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The AU Where the Weenie Lives

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PROLOGUE: START

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By the time he actually got to his bedroom door, it was like he could hear the mattress just calling his name and beckoning him to draw nearer.

And once inside, he just let momentum take him into it face first, causing his body to bounce slightly while burying his face into the huge, fluffy pillow. It muffled the low, frustrated groan as his throbbing brain currently suffering from a headache tried to ignore the fatigue and soreness of his muscles.

Gawd….. damn.

The young man ended up laying that way on his bed for quite some time. Today had been a massive dumpster fire from the get-go. Actually, this whole week had been a total disaster, and he was not feeling it. But today specifically sucked hard. Like the biggest suckage that ever could’ve sucked.

Just total mega suckage.

Why, you might ask? Well… let’s go back and try to elaborate.

You see, Leon Kuwata, a high school student from LL Academy, had made quite a name for himself. This young man was exceptionally gifted in the sport of baseball. Even going back to a young age, his skill in the sport always made him the center of attention. He was an exceptional batter, almost every time being able to knock it out of the park for a home run or get some type of hit. Honestly, he couldn’t remember the last time he struck out… or if he did at all. And it wasn’t just batting he excelled in. On the mound, his pitching could not be beaten. With godlike throwing power mixed with a great aim into his arm, any kind of pitch was just plain unfair to face against. Whether it be his tricky curveball, his unreadable slowball, or his infamous pitch that no batter has ever been able to hit: his fastball, it didn’t matter. As far as he was concerned, no one can touch him.

So… yeah, about that?

There was just one little problem.

He. Hates. Baseball.

We’re not talking like ‘Oh, just a mild annoyance’ or ‘nah, would rather do something else.’

We’re talking like ‘I’m gonna deck you in the face if you try to make me do this again’ levels of hatred.

Dating as far back as he can possibly remember, he was outside on a pitcher’s mound under a hot baking sun throwing a stupid tiny ball to a clearly weaker sports-playing kid who less than ten percent of the time would be able to hit the damn thing. Or he’d be sitting in a dugout with wet, sweat-drenched kids pressing against either side of him as his nose was assaulted by multiple human bodies not having the concept of putting on appropriate deodorant or body spray and thus reeking. Ugh, even as a kid, he hated hot weather and body odor. I mean, who doesn't?

Whenever he wasn’t playing baseball games, whether it was school or something else, his dad, despite being a single parent and having a busy work life, would regularly set up a time to have Leon practice his arm with an old-time game of catch. The fiery teenager wouldn’t deny that there were times where his younger self… and perhaps occasionally his present self, would groan and complain about this. His dad wouldn’t buy the truth of how he didn’t need to practice; his baseball skills were already superb and untouchable as they were. But now at the age of 17, he would realize it was a way for him to hang out with his son, and he could at least respect that.

That doesn’t mean he’s happy to do things related to baseball, but… Leon isn’t that heartless. He can sacrifice a few minutes of his time to throw a ball around with his old man to make him happy.

But despite this fact, the game of baseball was becoming a major waste of time-

Actually, no; metal shackles weighing him down would be more of the right thing to describe this shit.

He especially regretted his dad choosing LL Academy as where he went to school, too.

The older he got, it’s like his teammates, the coaching staff, the teachers- hell, everybody seemed to take an issue with how Leon looked like or what he wanted to do. Baseball was already grating on his nerves enough, but now, he was seriously getting annoyed to hell and beyond.

Always had to show up to practice, or faced getting haggled by his team and coaches. The said coaches being even more strict than the previous ones he had. Always ending up covered in dirt and guck, and feeling disgusting as sweat dripped off of his face. The mandatory team meetings on his days off from school while he could be doing other things.

You know… like having fun and crap?

But the biggest thing that really got under his skin the most was the fact that he was forced-

Not asked!

He was forced to shave his entire head and face, just because it’s ‘tradition’.

Son... of a bitch.

Leon wanted to die, having to spend those school days walking around with his hair looking like a dyed q-tip for all the students to see. Maybe this whacked-out, awful-looking, overdone buzzcut look was someone’s style, but gawddamn it, it was not his!!

It was like everyone around him in LL Academy was trying to condition him to go onto a path that led his life to the major leagues of baseball. Like it was the only thing he was allowed to do in school and once graduated from school. Sure, he was really talented at the damn sport, but that doesn’t mean he wants to do that for the rest of his life. That’s dumb and stupid! He had a choice, damn it! The only things that kept him from going nutzoid and being miserable were his father, despite playing games of catch, and his cousin, Kanon Nakajima, who not only was more of a little sister to him, but had managed to become the team manager and do her best to make it less unbearable whenever she could. Those two deserve medals and stuff.

Well, a few months ago, it was a Saturday. And while his hair was still short enough to please the team, Leon decided to get it styled somewhat, so he didn’t look like a total bozo. So, getting a major break on a weekend where there was no scheduled meeting, the star player decided to wander through the city for a reasonably affordable, but good quality hair salon. And he lucked out and found one, a few blocks from his school.

And whoa….. That girl.

One of the girls who were working there…. HOT DAMN.

Okay, her face was kinda good, and that blond hair and green eyes really helped it out, but THOSE CURVES, MAN… Holy shit, she was smokin’ with that bod!!

He could feel his world just stop as he found himself lowkey smiling.

All right, all right, all right.. Play it cool, dude. Be natural. Be yourself…

Leon strolled right up to her and asked if she could help him style the disaster of his hair. Just his luck, she said she could! And it was like chemistry, you know? He played it cool and the two had a great back-and-forth conversation, sharing a few laughs and generally hitting it off, as far as he was concerned. And man, was she good at this shit. The q-tip looked much better, as she had gotten his hair to somewhat flow backwards and spike that way. It wasn’t bad; he loved it!

But the one thing she did… it changed his life completely. All with one question.

“So, like.. What kinda girls are you into?”

“Huh? Oh, uh…”

Well, in truth, outside of baseball, he had dated quite a few girls at the current time, but… now that the question had been asked…

He really loved pure-hearted girls the most, but… it’d be totally uncool for him to say that, yeah? So, time to improvise.

“I’m not sure. I’ve only dated a few people, so I can’t really say who my soulmate is, y’know?” he answered, looking to her via the mirror’s reflection, “What about you?”

The girl grinned confidently, adjusting her grip on her comb and scissors.

“Oh, I totally know who I want. It’s gotta be a musician, for sure! The leader of a band is the hottest guy, who has an incredible voice and good taste in fashion.”

Leon raised his eyebrows at that, slowly starting to smile as he replied, “Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah, totally!” the girl said, going back to finishing up the touches to his hair, “A person who can make awesome music that gets me going, is hot and funny, has awesome clothes… it’s like every girl’s dream guy!”

“Yeah… You’re right…”

Only a little while later did she finished, and Leon felt more comfortable with how he looked to people. He proceeded to pay the girl for styling his hair and left. But after closing the door to the hair salon, the young man stopped a few steps outside of the hair salon and really thought about it.

Yeah… yeah, that was it!

That was totally it!

Being a musician! That’s what he wanted to do with his life!

After all, one of Leon’s biggest passions was music. The world wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for great artists making awesome songs to jam to and brighten up your day. And specifically for him, the genre of punk was a great style. The Damned, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Blink-182, and some of Relient K’s earlier songs were some of his favorites, and he loved how awesome it sounded.

So why not be like them?

No, be even better?

Looking down at his hand, he could feel his brand new drive and excitement overtake him as he nearly was bouncing with each step, a newly found spring in it.

Without any hesitation, he marched to both Kanon and his father and stated he was done with baseball. The look of shock on their faces was apparent, but thank God or whatever was watching out over him he had an understanding parent and cousin. Kanon was slightly saddened about this, but with the promise of still playing catch every now and then offered, as well as spending more time with her, she smiled and was willing to let him decide to leave baseball. After being explained to about what this could mean and the possible repercussions of quitting, both Leon and his father made a visit to the sports department of LL Academy.

Being sadistic was never a defining trait in his nature, but even the baseball star couldn’t deny that the look of absolute bewilderment turned to horror was slightly satisfying when his old man backed him up. There’s no way they’d be so pushy and demanding like they had been with his dad right there in the room.

Word spread around LL Academy fast the next day; after another successful, nearly undefeated season of baseball, Leon Kuwata wanted no part of it anymore. And man, did the begging and the persistent desperation of the coaches and teachers get worse. But, nothing was changing his mind! He was finally free, and now he knew what his dream was gonna be!

And if that dream is to become a musician, it was time to look the part.

Over the next few months, Leon Kuwata would undergo a massive overall transformation.

Finally able to grow his hair out, the young man was diligent in keeping it up in tip-top shape. Tons of hair spray, combing, and various other things slowly managed to give him this awesome spiky look that flowed backwards and down. It looked badass, but… with his current natural hair color, it seemed not as good as it could be. That is… until he went back to the hair salon (luckily when that girl wasn’t there, so he wouldn’t look desperate or anything) and asked for some advice. One of the other workers there offered a hair dye, which turned his color into this blazing reddish-orange.

Now that looked awesome!!

The same salon also helped style his facial hair, giving this cool length to him and even offering this silver, metal-looking bead to funnel the new goatee through and keep it straight. It was so sick to be allowed to grow some facial hair after so long!

With his hair done and dying his goatee and eyebrows the same color, the next step was some piercings.

And the hair salon came to the rescue again. They gave him the directions to a really good place that did piercings. And man, was the guy there good! Even gave him a slight discount when Leon told him where he heard about him.

Now… the piercings hurt like hell. So much to where his shoulders scrunched up in shock at first, and ended up making the guy have to pause for a second to stop laughing his head off. Damn, dude, just mega embarrassing. But it was a success! He first got a labret one, which wasn’t as bad as he thought it’d look. Over the course of the next few weeks, he worked on getting up to six earrings onto his right ear, before going for the big one; a metal one on his tongue.

Of course, he had to avoid talking for a long time, so he didn’t sound like a total idiot from the swollen tongue, but it was worth it!!

Okay, time for step three: Clothing!

He’d never rat out the person, but let’s just say Leon had a buddy of his help take one of his LL Academy blazer jackets and give it this awesome punk rock-styled popped collar, with a studded top to it at that. Sporting his new item of clothing, he ventured to the local mall and browsed for anything worth his interest. A local jewelry store had a sale on some silver rings, so of course he had to get them. Swinging by a nearby ‘edgy’ clothes store, he fell in love with this freakin’ badass white shirt that had this red grunge design of a skull being punctured and stuff!

