and gore and weird philosophy, if I recall right, so…"

"I, uh…" Yuri muttered as she handed back the book, "No thank you."

"...Whaddya mean, no thank you?"

"I don't feel like we should be reading comic books in the Literature Club."

"It's manga."

Yuri's tone became more stable.

"Well, manga isn't literature either, Natsuki, sorry to break it to you."

"It has words! It's literature!"

"A candy wrapper has words, Natsuki, is that literature too?"

"A wrapper isn't meant to be consumed on its own, you weirdo!"

"Listen." Yuri continued, "If you're only here to look at pictures, it's fine, but leave the grown ups to their books, kid."

"You are, at most, three years older than me! Don't fucking "kid" me, asshole!"

"You-"

"Alright, settle down." Monika said, shoving herself between the two, "You both have some really valid points…"

Sayori internally sighed at Monika's philosophy.

"But you shouldn't yell at each other, alright?"

Natsuki huffed, crossing her arms.

"She started it."

Yuri slouched, nervously playing with her hair, averting her gaze.

Sayori winced a little as she noticed Monika close her fists. This wasn't something anyone would notice, but Monika scrunched her hands up when she was feeling something…

When you're friends with someone for so long, you start to notice that Monika doesn't get mad a lot. You start to notice she doesn't cry, either. You start to notice that she really only shows positive vibes, and any other emotions coming off of her are playfully negative too, in a way. You start to notice she only holds her hands like that when something's going wrong, when her calm and leader-like persona gets threatened by her own emotions.

But, hey, that's only a theory: a Sayori Theory! Thanks for watching!

With shaking hands, Monika picked back up the manga she laid on the desk at some point, Sayori truly lost track of that, and smiled.

"Okay, everyone!" She said, "I'll go read this, what did you call it, Natsuki? Icky bicky romo?"

"Icky sicky." Natsuki replied, "'Cause it makes me sick."

"Then why do you own so many?"

"T-That's none of your business!"

Sayori sat down in the nearest chair and watched Natsuki blush and stammer for a solid minute, before getting bored of watching that.

She opened up her copy of English Majors.

"Guys!" Miyako yelled as she burst into the English Club, "I have the perfect idea to get more members!"

The club's leader, Bridget, nervously ran her fingers through her brown hair.

"No fire this time, right?"

"Ahahahaha, of course not!"

Miyako quietly shoved the candles in her pocket deeper.

"Y'know…" Miyako continued, "I want you guys to be happy, you know that, right?"

Tsukiko came into the club room with a bunch of cupcakes, all of them made by herself.

"Hey, losers, I got the cupcakes!" She yelled out, "Riko, Bridget, hold back Miyako!"

But it was for naught, as Miyako pounced onto Tsukiko, and consumed the all cupcakes in a single hilariously-drawn bite.

Time seemed to fly for Sayori, and it felt like seconds before Monika called out to the entire club.

"Okay, everyone!" She announced, "Time to clean up!"

There was no incident with the chairs this time, Natsuki was a little more wary around them, but Yuri did almost end up dropping her kettle at one point.

"Yo, be careful!" Natsuki yelled.

"A-Ah, sorry…"

Eventually, Yuri left by herself, and Natsuki ended up leaving too, making sure to bring her manga. Sayori stood by the door, watching Monika go through some notes.

"Monny, you done planning yet?"

"No." Monika replied, "I need something new to bring this club together…"

Sayori watched a little bit longer, then sighed.

"Can't you do that tomorrow? It's late, and you should go home."

Quietly, Monika looked back at Sayori, then at her plans, then back at Sayori again.

"Okay." She said, "You must be tired of waiting for me, huh?"

"No! I just want you to go home and eat supper, and maybe take a nap… Staying here all the time after the club isn't healthy, Monika."

Monika chuckled.

"Fine, let's go."

Monika held out her hand, and Sayori grinned widely as she grabbed her hand and walked along, the sunset barely still visible over the horizon.

"Gosh, it really is late…" Monika muttered, "Didn't notice…"

"Hey, we all lose track of time sometimes, don't worry!"

"Like you this morning?"

Sayori blushed.

"Hey, you're not still mad about that, right?"

"I'm not mad, Sayori."

Sayori caught a quick glimpse of Monika's free hand, held in an unnatural position, like she's about to squeeze her own hand into oblivion.

She wasn't good at much, but Sayori could pick up on the tiny quirks of people pretty quickly. Monika was almost an open book to her at this point.

There goes Monika's abandonment issues again.

"What are you so scared of?"

"What?"

"Jeez, you freaked right out when I didn't return your texts… Did you think I abandoned you or something?"

Monika's hand curled into a fist as she forced a smile. Bingo.

"Oh, no." She said, "Haha! I was worried at the slight possibility that you might've passed in your sleep."

"Monika, I'm not gonna abandon you. You know that, right?"

"...Yes, but-"

"I care about you, and I will stick by your side until the end."

Monika looked away.

"...Thank you."

Monika didn't look any happier.

Was that the right thing to say?

Sayori really didn't know.

Chapter Text

Lunch time, and Natsuki was leaning in her regular spot by the bathrooms, drinking her juice box. It wasn't much, she never had much, but it gave her enough calories to get through the day, and it was cheap enough for her to buy almost everyday with the loose change she found, so she couldn't complain.

Her old phone rang, and Natsuki opened it up.

Sayori: NATSUKI YOU NEED TO COME TO OUR TABKE

Sayori: TABLE

Sayori: NATSUKI

Natsuki: Uh why

Sayori: BECAUSE FRIEND

Natsuki: Nah wouldnt wanna interrupt your little circle you got goin on

Natsuki: Id just insert myself where im not welcome

It was true on some level, plus Natsuki didn't want anyone noticing she never ate much, anyways.

Sayori: dude dont be silly, yuri just decided to sit here without asking and shes doing fine

Natsuki: She what

Sayori: yeah one day she just started eating with me and monny

Sayori: never asked to join

Sayori: most courageous thing i saw her do in the little time ive known her

Natsuki: Huh

Sayori: i know, right?? sometimes she just loses all her inhibitions and just goes for what she wants, and sometimes she's shy lil old yuri, its weird

Sayori: ...wait wtf were we talking about again

Natsuki: Uh lunch

Sayori: AYYY COME EAT WITH US YOU LIL PUNK

Natsuki put away her phone without responding, taking another slurp of her juice.

Should she?

Ugh, it was a harder decision than she thought.

She really wanted to spend time with her new… friends? Acquaintances? She hoped they saw her as a friend…!

She really wanted to spend time with the club, but anxiety wracked her body. Why? She didn't know.

Natsuki took a deep breath and put her thoughts in order.

Sayori said she was welcome. Yuri can impose and still be considered okay. Nobody will notice her not eating much, hopefully. Why is she so…?

Ugh.

So, Natsuki ended up walking all the way to the cafeteria just to see her friends.

Her friends.

Hers.

"Natsuki!" Sayori said, face lighting up, "Welcome to the Booky Booky Literature Table!"

"Uh, well…" Natsuki muttered, "I only came 'cause you begged so much. Don't think anything of it."

"I won't!"

Natsuki sat between Monika and Yuri, taking a large swig of her juice.

"So, uh…" She said, trying to come off as casual as possible, "Anything special goin' on soon?"

"Festival is next month." Sayori said, "Gotta get that ordered out, I suppose!"

"Festival?"

"Oh, y-you know…" Yuri said, "A-Ah, all the clubs put on little displays to attract potential members…"

"Ah, wicked."

Natsuki took another sip of her juice box. She looked over to Monika, who was entirely invested in her notebook.

"Hey, Earth to Monika."

No response. Natsuki poked Monika's shoulder.

"Yo, Monika? You still alive in there?"

"Barely." Monika replied with a smile, "Haha! Just barely!"

"And what are you doing?"

"Reconsidering things to do for the club. You know how it is, I assume? I'm the President and the festival… Gosh! Lots of planning and scrapping plans and, hell, is it a pain…"

"Oh, you have been w-working on that for a while…" Yuri said, "A-Ah, maybe you should, you know… Take a break?"

Monika giggled.

"The moment I take a break is the moment you put a reasonable amount of mayo on your sandwiches."

Yuri's nose crinkled as she looked at Monika.

"Oh my God, you don't know my relationship with mayonnaise, Monika."

"Look at that thing! I'm seriously concerned for your health! Doesn't that stuff have a lot of cholesterol?"

Natsuki looked at the infamous sandwich and instantly looked away from the white that bleeded and dripped out of the plain bread.

"S-Sayori, do you think I eat too much mayonnaise?" Yuri whispered, "I-I can change my habits!"

"Maybe." Sayori said, "I mean, it's probably not healthy to have a sandwich that just has mayo on it."

"There's ham too!"

"...Didn't notice."

"Natsuki!" Yuri said in a fit of desperation, "I-I don't put too much mayo on my sandwich, right?!"

Natsuki looked at the sandwich and tried to find the alleged ham that was on it, but was unsuccessful in doing so.

"...Do ya want the truth, or…?"

"T-Truth."

"I have doubts that there's even ham on that thing, Yuri, you probably just put half a jar of mayo on that shit and called it a day."

Yuri frowned, and everybody at the table instantly felt bad.

"Oh, fuck off, Natsuki."

And the bad feelings instantly ceased.

"Oh my God, Yuri." Monika said, "I meant it all friendly, like- Please don't shoot the messenger, I started this, you put too much on that sandwich."

