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Wisterias and Ramen

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The sound of the final bell resonated through the classroom as the clock ticked past 2:45pm. Some students jumped up from their desks, quickly slinging on their backpack while running over to their closest friends, while  others took the time to take in a deep breath, exhaling out the exhaustion from attending classes that were not even mandatory. 

Kyouko Kirigiri was part of the latter of these students.

She closed her journal, overflowing of notes from her ongoing and prior cases from her grandfather’s office. She then placed her highly prized fountain pen back into her purple leather pencil pouch, carefully zipping it closed. When she reached towards the side of her desk to pick up her bag, her keen senses felt someone’s eyes slowly creeping upon her body.  

She whipped her head around to see the brunette male, who only held eye contact for a split second before quickly averting his eyes. Kyouko, on the other hand, continued to hold her stare for a few seconds, clearly recalling those startled faint green eyes until she was interrupted by one of her female classmate's over-exclamatory greetings. 

"Kyou-ko-chan!" she emphasized every syllable, a habit Kyouko constantly told her to break. 

The tan athletic girl was right in front of her desk now with a cheeky smile plastered on her face. 

"Hello Asahina-san," Kyouko greeted her.

"I told you to call me by my first name already! A-o-i."

"And I told you to stop enunciating every syllable of my name every time you see me," Kyouko snapped back.

"Hm, point taken." 

The two girls were complete opposites, but somehow Kyouko found a well-rounded confidant beneath Asahina's layer of optimism.

"Anyways Kyouko-chan, it's already the end of the week! Have you found a dress for the formal next week?"

Kyouko let out a short sigh. That was obviously an event she was beyond elated for, the sarcasm dripping throughout her thoughts.

"I don't think I'm going anymore," Kyouko finally spoke out. Asahina, wide-eyed, immediately slammed her hands on Kyouko’s desk. In return, the rest of the students remaining in the classroom winced in response to the sudden sharp noise. 

"H-Huh? What do you mean you're not going anymore? You're supposed to go with Naegi-kun!" The jubilant girl continued to shout as the rest of their classmates held their full attention to Kyouko’s current predicament. She turned her head around once again to see a reaction on the brunette's face. Instead, she saw several of his male friends gathering over his desk, saying things such as "Ooooh Naegi and Kirigiri?" and "Get it Naegicchi." The blood vessels within Naegi's face became dilated, making him more flushed than Kyouko has ever seen. He raised his delicate hand to scratch the back of his head, still avoiding eye contact with Kyouko. It was all so immature, and Kyouko showed no signs of embarrassment. 

"Why don't you ask Naegi-kun yourself, Asahina-san," she calmly responded. 

Naegi took Kyouko's answer as a cue to immediately leave the classroom, but Asahina sprinted before anyone else could even lift a finger. She stood in front of the classroom door with a strong stance, both arms wide open to block Naegi from being able to leave. 

"Naegi-kun, what is going on? I thought you asked Kyouko-chan?" Asahina asked softly. 

Now Naegi was cornered. Behind him were Leon, Ishimaru, and Hagakure stretching their heads out, keenly listening for Naegi's answer. He couldn't leave the classroom due to Asahina preventing him from escaping her question. He had no other choice at this point. It was either to be an honest idiot or a secretive asshole, and Kyouko knew Naegi couldn't be the latter. 

"Um, Maizono-san already asked me to the formal last week, as friends, b-but! I really was going to ask Kirigiri-san." Naegi stammered, his hands in front of him rapidly swaying from side to side.

"So why couldn't you, Naegi-kun?" Asahina asked with her large puppy eyes that made most people feel guilty. 

"...I couldn't say no to a friend,” he whispered, with a mellow sadness.

Of course Naegi could not have rejected Maizono's invitation. He was never the type to turn down a dear friend's request, and Kyouko wholeheartedly understood his character by now. However, she could not help but feel that small tang of disappointment towards Naegi, who was one of her closest friends. At the time, Kyouko could not imagine going to the formal with anyone else. Overall, it would be better for her to not waste any time and rather be productive towards her detective work. 

Before the situation got any worse, Kyouko placed her hand on her friend’s shoulder. "It's ok, Asahina-san. There's no point in further discussing and dragging out the situation," she stated calmly, while giving a short, yet condescending glare at Naegi’s group.

Naegi let out a sigh of relief for Kyouko's interjection, while Leon, in the background, muttered things such as "No wonder Sayaka-chan kept avoiding my invitations," while biting his thumb. Kyouko might have felt sorry for him if she wasn't already well aware of Leon's character. 

As Kyouko was heading towards the door to leave the classroom, she caught Naegi mouthing "I'm sorry" to her. 

If only a simple sorry was enough to satiate Kyouko's disappointment.


As Kyouko began to close her shoe locker, she heard yet another familiar voice a few feet away from her. 

"Kirigiri-senpai!"

A male figure, slightly taller than herself, was running towards her without a sweat, although he made it look effortless. While his eyes were concealed by his frazzled dark bangs, Kyouko still knew who it was. The panting boy in front of her was none other than Shuichi Saihara. 

He stood above Kyouko, his detective cap making him seem a little bit taller. 

"Oh? You're wearing the cap again Saihara-kun." Kyouko pointed out. 

He chuckled. 

"I have been getting a bit more cases lately, thanks to you. So, I felt it was appropriate to wear it in honor of you rekindling my motivation to exploit detective work again.”

Shuichi and Kirigiri met earlier through the school year when he was informed that there was another Ultimate Detective in the second year class. However, he was intimidated due to her status of being an upperclassman, even though she was technically one year older than him. 

Alongside the grade barrier, Kirigiri almost seemed... untouchable. Her domineering aura emitted surreal messages that crawled into Shuichi’s ears, whispering “stay within your bounds” and other such phrases. They didn’t verbally interact with each other until both were called to the principal’s office by Kizakura-sensei.

They were both confused at first, as the reason for their summoning was not clear until Kizakura-sensei explained how the stockage of cans from the school’s pantry were depleting at a consistent rate every week. However, the chefs haven’t been able to catch the perpetrator, yet even see anyone unfamiliar enter the pantry. Kizakura proclaimed it was up to the two junior detectives to hone their skills and figure out who the thief was.

Through careful calculations and insightful interrogations, which were played out as simple conversation, Kirigiri and Shuichi had collectively figured out that out of the accused group: Ouma Kokichi, Teruteru Hanamura, Akane Owari, and Yasuhiro Hagakure, it was Owari that was the culprit. She couldn’t resist herself from the frozen chicken tenders. 

After completion of Kizakura’s request, both Kirigiri and Shuichi remained in touch, and eventually became well acquainted. They shared their cases from the past and of course, discussed new ones. While it was known that the Kirigiri detective agency was more highly esteemed than Shuichi's uncle's office, the difference in rank didn't withhold them from finding common ground. 

It was Kirigiri who confronted, and eventually, prevented Shuichi from constant self-deprecation on how he wasn't worthy of the "Ultimate Detective” title.

"Besides...you seem to be very reliable as a detective," she had said during one of their encounters in the dining hall.

Shuichi did not forgot her words from that day. He never felt that he was a reliable person, but rather a heavyweight who held others back. But soon, his fellow peers were reaching out to him for help, even if it was something so small such as finding Yumeno’s lost cat. Kirigiri eventually noticed his selflessness and occasionally offered to provide him assistance for any of his cases. Even though Shuichi still felt like he didn't do as much as he would want to, he has become a person that someone, even Kirigiri, can depend upon. 

He would always cherish those days she was able to lift his self-conscious self up. 

"I'm glad to hear that." Kyouko smiled.

"Anyways, you're already leaving school? This might be the first time I've seen you leave so early." Saihara asked curiously. 

"Unfortunately, Mock Trial was cancelled today so I'm heading back to my dorm." 

"Oh. Well, if you aren't busy, would you mind accompanying me to the mall? We haven't shared a meal in awhile," he stated.