He wondered if maybe he could contact the designer in the future to use this for his future band’s official image…

By the end of the day, he had not only those, but a brand new pair of dark blackish-blue jeans, several studded belts, this big safety pin, and a padlocked chain necklace. That wasn’t even counting the custom-ordered platform sneakers that he found online that were going to come within a few days!

Now all he needed to do was save up for a guitar, get some lessons, find some people to be a band, more people to write some music, and his dream was totally comin’ to life!!

With all this explained, you might be asking then:

Why is the new punk rocker-looking Leon Kuwata currently facedown in his pillow and feeling like this week sucked hardcore, to the point where he was debating taking a nap?

Ahh, yes.

Well, that’d be not only because his patience was wearing thin from the pleading he was still getting from everyone at school to go back to baseball, and their inability to take no for an answer…

...But some of his former teammates actually confronted him today.

Leon was just minding his own business in the local mall, sporting all of his newly bought clothes (though still was waiting for his platform shoes) while checking if there was any new CDs in the punk and rock section he hadn’t heard of, when he noticed a group of guys approaching out of the corner of his eyes. Tilting his head to get a better view, he instantly felt a giant pit of dread hit in the bottom of his stomach and a cold sweat run down his face.

There was Sosuke, Kenta, Shojei, and Hideki walking towards him, all having serious or angry looks on their faces.

Gawddamn it. Why did Kenta, the team captain of all people, specifically have to be there? This wasn’t going to be pretty…

And it wasn’t. Immediately before Leon could have any kind of chance to greet them or diffuse the situation with a potentially different topic opener, all four boys ganged up on him verbally. Spewing all kinds of questions like ‘When the hell are you gonna drop this and come back to baseball?’, ‘You think this is funny or something?’, and ‘Seriously? You’re just gonna abandon us, after everything we’ve done?’, and not listening to anything he tried to say in response. It got to the point where Leon’s initial nervousness turned to anger as he started to feel himself get pissed off whenever one of them cut him off.

Apparently, the altercation was that loud, that a tiny group of onlookers formed outside and began watching the incoming storm that was brewing. Luckily, the store clerk saw what was happening and quietly had summoned the nearby security guard to settle things out. Before he could arrive, however…

Leon gritted his teeth, clenching his fists, and finally raised his voice high enough to shut the four boys up long enough to speak.

“That’s it! I’m, like, so done with all of you! If I don’t want to play baseball anymore, I don’t have to freakin’ play the gawddamn sport!! I’m finally choosing what I wanna do, and none of you shit-for-brains are gonna stop me! Now piss off!!”

By the time Shojei registered what he said and started to take a furious step towards him, the security guard had firmly gotten in between the baseball star and the other boys.

Aaaaannnd that’s his cue to get the hell outta there.

Before the guard or his former teammates (and friends, most likely) could react, a grumpy, nearly on the verge of fuming Leon stomped away, out of the mall, and made his way back to his house. While still hot for the first few blocks, the fiery teenager had managed to simmer down a bit and huff out a breath of regret and disappointment by the time he was close to home. Just… damn, man. Why did this have to happen?

Did those guys seriously feel like he had no say in the matter of what he does with his life? That they could pressure him back into baseball?

Is it really that big of a crime to do what you want to do, not what others want you to be?

And that led to him lying on his bed now, seriously feeling awful for what just happened. Like… he wasn’t huge friends with all of them, but like… Shojei and Kenta were teammates he had several times before LL Academy, and with that…

He felt like he just lost some friends over this stupid crap.

Hence, why he was debating a nap at the moment.

Pulling a bit out of his pillow, Leon adjusted his position enough to dig into his pockets and pulled out his phone to look at some of his notifications really quickly, when suddenly…

“Leon!!”

Ohhh, why did she have to yell? That really hurts his head, that with his brain throbbing at the moment…

Briefly turning to get a better view as she came in, he watched as Kanon hurried into his bedroom, nearly stumbling over her own feet as she stopped right at his bed. Her body hunched over as her breathless form tried to suck oxygen in, her blond hair obscured any vision of her face before she straightened herself out.

“H-Hey, take it easy, Kanon… you’re gonna keel over if you’re not careful, y’know?” Leon warned gently, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed to sit up.

His cousin instantly waved her hands around, trying to signal that she needed him to listen while desperately trying to catch her breath. It was during this that he finally realized she was holding some kind of a big yellow envelope in her hand.

“I-I’m fine… f-for the most part, but that’s not important!” she said urgently, a wild sense of excitement dancing within her eyes as she held out the item towards him, “You gotta read this! Like right now!”

Blinking silently for a second, his eyes lowered to the envelope that was being offered to him before his mind subconsciously brought up the altercation with his former teammates. The guilt bubbled up again. With a bit of a frown coming up to his face, Leon forced his eyes to look away as he carefully rubbed at the back of his head, as to not mess up his hair.

“Sorry, but… could we hold off on doing this? I really had a bit of a bad day, and-”

“Leon! Trust me on this!”

Groaning out a questioning noise, the teenager looked back to see Konan have this very determined look on her face. Blinking at how straightforward she was being about this, he decided to humor her and looked back down at the envelope. This time, she was pointing to a specific corner of-

!!!!!

No way.

No fuckin’ way!

That’s… that’s the Hope’s Peak Academy symbol in the corner.

Leon’s eyes could’ve bulged out of his sockets with how wide they went. The moment his brain registered what this symbol stood for, he froze comically and stayed staring at the thing for a few moments before he gathered enough mental fortitude to look up at Kanon. She nodded excitedly, motioning with her arm again for him to take the envelope and see what was inside.

Gently taking the object out of her grasp, Leon frantically began tearing open the top of it and proceeded to flip it upside down, dumping all of the contents onto his bed. Before he could pick up the white, folded piece of paper, his eyes caught the small, thin book and what the cover showed:

‘2014 Hope’s Peak Orientation Guide’ above a picture of the front of the school and its symbol.

His mouth wide open with excitement and his eyes even wider, a giant gasp was inhaled and his hands opened up the folded paper. He only had to read the top line to confirm it:

“Dear Mr. Leon Kuwata, it is with great pleasure and pride that we have chosen you to become part of the newest class of Hope’s Peak Academy--”

“OH MY GAWD!! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!”

Being careful not to kick his cousin as he shot off the bed, Leon jumped like five feet into the air and began to run around his room, screaming his head off with a giant grin. Kanon must’ve caught on quick, because she screamed and began jumping up and down from where she stood. Turning to her, Leon scooped her up into a hug.

“I DON’T FUCKING BELIEVE IT!! I’M IN HOPE’S PEAK ACADEMY!!” He shouted in joy, only causing Kanon to laugh at his utter delightment.

He let go of her to set her down and looked her in the eyes with a sudden realization.

“We gotta tell dad!!”

With her nodding and following behind him, Leon tore out of his room and rushed downstairs, screaming for his dad to come take a look at the letter in his hands.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Hope’s Peak Academy.

The biggest school in the nation, located in the heart of the city with a building that towers over any other nearby. A government-funded institution of privilege… only high schoolers who are at the top of whatever they do are allowed to come here.

And here he was, standing proud and tall at the main gates of the giant school building.

Well, more like his right leg’s kinda bouncing a bit, due to how excited he is.

The moment he opened that envelope and saw the acceptance letter, Leon knew he was destined for greatness. This was going to be a stepping stone for him to get into the music industry and kill it with his amazing songs and talent.

Though, it sucked that it was for his baseball talent that he got into this school in the first place. That ended up putting a temporary, annoyed frown on his face after he, Kanon, and his dad sat down to read everything Hope’s Peak sent him. But hey, if that was how he was getting in, so be it. But he totally was going for music, no doubt about it. In fact, that was his new plan. He was going to show the people in charge here that he wanted to change his talent; no longer the Ultimate Baseball Star, but the Ultimate Musician! After all, according to the school, if you managed to graduate from here, you were pretty much set for life! That oughta really boost up his music career for sure!

And here he was… standing in front of the place that would finally kickstart his dream into becoming a reality.

And just in time, too! These new platform shoes are amazing!

If any random bystander could take a look at Leon’s face right now, he’d be beaming like an idiot from ear to ear. Clearly, his excitement couldn’t be contained. So unable to be contained, in fact, that he actually woke up super early to get here way before the orientation even began. And that’s, like, a massive ordeal, because Leon loves his sleep and would rather sleep in late than wake up early.

It totally doesn’t have any connections to the fact that he was so pumped up for today, that he didn’t really get that much sleep, and was a bit exhausted right now.

But screw that noise!

He had his excitement fueling him. He had all of his punk-styled clothing on, he had some of his new blueberry perfume on him to smell perfect, and he had been practicing some greetings and what to say in conversations to make the coolest first impression. He’s got this in the bag.

“All right… today’s the day! Where my dream finally comes true, and I will make punk music the top of the global charts!! ...Hell yeah, this is so freakin’ cool!” Leon talked to himself, nodding during his attempt to pump himself up before clutching his fists tightly in front of him.

“LET’S DO IT!!”

With that verbal declaration, Leon made his way through the main gate, up the steps, and pushed open the doors.

Upon entering the school building, he was greeted with the main hall. Gawd, this place was huge. A massively giant area, the young man began scanning the room for a clock. Would be a total disaster if he made a bad first impression, so he wanted to get everything down perfect. Upon looking at it, it was seven twenty. And thanks to Kanon and his dad constantly reminding him, the orientation begins at eight. So he had about forty minutes to kill before then, right?

Nodding to himself in accepting this, Leon decided to wait it out in the main hall until someone came to get him or another student came in and he could tag along with them. After all, he’d eventually get a tour of the school by the staff during orientation, so there wasn’t a need to knock himself out. Resigning himself to this plan, he found himself asking so many questions in his head.

Would the school be okay with him changing talents?

How many cute girls would there be here?

Would this school be super strict, or relatively chill?

Could he have his piercings and jewelry on during the day?

How much homework would the teachers here assign?

…….W-Why is the room-

“W-What the crap-??”

Leon jerked his head back slightly when his vision suddenly became warped, almost twisted-like. The entire room was melting and then spinning and mixing into a weird delusion that his eyes couldn’t focus properly on. It was making him feel sick and his head started to hurt. Spinning, mixing, melting, then spinning away…

...until before Leon knew it or could do anything else, everything went black.