"You eat salads everyday without any ranch or anything, I don't think you can judge me! What are you, a rabbit?!"

"I-I don't know?! Maybe?! I don't wanna talk about this, let's just-"

"Guys, don't." Sayori said, "Can't we just-"

"And you!" Yuri continued, "Didn't I see you eat an entire pack of cookies the other day?"

"Maybe! Who knows?"

"An entire pack, Sayori, you can't just judge me and ignore that!"

"I'm not ignoring-"

"Why do you hate me so much?!"

"Yuri..."

"What did I ever do to you? Why… Why…?"

Yuri took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, rubbing her temple. She blushed, looking away sheepishly.

"Yuri…?" Sayori said, "You okay?"

"Not exactly." Yuri replied through gritted teeth, "I got too excited. I got excited over mayonnaise. "

"Listen." Monika said, "It's my fault, I started talking about it, and-"

"It doesn't matter."

"Huh?"

Yuri grumbled lowly to herself, scratching her wrist.

"I got angry over a condiment. A fucking condiment. Jesus Christ, and I always think I can never go any lower…"

She looked up at the other girls, only to put her head back down.

"I…"

Suddenly, she got up.

"I got to go." She muttered as she walked away, leaving her sandwich behind.

Natsuki looked over to Monika, who refused to look in the direction Yuri went.

"I didn't mean to hit a sore spot like that…" She said quietly, still keeping up a smile, "Hopefully, she'll simmer down."

"You always have condiment-based drama here, or…?" Natsuki said.

Nobody replied, and Natsuki could swear Monika frowned for a split second.

Monika pulled out her phone, and around the same time, coincidentally, Sayori got a text message.

"Oh, look at the time." Monika said quickly, "Late for piano lessons, see ya."

Monika quickly got up and dashed away, not even stopping to push in her chair, and Sayori sighed as she put away her phone.

"Listen." She said in the most sincere voice Natsuki heard her say in the short time they knew each other, "This isn't your fault, alright? I think we just caught them both at a bad time."

"You… You don't always do this, right?"

"Trust me, I have never had a streak of luck in my entire life, and the easiest way to deal with life is to expect the worst thing possible."

"Uh."

Sayori looked away nervously, scratching her head.

"Ehehehe…" She said, "Nevermind. They're just… Yuri has… A-And Monika…"

Sayori hung her head, poking her index fingers together.

Silence overtook the duo for what felt like forever before Sayori spoke up again.

"You bring issue 3 of English Majors?"

"Hm? Uh… Yeah. I only have the first five, though."

"...Oh."

Another awkward pause overtook them.

"I can…" Natsuki said slowly, "I can probably find a site where you can buy the box set… N-Not that I want to or anything, I just don't want you to whine and cry and-"

"That would be nice."

"A-Ah…"

Natsuki blushed, trying her hardest to not look away from Sayori, staring at her like it was a battle for dominance. First person to look away admits defeat.

"Natsuki?"

"Huh?"

"We'll… We'll see you later, right? Same place, same time?"

The bell rang, signalling the end of lunch.

"...I'll see you later."


 

Monika: KEEP NATSUKI INTERESTED IN US, DONT LET MY STUPID SHIT SCARE HER OFF, OKAY??

Read at 12:45 PM

Sayori: i think shes still comin

Monika: THINK???

Sayori: idk she sounded a little shooketh

Monika: AAKDKVMFK SAYORI WHAT AM I GONNA DO I CANT UNDERSTAND WHAT THE FUCK I DID WROGN I JUST JOKED AND IT FU KCINDE

Sayori: monny, you okay?

Monika: NO, IM HAVING A BREAKDOWN OVER NOTHIRNG

Sayori: where are you???

Monika: MMMY SCREAMKNG ROOM

Sayori: janitor's closet, got it

Monika: EVERYTIME I FCUK UP ITS LIKE A DRILL TO MY HEAD SAYORI YOU DOTN FUCIING RKFMMTK

Sayori: monny, calm down

Monika: I MADE FUN LF YURIS SANDWICH HOW THE FUCK DOD I END IP MAKING HER SO ANGRG

Monika: WHO GETS SO ANGRY OVE FUCKIN  MAY ONAISE

Monika: I HIT HER FUC KIGN NERVES

Monika: RIFJT IN FRONT OF NATSUKI TOO AAANDKSK

Monika: WHY CANT I DO ANDJINF RIGHT FOR ONCE IN MY FUCKFIJ LIFE

Monika: AAAAAASKSKJDJ

Sayori: Monny, please stop spamming and take a deep breath.

Read at 1:12 PM.

Monika: Okay, done.

Sayori: Sometimes shit happens for stupid reasons. That's fine. Dwelling on it won't help you.

Monika: Okay… Okay…

Sayori: You are the best president I have ever had in my life, and I am so happy you're my friend, Monny, seeing you freak out makes me feel helpless, you know?

Sayori: I don't know how to make you feel better half the time. I really don't.

Monika: It's not your responsibility, Sayori.

Sayori: Yes it is!! Your happiness is my number one priority!

Sayori: seeing my friends smile is like the one thing i live for

Monika: Wait, what?

Monika: Sayori? That's really concerning, are you okay?

Monika: Sayori? Hello?

Sayori: natsukis coming, dont worry your pretty little head about it ;)

Monika: Wait, what do you mean???

Message not sent.

Monika: YOUR PHONE BETTER BE DEAD SAYORI THIS ISNT FUNNY

Message not sent.

Monika: SAYORIIIIIIII

Message not sent.

Chapter Text

The club was quieter than usual. Yet again, Yuri read Portrait of Markov, a masterpiece in her opinion, and generally minded her own business.

When Yuri was able to keep her easily-angered self away from the rest of the world, she considered that a good day. Besides, she already made the entire club hate her with Mayonnaise-Gate earlier that day.

She stayed behind to clean, and, for once in her life, she didn't leave first. No, the rest of the club exited the school with her.

"Okay, everyone, have a good sleep!" Monika said.

"See you guys tomorrow!" Sayori added.

"You can't tell me what to do." Natsuki said.

"Oh."

Monika and Sayori walked off, hand-in-hand, and Yuri went on her way, before almost instantly stopping.

Natsuki was walking in the same direction.

"What are you doing?" Natsuki huffed, "You don't need to walk me home…"

"I live this way, N-Natsuki…"

"Uh! Well! I knew that…!"

Natsuki blushed and crossed her arms.

"Y'know what?" Natsuki continued, "I'll walk you home. You're probably all lonely and afraid of the dark and shit, haha!"

"On the contrary." Yuri replied, "I find myself q-quite fond of the dark…"

"Daytime's better."

You little…

Ugh!

Yuri knew it was nothing, she really did, but that stupid smirk that Natsuki sported as she said it so matter-of-factly… It pissed her right off!

"You don't understand the pure beauty of the world at night, Natsuki, the artful shadow that covers it all…"

"It's dark, I can't see shit, and I'll stub my toe."

Simpleton! She's such a-

Stop that!

Yuri held back her own negative bullshit, like she was desperately grasping at a separate version of herself, one made of anger and hate, that burst from her chest at the worst possible times.

That was such a shit simile. Yuri almost felt like puking.

"Natsuki…"

"I mean, what are you afraid of, anyways?"

Yuri instantly devolved into a pile of word vomit.

"Being forgotten. The inevitability of failure. The deep, dark void that are my negative thoughts. People hating me and hiding it. Religious cults kidnapping me and eating me alive. Sex. New people. Social events. Bears."

"Oh, uh…" Natsuki said slowly, "You… I was just trying to set it up so I could say I'm not afraid of anything…"

"O-Oh…"

"You're afraid of bears?"

Panic instantly ran through Yuri's soul.

"I just remembered, I don't live this way anymore!" Yuri yelled as she ran off, "See you tomorrow! Hello! ...Goodbye! Goodbye! Not hello! Goodbye!"

So, Natsuki just stood there as Yuri bolted like the newest hit horror novel just popped onto store shelves, quietly pondering what the fuck just happened.

Chapter Text

Maybe the reason Natsuki didn't notice Yuri lived near her was because she arrived at school each morning well before any sane person would even be awake. She had to get up early to avoid her papa, after all.

But, today, Natsuki was delayed, and not even for a good reason.

"Here kitty, kitty!" Natsuki said as she stuck her hand out for the stray brown cat, "Psst-psst, c'mere!"

Natsuki felt her fucking heart melt as the cat wandered towards her and rubbed his face against her hand, staring up at her with green eyes. Rabies? Natsuki didn't know her.

"Good pusser-cat!" She said in the most sickly sweet tone she could muster, "Oh, what a good kitty! Pretty kitty! Yes, you are!"

She scratched behind the kitty's ears.

"What's a cute little kitty doing all alone out here? Yes, you're a cute kitty! Yes, yes! Good kitty! Good ki-"

"Ahem."

Natsuki felt like she almost broke her neck with how fast she turned her head to look at Yuri, who was standing next to her, one eyebrow cocked in questioning.

"Do the concept of mites mean nothing to you, Natsuki?" Yuri said.

There was only so much face you could save in this situation, Natsuki figured. She couldn't deny the fact that Yuri caught her talking baby talk to a stray cat, one that, on second thought, smelt a little bad. So, how does she redeem herself?

"So what if I catch a couple bugs?" Natsuki grumbled, "All cats deserve a petting, alright?"

Natsuki couldn't deny that logic. All cats truly deserved something good, all cats lives meant something to her. They all deserved something good.