Due to both of them being in separate classes and grade, every month or so, Saihara and Kyouko would hang out after school to share a good meal and catch up. Kyouko had been so preoccupied with her situation with Naegi that she forgot it was almost time to have another outing with Saihara. 

"I would be delighted to, but I would like to take a shower and change out of my school attire first. Mind meeting me in front of the dormitory entrance in thirty minutes?" she asked. 

Saihara's face lit up with the innocence of a child. "I don't mind, see you soon Kirigiri-senpai," he waved off while walking back to his own dorm. 

"What a sweet person," Kyouko thought after her gentle wave in return.


Shifting through her closet, Kyouko was looking for her favorite button down white shirt she'd wear on outings. She would usually pair them with her black denim skirt. It was a sleek outfit, suitable for any purpose really. She nimbly buttoned down her shirt and stuffed it into the zipped up skirt. To top the outfit off, she pulled out a lavender oversized sweater from the clothing rack along with a lighter lilac-gray scarf. The scarf had been a gift from Naegi on her birthday last year for the upcoming winter season. He told her when he first saw it in the store, he knew it was perfect for her. 

"It reminded me of your hair, they both have an enchanting charm," he said when he handed the present to her. She grasped onto a corner of the scarf, pulling it up to embrace her cheek. She really wished it was her, and not Maizono. 

She, then, quickly shook her head, breaking contact with the cherished item. "Stop it," her inner thoughts spoke out loud. Kyouko had to conceal her weak side, she was a stronger person than this. She had been rational all her life, it wasn't the time for her emotions to take over now. 

With a final look in her mirror, Kyouko added some finishing touches to herself. Instead of her usual hairstyle, she decided to pull her hair into a high ponytail, a look she'd rarely sport. But, it fit her outfit well and so, she was ready to meet up with Saihara. 

Locking her door, Kyouko walked straight towards the dormitory entrance. There, she saw a familiar figure. He also noticed her walking and raised his hand to wave. 

There was no detective cap this time. Instead he was wearing a green turtleneck sweater paired off with black jeans, a casual dark blazer, and black dress shoes. Kirigiri took note how well his wardrobe complemented his green-yellow eyes. 

Her mental note-taking had been a weird quirk of Kyouko's that she developed out from being highly observant in her field of work.

"I see you also changed Saihara-kun," was all she could say.

"I didn't want to be seen in my school uniform, in all honesty," he responded.

Kyouko had realized this was going to be their first outing dressed up. During previous times, they would just go to their school dining hall or a nearby cafe in their uniforms. The mall was a more sophisticated location with a higher end food court. It was almost as if this was a—

No, no. Kyouko quickly dismissed the thought. While it was a useful trait in her work, jumping to conclusions during a time like this was impractical.

"I see. Are we ready to go then?" Kyouko asked.

"Yes, you don't mind walking there right? I really don't want to pay the transportation fee."

"I absolutely don't mind. I am also a little low on spending money, and would rather spend it on a well nourishing meal."

Saihara let out a small chuckle. "What's so funny, Saihara-kun?" Kyouko asked while the two began walking.

"It's just that you always speak so formally, even on a casual outing like this."

"I see, I still need to improve my cold demeanor, I guess."

"What? Cold? You don't seem cold at all Kirigiri-senpai!" Saihara exclaimed, but this was only a half truth. Saihara mentally scolded himself for being a hypocrite, as he was well aware Kirigiri preferred honesty over all.

"I'm afraid your deduction is wrong, it's always been a hindrance while communicating with someone. However, I've been raised to speak like this — to always be rational instead of having my emotions influence me." Kyouko didn't know why, but she went on elaborating her inner thoughts, revealing personal things she wouldn't ever reveal to just a common classmate. While passively pressing on the topic, Saihara eventually came to learn about Kyouko's former relationship with her father and how strained it had become when he revealed he didn't want to continue the Kirigiri detective legacy. 

Saihara was taken aback by hearing stories from Kyouko's childhood. It was no surprise why nobody saw Headmaster Kirigiri and his daughter together, yet it was already a huge shock when he found out Kirigiri’s father was headmaster. 

"You haven't tried talking to him recently?" Saihara asked.

"I don't see the point of that. What would I even ask from him? To go back in time and actually act like a good father? Sorry, but that's 100% impossible." Kyouko ended on a sour note with an additional tch .

"But communication is essential Kirigiri-senpai. If there's no communication, then you don't really know what's the truth."

"Truth?" Kyouko quaintly asked.

"Well, you're only thinking about your perspective. Since you have never really spoken to your father, you don't know what his feelings are either. I'm not saying I'm on your father's side, but biased thinking clouds one's ability to make deductions and come to proper conclusions. Although, I think you are already aware of that." Saihara said. Kyouko had always been correct for other people's cases but now that Saihara has pointed it out, it would not be right for her to hastily make assumptions on her own case. 

"I know that revealing the truth may be hard, even painful. You already know my first-hand experience with that homicide case. But to ultimately move on, one must overcome the truth." Saihara added, recalling back to the girl who first told him these words.

After a momentary pause, while the two were waiting for the walk signal to change, Kyouko thought about what Saihara had said. Behind his inferiority complex, there was a strong character that was motivating him to push forward. When the light signal changed, Kyouko finally spoke. 

"Do you recall telling me that one story. It was during one of your cases. You said something like, 'You're supposed to think logically, you can't let your feelings into it...It's absurdity, total absurdity. But then again...that absurdity saved me before, right?' I think I finally understand what that means now. We may both be Ultimate Detectives but it's surprising how much we're opposites of each other."

"Your individuality is what makes you, you Kirigiri-senpai. Same goes to me, I guess." Saihara added with light laughter. 

"I concur. I might also reconsider talking things over with my father now. I have the right to know why he committed such actions in the past, and maybe learn if they were really out of ill-will or not."

Saihara gave off a soft smile knowing he was able to shift Kyouko's feelings towards progression. While it may seem like a small notion to others, meeting with her father after all these years may be one of the biggest steps Kyouko will ever take. 

"Ah, we're already here." Kyouko pointed to the mall entrance. The conversation between the two Ultimate Detectives made the walking distance feel shorter as they had already reached their destination. 


After eating a hefty bowl of miso ramen from the food court, Saihara and Kyouko silently agreed to go window shopping in the mall. Kirigiri rarely went shopping, only buying the essential school attire and some extra accessories. But, being surrounded by the surplus of display windows exhibiting porcelain mannequins adorned with lace, flowing chiffon skirts, and intricately detailed blouses, her inner-feminine side found it hard to resist. 

They walked into some high-end stores knowing fully well they couldn't afford anything. However, it wouldn't hurt just to look, Kyouko thought.

Shopping with Saihara felt different. It wasn't like going to the mall with Asahina or any other of her female acquaintances. He paid close attention to the apparel that surrounded him, even taking some clothes off the rack and holding them in front of a mirror.

"Are you actually interested in this sort of stuff, Saihara-kun?" Kyouko asked. 

"Akamatsu-san drags me to the mall occasionally whenever she has to buy an outfit for an upcoming piano recital. It's surprising, but somehow she only approves of my taste."

"It seems like she trusts you," Kyouko smiled at him. 

After spending a few more minutes in the store, Kirigiri was ready to leave until she heard Saihara shouting. 

"W-wait, Kirigiri-senpai!"

Kyouko was near the front of the store entrance when she turned her head around. At first, she couldn't see Saihara. His body was being blocked by the dress he was holding. 

The sheer gown was a sight Kyouko had never seen before. The lace embroidery around the neckline was so intricate, almost imitating tree vines. The bust and the top half of the skirt were adorned with violet sequins that were arranged to mimic wisteria flowers. In between the woven wisterias revealed a lilac chiffon skirt that went past Saihara's feet. She couldn't describe it further with words, Kyouko felt she would do the dress injustice. 

"I think this dress would suit you perfectly for the formal next week," Saihara finally said out loud. 