And that would be the end of the normal life he would have.

Because everything from here on else would drastically change all he thought he knew.

Chapter Text

At first, there was nothing but darkness.

It was comfortable and warm. Almost restfully so.

But now there came a really bright light shining down on his face, to the point where it sucks and was wrestling him away from the comforting darkness.

It spurred him enough to move his arm to cover his eyes enough for them to squint and slowly peek open.

“...Ggh?”

It took Leon a few seconds to realize after trying to open his eyes, his vision was really blurry. The kind of blurry vision that makes you uncomfortable continuing to try and see with it.

It only took him the action of trying to rub his eyes enough in order to eliminate said blurriness that not only is the right side of his face resting on a surface…

...but he’s also slouched forward on it, so he’s not able to easily rub his eyes.

The groan escaping his body clawed its way out of the back of his throat. The young man pushed off the surface he was resting on in order to fix his eyes. He was careful to make sure the rings on his fingers didn’t scratch and cause any kind of irritation, while a yawn escaped out of his mouth. Finally finishing, he managed to finally open his eyes at the exact same time he realized-

His cheek was wet.

Grunting a bit, he glanced back towards where he originally laid and saw a small pool of drool on the-

Aww, man! Seriously? Totally not cool!

Now he’s got drool dripping down his face and just… ugh.

“Ehh-ahhhh…”

Huffing in disgust, Leon took the back of his left hand and began to wipe the chilled saliva off his cheek. He really didn’t want to ruin the sleeve of his jacket, but touching something disgusting with his bare hands wasn’t more his preference. With the few successful wipes, he swiftly rubbed that part of his sleeve on his pants, grimacing as he had to smudge it down a bit further to make his mouth juice not as visible. A thought then popped into his head. He can feel the rest of his face is clean, but…

Gawd fuckin’, not the goatee…!

His body shivering as if he just noticed the grossest bug on him, he delicately took his facial hair into his hands and cautiously stroked through it. A sweeping feeling of relief flowed through him. He closed his eyes and let out a tension-free sigh, dropping his arms into his lap.

Seriously, if the drool on the desk had gotten into his goatee, that would’ve-

...Wait.

...Desk?

Leon’s eyes shot open the moment he realized what he had been laying on. With the movement of jerking his head upward in realization, he turned to confirm it.

Sure enough, he was sitting in front of a nicely made, wooden desk. At this point, it also dawned on him that he’s sitting in the chair for the desk. And that’s when it came across his mind to look around, further realizing that not only are there more of them scattered across the room…

...but he was in a classroom-

Wait, what? Hold the phone here; why was he here…? In a classroom he’s never seen before? Wasn’t he at the…

“W… What the crap…?”

Holy balls, there was a classroom with blue camouflage designed walls?

Any random observer would’ve gotten the impression Leon thought his chair was lava with how fast he shot to his feet. His head scanning the room to take in his environments, more oddities were starting to come under his attention. The first being the teacher’s podium in front of the chalkboard that had a certain logo on a gold circle in front:

Hope’s Peak Academy’s logo.

Okay, so… wait; does that mean he was still inside Hope’s Peak Academy?

But he was…

All right, hold on a second. Let’s just… stop for a moment.

A scowl formed onto Leon’s mouth. His arms folded across his chest, with his right index and middle fingers gently tapping against his left sleeve. Cocking his head slightly to the side, one of his eyes closed while the other looked up towards the ceiling in order for him to better concentrate on recalling the series of events.

He remembered getting to Hope’s Peak Academy, excitedly walking into the main hall, looking at the clock, deciding to wait there until he saw someone else…

….And then, he blacked out.

Which, in its own sense, was a scattered mess of confusion. He wasn’t a health nut, but Leon would like to think he was physically healthy; no medical conditions or nothing. Sure, there were times where during one of those God-forbidden searing hot weather baseball games where he was on the mound that he felt like he was gonna collapse unless he got some water. But he was in the entrance hall, not outside for extended periods of time.

Then there was the fact he was now in this classroom. It wasn’t just the mystery that had him doing a mental double-take; it was a possible reason in his head for why he was here. And that reason was that somebody found him unconscious, transported him to this place, and then dumped him into one of the chairs. Ignoring the fact that it’d be mega embarrassing that he could’ve been carried like a baby, as a future superstar can’t have that blemish on his image, what the crap? What dumb idiot sees a person out cold and thinks to just leave them in a classroom? After all, if this was really Hope’s Peak Academy, then… shouldn’t there be a nurse’s office or something?

And finally, the classroom itself. Like, for real; one hell of a crazy design for the walls, even if it is a top school in the nation. The TV monitors, he kind of understood. LL Academy had something similar, where if there was an important announcement, the principal would come on screen to let everyone know about something. But the security cameras? Why the hell were they in a classroom?

But of course, the biggest thing was…

“You gotta be kiddin’ me…”

Leon breathed that out in a low tone as he gaped at the giant metal plates located on the left wall of the room. Those things were massive! Not the plates, but the screws holding them in! Holy crap, some of them were bigger than his hands! Moving to them with his jaw slightly open, the young man was overcome with awe after knocking on it briefly and hearing a solid, metallic sound reply back to him in response. Damn, that thing was thick. And there ain’t no way he was gonna be able to move this.

But like… this was where the windows should be, right? How the hell did the school (he’s assuming, because who else could it be) screw giant metal plates over the windows like this?

...Actually, more importantly, why the hell would they do that??

Ugh, this was starting to make his head hurt.

Sighing one of those kinds of ‘welp, whatever’ sighs and shaking his head, Leon turned from the metal plate and began to look over the room one more time for anything he didn’t necessarily catch the first time around. And that’s when his eyes caught it. Back at the desk where he woke up, there was some kind of paper on the right side where his head faced away from. Blinking for a second, he made his way over to it and picked it up from the desk-

...Okay, what in the frig is this thing?

What he had in his hands was like some kind of crappy pamphlet that literally had an abysmal drawing of a building on it with words scribbled in crayon next to it. Like, we’re talking some small kid’s arts and crafts project that they probably spent five minutes tops on.

Apparently from what he’s witnessed so far, Hope’s Peak thinks it’s okay to dump unconscious people in classrooms, bolt their windows with metal plates, and hire kindergarten children to do their new orientation pamphlets.

Someone has gotta be shitting him right now.

Leon’s incredulous eyes stared at the paper with pursed lips for a solid ten seconds before he decided to try (keyword being try) to read what the words on this was.

“Hey there, new kid! The next semester is about to start. Starting today, this school will be your entire world.”

….Ehh?

Scrunching his face up at reading that last part… he guessed it was true that thanks to the school, he was getting a chance at pursuing his dream for real, but he wouldn’t exactly say that…

Actually, hold up a sec.

If this really was Hope’s Peak, and it was seven twenty when he got into the entrance hall…

Shoot, is there a clock here?

Looking around the room real quick, he soon noticed and proceeded to focus on the newly found clock on the wall and its time: seven fifty. Holy crap, he had been out cold for a half an hour?

All right, he can try to deal with everything going on later. Right now, he had to get a move on!

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

“Dude…”

It wasn’t even longer than a second when Leon opened the classroom door that he stopped dead in his tracks. After all, it wasn’t every day you’d go out into a hallway illuminated by purple lights. Yeah, not gonna lie; this was kinda sick having the hallways with colored lights like this!

These people at the school have got weird tastes, you know what he means? But hey, he’s cool with it!

Venturing into the purple atmosphere once his eyes adjusted to it, the young man shut the door behind him and looked around. Okay, to his left, there seemed to be another classroom and a hallway with a small blackboard sign that read “Despair Hotel”. All righty, that’s probably not where he wants to go. Right it is!

And there’s a giant red door with double handles that looks like an infected splinter with how its color and design is bulging out of the walls. Leon blinked at it with a confused look, before making his way over to it, initially ignoring the hallway to his right. That’s… odd; he can’t remember there being a bright red door when he first got here, but who knows? Maybe it was the way to the entrance hall-

RATTLE RATTLE.

“Oh…”

Guess not. Hope nobody saw that…

He took a step back and shrugged his shoulders. Whatever, right? If it’s locked, then he’s not meant to go there. Going back a few steps and looking around the corner to the new hallway, the visual experience he was seeing now was now transforming into a bright green set of lights. No way! Each section of a hallway had a different colored light? What, is the whole freakin’ rainbow going to be used like this? Still, the green was awesome looking, and it enticed him enough to venture down it.

Passing a few doors leading to other rooms, Leon eventually got to this giant square-like section with a door all the way on the left that was open. The symbol above it had a tiny stick figure entering a cartoon door. Now, he’s not a betting man, but that’s gotta be the entrance hall, right? And if it’s open, maybe there’s someone there!

Being extra careful to not let his footsteps give him away, Leon quietly crept towards the left door, putting his back towards it as he shuffled to the side. He curved his head to take a secretive peek and… there was!! He could see a small group of probably six people inside.

Okay, man. Breathe in, breathe out. Be cool; you got this.

After a quick mental pep talk, his tongue gave his fingers a lick in order to run them through his hair and make it look as badass as possible. A quick breath check, adjusting his jacket near the collar, and stuffing his hands into his pockets, and the excited grin that flashed upon his face disappeared as soon as it had first appeared. Careful to make his footsteps the right volume and his posture to give him the coolest vibe he could have, Leon walked around the door to make his grand stage-like arrival.

“Yo!”

Keeping it short and sweet, his reaction was enough to have all six turn their attention to his newly-added presence.

“Ahh! Another new face in which I shall share my educational crusade with!”

The loud, booming voice of a young man came charging right at Leon’s eardrums about a second after his greeting. Geez, if he wasn’t awake already, then he was now. His advancing steps came to a halt as said young man, dressed in some white military looking outfit with these giant black boots and these fierce, red eyes that seemed to pierce into his soul, moved towards him. And ...g-gawd, those eyebrows! They’re so big, like unnaturally-so…!

“A pleasure to meet a fellow student who also shows appreciation to a school by arriving earlier than the mandatory time. I can sense the potential of an excellent student who cares about his academic future in you!” the young man cheerfully praised him, nodding to himself in agreement as he smiled with his arms out.

...Yeah… because that’s why Leon showed up. Sure, let’s go with that.

If it wasn’t for how intense this guy came off as and how it was majorly throwing him off, the baseball star probably would’ve had a giant smirk overtake his face and put some effort into not bursting out laughing. Oh boy, if this guy only had known how many close calls or tardies he had chalked up over the years…

Instead, he opted on staring at him while an awkward expression came onto his facial features.