If only her papa would let her adopt a cat… or twenty cats.

The theatre teacher has eleven cats, if Natsuki recalled correctly, so her dream wasn't much of a stretch.

"You could catch something bad." Yuri said, "I'm not a doctor, but I don't think cat germs are good for you."

"What, do you care about me or something?" Natsuki sneered,  "Yuri, am I defrosting your icy heart?"

"Not really, I just don't feel like catching what you catch."

Oh.

The cat purred as it rubbed up against Yuri's legs, leaving noticeable amounts of fur on her tights. Yuri stared at the cat.

"Hang on." She said.

"Hang onto what?"

"This… I think this might be my aunt's cat."

"Wait, really?"

"Banquo, is that you?"

"...Wait, Banquo?"

"Yeah, my aunt names all her cats after Shakespeare characters." Yuri said like it was no big deal, "She's kind of a nut."

Natsuki cocked her head. Multiple cats? Many cats? Cats?

"All her cats?"

Yuri nodded, and Natsuki chuckled.

"Nice to know the insanity runs in the family."

"You little…" Yuri muttered before shaking her head, "Ugh, she's off work today, so I should drop by and-"

CATS!!! I WANNA SEE THE KITTIES?? THERE'S MULTIPLE KITTIES??? AAAAA YURI'S AUNT HAS CATS!!!

"I'll come with." Natsuki said calmly, "Make sure you don't, like, die."

"You sure?" Yuri said as she pulled her phone out of her purse and checked it, pulling a concerned face, "We'll be late for school…"

KITTIES! GOOD KITTIES! I LOVE THE KITTIES! I WANT KITTIES!!!

"Yeah, that's fine."

To prove her willingness to go, Natsuki picked up Banquo, sticking her tongue out.

"Do you just instinctively have to do everything obnoxiously?" Yuri said, "What was the point of sticking out your tongue? Was it specifically to annoy me?"

"Um, yeah." Natsuki replied, "I tend to lean towards being intentionally annoying."

Banquo stuck out his little kitty tongue, and Natsuki laughed.

"Look! He wants to annoy you too!"

"Keep this up, and I won't bring you to see my aunt's cats."

"And I'm shutting up now."

"Good." Yuri muttered, "Auntie's probably dying worrying over Banquo…"

Yuri walked off suddenly, leaving Natsuki standing there, holding the kitty in her arms, before she jogged off after her.

"So, uh…" Natsuki said, "How far away is your aunt's?"

"Not too far." Yuri replied.

"That's kinda vague. Like, is it five minutes? Fifteen? Half hour? Hour? Are you taking me to the fucking Philippines?"

"I don't know? Do I look like I abide by the concept of time?"

"...What?"

Yuri sighed, rubbing her temple.

"I don't know why everyone is so confused by that. Time doesn't feel real, so I try not to pay it much mind. Can you relate to that at all, or…?"

"Oh, you don't see it as anything more than something people made up that doesn't exist? Like Bigfoot?"

"More like luck, o-or… or gender, probably. Bigfoot could be real."

"Two things." Natsuki said, "One: You're not denying the existence of Bigfoot."

"I like to keep an open mind."

"Two: Not only are you not denying Bigfoot, you're… you're saying Bigfoot could be real. You're saying that with your mouth, the mouth that I swear would never say something like that."

"Natsuki, you're annoying me a lot today, and it's only the morning."

"You said Bigfoot could be real."

"The forest is fucked up-"

Everything clicked in Natsuki's head.

"Oh my God." Natsuki gasped, "Wait! You believe in Bigfoot because you're afraid of bears to the point where you think Bigfoot could be possible! Is that it?!"

"I can't believe you remembered that."

"You're afraid of bears, I think that's the most memorable thing about you!"

Yuri sighed, gritting her teeth in annoyance. She turned to look at Natsuki, eyebrows furrowed.

"Listen." She grumbled slowly, "I am not having the best day mentally, and you are wearing my patience pretty fucking thin, Natsuki. It feels like you are yelling directly into my ear, and I formally request that you stop."

"Oh, okay." Natsuki said, way quieter than before, "Formally shutting up, then.”

Yuri quietly muttered to herself before speaking aloud.

“So, I can play five songs on my phone before I get to school. That means it takes about five songs, all averaging at around 3 and a half minutes, to get from home to school.” Yuri said, “I am only one song down my route. From school to Auntie’s, it takes seven songs. So, from here to Auntie’s, using the triangle made from our points and some simple trig, we should take… less than seven songs.”

“Seven times three and a half?” Natsuki said.

“Yeah.”

“What does that equal?”

“I don’t know, use your phone or something.”

“My phone doesn’t have a calculator.”

“Well, I’m not the one who wants to know how long it’ll take.”

“My phone doesn’t have a calculator, do you think I purposely decided to not have a basic fucking calculator?”

Yuri rolled her eyes, and Natsuki scoffed.

“What? What are you rolling your eyes for? What part of me telling you I didn’t purposely decide to not have a fucking calculator in my phone is eye-roll-worthy?”

“God, it’s just… you really are a first year.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?!”

“How many times have I told you to shut up today?”

“You can’t just tell someone to shut up and then talk to them! That’s not how it works, dipshit!”

Banquo meowed like even he was getting tired of their bickering. Natsuki sighed, patting the cat’s head with her free hand.

“I know, I know…” She said despite not knowing what Banquo was saying, “Yuri’s kind of a bi-“

“I will not show you any cats if you finish that sentence.”

“-rrrrrch tree. She’s a birch tree. Haha.”

Yuri glared at Natsuki as she stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. She turned to face the nearest house.

“Okay, we’re here, don’t say anything stupid, alright?”

“That didn’t feel like seven times three and a half minutes…”

“I am not good at math or keeping track of songs on my route.”

“Ah.”

Yuri knocked on the door, and there was a sudden cacophony of meows from inside the house. Natsuki felt her heart explode with joy.

“Kitties…” She muttered to herself, excited, “Kitties, kitties, kitties!!”

Maybe Natsuki shouldn’t have been as surprised as she did when Yuri’s aunt opened the door. After all, the fact that Yuri’s aunt has several kitties named after Shakespeare characters like a certain deranged teacher she knew that looked uncannily like Yuri would should have tipped her off. Of course, she wasn’t tipped off, so she was more than a little shocked to see that Yuri’s aunt was the drama teacher.

Also, Yuri’s aunt was in a full body cast and wheelchair. That was also very shocking.

“Auntie Libby!” Yuri said as she moved in to hug her aunt. Auntie Libby seemed more than happy for the hug, even if she couldn’t reciprocate.

Auntie Libby looked almost exactly like Yuri. Same pointy face, same violet eyes, same big nose... She was just like Yuri, but older and darker with curly white hair.

Also, again, she was in a full body cast.

“Jesus Christ.” Natsuki spat, “What the hell happened to you?”

“I usually would tell you to not swear, but you’re not in class.” Auntie Libby said, “Nothing major, I just fell down the stairs.”

“You fell down the stairs and ended up in a full body cast?”

“Well, I was already in a cast. The stairs broke my arms! I couldn’t exactly walk down them because my legs were already broken, you see.”

“How did you break your legs?!”

“Juliet knocked over the piano onto them.”

“...Your cat, right?”

“She’s a Siamese.” Auntie Libby elaborated without anyone asking her to, “Oh, I see you found Banquo. Come in, come in, it’s cold outside.”

Natsuki practically skipped in, excited to see the kitties, and, hoo boy, were there kitties. Cats on the furniture, cats on the floor, cats in the window, it was insane. A smell permeated the whole house, the distinct smell of a shitload of cats. It was beautiful. Natsuki resisted the urge to drop Banquo and pet every single kitty.

“I haven’t seen you in my class.” Auntie Libby said, “First year?”

“Yeah. I’m Natsuki.”

Auntie Libby smirked like she knew something Natsuki didn’t. Yuri frowned.

“Oh.” Auntie Libby said, “Yuri, we should make some tea for our guest, don’t you think?”

If Yuri’s glare could kill, then Auntie Libby would have been dead long ago.

“Fine.” Yuri grumbled.

“Ah, Natsuki, you can relax in the living room. I’d say not to be afraid of my cats, but they bite.”

Natsuki didn’t complain when Auntie Libby practically forced her into the living room, but she was kind of confused. She sat down on the couch, and sighed happily as the cats swarmed her.

This was one of the times Natsuki wished she had more hands. You could only pet two cats at a time with two hands.

“Jeez, Yuri, is that the girl you said hate so much?”

Natsuki could faintly hear Auntie Libby from the kitchen. Some part of her didn’t want to listen out of respect for her privacy, but… Y’know. They’re talking about her! She practically deserves to know what they’re saying.

“Yes, that’s her. Bratty, immature, selfish… Ugh! I can’t stand her.”

“Yet, you brought her here.”

“She forced me to take her! She-“

“Yuri, you have more of a backbone than you think. I know for a fact that if you really didn’t want to bring her along, you wouldn’t.”

“Auntie-“

“Your recent fascination with her is really telling.”

“I hate her! I-“

“Yuri. I’m your aunt. I know you more than you think, and I know that you don’t talk about people you hate this much.”

“Auntie Lib-“

“You never talked this much about-“

Suddenly, the sound of a kettle boiling overtook their conversation, and Natsuki couldn’t hear anymore.

Yuri… talks about her? Yuri talks about how much she hates her to her aunt?