Impossible. Kyouko couldn't wear such a dress, especially to an event she had little to no desire for attending. 

"It's truly gorgeous, but I'm not going to the formal Saihara-kun." Kyouko said with a somber tone. 

"H-huh?" Saihara had lowered the dress to show the disappointment on his face. "Why not?" he added. 

Kyouko didn't want to reveal her petty reason for not going to the formal. She didn't want to put the blame on Naegi, and so she answered with, "I don't see any reason to go if I don't have anyone accompanying me."

"I'll go with you," Saihara immediately responded. 

Kyouko froze in her steps. "What are you talking about, I presumed you were taking Akamatsu-san already."

"Ah, that. It turns out Amami-kun had asked her beforehand. I think she only sees me as a close friend," Saihara rubbed the back of his neck nervously, similar to Naegi when Asahina had called him out in the classroom. 

"But I'd be honored to go with you Kirigiri-senpai! Honestly, I think this dress was made for you. It perfectly matches your hair and eyes. It would be a waste for you to not go." Saihara said confidently. 

"U-um," Kyouko was stumbling over her own words. She'd never imagined Saihara being her date to the formal. She had the image of Naegi clouded up in her head for so long that she had forgotten about other possibilities, including the reliable people around her. Saihara helped Kyouko earlier and he continued to push his effort to breaking her outer shell.

Kyouko then walked up to Saihara, touching the dress with her own hands. While her hands were gloved, she could feel the longing sense of nostalgia oozing from the dress. 

"I—" Before Kyouko could finish her sentence, Saihara said, "Wait, you have to try it on first."

"What?" 

"Excuse me miss, could you show her to the dressing room," Saihara ignored her and waved over to a female employee. 

Kyouko wasn't prepared for this at all. In the same instance, she was being led to the dressing room, which was decorated with gold leaf and faux crystals. She did not belong in a place like this. With the dress on her left arm, she opened the dressing room door to reveal a large full-length mirror.

She stared at her reflection for a few seconds, curious as to how the dress would look on her. Carefully unwrapping her scarf, she placed it on a hanger along with her sweater, shirt, and skirt. She zipped down the back of the dress, carefully stepping into it. After pulling the rest of the dress up, she zipped it back up, Kyouko had to thank her flexible arms for that. 

She turned around to look into the mirror again, not knowing who was in front of her anymore. The bodice of the dress fit her well and the skirt wasn't overbearingly long. The wisterias cascaded down her body, lusciously wrapping around her body as if enveloping a bud. 

Maybe Saihara wasn't wrong about this dress. It perfectly complimented her hair color and with the right jewelry, she would look as if she was ready to go to the formal at that instance.

Kyouko wanted to know Saihara's opinion as well, as predictable as it may be. 

She gathered the rest of her clothes on her arm and stepped out of the dressing room. Saihara was standing around the corner, it seemed he was waiting for Kyouko. 

"What do you think?" she asked.

He turned around and Kyouko swore his pupils had dilated a centimeter or so. 

"I knew it, this was made for you. There's no way you can't not go to the formal now," Saihara said ecstatically. 

Kyouko closed her eyes for a moment in an attempt to imagine the whole scenario. Even if it was not with Naegi, going with Saihara would be the absolute opposite of boring. 

"I guess I'll take you up on your offer, Saihara-kun," Kyouko finally said, with a soft smile.


Chapter Text

“I need your help!” Makoto yelped while clasping his hands together in a prayer notion. 

The girl walking next to him, who stood a few inches taller than Makoto, let out a soft giggle. 

“You almost look like an abandoned puppy if you do that, Naegi-kun.”

Makoto could only pout, because he was really desperate at that point. 

“Please, Kirigiri-san! I need to ace this upcoming exam.”

“And why should I be the one to help you?” 

“Because you’re one of the more ept students in our class.” 

“I’m one of them? So that means that there are others, like Togami-kun. Why not ask him?” Makoto, stunned by her question, didn’t respond immediately. 

“B-because I’d rather learn from you!” he exclaimed after seconds of trying to think of a clever response. 

Kirigiri didn’t expect Makoto to be so forward. She closed her eyes to hide her embarrassment, which made Makoto realize how long her lashes were, but not even that detail distracted him from noticing her flushed cheeks — the hints of red speckling the smooth surface. 

“If you insist, we can make a quick stop to study,” Kirigiri bashfully said. 

Makoto’s eyes, still resembling those of a puppy, lit up with joy now. 

“I owe so much to you! Maybe we can stop at the booksto—?” 

“Hm, what should I have for dinner?” Kirigiri then said out of the blue, cutting off Makoto’s words.

“U-um—” startled by the change in topic, “Are you suggesting we should stop for dinner as well?” Makoto innocently inquired. 

“Some magnifying glasses with a dash of leather sounds good,” Kirigiri said without skipping a beat, her tone steadily becoming firm and monotonous. 

“Kirigiri...san?”

“Did you know bees can recognize human faces?”

Makoto was utterly confused, but he kept walking. Also, was it just him or was Kirigiri’s pace getting steadily faster?

“Itway ouldshay avehay eenbay emay, otnay Ayakasay.”

P-pig latin?

“A-are you ok Kirigiri-san?”

Makoto was trying to get her to stop by walking slower, but his efforts were to no avail. As Makoto waved his hands in an attempt to get her attention, Kirigiri’s voice continued to warp, as well as the buildings around him. 

“Am Pum jet keew oneugh?”

“I don’t understand!” he finally cried out, halting to a stop, completely oblivious to the changing surroundings. The asphalt beneath their feet was cracking, almost resembling tectonic plates. Through every nook and cranny, thick tar oozed out. The neighborhood-friendly suburbs were distorting into unfathomable jagged shapes. The cumulus clouds above them warped into bright red cumulonimbus storm clouds, lightning sparking in between them. 

Before Makoto’s eyes, the world was crumbling down in its final movement.

Yet, Kirigiri kept on walking with her head held high, avoiding every crevice like a natural, as if Makoto were never walking beside her in the first place. 

“Kirigiri-san!”

“Ğ̸̰ǒ̶̳̻͖̹̈ô̵̜͙d̵̛̥̖̖̯̜̰̔̎b̶̥͍͚̖͕͌̈́̉̐y̶̡̱̆̓͝e̷̛͈͈͙̮̳̔́͝ͅ”

“KIRI-” Makoto’s own voice cuts off as there was no sound coming out from his mouth anymore. Instead, he was exhaling short spurts of breath. 

Makoto was in a state of frenzy. He was unable to call out to one of his closest friends, and worst of all, she was minding him no attention as if he never existed. He was still, ironically, unaware that there were more prevalent real-world issues to worry about, but it hadn’t quite registered through his vision, yet. 

After several more gasping breaths, in an attempt to try to regain his voice box, Kirigiri’s pace was even faster now, as she was almost two blocks ahead of Makoto. He can’t catch up to her now.

It was impossible. 

With his last burst of energy, Makoto dashed forward in the now unrecognizable, convoluted environment, his hand reached forward to grasp what little of Kirigiri he saw left in his vision.

It was useless.

When he took that first step, the asphalt road under him melted, transforming into quicksand-tar mixture. Makoto lurched forward, losing his balance. His foot was stuck. 

He was helpless. 

Makoto’s vision began blurring as he continued to sink, the unrecognizable houses rushed past his peripheral vision, but his eyes never left from Kirigiri’s fading silhouette. 

This was no longer Hope’s Peak. 

This was hell


“BWAH?!”

Makoto woke up shrieking. 

His heavy heaving reverberated through his airway with cold sweat dotting his forehead. Just like in his nightmare, his right hand was forward, grasping empty space, yet again. However, it was his bedroom door in front of his sight of vision, and not a certain purple-haired detective.  

He slapped his cheeks with the palms of his sweaty hands in an attempt to regain his composure, but never did he have a dream, or rather nightmare, like that. Makoto’s confusion was overiddled with panic, the two mixing together to create a whirlpool, causing an indescribable feeling in the pit of his stomach. 