“Ohh, uhhh… Thanks, I guess?” he said, trying to give an appreciative smile.

The moment he finished, the young man’s smile dropped and he brought a hand to rest under his bottom lip, while the other arm supported it below the elbow.

“However, I’m not exactly sure that those piercings or that necklace are within acceptable items allowed by the dress code.”

Now, that- that shook Leon out of his uncomfortable stupor, jerking his head back as he pointed at his labret and ear piercings.

“Wh- Come on, man. I paid a good amount of money to get these, y’know!”

“That is not the issue! As new students of Hope’s Peak Academy, it is our obligation to look like outstanding people, both through diligence in our studies and our appearance! Therefore, things like piercings or over-the-top jewelry aren’t acceptable for a male student!” the guy actually shouted louder, clutching his fists tightly.

His eyes narrowing and keeping their focus on the nerve of this guy, Leon bent forward and felt himself develop a look of incredulousness on his face. The kind of look when its goal is to make the other person feel dumb for something they said.

For gawd’s sake, if he wanted to get grilled on what he looked like, he would’ve stayed in the hellhole that was his old school…

“The hell? So what? Girls wear things like earrings and jewelry all the time! You seriously tryin’ to tell me girls can have piercings and stuff, but guys can’t?” he fired back, his tone challenging for the other to make any kind of response.

The military-looking guy began to open his mouth when a female voice cut in.

“Hey, can you guys push this conversation to the backburner for now? We’ve got more important things to deal with.”

Leon’s gaze turned away towards a girl with freckles and strawberry blonde hair in giant pigtails held by a bow and bunny hair clips. She had this pretty black cardigan, loose designer tie, red pleated miniskirt, and mid-sized boots combo going on.

Oooh, she even had long red nails…

Okay, not gonna lie; this girl was pretty cute; her body, on the other hand, was smokin’!

...Oi, don’t judge him; he has a thing for blondes, okay?

Taking in her appearance caused him to step away from the guy he was arguing with and straighten up. It seemed like it stopped whatever verbal spat they were about to engage in, as the girl folded her arms with a sense of success and continued speaking.

“Like, how weird and creepy this place is in general,” she remarked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah! It’s totally weird. What kind of place puts giant metal plate things on the windows?”

The criticizing, curious voice came from a girl with tanned skin and a curved brown ponytail hairstyle. Sporting a red track suit jacket over a shirt, blue athletic shorts, and long white socks over green sneakers with her right leg having a red knee brace looking thing on, the girl was much shorter, but seemed to be on the same conversational track with the blonde.

“And the hallways are like different colors and stuff. What’s up with that?”

“That’s what I was wondering, too!”

...W-Well, he thought it was kinda cool, but…

“Hmmm… come to think of it, if we’re talking about this...”

Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t the still booming, loud voice that made him realize the military guy was addressing him; it was the inability to ignore those red eyes staring into his soul. Despite all this, he managed to play it cool and look over to him as he folded his arms over his chest.

“You there! When you entered the entrance hall, you ended up blacking out without any possible reason why, right?”

The baseball star’s eyes widening revealed how shocked he was.

“Wh- Wait, so it wasn’t just me?”

“It happened to all of us, apparently.”

A new voice entering the fray caused him and the others to look over to two individuals. One was a tall blond guy with blue eyes and glasses, in this fancy looking black suit and shoes kind of outfit with a white dress shirt and green cross tie. He had his arms folded over his chest as well, but appears had them like that since Leon had walked into the room. The other was a shorter girl with long lilac hair, with part of it on the left in a single braid with a black ribbon, and purple eyes. She wore a dark purple jacket, white blouse with an orange tie, black skirt, purple knee-high boots, and these awesome, black studded gloves.

The guy with the glasses was the one who spoke up, evidently by the fact he continued.

“As soon as each of us entered here, we all lost consciousness,” he explained, “And none of us appear to remember anything after that.”

S-So, six other people just blacked out like him? That’s just… Something’s definitely not right with that, right? Like, totally messed up-

“And just to be sure as well,” the lilac-haired girl spoke up before anyone could reply, “did you happen to wake up in a different room?”

He was still thrown for a loop, but something about this girl’s eyes focusing onto him snapped him into attention. With a hand on his hip, he turned his upper body a bit to get a better view of them.

“Uhh, yeah. It was this weird classroom a couple halls down, in the hallway with the purple lights back there,” he answered, jabbing a thumb backwards behind him.

The answer seemed to satisfy the girl, as her eyes cast downwards away from him while bringing an index finger under her bottom lip. Her seemingly beginning to think to herself, the glasses guy focused his attention elsewhere.

“Hmm. Interesting…”

“E-Excuse me… is this the entrance hall?”

The group turned to see a very short girl with light brown layered hair come through the door, hesitant to take a few steps in. Sporting a dark green jacket, brown skirt, black knee high socks, and white shoes, her fingers intertwined together in front of her stomach.

Aww, she was pretty adorable. She was a small thing, for sure, but still…!

“Ahh, yes it is! Come on in, don’t be shy!” the military guy greeted (a lot more kinder than Leon got, that’s for sure) as he walked over to her.

With the blonde also walking over to the new arrival, the brown ponytail girl standing in place yet watching them, and those other two not caring in the slightest, Leon pursed his lips when his eyes glanced upwards at the ceiling. Ehh, that wasn’t exactly how he wanted his introduction to go. It wasn’t a total bomb in any regard, but… just didn’t have that badass pizzazz he was hoping to dazzle them with.

Ehh, screw it. He’d obviously get another chance to-

-suddenly notice the giant metal security-like door that was supposed to be where the front-

Okay, what the fuck!?

Gawd, this thing was huge! Forget the window plate things; this was something out of those weird action movies or superhero things and stuff! With glowing blue lights, over twenty buttons that does who knows what when pressed, a giant red alarm button on the right of the damn thing, and-

Guns.

Actual. Guns.

With weird security cameras attached to it.

Mounted to the ceiling and pointing directly at whomever stood in front of the door.

Leon remembered joking (half-meaning it) to some of his former classmates about how school was a prison, but… this was taking it a step- no, a mile way too far!

Every cautious step he took towards it made it look so intimidating, he could feel the beads of sweat forming on his brow with how uncomfortable it made him. His mouth opened, but he just couldn’t find the words to speak, let alone get his voice to work in the first place. Just… what the hell was this place?

“It’s certainly unnerving, isn’t it?”

This strangely deep voice suddenly making its presence known to his left ripped Leon out of his nervous stupor. He turned to look over and see…

...Holy crap.

This person was massive! Like, he was facing the door with his arms folded, but that didn’t mean that his height wasn’t towering over him. What’s worse is that he had shoulders like boulders, man! Giant bulging muscles with veins clearly visible, long white hair, dark reddish skin, scars down the face and on the right shoulder…

Forget the door; whoever the heck this was had Leon uncomfortable just by being around them! This person was one of the original six that were here before he was; how the hell did he not notice someone with an appearance like that?

“When I first entered the school, I don’t recall something like this being in the room. It’s highly unusual for a school to have something like this put in.”

The figure turned to look at him, giving Leon a better glimpse of the scar across his face and the intense pale blue eyes glancing down on him. Only to make him feel that much more anxious. G-Geesus…

As the massive guy turned around, he got to see a better view of what he was wearing. He obviously had giant bandages wrapped around his calves and forearms and had these white and red shoes on. But what was really weird had to be that he was wearing a traditional seifuku uniform that was white (that had the sleeves ripped off, because how the hell would those arms fit in a normal shirt), with a blue sailor collar, red tie, and blue ski-

Wait… skirt?

He’s wearing a-

-!! W-Wait, was this person a girl!?

Holy fuckin’ shit, it’s a girl!!

Leon’s eyes nearly shrank into dots. He could feel the icy shivers suddenly crawl up both his back and his spine when he came to the realization he just mistook a girl for a guy. Thanking every possible god who may exist that he didn’t end up blurting out anything to give his misconception about her away, he kinda ended up gawking for a few seconds at her. Damn, he didn’t think girls could be that big; how the hell did she end up like this??

It’s after he realizes that she’s looking expectantly at him waiting for a response that his muscles slightly tense and Leon is reeling both physically and mentally in order to get a grip on himself and try not to come off as if he’s currently intimidated as all hell by her.

“U-Uh… Y-yeah, I know, right?” he replied, stammering a bit at the beginning as he felt a nervous smile overtake his face.

Oh gawd. Please don’t notice how uncomfortable he is. Please don’t get pissed off. Please don’t cave his face in-

Like an answer to his prayers, the muscular girl didn’t seem to register the semi-obvious meltdown he was internally having and turned away to face the door once more.

“Though, if I recall, Hope’s Peak Academy is funded by the government…”

“Huh? So… does that mean they’re the ones who put this here?”

The baseball star turned to see that the brown ponytail girl had moved closer to them and joined their conversation.

“I mean, I guess they could probably afford this…” she said, scratching her face.

Leon felt that awkward smile still tugging at the corner of his mouth as he looked back and forth at both girls.

“But… we’re just high school students. Sure, the school’s a big deal, but… it’s still just a high school, y’know?”

The girl seemed to get what he meant and joined his side, her glancing to the other girl, “Yeah, now that you mention it, this is getting a whole lot weirder. Do they seriously think we really need that much protection?”

The muscular girl looked over her shoulder to them, her arms still folded, and gently replied, “I don’t know. I’m not sure if it was the government or school responsible for this; I’m just offering the only logical solution I can think of at the moment.”

She turned to face them, a soft expression on her face.

“We still have some time before eight o’clock. We’ll most likely get answers then, but for now, we should wait and see if anyone else shows up,” she said.

“Yeah, you’re right…” the other girl agreed, willing to agree to wait.

Ehh, he couldn’t really argue with that logic. Plus, he’d rather not argue against the person who probably could flatten him in a heartbeat.

Nodding in acceptance, Leon moved his arm back to rub the back of his neck carefully as to not mess up his hair.

“Right.”

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

And sure enough, she had been right. One by one, more people began to show up, increasing the amount of people waiting in the entrance hall. In order, they were:

A big guy with a dark brown punch perm pompadour hairstyle, wearing a giant black long overcoat with the words “Crazy Diamonds” on the back. Just from his eyes alone gave Leon the go-to knowledge to stay away from him for now.