Auntie Libby seemed to have a different interpretation of their relationship, though.

Yuri never talked this much about who? Who did Yuri truly hate?

It didn’t matter.

The sound of the kettle died down, and the conversation seemingly died down with it.

Yuri stomped out of the kitchen, completely ignoring Natsuki, and went out the door.

“I don’t have time for this.” She said, “I’m late for school.”

Auntie Libby rolled her wheelchair out of the kitchen and looked over at Natsuki. She bit her lip, like she knew Natsuki was uncomfortable.

“Hey, kid.” She said, “My doors are open anytime you wanna come by and visit. The cats really love you, I think.”

Natsuki didn’t notice at the time, but most of Auntie Libby’s cats had piled on top of her. She was gonna be a bonafide mess of fur, but it was totally worth it.

“I would love to.” Natsuki said, “Thank you, Miss-“

“Ah. I ain’t your teacher out here! Just call me Libby, alright?”

“Thanks, Libby.”

Auntie Libby grinned, and Natsuki hurried off to school.

Chapter Text

Yuri closed her locker door to see Sayori standing right behind it. She jumped in surprise.

“Ack-?!”

“Hey, Yuri!” Sayori chirped, “How’s it going?”

“I’m fine?” Yuri said quickly, though her tone turned it into more of a question than an answer, “What are you-?”

“We don’t talk much, y’know.” Sayori said, simultaneously answering and not answering Yuri’s question, “It’s weird. Me and Monny have been friends for years, Nat is pretty cool, but we… we never talk, y’know? You always hang out with Natsuki.”

“I don’t hang out with Natsuki. I barely tolerate her.”

“I bet she likes you.” Sayori said, “You can tell she’s just really lonely and insecure and lashes out to try and keep people from knowing.”

“...Um?”

Sayori blushed, awkwardly picking at her own face.

“But, uh, ehehehe… I’m not a psychologist. I just know from experience.”

“You used to…?”

“Haha, uh… No. A friend. She- They. They used to have serious issues. Sometimes I can tell when people have specific issues cause I’ve known her for so long.”

Yuri’s mind instantly went to the only "her" that could possibly have been.

“But, uh!” Sayori interrupted Yuri’s train of thought real quick, like she knew she said too much, “You… You have some real emotional management issues, huh? I get it.”

“...What?!”

“Y’know. Mayogate. The way you act towards Nat. Things like that. I’m thinking about starting a help group where I just do this all day, ahaha!”

“Thanks for giving an extensive, yet fake document of my entire mental health, Sayori.” Yuri grumbled, “I really appreciate you assuming things about me.”

“Hey, hey! You see? You must be taking pages out of Natsuki’s book, right?”

Yuri’s unnaturally cold glare stopped Sayori dead in her tracks. Sayori blinked, then frowned.

“I… I’m sorry.” She said, “I was so preoccupied with trying to psychoanalyze you that I didn’t think if I should… That was really shitty of me.”

Yuri tried to stay mad, but the way Sayori’s eyes dulled as she apologized…

“It’s… It’s fine.” Yuri said, not entirely sure if she was telling the truth. 

“Ugh, listen, you wanna go get some takeout later, me and you? It’s prime bonding time, and I just… I just really want to know more about ya.”

“Me? Why me?”

“Why not?” Sayori said with a shrug, “Yeah, I could go with Monny or Nat, but… honestly! I wanna go eat a burger with you!”

Someone wants to hang out with Yuri… for no reason?

“I would love to.” Yuri replied, “Let’s go right now.”

“It’s second period-“

“Let’s go.”

Sayori grinned widely as she walked alongside Yuri, her eyes twinkling with delight and delinquency. She started to cheerfully skip as they exited the school.

"We're skipping school!" She giggled, "Oh, Yuri, you rebel! What do ya think we should get?"

Yuri shrugged.

"What do you want?"

"I just want a burger, honestly." Sayori said as she thought deeply about it, "I think all fast food joints have burgers. It's, like, a staple of the fast food experience. What's your fave place?"

"I don't think I have a favourite…"

"Okay, I got an idea. First place you think of! Go!"

"McDonalds?" Yuri said, "It's… It's the first thing I thought of, don't judge me."

"Hey, nothing wrong with a little low-brow food, Yurs. You can't subside off of high-class shit all the time, y'know? Sometimes you need to turn your brain off and enjoy the dumber things in life."

Yuri nodded, before furrowing her brow in confusion.

"Wait, what does your brain and intellect have to do with food?"

"It means whatever." Sayori chuckled, smirking, "It might be a metaphor… It might not be."

"Metaphor for what?"

Sayori shrugged, still obnoxiously smirking. She winked. Yuri took that as a sign that Sayori wasn't gonna tell her shit.

They both entered McDonald's, Sayori eagerly approaching the cashier while Yuri hung back a little, nervous at the idea of talking to a complete stranger.

"Big Mac." Sayori said before Yuri elbowed her, "Sorry. I mean, Big Mac, please, with everything."

"Wow, really trying to maintain that figure…" The cashier huffed.

Wow, what a dick.

"C-Can I get a… uh…" Yuri muttered, "Y'know…"

"I don't know, freak."

Ugh, you're making this worse…! Yuri felt her anxiety tie a knot in her stomach.

"Uh…"

Yuri blushed as she gestured vaguely, the cashier staring at her with clear annoyance.

"Oh, hang on a sec." Sayori said, "Yuri, I think I dropped my bank card near the entrance, you mind helping me?"

Yuri thanked the heavens for this release from Cashier Interaction Hell.

"Uh." Yuri murmured, "Y-Yeah."

They both walked to the entrance. Without any warning, Sayori put her hands on Yuri's shoulders.

"Are you okay?" She asked.

"Obviously not." Yuri replied.

"You want me to order for you? I can do that, y'know."

"I'm a full grown adult, Sayori, I think I can handle this."

Sayori sighed and tilted her head towards the cashier, signalling Yuri to look at him. He was so plain that Yuri wouldn't be able to pick him out in a crowd.

"See him?"

"Uh… Yeah?"

"His name is Mickey." Sayori said, uncharacteristically flat-toned, "He's a complete and utter tool and if ordering for both of us means we get to talk to him less, then I'll happily order your food."

Yuri blinked, surprised, before sighing.

"Uh, I want nuggets." She muttered, "Six piece… and root beer."

"Sweet and sour sauce?"

"Wouldn't be nuggets without it."

"Nice. You go sit down, I'll go grab it."

Yuri went and sat down at a table, not daring to touch the surface in case it was sticky. You never know if a kid wiped their snot in a table, and Yuri knew for a fact that nobody ever cleaned these things enough. McDonalds was a walking utopia for germs, but it was one with nuggets.

As Sayori grabbed the tray of food, she said something to Mickey, sporting a smug look. Mickey's face went red, but he dared not say anything. Yuri cocked her head as Sayori sat down at the table.

"What was up with that?" She asked.

"With what?" Sayori said.

Sayori happily passed over Yuri's food, eagerly munching into her burger.

"What did you say to him?" Yuri continued, "Who is he anyways?"

"Mickey. I already told you that."

"Yeah, but why do you hate him so much?"

Sayori's eyes went dark as she forced a smile.

"I don't forgive people who hurt my friends easily, y'know." She said, "I have a lot of patience, but sometimes it's really hard to ignore certain assholes, y'know?"

This was unfamiliar territory for Yuri, for sure. Not only was Sayori acting way more hate-filled than usual, but this single moment but Sayori in a whole new light. She wasn't as simple and ignorant as Yuri thought. She, like every other person, had a couple dark feelings inside her. It was liberating to see Sayori let out one of those feelings in her midst.

"What did he-?"

"He drugged Monika."

"What?"

Yuri looked over Sayori's face for the slightest indication that this was, in fact, a joke made in poor taste, but there was none. She was serious.

"Do…" Yuri said, hesitant, "Do you mind elaborating? You can't drop this bomb and expect one to not be interested."

"Okay, so." Sayori said as she cracked her knuckles, placing her chin on her folded hands, "Monika is always busy, right?"

"Yeah."

"So, like, last finals season, the seniors were throwing their usual 'senior week' shit 'cause they're graduating and it's their last chance to do that, right?"

Yuri didn't like where this story was going.

"Yeah…?"

"Monika was stressed out, so I tried bringing her to a senior party." Sayori continued, "I thought it would help. Um… It didn't. Oh, and we didn't drink alcohol or anything, if you're thinking that."

"I wasn't thinking that."

"'Kay. Me and Monny are connected at the hip the whole time, y'know? 'Cause, like, it's a senior party, nobody invited us, we're kind of out of place as a couple of dumb freshmen, and uh… Yeah. So, like, this dude comes by, and he starts flirting with Monny. He's a senior, and he's just a lil tipsy. Not much, just slightly buzzed, you can tell. Monika wasn't interested at all, though. He still kinda hangs around us, offering to bring Monny home because he has a car and we walked here… Just her, though. Not me."

"Creepy."

"I didn't pick up the vibes as much as I shoulda. I didn't really realize how creepy he was until Monika just fucking… collapsed next to me." Sayori looked away, like it was hard to remember this, "She was still conscious and all, but she was weak as shit. Mickey offered to drive her home, but he threw a fit when I said I had to come with her. So, then a group of drunk girls come by, right? They stood by me all defiant-like and they say that they saw him putting stuff in Monika's drink and that we should call my parents or her parents instead."

"So, did you?"