Tight, yet endless. 

At that same moment, a handkerchief suddenly hung over Makoto’s eyes. He peered up to see his roommate offering it to him. 

“Take it,” he said with his usual sharp tone. 

“Togami-kun...didn’t you say you never wanted me to ‘plague’, yet even touch your prized handkerchiefs?”

“J-just take it! I have spares,” Togami said with a hint of embarrassment on his cheeks. 

As Makoto wiped his forehead with the soft satin handkerchief, his heart rate calmed to a lull. 

He’s safe in his room, it was just a small nightmare. There was no way Kirigiri would ever act like that in reality. 

Makoto looked towards his right, the alarm on his bedside displayed 7:32 in its bright red type. 

“Are you going to get out of bed or what? Classes start soon,” Togami said.

“Sorry for the commotion.” Makoto started his morning routine by heading to the bathroom to freshen up. He splayed cold water onto his face, waking himself up almost immediately. After patting his face down with his beige towel, there was a lingering tingling sensation, although Makoto wasn’t paying much attention to it. 

He just couldn’t stop thinking about the nightmare. 

Kirigiri had appeared in previous dreams, along with other classmates, but uncannily, this time it was just her. It was an embarrassing thought, especially after how things went down yesterday right after class. 

He had hurt Kirigiri’s feelings, and Makoto couldn’t help but think this “dream” was some form of karma.  

Looking back upon the situation, Makoto had not realized how much of an idiot he was until that moment. Why would someone pick a simple friend to go to the formal with, rather than the person they liked? 

Wait.

Liked?

Makoto liked ...Kirigiri?

His heart rate jumped at the sudden realization. Makoto had already come to terms with his feelings subconsciously, but he’s never declared it out loud in his thoughts. 

Maybe that’s why he kept stealing glances at Kirigiri in class when she wasn’t looking. 

Maybe that’s why he felt so unsteady when Asahina caused a disruption yesterday. 

Maybe that’s why...he had wanted to be alone with her at the start of his dream?

But that doesn’t matter. 

No matter how Makoto felt, it wouldn’t make time rewind for him to be able to fix past events. 

While he did regret not asking Kirigiri earlier, it was still not the end of the world. A date was never a permanent arrangement, yet Makoto was beating himself over it as if it was. 

And honestly? Makoto was 80% positive that Kirigiri would rather spend time with him in other places instead of a crowded dance floor. Preferably, she’d want to sip her dark coffee underneath the shade of an outdoor cafe while holding an insightful conversation with him. 

Dwelling through his thoughts, Makoto reached out towards one of his shelves to grab his hairbrush, only for him to brush his fingers past an object he forgot he’d left there. 

He grabbed its thick spine, taking note of how heavily binded it was. 

“THE BIG SLEEP” was engraved on the front cover, inlaid with foil, with “Raymond Chandler” typed out in smaller print. 

The novel was a gift from Kirigiri for Makoto’s past birthday. 

Back then, he was quite surprised by the choice in gift, but after recognizing that it was a detective novel, he realized this gift meant much more than its surface appearance. 

“It’s my favorite detective novel, I’d sincerely appreciate it if you end up finishing it,” Kirigiri had said while handing him the present. 

However, she hesitated for a few seconds before letting go. “You don’t have to, though,” she additionally murmured while pushing back her side bangs, a habit she’d often do while she was nervous.  

Makoto was never much of a reader, but since Kirigiri went out of her way to gift this to him, he would at least attempt to conquer its pages. 

He still wasn’t quite done with it, since his attention span was almost equivalent to a goldfish during his free time, but it had been a captivating read so far. It made Naegi question, “What exactly popped out at Kirigiri that made her decide that this book was the one? Was it the ambiguous motivations? Or the cunning Philip Marlowe? Or the noir setting itself?”

Maybe it was the ending that Makoto had yet to reach?

Whatever it was, that curiosity alone was enough to fuel Makoto’s motivation to keep trudging through the pages. 

“Are you combing your hair with that book Naegi? Or are you just wasting my time here?” Togami’s sharp voice slashed through Makoto’s thoughts, once again bringing him back to the reality that was him standing in front of his bedside mirror in a daze.

Setting the book back down on his shelf, Makoto curtly apologized and scrambled for the comb. He quickly sifted through his thick brown hair, enough to make it not look like bedhead.  

The digital clock now blinked 7:55 and classes started at 8am sharp. Makoto was never this off task before, he had to straighten himself.

It was just a dream. 

Just. A. Dream. 

With one final pep slap to his cheeks in front of the mirror, with non-sweaty hands this time, he was ready to dash out the dorm with Togami, who had been quite prepared for awhile now. 

“Grab the keys while you’re at it, Naegi”

“Got it!” Makoto responded while reaching for his olive bookbag.


“Where the FUCK are the damn keys,” Momota yelled out in frustration while searching through every nook and crevice of their suite.

Shuichi knew Momota was dense, but he didn’t think he could be this dense. 

“Momota-kun, they are literally in your right hand.” 

Momota stopped in swift motion and began opening both of his palms in front of himself. However, that only wreaked more havoc as the chain of keys slipped out at an accelerating rate, colliding into the kitchen drawer only for it to bounce off and slip under their refrigerator. 

“Goddamnit,” Momota hissed under his breath as he was about to get on his knees with an outstretched arm. 

Shuichi couldn’t manage to watch his fool of a best friend any longer, it was physically hurting him at this point. 

“Momota-kun,” he said with a slight stern tone Shuichi hoped he’d pick up. 

On all fours, Momota turned his head around, “Yeah, bro?” 

“Let me help you with that.” 

Shuichi stood up from his desk chair and grabbed the nearby broom. With some duct tape and the large space shuttle magnet from their fridge, which originally held up a photo of Shuichi, Harukawa, and Momota at their sports festival, Shuichi created a last minute contraption that enabled him to safely retrieve their dorm keys without causing any more distress. 

“Here you go Momota-kun,” Shuichi said while firmly placing them into Momota’s hands.

With his free hand, Momota ruffled Shuichi’s hair, a habit he came to silently resent, that he worked so hard to brush that morning.

“You’re a genius Shuichi, I really don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Shuichi pursed his thin lips, knowing there was not enough time to fix his now unruly hair. Instead, he grabbed for his detective cap and shoved it on his head while departing from their dorm. 

Deep down, Shuichi felt the same about Momota. When he said he was his best friend, Shuichi really meant it. 

“Even though our dorm almost went up in flames once, I feel the same towards you, too, Momota-kun.” 

“Aww come on! How many times have I apologized for that Shuichi?” Momota slapped both hands together in a forgiving notion. 

“Anyways, you won’t believe what I’m about to tell you now, bro.” Momota added. 

“Did something happen yesterday?” Shuichi questioned. 

“Yeah! Listen up, so I was training with Harumaki in the gym, without my best bro,” Kaito added bitterly at the end. 

“I told you I had already made prior plans,” Shuichi said while slightly puffing his cheeks. 

“Anyways,” Kaito ignored his statement, “I’m actually glad you ditched because I asked Harumaki to the formal then.” 

“Huh? I thought it had already been established that you two were going for awhile now?” 

“Shuichi, my guy, my dude, just because we recently started going out doesn’t mean I’m still not going to ask her. It has to be official!” he exclaimed. 

Momota had a point, maybe Harukawa still wasn’t comfortable being in large crowds, even though she had been improving during the past few months.

Shuichi was a bit unsettled at himself for going too, albeit his own uneasiness. 

“So what happened, did Harukawa-san end up saying no?” 

“No, but she didn’t yes either…” Momota trailed off while suddenly, he turned to look at Shuichi straight in the eyes. 

Shuichi’s heartbeat momentarily skipped, slightly concerned with what Momota was going to say next. 

“Harumaki said she will only go to the formal only if you go, Shuichi! So you have to do your big bro a favor here-” Momota ended up sputtering nonsensical sentences. 