A girl with dark purple hair in braids, wearing glasses and was in a normal purple girl uniform. Not only was she on edge the entire time, but looked like she wanted to die having to be around that many people with how her eyes kept darting around.

A weird guy with this strange hamster face and hairstyle, glasses, wearing a grey cardigan and also had a backpack on. The dude’s body looked like one of those cartoon scenarios where you stick an air pump in the mouth, and then you pump it, turning him into a balloon. (How the hell do you get that big??)

A guy who not only had the ability to apparently wear his dark green jacket on his shoulders without it falling off (seriously, how he is doing that!?), but looked like he had a brown sea urchin latch onto his head and die, then mutate to become his hair. He also seemed to be kinda older than most of the others here, but… ehh, whatever.

A girl with very pale skin, red eyes, and black hair in large two twin-drill pigtails. Her entire lolita-like outfit and accessories reminded Leon of one of those antique, porcelain dolls where the outfits were really fancy-like; maybe she was rich or something?

A-

!!!

Wait a second…

Wait a fuckin’ moment…

That girl that just walked in. Holy-

Long blue hair, dark blue eyes. Wearing a Seifuku uniform with a pink bow and blue skirt.

No…. Fuckin’ way!!

That’s Sayaka Maizono!

One of the hottest and most amazing singers in music today! Sure, it was the pop genre, but she was still awesome! If anyone was wondering by that point, the answer is yes; he’s a closet Sayaker, or whatever they call fans of her, despite the fact that it’s kind of a dumb name. But no one needed to know. Point is! She was so damn cool!!

And she’s actually a classmate of his here!?

Leon felt his jaw drop as an excited gasp entered his lungs and that grin kept getting bigger and wider! This was like a dream come true; how many guys could brag about THE Sayaka being in their class? That’s right; none!! This was gonna be perfect. With a person so talented at music this close to him, maybe he could ask for her help in getting into the industry! And she’s just his type, so perhaps, if he’s lucky--!!

Wait a second there! Cool it, man… You’re getting way too worked up right now. Let’s tone it down and be natural. First impressions are so key right now, especially in the same room as her…

Leon shook his head a bit, erasing the grin to a smaller smile. He adjusted his jacket a bit before stuffing his hands into his pockets. Despite how he was able to calm himself, that didn’t stop the frequent glances at and from Sayaka from happening.

With everyone in the entrance hall, it came to light real quick that something was definitely wrong. It wasn’t just Leon and the original six anymore; Sayaka and the others also had the same thing happen to them. Entering the entrance hall, suddenly blacking out for no reason, and then waking up in a different room of the school. Not only that, but any room that had windows were also bolted up with that gigantic metal plates. So now, fourteen people were-

Oh, wait. Scratch that; some kid with brown hair that had an ahoge, a green hoodie under a black school uniform jacket, and red converse sneakers slowly walked into the door.

So, make that fifteen students. Gotcha.

“Um… How’s it going? My name is Makoto Naegi,” he was embarrassed to start with, but ended up introducing himself, “Sorry I’m late. A bunch of stuff happened, and then all of a sudden, I was just… asleep.”

And that also makes fifteen people where they just blacked out. Leon folded his arms and slightly scowled as the others talked a bit. What the hell is going on here? Everything about this entire mess made no sense whatsoever. And now he’s in a room with a bunch of people just as clueless as he is-

Aaaand military guy was now yelling at Makoto for being late.

Welp, at least it’s not him this time. And the blonde over there started telling him to give him a break.

Something was giving Leon a feeling military guy and him ain’t gonna get along too great.

“Everybody, calm down! Listen, why don’t we all go around and introduce ourselves?” the girl with the brown ponytail offered up.

Which honestly was a great idea. Even though he was the seventh person in the room, Leon hadn’t actually gotten anybody’s name yet and could only go off their appearance. Initially, it was met with some resistance by the pompadour guy, but the lolita girl made a good argument of ‘how are we even supposed to talk to each other without knowing each other’s names’.

“Okay, so let’s get introductions out of the way, then we can move on to whatever else. Sound good?” Sayaka offered up, looking around at everyone.

“Yup, sounds good!” Leon piped up and gave a thumbs-up to her, because of course Sayaka had the right idea; Duh!

All right… Round two at first impressions.

Leon took a breath and readied to try again.

Chapter Text

“Hi, I’m Sayaka Maizono. I look forward to getting to know you!”

Gawd, she was even more adorable in real life. So much more adorable in fact, he nearly sputtered out his name incorrectly.

Leon couldn’t help it. His heart was pounding hard at a million miles per hour in his chest when his turn for introductions with Sayaka, the Ultimate Pop Sensation came up. He knew it was coming, but how on earth do you prepare for introductions like that when someone like her is one of the first people you do them with? He just needed something really cool to say to her-

“You don’t need to try to force yourself like that. Just be yourself, okay?”

The young man tensed when his eyes blinked.

“Huh? How did you know what I was-”

“I’m psychic,” Sayaka responded, having a serious face all of a sudden.

“W-Wha-”

“Just kidding!” she then giggled, her face going back into that adorable smile, “I just have really good intuition.”

Oho, she got him good!

Leon ended up relaxing, letting out a laugh as he brought a hand to the back of his head. This girl is super cool!!

“Hahaha! Nice one; totally got me there!” he admitted, closing his eyes as she giggled again, “Yeah, sorry; I’m just really excited to meet you, y’know?”

“Oh?” Sayaka blinked, curious enough to let him continue.

Okay, here we go. This is it; just keep it natural and don’t come off too eagerly.

“Yeah, totally! I’m actually a pretty big fan of your stuff; you and your group have some great songs,” he explained, winking with a small grin.

That really seemed to hit the right chord; the girl’s cheerfulness increased.

“Aww, thank you! It really means a lot to hear that. The five of us work really hard to make music that everyone can love and be uplifted by; I’m so glad that includes you, Leon!”

She’s so glad it included him…

Leon could feel himself nearly drifting into cloud nine.

Actually, wait a minute; since they’re talking right now... maybe, just maybe, he could tell her about his plans to get into music and ask for her help! Not getting into the whole thing (because dumping all of that stuff on her like that wouldn’t be cool), but enough to let her know he’d totally value her guidance.

With a tinge of hope rising in his chest, he subtly took a shaky breath in.

“Not a problem. ...Hey, listen, I was wondering if you’d help me out,” he explained, “You see, the thing is I-”

“Hey!”

...Oh, this motherFUCKER!!!

A certain booming voice once again destroyed his ear drums as he and Sayaka whirled around to see a certain person march up to them. And that already had the baseball star narrowing his eyes in mild frustration at who it was.

Kiyotaka Ishimaru, or how he preferred to be called by Taka, was the first person Leon had the… ahem, pleasure of meeting. Now, he doesn’t want to be an asshole entirely like that; he was sure that his family and whatever social circle he’s apart of loves him. But, man, just… ugh, this guy had ‘hall monitor’ written all over his forehead. What else would you expect from a dude whose talent is the Ultimate Moral Compass?

Now why, one may ask, was Leon not exactly liking Taka that much after only doing introductions with him?

Oho, that.

Well, after they exchanged names, the guy brings up his freakin’ piercings and necklace again and about how they’re not ‘acceptable dress code’. Not only that, he starts getting on Leon’s case for the skull design on his shirt and the fact his jacket’s collar and belts were studded! Pretty sure if he moved his feet, he’d get scolded for having platform shoes somehow…

There were so many snappy retorts swimming in his mind during this, but he drowned them all with a deep breath and exhale out his nostrils, finishing with a, “Sure, whatever; nice to meet you…” before moving on.

And yet after all of that, this guy had the balls to come up and interrupt him talking with Sayaka.

Son of a...

“How long are you planning to waste time introducing yourselves to other people? Pointless chit-chat can wait until a later time!” Taka clenched his fists, scolding them.

...Which is kinda the point of introducing yourselves, you stupid idiot. You tell people about yourselves, so they get a better general idea about who you are other than your name.

At least, that’s what Leon would’ve argued and clapped back at Taka with. But with Sayaka standing right in front of him, now wasn’t the time to let his anger get in the way. First impressions were key, and he especially needed to nail this one out of the park. And yes, he specifically used a baseball pun despite his hatred, so this was super serious!

“Whatever, man…” he groaned, before giving an apologetic smile to the girl, “Yo, sorry about that…”

“No, it’s fine…” Sayaka said, looking a bit uncomfortable, but trying to keep a smile up.

“Well, hey; maybe we can talk more later on when it’s a better time?” Leon quickly tried to offer up, hoping she’d accept.

And his spirits were lifted as she nodded with a cheerful expression, “Of course. I’ll make sure to do that; it’s nice to meet you, Leon!”

“Sure thing! Same here!”

Once she finished speaking, the pop idol moved onto the next person. Despite the buzz from THE Sayaka Maizono saying his name, Leon made it a point to glare at Taka, mutter “asshole” to his face, and then turn away before the guy could say anything.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

“You? Seriously!?”

Well, that wasn’t a reaction he was expecting. One minute, he’s introducing himself to Makoto Naegi, the Ultimate Lucky Student. The next, the guy suddenly shouts that. Seriously, what the crap was that all about…?

Leon folded his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow.

“Huh? What’s wrong?”

“N-Nothing, I’m just… surprised. I figured with you being the Ultimate Baseball Star and all…” Makoto answered, his voice slightly trailing off.

Leon made his eyelids incredulously lower at that remark.

“What? Were you expecting a kid with a shaved head?”

“Shaved head…?” Makoto started, then realized what he meant and continued, “No, I was expecting more of a… you know, sporty-looking traditional baseball type. I mean, when I found that article and picture of you online-”

Leon didn’t register the rest of what he said, because at that time, he felt his skin go cold and eyes go wide.

No… No no no no no, don’t tell him that he found-

It was a major killjoy enough for him to see that Hope’s Peak Academy used that picture of him slugging the game winning home run in last year’s championship game in his acceptance package! With that dumb, God-forsaken haircut! But if other people saw it-!!

“What!? Aw man, you found that picture of me playing baseball? Seriously!? I hate that picture!”

“H-Huh? What’s wrong?”

Much to the other boy’s confusion, Leon buried his face into his hands and shook his head slowly. A muffled groan escaped his lips.