"We called her dad and he drove us home." Sayori continued, "Oh, but the drunk girls chased Mickey away and all that first. Um, we brought Monika to the night clinic because her dad is a worrywart like that and, yeah… She totally was drugged. Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if I weren't there, y'know? I always try and be there for her 'cause of that."

Yuri didn't know what to say at all this. It was… heavy. Knowing someone you knew could've been hurt badly… It was hard to put into words.

"So, yeah." Sayori muttered as she ate the last bit of her burger, "I'm sorry, but I really can't stand that guy. I try and give everyone respect and love, but… I can't. Not for him."

"And I don't expect you to." Yuri replied, "I wouldn't."

Yuri looked over at Mickey, something bubbling up in her gut… Rage. If he came near her or any of the rest of the club… she would stain her precious knives with his blood, and she wouldn't care.

The sudden protective feelings shocked Yuri more than the sudden violent thoughts. It's hard to admit when you care about someone, but… she did. They were her only friends, after all. They were a rag-tag group of weirdos with issues and a love for words… and comic books, apparently.

"I made myself sad." Sayori sighed, interrupting Yuri's thoughts.

Sayori looked over to the play area, pursing her lips.

"No." Yuri said, knowing exactly what she was thinking, "No, you will not."

"You're not my mom."

"I'm eighteen, I'm your adult supervision."

"You're only a year older than me."

"Still, I'm an adult."

"Yeah, and I'm a child!" Sayori said, throwing her arms up in joking frustration, "Let me live my life, mom! "

"Think about how often those things get cleaned, Sayori." Yuri said, "You'd be running around in germs and dirt and-"

"I could get sick…"

"Yeah."

"I would miss school."

"...Sayori-"

But it was too late. Sayori was running towards the empty playplace, giggling mischievously. Yuri hurried to the playplace, but could only watch in horror as Sayori crawled into the tubes.

"S-Sayori!" She stammered, "It's… It's designed for toddlers, you're gonna get stuck!"

"Chill!" Sayori shouted from within the tubes, "I'm not gonna get stuck!"

A loud thud echoed from within the slide part of the contraption.

"Yuri?"

"Yes?"

"I'm stuck."

"What do you mean, you're stuck?!"

"I mean that I'm stuck."

Silence overtook them as Yuri slowly understood what exactly just happened. Despite everything, Yuri giggled. She felt less bad about it when she heard Sayori laughing from inside the slide.

Chapter Text

"They're late." Monika said.

"Yep." Natsuki replied.

It didn't take a genius to figure out that Monika was a little bit stressed out. Natsuki could literally feel it emanating from her.

Yuri and Sayori were half an hour late to the club meeting at this point, and neither of them were answering their phones.

“Maybe they’re just busy.” Natsuki suggested.

“No, you don’t get it, Sayori always updates me on these things.”

“Always?”

Always. Either she’s asleep, or she’s having an emergency," Monika said, "and why would Yuri also be unavailable if Sayori was asleep?”

“Maybe they’re sleeping together?”

The sentence was not meant as an innuendo, but Monika and Natsuki both realized what was said at the exact same time.

“...Fuck, not like that.” Natsuki added.

“Would you mind if they did?” Monika asked.

“Not really? Why would I mind?”

“I dunno. Just making conversation.”

“Would you mind?”

Monika shrugged.

Suddenly, Sayori and Yuri walked into the club room. Sayori’s hair was disheveled, and they both looked exhausted.

“Where were you?!” Monika shouted, “What- What happened?!”

“I got stuck in the McDonald’s play place.” Sayori replied.

“You got stuck in the McDonald’s play place?!”

“She got stuck in the McDonald’s play place.” Yuri confirmed.

“Sayori, you got stuck in the McDonald’s play place?” Natsuki chuckled.

“Yes! I got stuck in the McDonald’s play place!” Sayori shouted, “And it took the firemen a couple hours to get me out!”

“...You really did get stuck in the McDonald’s play place…” Monika muttered incredulously.

“Monny, I thought we established that already!”

“Why were you in the McDonald’s play place?” Natsuki asked.

“Because!” Sayori shouted, “I can do whatever, alright?”

“The firefighters had to come by and cut her out.” Yuri said, “But the place wouldn’t let them cut at first, so they just lubed the thing up and tried to yank her out-“

“Bad idea.” Sayori added.

“Bad idea.”

“Awful idea. My legs hurt.”

“Wait.” Monika said, “One more time. You got stuck in the McDonald’s play place for…?”

“Couple hours.”

“You skipped school?”

Sayori put on a nervous poker face. Busted.

“Maybe?”

“Well, gosh.” Monika said coyly, “That’s a real shame. I had a present for you and everything, but I don’t feel right giving presents to delinquents, you know?”

“...Present?”

Monika fished around in her jacket pocket and pulled out a tiny game cartridge.

“Are you…” Sayori said, “Are you holding my copy of Ghost Jockey ransom?”

Monika nodded.

“Monny, you sick bastard.”

Natsuki stepped aside as Sayori tackled Monika with all the ferocity and anger of a kitten, as it was all just fun.

Yuri rolled her eyes at the sight of the two girls on the floor, doing what most girls do on the floor… play-fight.

“So.” Natsuki said to Yuri, “Did you two have fun?"

“It could have gone better.” Yuri replied, “Could have gone worse. I enjoyed myself, regardless.”

They both waited in silence. Natsuki waited for Yuri to say something sassy, and Yuri waited for Natsuki to say something annoying. Neither party dared to point out the fact that the other person wasn’t being a complete ass, both in fear of reminding them to be one, and because neither one of them wanted to count their metaphorical chickens before they hatched.

“Aha!” Monika shouted as she pinned Sayori to the floor, holding her arms above her head, “I win!”

“You only got me ‘cause I’m tired.” Sayori said, sticking her tongue out.

A momentary loss of balance made Monika slip and lean closer to Sayori’s face, noses touching. Monika blushed as she invaded Sayori’s personal bubble more than usual.

Natsuki and Yuri watched, both frozen with the single thought of ‘Wait, are they gay?’ running through their heads. It was like when you see someone with a weird little dark spot on their pants in public and you wonder whether or not it’s pee. Did that person pee their pants? Should you be second hand embarrassed and a little weirded out for seeing something so intimate? So, despite your better judgement, you focus on the pants and you get this feeling in your gut of morbid curiosity and otherworldly panic in this state of hyperfocus as you try and figure the truth, and your feelings about it, out.

“Jeez, Monny.” Sayori finally said, “If you’re gonna try and pretend slip into a kiss, you need to go whole hog with it.”

It was only after she said the words that Sayori realized it was a bad idea to say that. Monika’s face was bright red. An awfully awkward silence permeated the literature club.

Did the joke land? Did anyone realize it was a joke? Did she truly mean it as a joke? Sayori internally panicked.

Distraction Technique!

In a bizarre attempt to distract from her embarrassing moment, Sayori flipped Monika over, pinning her to the floor instead.

“D… Distraction-Fu.” Sayori said, not fully recovered from her blunder, “If you play dirty, I’ll play dirty.”

“Why did you say dirty after you jokingly flirted with your best friend?! Are you an idiot, Sayori?!” Sayori thought, internally screaming, “Whyyyyy!!!”

“You win.” Monika said, trying to distance herself from the incident too, “You can have the game, Sayo, you earned it.”

Again, the awkward silence returned as neither of them moved.

"Sayo?"

"Yeah?"

"I can't give you the game back if I'm still pinned down."

Sayori quickly scuttled off of Monika, and grinned widely as her copy of Ghost Jockey finally returned to her.

"Ahh!" Sayori said, "Thank you, Monny!"

"No problem." Monika replied, "But, shouldn't we all get to the literature part of literature club?"

“Ooo!” Yuri said, “Sayori, that reminds me! I got the best new idea for a novel, it’s coming along very well so far-“

“Don’t you have like eight novels you’re working on right now?” Sayori asked.

“Shut up, I’m a mess. Anyways…”

As Yuri rambled about some definitely horrifying and psychologically scarring plot outline, Monika sat down at one of the desks. Natsuki sat at the one next to her, putting her feet up on the desk.

“So, like… what was that about?” Natsuki asked.

“The fight?”

“The cartridge.”

“Oh, I just edited her save files.”

“...You what?”

“I have a system at home that I injected custom firmware into via an old hardware exploit.” Monika said, “Of course, that’s not hard to do, the firmware and tutorials on how to do it are online for free, but Sayori loves weird obscure titles that nobody makes save editing software for.”

Natsuki searched Monika’s face for any indication that this technobabble was a joke. There was nothing.

“So, I have to pull out her save file on an SD card and reverse engineer primitive editing tools so it’s easier on me for next time.” Monika continued like it was the most simple thing ever to her, “It’s frustrating, it takes forever, I’m always messing with the wrong data, but it makes her happy… It also gives me things to upload to GitHub, y’know?”

Natsuki stared shocked at Monika, mouth wide open.

“You” She said, “are so fucking cool.”

Monika blushed, dismissively waving her hand.

“It’s not that cool, I swear.” She said, “It’s less cool than the movies make it out to be. It’s mostly just me hitting an error every four minutes in my pajamas.”

“It is that cool!” Natsuki yelled, before realizing exactly what she was saying, “I mean, uh…”

“It isn’t. If you want something kinda cool, then I would talk about my robots.”

You could physically see the excitement dancing in Natsuki’s eyes.

“Robots!?"