“W-wait, Momota-kun before yo-,” Shuichi tried to say, but Momota kept going on his tangent. 

“Shuichi I will absolutely do anything to help find you a date, even if Akamatsu-chan is going with someone else. Maybe I can even get someone from the upper grades-” 

“Momota-kun!” Shuichi shrieked, cutting his best friend off. 

Taking in a deep breath, Shuichi finally composed himself. 

“First of all, I’m older than you. Second of all, I was going to say this eventually, but I already have a ‘date’,” Shuichi said while placing air quotations around the last word. 

Momota, with his mouth gaped open, placed his hands firmly on Shuichi’s shoulders, excessively shaking the smaller boy in place. 

“Holy shit! Are you serious? Because if you are, you don’t know how proud I would be right now, bro.” Momota wiped away an invisible tear while wearing a gratifying smile. 

“Wait, who is it though?” he asked after a pause. 

“Um, I spontaneously asked Kirigiri-senpai during our mall outing yesterday afternoon. Yeah, I’m kinda shocked myself, too.” Shuichi responded. 

Momota spoke no words, rather he couldn’t. Instead, his face rapidly went through a cycle of exaggerated expressions that weren’t humanly possible, ranging from clenched teeth to gouged eyeballs.  

Shuichi didn’t know whether he should be worried or not. 

"Bro...no way. The Kirigiri Kyouko from the year above us? She’s like, way out of our league man.”

“No ‘congratulations’? Ouch, I’m kind of hurt,” Shuichi fake winced.

In actuality, Momota was even more proud of Shuichi, he was just terrible at expressing it at the moment. At first, he saw the detective as a reserved individual who kept within his boundaries, which is why Momota reached out to him in the first place. While his aid and company made Shuichi more outgoing, never did Momota think he would make a first move this soon.  

"Damn, I know Akamatsu-chan was taken, but I was expecting someone from our grade. But wow, the actual Kirigiri Kyouko!" Momota said while slapping Shuichi’s back several times. Poor Shuichi, his body wasn’t up to par today for Kaito’s bulky hands.

"I can’t ask Akamatsu-san, she deserves to be with a worthier guy. She would actually look good with Amami-san over me." 

"Huh? Now this is what I don't understand Shuichi. How do you have the balls to ask Kirigiri-san, the daughter of Hope Peak’s headmaster, but you can't ask your best friend, Akamatsu-chan?"

The tables turned, now Shuichi was the speechless one. Momota did have a point, he spent more time around Akamatsu than Kirigiri. 

“I guess that’s what love does to you, bro,” Momota added.

A blush crept on Shuichi’s cheeks. He couldn’t help it, no matter how much he wanted to deny Momota, he also knew he was right. The sudden splash of color on Shuichi’s pale face made Momota laugh in return. 

“You’re an open book Shuichi, but either way, just know I’m proud of you. Even if we both have dates, I’m stoked to get it down at this party with you. I’ll make sure it’s a night you’ll never forget,” Momota said while gently, much to Shuichi’s surprise, placing one hand on his shoulder.

Shuichi truly appreciated Momota’s efforts he’d been exerting to get his friends out of their personal bubbles. To him, Momota has been the kind of hero he preached about, even if he was dense at times.

“Geez, why does it seem the walk to school takes longer every morning?” Momota said once they reached the front of Hope's Peak Academy. As they were walking to their shoe locker, Shuichi spotted two familiar girls passing by, one he knew especially well.

It was none other than Akamatsu Kaede, the Ultimate Pianist, walking alongside Ultimate Musician, Mioda Ibuki. They were separated by two grades, but that didn’t prevent them from coming into contact as they both share a great passion for the music they performed.

Shuichi, unawarely, locked his eyes onto Akamatsu’s radiating smile, wondering if she was talking about the piano recital she had last week. Or maybe a new song she was composing. Whatever the subject was, it brought out a sensation of warmth which reminded Shuichi of fresh-baked pastries.

“Hellooo?” 

Shuichi’s thoughts were interrupted with the familiar bulky hand he unfortunately came to grudge now. “Earth to Shuichi, you good bro?” Momota innocently asked. 

“Y-yeah! Just thinking about a new case I got from uncle’s office.”

If there was one thing Shuichi was terrible at, it had to be lying. He was definitely no Kokichi Ouma, and sometimes Shuichi was envious as to how easily he could lie. 

“Uh huh, sure,” Momota said while eyeing the faint sight of Akamatsu and Mioda as they turned to walk towards the direction of their respective classrooms.

Shuichi thought it wasn’t even worth denying at that point, as his earlier blush was currently tracing its way back on his cheeks.

“I love how easily smitten you are Shuichi. Anyways, while you were staring at your sun, I finished my business here. I’ll go meet you in the classroom in a bit!” Momota exclaimed.

“Sorry for being distracted, but that’s fine with me Momota-kun.”

“See ya Shuichi!” he waved off.

With Momota gone now, Shuichi knelt down to finally open his locker. However, he couldn’t get Akamatsu’s smile out of his head and it made him start craving for home-baked goods. 

To Shuichi’s dismay, he didn’t know how soon they would come to him. 

It took one singular sniff, and it hit him. A wave of sweetness was wafted in Shuichi’s direction. The scent of raw sugar and processed glaze tickled the cilia embedded in his nose, triggering Shuichi’s sensitive olfactory organs.

The smell steadily grew more pungent until he could physically feel crumbs piling upon themselves a few inches away from Shuichi. 

This mysterious figure’s presence didn’t budge an inch as Shuchi was changing his shoes. “Maybe they wanted access to their locker that I might be blocking?” Shuichi thought to himself.

He turned around in order to offer this person space to their locker, but that’s when Shuichi stopped in motion. He should have expected them, he really should have. And now they were standing in front of him with only a donut hanging from their mouth. The sight may seem adorable from a distance, even to a different person, but within their eyes up-close, there were feelings far more intimidating. 


Students were trickling into the classrooms on the first floor. Among the growing crowd, there was a certain blonde girl whose top half was sprawled on top of her desk. Both of her arms were forward and her hair pooled in front of her face, blocking her vision. Her cheek came into contact with the cold, wooden desk as she turned around to face her classmate behind her. She was obviously not in her prime state now, as the guy behind her showed great concern on his face.

“Hey Akamatsu-san, you good?”

“Yep, I’m clearly great,” Kaede groaned with dread. She picked several strands of her hair and started twirling them around her fingers. 

“Do I even have to ask?” 

“Sure, enlighten me with whatever you haven’t said, Amami-kun.” Amami disliked being unfavorably disposed to Kaede’s rare moments of spite. 

“Look, is this still about Saihara-san?” he asked instead. 

At that moment, Kaede looked like she was about to burst into crocodile tears. Rantaro ever did wonder who she picked that up from as the image of a purple gremlin flashed across his memory. 

“We were supposed to go togetherrrr,” Kaede whined. “I love you Amami-kun, I really do, but-” 

“Then you should have directly asked him yourself, instead of coaxing him to make him ask you. Now look where we are,” Amami cut her off. 

“Buuuut, I thought you asking me in front of him would be able to spark his brave side!” she continued to complain. 

“Akamatsu-san, why would your best friend try to homewreck, yet even ask you in a public place? Are you sure we know the same Saihara-san? The meek, soft-spoken detective? No offense.”

Kaede knew. She knew all along that Saihara wouldn’t have stopped Amami-kun from inviting her in public. But deep down in her heart, there was an ounce of hope that made Kaede believe he would have done that. 

“You should have stopped me Amami-kuuuuuuuuuuun!” Kaede’s tone was slowly getting louder, and carping. Even the red-head mage sitting in front of her, who usually minded her own business and napped in class, turned her head around to check up on the pianist. Amami quickly dismissed her, informing Yumeno that Kaede was, somewhat, okay. 

“I did try to stop you,” Amami snapped back, his attention back to the blonde. 

“Well you should have tried harder! I bet Saihara-kun thinks we like each other now,” Kaede cried out before face planting her desk once more. 