Truth be told, he should’ve expected this. Despite the fact he didn’t exactly get a chance to look at it (seriously, why of all times does the internet not work and become unable to load the specific website?), the Hope’s Peak Academy forum board had details and info about some of the newest students that were selected into the next year. And judging from the fact of what Makoto’s been saying, they obviously put some stuff about him on there.

But that picture… why the hell did it have to be THAT one?

The same one where a few of his former teammates, especially Shojei, made fun of the face he made in it.

Just kill him now.

“This is not cool. This is SO not cool… Seriously, I’m like, mega embarrassed right now…” he sighed in annoyance, his voice still muffled.

He removed his hands from his face by dragging them down briefly and took a breath, folding his arms over his chest.

“Look, I didn’t have a choice, okay?” he explained, “Shaving your head like that is part of the national championship regulations. And those guys are, like, super strict about that stuff.”

He leaned forward a bit, pointing towards his hair.

“But now, I refuse to cut my hair. And I’m not gonna dye it back to normal, either!”

Makoto blinked a bit, then scratched his cheek a bit nervously.

“O-Oh… well, it’s not like I’m gonna say you shouldn’t or anything,” he assured, “So you don’t have to worry…”

That comment made Leon nod confidently. Good on the kid; at least he gets it!

After letting Makoto know that he was changing his talent, as far as he was concerned, it seemed like the guy was cool with it. As they exchanged a momentary ‘good-bye’ with each other and moved on to the next person, Leon couldn’t help shrugging with a smile. Finally, a dude other than his dad who doesn’t judge or rag on him for not playing baseball anymore…

He’ll definitely remember Makoto.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

“Hmm…. Hmmmm, hmmmm…”

Huh… okay, so… this girl… the one with the brown ponytail and the red jacket.

Aoi Asahina, or as she said her friends call her Hina, the Ultimate Swimming Pro.

Not gonna lie; she definitely scored with some stuff in the looks department. As in, she had a cute face, and… let’s just say her proportions are very nice!

Of course, that's not everything he was concerned about; Leon wasn't that shallow.

It wasn’t just her looks; her personality was bubbly and welcoming. Out of some of the other people here, she was one of the few who cheerfully greeted him with a smile and gave him the feeling like he could carry out a bit of a conversation with easily.

...At least, that very last part is what he thought.

The moment Leon said his name, Hina had suddenly said some remark about ‘hammering it into her brain’ or something. Next thing he knew, she was suddenly humming to herself for like the past thirty seconds and using her finger to trace over her palm over and over. No, seriously, like… for thirty, long seconds straight. Not even acknowledging the whole ‘introduction thing’ anymore or the fact that he was right in front of her.

...Okay, color him curious. He’d bite.

“...Um. What are you doing?”

Hina’s head came up to look at him.

“Huh? Oh, don’t you know?” she said, jabbing her index finger into her palm a few times, “If you wanna remember someone’s name, you gotta write it on your palm three times!”

Leon blinked.

“That’s a thing…?”

“Yeah, totally a thing!” she insisted, nodding before looking back down at her hands.

Huh…

Well, he’s never heard anything like that before. But it’s not like he wanted to anger a girl and piss her off by calling her out like that. These are first impressions, after all. And besides... why would she be lying about something trivial like that anyways…?

After he shrugged it off, Hina paused during writing on her palm, and looked up in thought.

“....Hey, you said your last name was Kuwata, right?” she asked.

“Yeah?”

“How do you spell that? With a K, or a Q?”

That seemed to catch Leon off guard as he stuttered upon hearing that question.

“Wha- I-It’s a K! Just how many Japanese surnames do you know of that begin with a Q?” he honestly fired back, as he had no clue as to why she’d think that.

Hina let out a chuckle, giving a slightly sheepish smile while rubbing the back of her head.

“I dunno; I just wasn’t too sure, so I thought I’d ask you! Hahaha…. I probably will write it down later on to make sure I don’t forget.”

With that, her smile gained confidence as she nodded.

“Still, it’s great to meet you, Leon! Hope you and I can become friends!”

Leon felt a cheerful grin come across his face. The girl was kinda bit easygoing, but was totally bursting with energy. He liked people who had just the right amount of spunk between being utterly boring and too wound up tight.

Sounds like he and Hina aren’t going to have any problems becoming friends to him, no sir.

“Same here; cool to meet ya, Hina!”

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

…………

It was like… when she wasn’t standing in front of the metal door over there, she was bigger than he realized…

The entire massive existence of such a person with gigantic muscles looking down at him in a one-on-one scenario…

Something was just not right about that, and that nervousness of being around her hadn’t completely gone away at all. The beads of sweat just kept forming again on his brow once one of them rolled down his face. Hell, Leon wasn’t entirely sure this was a girl still. Y-Yeah, he got the fact that this person had a skirt and uniform on that mainly were worn by girls, but…

But come on!! H-How the hell…

Oh, right.

Apparently, her name was Sakura Ogami and she was the Ultimate Fighter….

Because of course, she was… She probably could beat the crap out of any opponent she had with one strike and not even be the slightest bit tired or winded.

“Hey, you.”

“Y-Yeah? What?” Leon stammered out so uncool-like as he straightened up, and mentally beat himself up for how gawd-awful that must’ve sounded.

“Pardon me for doing this briefly,” Sakura apologized.

“H-Huh? What are you-”

And just like his voice dying abruptly, Leon’s heart nearly stopped functioning from what started to happen. Before his body could even flinch in surprise, the giant hands this girl had suddenly had a solid grip on his biceps. Aaaand his mind just pictured her easily tearing off his arms like one of those gore-filled fighter video games. He really hated his brain sometimes; now his heart is spiking with how fast it’s beating. He went absolutely rigid while she then gave a gentle squeeze to his arms… as if she was…

Wait, was she feeling his muscles?

Uhh… T-This was supposed to be a good thing, when girls wanna feel how strong a guy’s bicep was, right..? Leon knew he wasn’t exactly the biggest muscular specimen when it came to guys, but he’d like to believe, despite how he maintained his figure, that he packed a bit when it came to physique. After all, it goes great with the punk look and the hair…

But… this girl of all people… did this mean… how the…

Leon was so lost right now.

As she let go of him, it was like a thousand question marks could be seen flashing randomly over his head with how utterly dumbfounded he became over the whole thing. His posture wasn’t rigid anymore, but that didn’t stop him from being a statue as she continued to poke and prod at his body for a few more moments.

Eventually, she stopped and stood in front of him again, eyes closed and arms folded over her chest.

“...I see. Despite how your appearance says the contrary, your muscle quality and quantity are both stronger than the average person of your size,” Sakura explained, opening an eye at the end of her words, “I’m impressed.”

……….O-Oh. Oh! Wait a second, she was complimenting him?

W-Well.. Uh, heck yeah!

“H-Heh, well, y’know; I am the Ultimate Baseball Star and all,” he tried to pass it off with a chuckle, shrugging as he rubbed the back of his neck…

...And then proceeded to mentally facepalm at what he just said.

He WAS the Ultimate Baseball Star!? Yeah, he knew it was technically true, but it’s supposed to be ‘he USED TO BE the Ultimate Baseball Star’!

Gawddamn it, this girl was seriously messing him up so much right now, he can’t even concentrate enough to speak right…!

“Hm,” Sakura’s voice took his focus back into the conversation, “Perhaps you could be my training partner…”

Leon’s entire skin went cold as ice. Oh, fu-

“Erm, training partner?”

“Yes. Not as in fighting or sparring, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she tried to elaborate a bit more specifically, “As in working out, like doing stretches and exercising. That sort of training.”

Oh… Oh, thank God. Leon’s body felt the ocean of relief wash over him. Because he was just about to die from the implication of actually stepping into a ring with her…

But still… exercising and doing stretches… he really didn’t like getting sweaty and gross, but…

If it makes the giant, muscular girl happy, then…

“Uhhh, maybe? Like, if I’m not too busy, I could, possibly…” Leon tried to regain his outward composure and be cool about it, stuffing a hand into his pants’ pocket.

And that seemed to seal the deal and work, because Sakura nodded from that.

“Very well. Other than that, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said, Leon nodding to her as she moved on to the next person to meet.

...And with her not focused on him anymore, the baseball star’s body hunched over and let out a strained sigh that he had apparently been holding for quite some time. His eyes staring at the floor, his mind tried to reboot and get back to his senses before meeting this girl and what just happened.

Sakura… He’s gonna have to be cautious around her…

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

From that point on, the introductions? Totally nailed it! They went really great as far as he was concerned. Just like he did with the five people previously, Leon made sure to mention when he could that his talent would soon be changing from baseball to music. Not too forceful, but enough to make his point that he wanted to go after his dream and pursue something different. Unfortunately, he wasn’t exactly able to learn so much about his supposed classmates other than names and talents. Even the tiny bits of small talk would be pushing it, or else he knew Taka would once again be shrieking in his ear about it...

Luckily, he was able to learn the names of everyone else:

Yasuhiro Hagakure, or Hiro, the Ultimate Clairvoyant.

Byakuya Togami, the Ultimate Affluent Progeny.

Hifumi Yamada, the Ultimate Fanfic Creator.

Junko Enoshima, the Ultimate Fashionista.

Mondo Owada, the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader.

Kyoko Kirigiri, who wouldn’t say what her talent was, but he wasn’t gonna, like, force her to.

Chihiro Fujisaki, the Ultimate Programmer.

Toko Fukawa, the Ultimate Writing Prodigy.

Celestia Lu- uh… Hrm, Lud- uhh, Luch… Ludenberch- err, Ludenberg-

Yeah, he was probably gonna try to get into situations where he didn’t have to say that girl’s last name…

Anyways, Celestia, or Celeste, the Ultimate Gambler.

And with that, he at least knew who everyone was now.

“Okay, time to get down to business,” Byakuya spoke up, keeping his arms crossed over his chest, “This is no time to stand around making friends like a bunch of dull-eyed baboons.”

...Geez, that was… kinda harsh, wasn’t it?

“Oh, that’s true. I think someone was saying something about a bigger problem or… something?” Makoto asked, glancing around at anybody for help, “What was that all about again?”

Sayaka brought her left hand close to her face and started to explain, “Well, you see… Makoto, you said a bunch of stuff happened and then you were ‘just asleep’, right?”

When he nodded, she took a moment to temporarily glance at everyone else before continuing.

“Well… the same is true for all of us.”

“W-What? Seriously!?”

Damn… poor guy. He looked completely thrown for a loop… Hmm, maybe he can help Sayaka out and explain this better.