“Well, okay. Robots… makes it sound cooler than it really is. Tiny machines. Lot of them have pretty much the same functionality and complexity of those old LEGO sets… you know the ones, right?”

“Not really…”

“Well, it’s mostly just a motor and some less-than-complex mechanics to do something simple, like… going forward. Not going backward because I couldn’t make it happen… And uh… nothing much else.”

“So… robots.”

Monika sighed.

“Now I’m starting to regret saying that word in reference to my machines…"

“If they’re not that cool,” Natsuki said, “Then show me them.”

“Sorry, but no. They may be lame, but I still put effort in them. I wouldn’t dare risk bringing them to school-“

“No, I mean after the club meeting. Can I come over and see? ...Not that I particularly want to, I just have nothing to do after the club, y’know?”

Monika went poker-faced, but her clenched fists under the table gave her facade away to anyone willing to look at her hands. She blushed before nervously smiling.

“Uh…”

Behind Natsuki, Monika could see Sayori giving her a thumbs up, eagerly nodding her head. Yuri looked at Monika and then Sayori and awkwardly also gave a thumbs up, not wanting to be excluded from this moment and inadvertently making herself look awkward. Monika took a deep breath.

“Okay.” She said, “I’ll walk you over after the meeting.”

Natsuki grinned widely while Monika could see Sayori celebrating to herself. Yuri looked confused.

“Uh, but… you know.” Natsuki said in her typical tsundere fashion, “If it’s lame, I’ll never forgive you, alright?”

“Right.”

Chapter Text

Natsuki took a deep breath as she stood in front of Monika's house, trying to calm her nerves. Monika stood next to her.

“Okay, one rule.” Monika said as she held the doorknob, “Don't acknowledge the tiger.”

“...What?”

As soon as they walked in, Natsuki noticed a massive, gangly arts and crafts tiger covered in several clashing fabrics near the entrance. Natsuki stared at it, confused and a little horrified.

“It-“

Don’t acknowledge it.

The porch led directly to the kitchen, and there were three men sitting at the table. One of them looked like he was Monika’s dad, but the other two didn’t look related to her at all. Family friends, perhaps?

“Hey, dad.” Monika said, “Nice to see you, Dan.”

One of the men smiled and waved at his mention.

“Who’s your friend?” The third one asked.

“Natsuki. She’s from my literature club, she sort of… invited herself over. Hope you don’t mind.” Monika said, “Natsuki, that’s my dad, that’s Dan, and that’s Chell.”

“Is she staying all night?” Monika’s dad asked, “I mean, it’s Friday, I could make alfredo or something."

Monika and Natsuki exchanged a glance, and they both shrugged.

“I didn’t bring anything.” Natsuki said.

“I didn’t know I was allowed to have a sleepover…” Monika added.

“Honey, it’s the weekend.” Chell said, “Shouldn't it go without saying?”

“So…” Monika slowly said, “How many people am I allowed to have over, hypothetically? I mean, at one time.”

“As many as you want, as long as you warn me next time.” Monika’s dad replied, “Why?”

“Someday, we’re gonna have a literature club sleepover. I don’t know when, but now it’s on my bucket list.”

"Oh, that includes Sayori, right?"

"Even if Sayori wasn't a part of the club, I'd still invite her."

"Wow." Natsuki said, "You really like Sayori, don't you?"

"She's one of the most important people in my life." Monika said bluntly, "I love her a lot."

"So, Natsuki, are you staying for the night?" Monika's dad asked.

"If it's alright with Monika." Natsuki said.

"I would love for you to stay." Monika replied, "Come on! Who knows how long it'll take for me to get half of my things working!"

"Haha, yeah! Sleepover!"

Natsuki followed Monika upstairs. Just as they were about to enter Monika's room, Natsuki spoke up.

"Yo, who were they?" Natsuki asked.

"My dad's boyfriends." Monika replied.

"...Boyfriends?"

"Boyfriends."

"Boyfriends?"

"Yeah, boyfriends."

"Boyfriends?" Natsuki repeated, emphasizing the plural part of it.

"Yes, Natsuki, my dad is gay and polyamorous."

Natsuki's mind instantly went to her harem manga, but she knew that was an inaccurate representation of what Monika’s dad was like.

"Please don't judge my dad."

"Why would I judge him?" Natsuki scoffed, "C'mon! Imagine being cool enough that you have two boyfriends."

"Yeah, sometimes I feel borderline unlovable."

A split second of awkward silence hung in the air as Natsuki realized what Monika just said.

"...What?"

"Anyways." Monika quickly said, "Watch your step."

When Natsuki imagined Monika's room, she didn't imagine it being so cluttered, with clothes and chargers on the floor, trinkets and machines on every flat surface, and she definitely didn't imagine there being massive movie and game posters on every inch of the walls and ceiling.

"Wow." Natsuki said without thinking.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm great at cleaning." Monika said, "But… Not my room. I can't seem to make it clean, for some reason. I hoard too much shit. Never know when you can reuse a wire or something, y’know?”

Natsuki wished she had enough stuff to warrant that problem.

"Y-Yeah…"

Monika went to a drawer and rummaged through it, gesturing to Natsuki to sit on her bed. As she did so, Monika brought out a cardboard box with wires sticking out of it.

"What is-?"

"Shh, I need to remember how to get it working."

Monika opened up the box and plugged a cord into it. She connected the other end to an external hard drive.

"Okay." She said, "This is my magnum opus."

"...What is it?"

Inside the box, there was a grid of Christmas lights and several wires. There were three tiny switches connected to the array.

"A game." Monika said, "Here, lemme show you."

Monika flipped a switch, and the lights lit up, shifting and moving across the array. She pointed to a stationary light.

"That's me."

She flipped the other two switches, the light moving up and down everytime she flipped a switch.

"You have to avoid all these lights." Monika said as she dodged the lights, "But it gets faster and faster, so eventually you'll die."

On cue, she messed up and hit a block of lights. The entire display went dark before lighting up near the top.

"That's my score. It's in binary. I got… seven."

"Holy shit." Natsuki said, "I mean- I mean, it's not that impressive…"

"You wanna try?"

"Fucking yeah! "

Monika put the box in Natsuki's lap, and she started to fiddle with it.

"Shit." Natsuki said as she instantly lost.

As Natsuki kept trying (and failing) to get a good score, Monika took out another contraption from her drawer.

None of Monika's machines lived up to the initial game box, but Natsuki's eyes still lit up with delight every time something moved, every time a light turned on, every time a sound was made.

"Girls, it's suppertime!" Monika's dad called from downstairs.

Natsuki was always prone to eating quickly, always instinctively trying to shove all her food in her face before someone took her food, or her right to eat food, away, but she ate even faster this time, not wanting to waste a second of fun in Monika's house.

"Oh! Wait!" Monika said as they sat on her bed afterwards, "Let me do your nails!"

"That'd be wicked." Natsuki replied.

Natsuki's negative thoughts of 'what would papa think' were overtaken quickly by the joy of seeing Monika grin so widely. Natsuki felt her heart skip a beat.

Natsuki held out her hand as Monika rummaged through her polish collection.

"Your nails are so long." Monika said as she unscrewed the cap off of a bottle of pink nail polish, "I'm so jealous."

Natsuki was suddenly hyper-aware of the light shaking of her hands as Monika gently took Natsuki's hand in hers, running the brush over her nail. Slowly, Monika coloured in the nail, taking care not to go off onto the skin.

Monika blew onto the nail, trying to make it dry faster, before continuing to the other nails.

The gentle brushing against Natsuki's nails made her shudder, much to her dismay. She took shallower breaths to steady herself, not wanting to ruin Monika's work.

One by one, Monika covered Natsuki's nails in bright, glittery pink.

Natsuki's gaze wandered to Monika's nails, which were short. They were well taken care of, just… short.

"So, why are your nails so short?" Natsuki asked.

"They break off a lot." Monika replied, not looking up from Natsuki's nails, "Then I have to cut the rest of them off so they all match. ...Oh! Wait, close your eyes, I have a surprise."

Natsuki closed her eyes, listening to Monika unscrew another bottle of nail polish.

"Can I do yours too?"

"That would be lovely."

Natsuki smiled, eyes still closed. Monika was painting her nails slower than she was before, somehow more carefully. She could feel Monika blow her creation dry.

“There.” Monika said, chuckling, “I thought it’d fit you. I’m not exactly an artist, but…”

Natsuki opened her eyes to see a white cat head on each of her nails, eyes dotted on in black.

“Oh my god.” Natsuki said, “It’s adorable.”

“Not as adorable as you.” Monika replied.

Natsuki blushed, surprised.

“I’m not-!” She started, trying to put up her tsundere front and failing, “What?”

“What?”

Did Monika just say that? Did Monika really just say that? Did she just-

“So… are you going to paint my nails too?” Monika asked.

Natsuki took a deep breath to steady her nerves.

“Yes, but…” She said, “I never painted anyone else’s nails before…”

“There’s a first time for everything.” Monika said, “Don’t worry about messing up my nails, I’ve probably done worse to them already.”

Natsuki nodded, going through Monika's nail polish. There was way more nail polish than you'd expect Monika to have, honestly. Natsuki thought Monika would have… well… two? Three bottles? Considering how Natsuki only saw Monika wear nail polish once or twice in the short time they've known each other, and both times it was an off-white colour, Natsuki found it odd that Monika had dozens of bottles in all sorts of different bright and wonderful hues.