“That’s not my problem I haven’t come out to anyone else except for you,” Amami grumbled underneath his breath. 

“Now he probably won’t even go.”

“Why not? There’s no rule stopping anyone from going by themselves.” 

The hair that was once pooling on Kaede’s desk whipped around like wheat stalks in a windy field as she quickly raised her head to make direct eye contact with Amami. She didn’t even have to say anything for Amami to get the hint. 

Ah yes, these kinds of events were never up Saihara’s lane. 

Before pressing on the issue further, the 8 A.M bell echoed throughout the classrooms, meaning it was time for class to begin. Ignoring Ouma’s attempt of pranking Gokuhara, Amami looked towards his left, seeing Saihara sit in his designated seat next to Harukawa-san and Momota-san. He was completely focused on their homeroom teacher talking. If Saihara had entered the classroom any earlier, he would have witnessed his best friend’s mini-meltdown. But right now, he was completely immune to her presence, immersed into whatever has been going on in his head. 

Could he be upset?


Standing right in front of Shuichi was the one and only Ultimate Swimmer, Aoi Asahina. For Shuichi, she was well known as Kirigiri’s best friend after Naegi. 

Was Shuichi in trouble?

After taking a bite out of her donut, Asahina spoke with a full mouth.

“I’m going to cut straight to the point here. I saw you with Kyouko-chan at the mall yesterday. What’s up?”

It’s not that Shuichi was hiding his friendship with Kirigiri, but he felt exposed and bare at that moment. Usually it would be the detectives to catch someone red-handed, but now he was the one under interrogation. 

“We’re just friends?”

Shuichi did not sound convincing enough because Asahina was not buying his words.

“Yeah that’s what they all say at first buddy, that excuse isn’t working on me,” Asahina said while taking a step forward and jabbed her index finger on his forehead. Shuichi flinched from the sudden contact and took one step back himself. 

She took a closer look at Shuichi’s face, panic slowly crept across it. In the same instance, a lightbulb went out in her head. 

“Oh! Aren’t you the other Ultimate Detective? Woah your bottom lashes are so long.” 

Shuichi rapidly nodded his head just so she could back off as quickly as possible, and so she did. 

“That explains a lot! Sorry about that,” Asahina apologetically said. 

Shuichi casually dusted off his shoulders in an attempt to resituate himself and exhaled the last bit of anxiety remaining in his body. 

“Like I said before, we’re just friends who happen to work in the same field.”

“Yes! Kyouko-chan has mentioned you a bit before, I just hadn’t connected the dots. I can’t believe I get to meet you in person now!” 

Asahina began rambling about what Kirigiri had told him, And Shuichi felt slightly overwhelmed by the information bomb. It already meant a lot to him that Kirigiri would even mention himself to her friends, but having actual conversations? He was shocked. 

The jubilant swimmer got distracted by the topic of conversation and goes on a tangent about how Kyouko wouldn’t try double fudge sprinkled cinnamon donuts with her. There were definitely more condiments in there, but Asahina spoke too fast for them to register in Shuichi’s memory. 

Every few minutes, for just a few seconds, Shuichi glanced over to the end of the hallway, checking if Akamatsu was still there. Her visual cues would have been able to ease Shuichi’s nerves.

Asahina eventually caught onto his habit and turned around in order to see for herself what had enraptured the boy. 

The two musicians were still standing at the edge of the hallway by the staircase, exchanging enamoring laughs every so and then. 

“No way!” Asahina cut herself off. 

“Huh?”

“Which one is it?” Asahina asked with a cheeky grin. 

“P-pardon me?” 

Shuichi didn’t expect the donut lover to catch onto his trail, at least not this quick. 

“Hm you don’t strike me as the wild type, and Akamatsu is in your class. It’s definitely her!”

If Shuichi’s prior blushes went unnoticeable, there was no way this one could be overlooked. In an attempt to cover his embarrassment, Shuichi pulled down his detective cap in order to conceal his face, but he simply couldn’t hide the red glow that came over his face. 

“So what?” was all Shuichi was able to say.

“Aww! You guys would be so cute together!” Asahina gushed. 

Shuichi would have been appreciative if not just a few minutes ago, this upperclassman was about to murder him on spot for thinking he had ulterior motives for Kyouko. 

“Thank you.”

“This actually makes things so much better! Listen up here, uh—” 

“Saihara Shuichi.”

“—Saihara-kun! I have a small request.”

“I’m not sure if I should be helping out a stranger…”

“Hey hey hey! Why are you treating me as if I was some guy pulling up to you in a white van. We’re both students under Hope’s Peak, and we both have something in common.”

“Being friends with Kirigiri-senpai?”

“Duh! And don’t you want to help her?”

“Of course I would want to, but why now? Is she in trouble?”

“No of course not! But something has been troubling her and I wanted to cheer her up. But before that, you’re going to the formal with Akamatsu-chan, Saihara-kun?”

“N-no,” unfortunately being shoved in front of Shuichi’s face again. “I’m going with Kirigiri-senpai.”

“Okay per—WAIT WHAT!?”

Ah, it would be safe for Shuichi to assume that Kirigiri hadn’t informed any of her friends about that, judging from Asahina’s reaction. 

He didn’t want to bring much attention to that detail, because then he would start overthinking his decisions again, so instead he displayed a nervous smile with the ends of his lips slowly twitching. 

“I— actually no, that might be even better.”

“Pardon?”

“You’ll be the one closest to Kyoko-chan, which means you have to be part of my plan now!”

“You keep mentioning this plan, but nothing about what it entails.”

“Okay, okay. Let me backtrack. How did you even ask Kyoko-chan? And I mean, you out of all people?—” Asahina quickly cupped her mouth with both hands, realizing how offensive that sentence sounded. 

“Er, I found this dress yesterday while we were window shopping, and it was the perfect fit for her, especially at an event like the upcoming formal. But, she told me she wasn’t going because she didn’t have a ‘date.’ And so, I simply offered. It wasn’t a big deal, really.”

The swimmer then smacked her forehead with the palm of her hand, remaining in that position while grumbling unrecognizable words under her breath. Shuichi only caught a “stupid Naegi-kun,” which piqued his interest.

“What happened with Naegi-san?” he asked.

“That idiot of my friend was supposed to ask Kyouko-chan, she and everyone else had been anticipating it. But that darn idol invited Naegi-kun as ‘just a friend’ Seriously? ‘Friend’? There were clearly deeper motives!” Asahina scoffed. 

Shuichi had no idea that was going on beforehand, and now he almost felt guilty for forcing Kirigiri to attend such an event.

“I see. So all you want me to do is not take Kirigiri-senpai anymore? Fine with m—“

“No no no, you’ll still take her, you have to Saihara-kun. What I want you to do instead is help me get Kyouko-chan with Naegi-kun by the end of the night.”

“Oh,” was all Shuichi could say. 

It wasn’t out of disappointment, though.

“In return, I’ll help ya get some time with your sweet Akamatsu-chan on the dance floor!” Asahina added.

Now, Shuichi didn’t fall for bribes, but this was almost extremely tempting.


“And that’s all you have to do,” Asahina said, hoping her words were able to convince Shuichi to donate his altruism for just this one occassion. 

Shuichi was reluctant at first because he respected Naegi and he didn’t want to potentially ruin his or Kirigiri's night, but eventually he gave in. Even the smallest opportunity of being able to dance with Akamatsu during a moon-lit night was not something Shuichi could easily overlook. But also, he wanted to help cheer Kirigiri up after all she had done for him. 

“Okay, okay. I’ll do it,” Shuichi accepted. 

Asahina outstretched her hand, “Shall we seal our deal with a handshake?”

Shuichi, who wasn’t fond of making skin to skin contact with people he barely knew, firmly shook the swimmer’s hand this time.

All the thoughts swarming in Shuichi’s head now deal with concocting strategies to get Kirigiri as close to Naegi as possible without her knowing. 