Taking a hand to carefully scratch at the top of his head without ruining his hair, he began, “It seems like… just as each of us got to the main hall, we lost consciousness. And when we came to, we were dumped in another room of the school.”

Finishing his sentence, he shot a glance to Sayaka and locked eyes with her briefly. She then nodded in agreement at what he said; damn straight! He felt slightly proud of the assist there.

“That’s what happened to you, too, right?” he asked, glancing back at Makoto.

...Guessin’ from the fact the boy looked in more disbelief and stunned horror, that would be a ‘yes’.

“B-But that’s just... weird! That every one of us would get knocked out like that…”

“Exactly!” Mondo suddenly roared and made Makoto slightly jump in shock, seemingly exasperated that it took him that long to catch on, “That’s why we’re all freakin’ out!!”

That’s when Taka joined by adding, “And that’s not the only thing. You saw where all the windows in the classes and hallways were, right? But instead of normal glass windows, it was a bunch of big metal plates! What’s that all about!?”

Junko seemed to take this as a chance to say, “Plus, all my stuff’s missing! Even my cellphone..”

At that point, Leon’s eyes instantly stared into particularly nowhere upon hearing that word before his arms quickly dug into the inside of his jacket. It had pockets inside near the ribs, and that’s where he’d keep his cellphone, but…

Empty. So was the pocket where his wallet would be.

What the freakin’ crap!? So, he not only gets dumped in a room by someone, but they pickpocket his phone and wallet??

His dad was gonna kill him bigtime for this…

And apparently as he patted down his pants’ pocket in a last ditch effort of hoping he misplaced his stuff (which was a futile lost cause, because he never carried things in those pockets), it wasn’t just him again. Almost the entire class began flusteredly digging into their pockets, with various expressions of frustration or bewilderment in finding out they also didn’t have their stuff.

“Yeah, you’re right. I haven’t seen my pda, either…” Chihiro said, holding her hands close to her chest.

“And then there’s this main hall here,” Taka once again spoke up, bringing a hand to rest under his bottom lip, “The front exit is completely blocked off by some giant metal hatch-like door. But there wasn’t anything like that when I first got here…!”

Suddenly, his voice raised again, much to the displeasure of Leon’s and most likely everyone else’s eardrums.

“What the heck!? What’s it doing there!?” he demanded to know.

Junko’s face seemed to become really disturbed as she asked, “Maybe we got caught up in some kinda, like, you know… crime or something?”

W-Wait, what? Hold up a second…

As in…

Leon felt his face shift into an unstable smile, due to how uncomfortable that suggestion was. He tried to let out a chuckle to somewhat calm his nerves, but the shakiness in its quality failed him on that.

“What, like… a kidnapping?” he asked her as she turned to meet his eyes, “You think maybe someone grabbed us and hauled us off, and we’re not actually at school?”

He knew that it was kind of stupid to hope so, but a small part of him inside was banking on the fact that she was just joking or something. But the fact her distraught image hadn’t disappeared really was starting to make him wonder if they had gotten all kidnapped. Like… there was no way, right? Fifteen students gettin’ hauled off like that…

Okay, the girl was hot, but… she really shouldn’t say that kind of stuff…

“Hey, come on. Don’t think like that. Cheer up!”

The laidback voice of Hiro caught everyone’s attention when he continued, “I bet this is all part of the school’s orientation procedure. I’m sure that’s all that there is to it! So I’m just gonna take it easy for a bit.”

“Oh… So you think they wanted to do something to surprise us?” Chihiro exhaled in relief, a smile overtaking her face.

...That… was completely stupid.

Now, he’d prefer that over the possibility of being kidnapped. But, for real? Why the hell would a school bolt giant metal plates to the windows, guns to the ceiling, and some action-movie-esque metal hatch door to block off the way out of their building? So what if that Sakura girl reminded him that this was a government-funded building; this was just… way too fucked up to be true.

Granted, this ain’t counting the whole dumped in a classroom while he’s unconscious or crayon-drawn orientation pamphlets, but…

Leon probably would’ve kept mentally picking apart how nothing Hiro just said made made a lick of sense to him, but at that time, he felt that sudden wave of fatigue washing over him. The fact he didn’t get a lot of sleep last night finally started to rear its ugly head on his body.

“Huh. Well, if that’s all it is, it’s nap time for me,” he yawned slightly, bursting into a huge grin as he itched at the back of his head carefully, “I was up waaaay too late last night, so I could use a little shut-eye, y’know?”

Due to how he was starting to feel tired, the oblivious teenager had no clue that an outraged-looking Taka made a sound as if a gasp died a violent, painful death in his throat. Most certainly, he was going to object loudly on how that wasn’t acceptable.

That was… until it happened.

Ding Dong, Bing Bong….

“Eh?”

The baseball star’s grin was split into half its size as he and everyone else began looking around at the sudden school bell noise that went off. Their confusion was soon answered as a security monitor, a model just like the one in the classroom Leon woke up inside, came to life with the screen displaying a weird green static on the wall. He must’ve failed noticing it at first, due to focusing on other people and the door, but the annoying, ear-grating white noise suddenly being broadcasted everywhere totally got his attention.

And on the screen was… some kind of shape of a small… animal? What the crap was that…?

“Ahem! Ahem! Testing, testing! Mic check, one two! This is a test of the school broadcast system!”

...Who the hell was that speaking? Because that voice sounded like something that’d be on a cartoon show or somethin’. How exaggerated and playful the tone was; this person was apparently some kind of staff member here…?

“Am I on? Can everyone hear me? Well, okay then…! Ahh, to all incoming students: I would like to begin the entrance ceremony at… right now! Please make your way to the gymnasium at your earliest convenience. ...That’s all. I’ll be waiting!”

The monitor clicked off, sound and screen, once the announcement was finished. Oh, for gawd’s sake, dude; just like school to take away anytime he has to get some extra winks in. It’s like an uncanny ability for them to just sense when he needed to snooze…

By the time he finished shaking his head and glaring at the ceiling, Byakuya had walked past him towards the exit and he only just started to realize Hiro was in the middle of saying something along the lines of how he was glad the whole thing was just a joke.

“Alright, I guess I’ll head out, too. Wonder what they got planned for us next…” he thought out loud, placing his hands behind his massive hair (...somehow) and making his way out the door.

Leon’s spine curved forward in a voluntary slouch, lowkey pissed as he rubbed at his face with a huff.

“Damn it, I was totally lookin’ forward to that nap, too. Why’d they have to go and kill the mood?” he grumbled as he began to move towards the exit.

As he made his leave, he could hear several voices talking behind him, but he didn’t bother to pay attention to what they said. All he knew was whoever the hell that person was telling him to get to the gym just robbed him of a nap. And nobody robbed Leon of a nap unless it was a damn good reason.

Whatever this entrance ceremony was, it’d better be worth it.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

When he left the entrance hall, Leon made his best effort to try and keep up with Byakuya and Hiro as they led the way in front of him. And yet, at the same time, he tried to make note of anything new he hadn’t seen before. From the direction they were going, it appeared a new hallway, lit with yet another new color of the rainbow; this time, it was yellow. Going down through it, Leon’s eyes took note of bright set of pink with heart decals on them that were being nearly covered in yellow ‘keep out’ tape. And the sign said-

Wait, this is the nurse’s office? Oh… So it’s out of order? Is that why he was put in a classroom when he blacked out…?

...But even with this fact that the nurse’s office was off limits for the time being, that’s still a shit reason to dump unconscious people in different rooms like that, right??

Oi, whatever.

Shrugging as he walked past the door, the teenager made note of the bathrooms along the same wall before really focusing his attention onto the fact that both Hiro and Byakuya stopped for a moment. The reason why wasn’t too hard to figure out when it was literally right in front of them.

Hope’s Peak Academy obviously had more than just one floor. But the fact the stairs were blocked off with a metal gate was… um….

“What the crap…?” Leon muttered, frowning as he got close to it.

“O-Oh… are we not supposed to go up there?”

The voice of Chihiro had all three young men turn to see her, Celeste, and Toko making their way behind them to catch up. They too had become intrigued by the gate.

“Perhaps it’s until the school year officially starts?” Celeste offered up, bringing a hand up to her lips.

That seemed to strike a chord with Hiro, as he laughed and nodded, pointing at her.

“Yeah, you’re totally right. They’ll probably just open the thing up for us once the ceremony thing is done. Then they’ll show us around the building, like a grand tour!” he folded his arms, utterly confident in that belief.

“Ehh… I guess you’re right,” Leon admitted, putting a hand in his pocket.

His attention was then grabbed by Byakuya, who had just left all of them in his dust and moved towards the door at the turn on the right.

That guy was very antisocial, wasn’t he…?

The five soon followed after him to be greeted with a small hallway that had many glass cases with trophies filled to the brim with them. And frankly, was that really a surprise? With Hope’s Peak having various talented students being accepted every year, it was a no brainer than the school would have a shit ton of awards to show off to anyone coming into the building.

Across the red carpet line was a set of double doors. And entering through them after Byakuya did was…

Whoa, this gym was massive!! Like, he didn’t play basketball or anything, but just from taking one step into this area, Leon knew some of the team from LL Academy would’ve killed to get a chance to play in this gym. It made him honestly feel small; the massive space between the walls and the ceiling, the seemingly never-ending amount of bleacher rows… it was honestly the biggest gym he’s ever stepped foot on. Of course, he also saw the metal-like walls covering what he guessed was the windows of the gym, so… even this area had stuff blocked off, too. Huh…

In front of the six showed the red carpet ended with a bunch of chairs in front of a stage. On said stage was a podium that had a microphone and a cup of water on the top and adorned with a red cloth on the front that had the Hope’s Peak’s symbol on it, a Hope’s Peak black flag on one side, and a smaller stand that had some kind of a potted plant on the other. Huh… they actually set up a decent entrance ceremony. After all, when one gets orientation things made by crayon, they tend to lowkey have not so high hopes for other things coming soon.

At least it had a red carpet, though! That kinda makes him feel like a star already, with him getting that kind of treatment…!

His legs venturing him further into the gym to get a closer look, that’s about the time that the others finally came into the gym.

The first of the charge being Mondo nearly kicking the doors off their hinges and raising his voice for. “Whoever the hell called us here, get out here already, gawddamn it!”

This led to Taka, right on his heels, lecturing him on not running in the halls and his use of profanity.