The perfect bottle caught Natsuki's eye, and the moment she saw it, she knew that it would look perfect on Monika's nails. It was green, but not green like a forest, green as in a rich emerald colour, green as in…

Natsuki looked over at Monika, who was looking at her with those big green eyes of hers, the ones that matched the polish so well.

“Hey, this polish is like… the exact same colour as your eyes.” Natsuki said, “It’s kinda uncanny.”

“Pfft, what?” Monika giggled, blushing, “No way! No way my eyes are that bright.”

Natsuki pursed her lips, holding up the bottle next to Monika’s face, comparing the two. Monika was right, her eyes weren’t as bright as the polish.

They were brighter.

“Jesus christ, Monika.” Natsuki muttered, “You wear contacts or something?”

“No? I could never put my fingers in my eyeball like that… and what if it slips behind my eyeball?”

“It can do that?”

“I heard it could.”

Natsuki rolled her eyes.

“You’re just trying to distract me from the fact that you wear contacts.”

“I do not!”

“Ugh, lemme look.”

Natsuki held back up the nail polish, cupping Monika’s cheek so she could look closer into her eyes.

The nail polish was nice, Natsuki thought, it was a nice emerald hue. A single emerald hue. Monika’s eyes were, in comparison, like a fucking fireworks display of colour.

It was a journey through as many shades of brilliant green as Natsuki could find. It was a mini light show as Natsuki watched Monika’s eyes catch the light of the bedroom, dancing across the iris. It was… really pretty.

Natsuki was suddenly very aware that she was very close to Monika’s face, sitting on Monika’s bed, the light scent of Monika’s perfume hitting her nose. Natsuki didn’t even have the nail polish up next to Monika’s face anymore to give her an excuse. Monika’s face was a bright red.

Red and green… Christ, it’s like Christmas came early.

Natsuki suddenly-

pounced forward, pushing her lips against Monika’s, getting drunk off the smell of Monika’s room, her perfume, her essence, tasting banana chapstick. She unwraps Monika like a present, one under the Christmas tree, because her face is so red and her eyes are so green, her bow is so meticulously tied into her hair that it almost looks factory made

-pulled back, frowning.

“Ugh, Monika, those are totally contacts!” Natsuki huffed, lying, “Here I thought you had nice eyes or whatever…”

Monika let out a sharp breath, one Natsuki could tell Monika was holding.

“I have perfect twenty/twenty vision.” Monika scoffed, trying to ignore that Certified Gay Moment, “You’re just jealous.”

“Aw, come on.” Natsuki chuckled, sticking her tongue out, “Why would I be jealous of you?”

“I dunno, but you’re taking an awful long time to paint my nails.”

Natsuki blinked, then looked down at the bottle of nail polish in her hand. Oh right. She forgot.

“Eh. Even if they are contacts, your eyes do match this polish.” Natsuki said, “Sorry if I get it on your fingers, though.”

Monika smiled and held out her hand. Natsuki unscrewed the nail polish and took Monika’s hand in hers.

Okay, Natsuki, please don’t screw this up. Impress her!

Immediately, Natsuki felt a tingle down her spine and awkwardly jerked her arm, getting nail polish up to Monika’s knuckle.

“Oh.” Monika said.

“Oh no.” Natsuki added.

“Shiver down your spine?”

“Yep.”

“It’s fine! I’ll just clean it up afterward, it’s not that hard.”

It’s not that hard? God, if Natsuki didn’t know better, that would’ve offended the shit out of her.

“Not that hard…” Natsuki huffed as she continued to paint Monika’s nails, “I don’t usually do things like this, y’know.”

“I only ever paint Sayori’s nails, so I get it. Working with really small wires has made me really precise, though.”

“Someday, you’ll have to show me how you do all that technical bullshit. It’s really sick.”

“That’s… thank you. Not this weekend, though. I would need to prepare.”

“I get it. Just text me anytime you want me to come over and watch you do your weird nerd thing.”

“Nerd thing?” Monika huffed jokingly, “Okay, Little Miss Comic Book!”

“Manga.”

“Right. Sorry. Point is, we’re all nerds, Natsuki, don’t deny it. Sayori’s probably the most prep of us all.”

“Okay, on the nerd/prep/jock/goth scale, what is everyone?”

“Yuri is…” Monika started.

“Goth.” Monika and Natsuki said together, and they laughed.

“Goth leaning nerd or nerd leaning goth?” Natsuki asked, chuckling.

“Goth leaning nerd.” Monika replied, “She’s a nerd with goth tendencies, I think. A goth wouldn’t be in the literature club.”

“Oh, we’re all nerd leaning at least, right?” Natsuki huffed, “Ah, that’s less fun…”

“Well, I like to think you have prep tendencies.” Monika said, “Preps of a feather flock together. Maybe a smidge of jock. You’re pretty physical. Do you do sports?”

“Nah.”

Back before she transitioned, yeah. Not that her dad knows she dropped out of football because she’s too small, starved, and also not a dude anymore.

“I did track.” Monika said, “I’d rejoin if the literature club fell to shit, I think. I’m too busy enjoying the club and taking care of everyone around me, you know? You three take up all my free time.”

“Ah. Sorry about that.”

“No, that’s a good thing! A great thing! I’m really glad you’re all my friends. Again, we should have a literature club sleepover sometime soon! I’d love to host.”

Natsuki put the finishing stroke on Monika’s nails… and they looked messy as hell. 90% of the nail polish wasn’t even on her nails.

“I tried.” Natsuki admitted, “And uh… failed.”

“Hey, you did great.” Monika said, “If I wanted a professional manicure, I’d go book one. Plus, it’ll just come off my skin anyway.”

“Uh, true.”

Natsuki screwed the cap back on the nail polish, and Monika looked at her nails.

“So, what else do you wanna do?” Monika asked.

"Oh! I've been meaning to watch this anime." Natsuki said, "I know this site we could go watch it on."

"What's it about?"

"A buncha people and aliens get sucked into this world between worlds by a psycho reality-warping alien bunny that makes them do a Survivor-type reality show."

"Ooooh." Monika said, "Let's watch it."

Monika put her laptop on the bed in front of the two of them, and they both cuddled into the blankets. Natsuki had set up the whole display while Monika had gone downstairs to get popcorn.

"Oh fuck." Monika said as a character exploded, "Oh, that's gross."

"Wait, wait, is she alive again?" Natsuki said, "Is that happening?"

They both watched as the character came back to life, only to suffocate.

"What the fuck." Natsuki muttered.

"I love the dog." Monika said later as they watched the dog run around, "Reminds me of Sayori's."

"Sayori has a dog?"

"Yeah."

"Don't know why that's so surprising…"

"Linaaaaaaa!" Natsuki later screeched as she watched an awful horror unfold before her, "Why?! Who would do something like this?!"

Monika had her eyes covered.

"Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!" They both chanted as a character had another character's face in her hand.

They both cheered as the characters onscreen kissed.

Monika and Natsuki watched blankly as the anime ended.

"I don't know how to feel about that ending." Natsuki said, "Is it good? Is it bad?"

"It's… something."

"You think there's something we're missing?"

"Maybe? Hang on."

Monika opened her phone, and she looked at it, shocked.

“Shit.” She said, “It’s 3:17.”

“Oh, damn. I never realized, I was so enthralled by the whole thing.”

“Me too. Not to be a killjoy, but we should sleep. You can borrow my pajamas!”

Tall and curvy Monika’s pajamas fitting on small and stick-like Natsuki?

“Uh, no dice.” Natsuki muttered, “They wouldn’t fit.”

“It’s better than nothing.” Monika said, “Besides, extra large pajamas are the best! It’s like sleeping in one of those… blanket-hoodie-things. You see them on TV?”

“Forgot what they’re called?”

“Yeah, it’s on the tip of my tongue… Snuggies?”

“I think! They looked pretty comfortable, but pretty stupid.”

“Still! Wouldn’t it be neat to just chill and be warm and have your hands ready? Do they still make those? I kind of want one now.”

“I dunno. How am I supposed to know?”

“Uh, google it?”

“My phone is, like, mondo-old. You really expect me to just google it like I’m on some cutting edge device?”

Monika rolled her eyes and googled it. Her eyes lit up.

“They still sell it.” She said, “Oh my god, they have it in green- Wait, aren’t I supposed to be convincing you to wear my pajamas?”

“Ughhhh!” Natsuki groaned, “You don’t have to!”

“I do, and you will wear my pajamas.” Monika said, “Unless you’re planning on sleeping in the nude?”

Natsuki blushed.

“I, uh!” Natsuki spat out, “I could just wear my regular clothes to sleep!”

“That seems really uncomfortable…”

“Not as uncomfortable as having your pants drag five feet behind me…”

“You’ll be in the bed. You’re not gonna drag my pants behind you.”

Natsuki rolled her eyes.

“You’re really not gonna let me get away from this, are you?”

“Nope! You can rummage around and look for something, I’ll go change in the bathroom.”

“Wait, you’re letting me rummage through your things? Alone?”

“I don’t have anything to hide. Besides, I know you wouldn’t cross any boundaries. I trust you.”

You shouldn’t.

“T-Thanks… I guess…” Natsuki muttered, embarrassed, “You… go change before I strip down in front of you and make it weird.”

Monika chuckled as she grabbed a pair of pajamas out of her dresser drawer.

“This is where it all is. Be right back!”