Unbeknownst to the both of them, they hadn’t picked up on the lurking presence behind the lockers a few feet away from them. 

They leaned back against the shoe locker, one leg propped up with their arms were crossed. Their hair dug into the locker, purple strands blending into the dark blue. 

“What an interesting arrangement,” they thought. 

It was Shuichi that walked away from Asahina first, leaving her with her half-eaten donut. With the coast clear now, the hidden figure started snickering. 

The donut, which was now quarter-sized, hung in Asahina’s mouth, frozen as she picked up the eerie noises. 

“Class should be starting in a minute, why was someone still in the hallway?” she thought. 

A simple tap was what set Asahina off, as a slight change of pressure on her shoulders caused her to lurch forward, causing the donut to drop from her mouth. It pitter-pattered against the floor several times until the sticky side of the glazed donut adhered to the edge of a locker. 

“Aw man, did you have to drop the poor donut?” 

This voice was familiar, and not in a good way. Asahina turned around to see a person she honestly never wanted to speak one on one before. Their ominous wide smirk paired with their wild purple locks only meant trouble for the poor girl, who was already so behind schedule. His eyes, which crinkled at the corners, may have seemed harmless from a distance, but up close, they only spelled trouble.

“You are Asahina-chan, right?” he added since Asahina was too struck to respond. 

“H-how do you know my name? I don’t think we have ever spoken to each other.” Asahina asked.

“We’re speaking to one another right now! How cool is that? And that my friend is a se-cret,” he enunciated each syllable while raising his right index finger to his lips.

Asahina cringed when he had called her “his friend,” but even more so felt threatened with each second that past. At this rate, she was going to be late to class. 

“The Ultimate Supreme Leader out of all people to come across now? Seriously?” she thought. 

She heard the rumors about this kid, and to sum up her feelings, let’s just say she would rather have a conversation with Hifumi than him. 

“Okay, what do you want from me? And make it quick, we’ll both be late.”

“That’s no problem for me, I skip class aaaall the time,” he trailed off. 

“I’m not you though!” Asahina cried.

“Do you even know my name, Asahina-chan?” the boy asked while boring his puppy eyes into Asahina’s.

To be honest, she never did pick up on his name as most people called him a plethora of nicknames, most notably “gremlin, rat bastard, and spawn of the devil.”

“No.” Asahina simply said. She didn’t want to tempt him into beating around the bush, so she was going to be as straightforward as possible. 

Ouma, who was obviously faking it, was hurt by her reaction. 

“Bow down to me you mere peasant because I’m about to grace you with the most important factoid!” It was unnatural to see such a guy of short stature act so condescending to Asahina, who was much taller than him. 

But to not waste anymore time, Asahina would have to play along with his shenanigans.

“What is thou name, my good sir,” Asahina said while chivalry bowing down, head facing the ground to avoid showing her holding back from her laughter. 

“Now that’s more like it! I’ll only say this once so keep your ears wide open. Ou-ma Ko-ki-chi,” he enunciated every syllable once again.

The moment Ouma said his name, Asahina sprung back to her proper posture, brushing off her knees as of hearing the supreme leader’s name had stained them.

“Okay now that’s done and over with, Ouma-kun —“ her teeth gritted especially on his name, what do you want now?”

“Since you’ve been so obedient these past few minutes Asahina-chan, I’ll get straight to the point.”

Thank goodness.

“I heard EVERYTHING you and Saihara-chan said.”

“Yeah no wonder, Captain Obvious. What do you want now that you know?”

”According to the king’s decree, you have to let me in on your plan!”

“And who’s the king?”

“Well me of course! You’ve been addressing me by my name for awhile now, Captain Obvious.”

“I don’t think being named ‘king of horses’ is something to take pride in.”

“Geez why are you such a party pooper Asahina-chan? I just want to help my best friend, Saihara-chan.” Ouma said with tears now brimming at the corners of his eyes.

So these are the famous crocodile tears, huh.

”You? The best friend of Saihara-kun’s?”

”No, I clearly meant Michael Jackson,” his voice dripped with sarcasm, “Of COURSE I meant Saihara-chan!”

”Ok but, if you say you’re best friends with him, then why were you eavesdropping? Seems like you didn’t want him to be aware you were nearby.”

”Because I obviously wanted to surprise him, duh! Don’t you want to surprise your best friend from time to time?”

”Um, sure.”

Asahina had heard the rumors about Ouma, and she was fairly familiar with the kinds of surprises he had done among the student, and teacher body in the past. There was no way she could trust him now, especially if Kyouko’s night was at stake here. 

”No, I don’t trust you.”

”Ehh, why not?”

”I don’t know you, and this doesn’t involve you. Just Saihara-kun and Kyouko-chan. Now buzz off, I’m not changing my mind.”

”What a waste of time ,” Asahina grumbled under her breath.

”I thought you would have heard about the rumors about me, but I guess you’re too thick-headed from all that gluten you intake.”

Asahina’s nerves were pulsating and her patience was getting low. If it were humanly possible, there would be steam flowing out from her ears. 

“I am very well aware” she said while gritting her teeth.

“Then you should know what I’m capable of!”

“Look, you filling my backpack and locker with donuts isn’t going to scare me, yet even budge me to change my mind.”

Ouma started snickering again, soon warping into a full on villain laugh.

Why were there no security guards around? Yikes. 

“That’s all you’ve heard?” Ouma said in between his chortles while pretending to wipe away his crocodile tears from his fingers. 

“Let me enlighten you about DICE,” he added. 

It would have passed as unnoticeable if Asahina were in a more relaxed mood, but Ouma’s tone became slightly more, chilling.


The classroom bell reverberated through the classrooms and hallways once more, signifying that it was time for lunch. 

Kyouko was, surprisingly, rushing to write down the last few concluding sentences of her assignment before handing her classwork in. Usually, she was on task by finishing 5 minutes ahead of everyone else, but today, she was distracted. 

Asahina had walked in 20 minutes late, this was very unusual for the Ultimate Swimmer who had always been on time, even during weekend hangouts. Not only that, but she entered the classroom looking as if she had been traumatized by a ghost. 

After tidying her desk materials and placing them into her bag, Kyouko approached Asahina’s desk with a worried expression. 

“Are you alright Asahina-san?” Kyouko asked. 

Kyouko’s question triggered Asahina to snap out of her daze with a small yelp. Both girls looked down at Asahina’s classwork sheet. 

Her answers were, to be blunt, half-assed. The latter questions were not even complete. 

“Oh man, I ran out of time!” Asahina said in a panic, completely glancing over her friend’s question.

“Aoi.”

“Wait who’s calling m- Kyouko chan?!” Asahina gasped. 

“You’re not paying attention in class and your worksheet isn’t even complete, is something wrong?” Kyouko asked, now having Asahina’s full attention. 

“Oh you see,” she nervously rolled back her eyes while twiddling her fingers together, “I stayed up marathoning Gossip Girl and I totally haven’t gotten any sleep.” 

Asahina stretched both arms back as far as she could while exhaling the most exaggerated yawn. 

“Did you suddenly forget what my profession is? You’re obviously lying now.” Kirigiri retorted. 

The girl caught red-handed had nothing more to say. Her eyes were averted to her right as she itched her cheek while putting on a nervous smile. 

“Look, I can convince our teacher to give you an extension on your classwork. In the meanwhile, you can join me and Saihara-kun for lunch if you want to talk things out? I'm curious to know what has you so spooked,” the detective said.

“Oh thank you so much Kyouko-chan, you’re a lifesaver! But, I already have plans for today!”

Before Kyouko could further interrogate her, Asahina had already leapt out from her chair, grabbed her bag, and sprinted out the door, leaving the confused detective with a rushed goodbye. 

Kyouko tilted her head in confusion, wondering what had happened to her best friend since yesterday afterschool. But, no matter how many simulations went on in her head, all the routes and detours lead to a dead end.  

No one approached the detective while she briskly clicked down the linoleum floor hallways to the cafeteria. Actually, it was more so that they were afraid to. Her face had been so focused, that her eyes pierced through anyone’s dignity as Kyouko snatched a glance from them. Kazuichi had almost fainted on the spot from the intensity of her pale, owl-like eyes. 

Kirigiri’s frustration wasn’t out of spite though, she was genuinely concerned for Asahina — even hoping she would see her on the way to the cafeteria. However, her hope was to no avail. 

If only she was more lucky.

Luck. 

The image of a certain male brunette who sat no less than a few seats behind Kyouko in class flashed across her mind. While only lasting for a few seconds, those few seconds were slow, yet fleeting. 

This was not the time to be thinking of him, there were more relevant issues at hand rather than Kyouko’s selfish needs. 

She snapped out of her trance once she gently pushed open the double doors, revealing a warm smile that greeted her underneath that iconic hat. 

Saihara was sitting at an empty square table with room for three other people. Kyouko was rather surprised that he was okay with drawing attention to himself, especially in the spacious cafeteria. Usually, he would blend in with the louder crowd led by his boisterous purple haired friend. But now, he stuck out like a sore thumb, being even more noticeable as Kyouko joined up to sit next to him. 

To an average person engaged in conversation, they would have dismissed the countless whispering as background noise, but to a perceptive detective like Kyouko, she heard every little jab.

They’re friends?”

“Does Naegicchi know?”

These words struck a nerve for Kyouko, being fully aware that they came out of that idiot fortune teller’s mouth.

“Woah, I never thought the headmaster’s daughter would give the inferior ultimate detective any time of the day”

“Lesser detective”

Those two words and any other variation of it kept being flung around the cafeteria, as if this was a game of hot potato. 

“Why couldn’t people mind their own business?” Kyouko thought. Was it obligatory to be open about all your friendships in order to satisfy the public eye?

Luckily for both Kyouko and Saihara, neither Naegi nor Akamatsu were in the cafeteria. 

Maybe that were for the best. 

However, there had been a more threatening presence surrounding the two detectives, who did more than just observe and throw baseless rumors.

“Here we go again,” Saihara sighed.

The same figure who bribed Asahina, that Kyouko was unaware of, was already on his move. He was trying to be discreet— emphasis on trying— and casually walked by Kyouko and her accompaniment. She had her eyes locked onto his small frame, but he paid her no attention as Ouma eventually leaned on one of the cafeteria columns, idling on his phone for an uncomfortably long amount of time.  

Kyouko and Saihara just remained sitting at their table in silence, eating their lunch, hoping that Ouma would eventually get bored of them. Nevertheless, he didn’t budge an inch from that column.

To break the awkward atmosphere, Saihara was the one that spoke up first.

“What do you want, Ouma-kun?”

Taking this as an open invitation, Ouma nonchalantly slid into one of the empty seats at their lunch table. 

“Woah! The superior Ultimate Detective and Saihara-chan having lunch together, what a surprise,” Ouma gaped in awe as he set down his phone on the table.

“You’re as funny as ever, Ouma-kun.” Kyouko caught Saihara rolling his eyes back, mentally agreeing with him. 

“Hey so, what brought this on? I’m sure everyone else is dying to know, too,” Ouma said, ignoring Saihara’s sarcastic comment.

“It’s none of yours, and none of their business either,” Kyouko intervened, saying the last part a little louder. Everyone in the cafeteria caught her sharper tone and went back to talking about their own daily lives. Hagakure whistled casually, as if Kyouko didn’t catch him of being guilty. Idiot.

“But you guys should tell me, though,” Ouma said with a cheeky grin, his chin rested upon his hands crossed, “Saihara-chan invited me, after all.”

Saihara merely glowered at Ouma, his eyes saying “No, I did not.”

Neither Kyouko nor Saihara budge into giving Ouma information, as it would only bring upon more trouble, so the Ultimate Supreme Leader decided to change tactics.

“Boo, you two are no fun. You’re probably not going to the formal because it’s too “bo-ring” for your taste.”

“Who says we aren’t?” Kyouko said while sipping her chilled green tea, unconcerned.

“Oh my god! So you two are going together! What a twist,” Ouma exaggerated.

“It isn’t that big of a deal, Ouma-kun,” Shuichi said, mentally rolling his eyes once more.

“I didn’t know you had secret kahoots for Kirigiri-chan here. I always thought you were head over heels for A—“

At that split second, Shuichi slammed down his drink, his eyes became darker, as noted by Kyouko. Now how will Ouma said himself?

“—The absolutely dashing prince that is myself”

“I’m quite surprised you’re intimidated by Saihara-kun out of all people,” Kyouko stated.

“I just care about my best friend’s privacy, that’s all Ms. Detective. I can’t let anyone else know Saihara-chan’s secrets.”

“I think you’d be the first person that Saihara-kun wouldn’t ever tell a secret to,” Kyouko said with Saihara silently nodded in agreeance. 

“On the topic of the formal though, I have to admit I’m curious as to who your accompaniment is, Ouma-kun,” Kyouko added.

“That’s a secret, I’m not saying!”

“Well, that’s not a fair exchange is it,” Kyouko prodded.

“Life ain’t fair, get over it losers.” 

Kyouko wondered why the sudden shift in mood in Ouma. Perhaps the topic of his own date didn’t even exist in the first place. Her own curiosity was fueled, aching to know Ouma’s blind spot, and therefore seeked to push more of his buttons.

Kyouko was also, just a tiny bit, fed up with Ouma’s clownery at that point.

“Based off my past observations on you, your only legitimate friend in Hope’s Peak is the Ultimate Robot.”

Some students in the background went “Ooooh” in response to Kyouko’s sick burn.

Ouma, who was slightly caught off guard on the inside, wouldn’t allow himself to walk into Kyouko’s words, so he acted calm and unphased with no trouble. After all, he was the school’s best liar.

“Why would I befriend the losers at this pathetic academy, besides Saihara-chan of course!” Ouma nudged Saihara’s shoulders, Kyouko’s underling was not having it.

“Anyways,” Ouma turned back towards Kyouko, making direct eye contact with her, “My real friends are in my super secret organization, and you’re not cool enough to be invited, Ms. Detective.”

“What about Saihara-kun?”

“Saihara-chan keeps refusing my invitation!”

“I don’t blame him.” Kyouko nodded at Saihara, who was just silently sipping his juice box.

“That’s not the point!” Ouma retorted back, “I’m saying you’ll never be invited to the cool kids club.”

“Ouma-kun, I’ve been in the investigative field since middle school, and never in my detective career have I come across your organization,” Kyouko said.

“Of course you wouldn’t, we’re allergic to the Kirigiris” Ouma mockingly pinched his nose.

“Not to interject but, neither have I, Ouma-kun, and you’re well aware of this,” Saihara said after releasing his mouth from the final suck of his straw.

At that moment, the dark screen of Ouma’s phone lit up. Too far away from Kyouko’s vision, she could only glimpse a blurred text message notification as Ouma quickly snatched the device into his hands. 

“Oh look at the time, I have to go back to my secret organization duties.”

The timing was too perfect for this to be a mere coincidence, but Kyouko didn’t further implore as Ouma was finally leaving their table.

“I guess the next time I’ll see you two together will be at the formal, with my date. ” Ouma put great emphasis on that last word as he began walking away.

Both Kyouko and Saihara simultaneously sighed out of relief to be out of the clutches from the purple gremlin. 

“That was quite the exhausting exchange.”

“And I have to deal with that everyday in the classroom,” Saihara said with eyes closed.

“I already pitied you from the moment I found out you were associated with him.”

“He’s tolerable at some times.”

Kyouko couldn’t imagine.

“Anyways, back to our original purpose for having this lunch arrangement, let’s coordinate our plans prior to the formal so the whole evening will be smooth.” Kyouko smiled with reassurance.

Saihara, who was more relaxed at that point, began listening to Kyouko with ease for the rest of their lunch period.