Monika left, and a million ideas of what could go wrong went through Natsuki’s head. Yeah, Monika just showed her which drawer to open, but what if she forgets within the next five minutes? What if a bunch of ghosts possess her and make her open the wrong drawer? What if she tries to open the right drawer and misses so bad that she instantly opens all the wrong drawers?

You know what could be in those drawers? Incriminating photos of Monika roaming around, kicking old ladies. It would be very embarrassing and also kind of weird to see something like that. Also maybe Natsuki would have to call the police. Kicking old ladies is probably illegal.

Also, if Natsuki saw something she wasn’t supposed to, Monika might not forgive her. That’s the main problem.

But, truthfully, Monika did just show her exactly where to look, so the chances of Natsuki fucking up were astronomically low, even for her.

Natsuki swallowed her incredibly irrational and unrealistic fears and opened the drawer. Predictably, there were only pajamas in there. Natsuki sighed in relief.

Natsuki chose the first thing she saw, which was a pink nightgown with a sleepwalking sheep on the front, a sheepwalker, if you will. It was a little predictable of her to choose something like that, but she wasn't interested in acting against type right now.

Being a nightgown that was at least two sizes too big for her, it slid on easily. Natsuki wasn’t a big fan of how the neckhole didn’t rest on her shoulders like it was supposed to, and instead hung loosely around her collarbone. It felt a little too revealing, but it’s not like any other gown would be any different.

She sighed, sitting down on Monika’s bed. Quietly, Natsuki looked around the room again. She was still surprised that Monika’s room was so disorganized, so… cluttered. It was full of wires and screwdrivers and bolts and…

...Huh?

Natsuki's gaze went to a pink and blue trinket on Monika's dresser. She gasped as soon as she realized what it was.

There, right behind some batteries and wires, was an enamel pin with the trans flag on it.

Oh my god.

Natsuki quickly looked away, then looked back in order to confirm it wasn’t some weird delusion.

Yep, it’s real.

Natsuki could feel some weight lift off her shoulders, weight she didn’t know she was carrying. Monika has a trans flag button. She’s an ally.

Or she could be like you too-

No. No way. She’s way too… perfect for that. Natsuki envied every bit of her, every perfect curve, every little detail on her beautiful face-

Okay. That’s gay, but let’s ignore that. Why would she have a trans button if she’s an ally? Wearing a button like that would signal to everyone that you’re trans, wouldn’t it make sense for her to have something with the word ‘ally’ on it?

Well, maybe she doesn’t mind being mistaken for trans. Maybe she’s trying to be an Extra Awesome Ally by not caring if people think wrong about her.

Yes, but also, really, you don’t have any proof she isn’t trans too. You’ve only known her for like… a bit now? Not like you’ve seen her as a kid.

Please stop getting my hopes up, for the love of god! All this speculation isn’t helping anyone!

The sound of Monika entering the room again, now wearing a yellow top and some blue bottoms, snapped Natsuki out of her little argument with herself. She quickly looked away from the button, acting like she wasn’t just having some kind of weird debate with her inner self. It seemed to work.

Fuck, just act natural.

“Wow, you’re really looking like a minion there.” She said.

Wow, what the hell is wrong with you??

“A-A cute minion!”

No, you made it worse!

“Not that you’re cute!”

Oh my god, stop digging yourself deeper-

“I mean, you are! You totally are!”

Abort! Abort!

“Anyway.” Natsuki said, trying to act like the last few minutes of her life weren't incredibly cringey and full of inner conversations, “Uh, where should I sleep?”

Monika blinked, thoroughly confused by what exactly just happened. She shook her head in an attempt to forget what just happened.

"Wherever you want to. Would you like to sleep on the inside of the bed or the outside?" Monika asked.

Several gay thoughts ran through Natsuki's mind.

"What." She said.

"Would you like to-"

"No, no, I heard you, I just- Isn't that a little close? Don't you have an inflatable mattress or something?"

"No. I just- Isn't that what girls do on sleepovers? Sleep in the same bed? Sayori and I always sleep in the same bed, so-"

Another several gay thoughts ran through Natsuki's mind. Monika and Sayori… sleeping in the same bed? Oh no. Don’t think about that. Oh noooo-

"It's just…" Natsuki started, but she stopped as soon as she saw Monika frowning.

Monika wanted to share a bed with Natsuki. Natsuki, despite her protests, wanted to share a bed with Monika. It was just so… intimate. What if Natsuki drooled on Monika? What if she tossed and turned? What if she accidentally groped Monika while they both slept?

Maybe Natsuki was just afraid of being predatory. There was something about being trans and a lesbian that really made you afraid of being creepy. Overstepping boundaries was far more risky when the stereotypes are actively working against you.

Then again… Natsuki's mind went back to the pin on Monika's dresser. She's trans too, or at least an ally. She'd understand that Natsuki wasn't predatory at all, right?

"O-Okay." Natsuki muttered, full tsundere mode activated, "But I'm only doing it for you."

“Alright!” Monika cheered, “Oh, now that I think about it, can you please take the inside of the bed? I usually get up to pee in the middle of the night at least once, and I don’t wanna wake you up.”

“Why don’t you just pee before you sleep?”

“I do! I just… pee a lot.”

“Haha, gross!”

Monika stuck her tongue out in mock offence.

"Just go sleep before I throw you in the bed, Nat." She said.

With a quick roll of the eyes, Natsuki laid on the bed. She rolled closer to the wall and snuggled into the sheets. It was… nice. The mattress wasn’t too soft or too firm, the blankets were warm and had enough weight to them to feel comfy without suffocating her, and the pillow was very fluffy. Natsuki plotted a million ways in that very second to steal Monika’s bed for herself, but none of them seemed plausible. Damn.

Monika made herself comfy next to her, pulling up the blankets. Natsuki could feel a warm and comfy aura emanating from her.

The room went dark as Monika turned off her lamp.

"Goodnight." Monika said.

"Goodnight." Natsuki replied.

They both stared at each other. Natsuki felt warm, but she knew it wasn’t the blankets.

"Y'know." Monika joked, "Usually people close their eyes to try and sleep."

Natsuki rolled her eyes.

"So, what?" Natsuki replied, "Am I supposed to just assume you have eyes painted on your eyelids or something? Cause it kind of looks like your eyes are open too…"

"What I'm saying is that you should sleep."

"Uh, so should you."

"Not until you sleep."

"Well, not until you sleep!"

They both stared at each other in an impromptu staring contest, not blinking.

"Haha!" Natsuki cheered as Monika blinked, "Gotcha!"

"Okay." Monika said as she rubbed her eyes and laid back, "Fine. I'll sleep."

Natsuki also closed her eyes, and sleep took her over almost immediately.

Chapter Text

Monika blinked the sleep out of her eyes as she slowly woke up. It was dark, so it was still nighttime. In that case, why was she awake?

“Mmph.”

She looked over to see Natsuki clinging to her desperately, muttering in her sleep.

Right. Monika forgot she had Natsuki over.

Natsuki grunted, pushing her face into Monika’s side. She had a serious case of bedhead, her hair sticking in different directions from tossing and turning.

Monika gently hummed as she ran her fingers through Natsuki’s hair, messing it up even more. She wouldn’t notice the difference, anyways.

Natsuki grunted again in her sleep.

“Papa.”

Oh. She’s talking in her sleep. That’s pretty cute-

“Stop that.”

...Oh?

“Papa, please stop.”

Oh no.

Monika looked at Natsuki awkwardly as she muttered alarming things, begging for something to stop. Monika didn’t exactly want to know what.

“Nat.” She said as she gently patted Natsuki’s head in an attempt to wake her up, “Hey. Hey, Natsuki. Wake up.”

Natsuki did not wake up, instead clinging to Monika like she was a rock in a stormy sea.

Okay, fuck waking her up gently, this is really sad.

“Natsuki!” Monika whisper-shouted as she shook her, “Natsuki!”

Natsuki snorted as she woke up, resting her head on Monika’s chest. Her dull eyes lit up as she remembered where she was.

“Monika?” Natsuki mumbled, still sleepy, “Why… Why the hell did you wake me up?”

Usually, Monika would tell the truth.

There was nothing wrong with having a bad dream, obviously. It wasn’t something you could control. Monika could have told Natsuki she realized she was probably having a bad dream.

But, this time felt different.

Some people think you can tell the future via dreams. That, of course, is bullshit, but there is merit and worth in interpreting dreams. It is a manifestation of your brain activity without you directly controlling it, anyways.

That’s the scary part. Knowing that your brain can psychoanalyze itself and bring your weird little head demons to the forefront without really trying. Knowing that, no matter how hard you repress it, it’ll come back eventually. Knowing that… well… knowing that maybe Natsuki doesn’t have a good papa.

Sure. That’s a big stretch. You could always have a weird dream that in no way reflects real life. Maybe Natsuki’s dad is a great guy, who knows, but… Monika wouldn’t know unless she asked, right?

What kind of daddy issues does Natsuki have? This isn’t a conversation Monika wanted to have. This isn’t a conversation Monika felt capable of handling.

Monika wasn’t capable of much, emotionally. She left all that to Sayori. Sayori would know exactly what to say and it killed her.

What if she said something wrong? What if she ruined one of the few friendships she had?

And if something bad was happening… Would Natsuki even admit it to her? If it was happening, why would Natsuki admit it to her of all people?

Like usual, Monika took the cowardly way out. Like usual, Monika was selfish. Like usual, Monika decided to turn a blind eye like the absolute sociopath she is.

“I…” She said, “I kind of need to pee and you’re holding me down.”

Absolutely pathetic.