Well, at least it wasn’t him this time…

But the conversation that he really kinda clued into once everyone was settling around the gym and waiting for this ceremony to kick off was the one Sayaka was apart of. She was currently talking with Makoto and Junko, her arms close to her chest and seemingly worried.

Being as subtle as he could, Leon shuffled a few steps closer without drawing their attention of his eavesdropping to hear Sayaka say, “I’m telling you; that’s really strange, isn’t it? Where are all the other students? Why are we the only ones here?”

...Actually, hold up. That’s… a really damn good question.

Everything about this situation for now was pretty messed up. But… now that she brought it up, that’s even more crazy. How come he, Sayaka, and thirteen other people were the only ones so far that seemed to be in the building? Sure, there’s the guy with the cartoon-like voice who just told them to come here, but like… no teachers, no upperclassmen, no other staff members of the school. Unless it’s like some weird welcoming thing like that Hiro guy said for just the new students, and then everyone else comes back on a later date…

Ugh, he wished this would start making sense…

And this is one of the reasons why he doesn’t like school.

“Oh… It really does look like a normal entrance ceremony,” he turned his head behind him to see Makoto say, the kid taken aback at how apparently ‘anticlimactic’ it was.

Hiro shrugged and cupped his chin in his hand.

“See? Told ya! It’s totally normal entrance ceremony stuff,” he reassured.

Leon grunted in a ‘whatever’ tone, letting himself be taken over from fatigue enough to yawn once more. Fine, then. Whether it’s normal or not, he’d really love a nap at the moment, so if whomever could please hurry the frig up-

“Hey there, howdy, hello! Is everyone here? Good! Then let’s get things rooolling!”

That same playful, cartoony voice from the broadcast system shot out of nowhere, actually caused Leon’s eyes to shoot open wide for a moment in shock; the fact the person was actually in the room managed to knock some of the drowsiness out of his head. A sigh scraped out of his lungs during his movement to face the stage-

...Wait, where’s the dude who just talked? Like, it was obviously he was in the same room and he just talked. So where the hell is he?

His eyes started to scan the room for any signs of where this person was supposed to be. Even going so far as to turn around an-

Several audible gasps and cries from a few of his future classmates and the fact that a blur of white and black caught his eyes to have him face back to the stage to find that on the podium was now a…

...a black and white bear. With half of his mouth in a toothy grin, a weird distorted, logo-ish red eye on the black side instead of the simply black dot one on the white side, and an outie belly button.

Um...

“Huh? A teddy bear?” Chihiro’s voice asked.

Uhhh… if that’s really what it is, that’s the creepiest teddy bear he’s even seen. Looking like some demented, 1950s-styled Winnie the Pooh-

W-Wait, why is it mov-

“I’m not a teddy bear! I… am… Monokuma! And I am this school’s headmaster! Nice to meet you all!”

……….. WAIT, WHAT.

Chapter Text

In his life up to this point, there were many things that Leon didn’t get. Not in the case of feeling slightly confused. No no no no; as in, being floored to the point where his brain stops functioning altogether and he was caught gawking with his eyes shrinking in size and his mouth either gaping wide open or gritting his teeth hard to where it was almost grinding. And he’d admit that there were those times:

When he was in math class and had one of those tests where none of the problems looked like anything he tried so hard to study for.

When a kid managed to hit one of his curveballs during a season game a few years back and he turned around, watching it almost become a home run, before he was washed over with relief when one of the outfielders caught it right as it went over the fence.

When he first looked into a mirror after getting that gawd-forsaken q-tip haircut his coaches forced him to get.

When he first saw that Sakura girl just a few minutes ago and just her existence in general, to an extent.

And when THE Sayaka Maizono walked into the entrance hall a few minutes later, signaling she was one of his classmates.

But nothing compared to the fact that directly in front of him, something that shouldn’t even be possible and would only exist in some weird kid’s movie was currently causing Leon to have one of those malfunctioning scenarios again.

A small bear which was previously described, who couldn’t have been taller than his thighs, suddenly appeared on the podium on stage.

It suddenly stood up by itself.

It then could speak; not only greeting everyone, but also apparently have the cognitive recognition to understand what Chihiro said and respond back in a normal conversation’s pace.

It proceeded to announce that it was the headmaster of the school they were in.

And it finished by jumping off the stage, somehow performing ten midair flips, and sticking the landing like it was trying to win the freakin’ gold medal at the Olympics or something.

And that’s when Leon’s entire brain shut down while disbelief colored the tone of his eyes. Because whatever the hell was going on, it was, like, too much for him to handle. Like, seriously!

It’s when he hears that Hifumi guy shriek like a banshee about the teddy bear actually spoke that he jerked his head back; albeit still shocked, but at least able to close his mouth and get back to his senses. Looking over, Taka was right next to him, bringing a finger to his mouth.

“Calm down!” he said with a hushing tone, nervously glancing back to the bear, “I’m sure there’s just a speaker inside of it.”

“Hey, come on now… I already told you; I’m not a teddy bear!” the bear suddenly jumped up and down, its face gaining a slight shade of angry red, “I am Monokuma, and I am your headmaster!!”

And cue to Hifumi screaming again.

“WAAAAHH!! IT MOVED!!”

Leon’s nose scrunched up as he glared at him. Really? You’re gonna freak out about him moving now? Where were you when he just did ten friggin’ flips off the stage-

“Seriously man, calm down!” Mondo called out from a few feet behind him and Taka, “It’s prolly just a remote control toy or somethin’.

This ‘Monokuma’ thing seemed to deflate after that, lowering its head with a whine.

“How dare you compare me to a child’s plaything… You’ve cut me deep. Deeper than the Mariana Trench…” it said, before suddenly puffing its chest out and placing its hands on… its hips (If you can call them that?), “My remote control system is sooooo complex, not even the schmucks at NASA can recreate or even come close to comprehending it! Ah, but don’t make me go on and say things that might destroy their dreams; I just couldn’t ‘BEAR’ that!”

“...‘Bear that’? Really?” Celeste seemed like she wanted to sigh, but looked away with an emotionless expression, “My, you are… unfortunate.”

“Now then, moving on! We really oughta get started, after all…”

Junko’s eyes squinted with incredulous annoyance at the bear’s words, “Wha- Giving up already? No more stupid bear puns?”

“Quiet down, everyone! Ah, okay, so…!”

“He has abandoned the gag…” Sakura sighed, her eyes closing and shaking her head to how the bear seemed to steamroll through any comments of his behavior.

Ugh, he just… had no idea what the hell was going on. Like, Leon still was kinda nervous that some kind of… bear toy, robot thingie was functioning like a human would. Now he was starting to get annoyed to hell and beyond. Just a hint of that. Because what kind of school allows this… creepy-lookin’ teddy thing to be the headmaster of the most prestigious school in the world? How does that even fly in the mind of a sane person?

Leon’s head turned to look at his other classmates so fast, he could feel his goatee swinging a bit from his chin. While his main goal was to see how Sayaka and the others were taking this in, a small part of him was hoping, no matter how crazy it was, that he was just imagining this whole thing and that none of this was happening. But sure enough, all eyes were locked onto the bear. Displays of emotions ranged from some still being freaked the crap out, to simply being confused and not understanding what was going on, to being like Leon himself and burning through the initial fear with a new layer of annoyed frustration, and finishing with a couple of them, like Byakuya, shooting daggers from their eyes at how done they were about the whole stupid thing.

It only took a few seconds to briefly scout through the entire group and gauge a general consensus of how they were reacting to their so-called headmaster. He straightened himself and stuffed a hand into his pocket, a huff of air leaving his nose at the same time this Monokuma… whatever it was began to greet the students and tell them to stand and bow, like the beginning of every class day would go. That resulted in Taka suddenly shouting “Good morning!!!” at the top of his lungs and bowing, which resulted in that Toko girl muttering something at him.

Of course, Taka would do that.

Leon rolled his eyes; seriously, only a few hours of knowing him, and this guy was so mega uncool.

“Now then, let us commence with a most noteworthy and memorable entrance ceremony!” Monokuma locked its hands behind its back and began rocking back and forth while speaking, “First, let’s talk about what your school life will be like. Now, ah, make no mistake; you few students, so full of potential, represent the hope of the world. And to protect such splendid hope, you’ll all live a communal life together solely within the confines of this school. Everyone will live in harmony, as well as adhering to the rules and regulations that the school has made.”

...Huh? Wait a minute, did that mean that he and everyone else would actually live in the school building? As in, have his own room and stuff like if he was going to college? Immediately, Leon’s mind brought back the image of when he left that classroom and that sign that read ‘Hotel Despair’ on the left hallway he didn’t go into. The name was kind of a stretch (and pretty dumb, if you asked him), but… if this place was going to have a dorm room for him to sleep in, that probably was where it was, yeah?

Ehhh…

Leon made a face at that thought. Like, he could see the chance of freedom so many people his age would love to get out of their house, and it’s not like it didn’t tempt him a bit. But frankly, with everything that’s happened up to this point, he was opting to just stay at home; his bedroom was just fine, thanks.

“Ah, now then… regarding the end date of this communal life… There ain’t one!”

…...Ummmm, what in the hell did he just-

Leon’s face froze when those words registered in his brain. His breath caught in his throat as the bear continued on.

“In other words, you’ll all be here until the day you die! Such is the school life you’ve been assigned,” Monokuma declared.

Toko’s voice rose up throughout the growing murmurs of disbelief and outrage, “Wh-What did he just say? Until the day we d-die…?”

Monokuma rubbed the back of its head bashfully, steamrolling once again through comments and reassured, “Yyyup! Oh, but fear not! Our budget is like super abundant, so you don’t have to worry your pretty little heads about lacking common conveniences!”

“That’s the least of our worries right now!” Sayaka objected, her hands curling inward towards her collarbone.

“Yeah, what the hell?” Junko chimed in, her eyes squinted with disgusted nervousness, “You’re saying I have to live here forever? You’re screwing with us, right?”

Ouch, not a great response; that seemed to stab the bear in the heart with great offense to where the little arms began flailing up and down. Okay, could we like… not piss off the strange bear, girl…?

“How rude! I’m not screwing with you! I’m no liar; that you can be one hundred percent sure of!” it hmphed, before rubbing its face and calming down enough to explain, “Oh, by the way! You’re completely cut off from the outside world, just so you know. So you don’t have to worry about that dirty, dirty land beyond the walls ever again! After all, who would want that disturbing your lovely school life, right?”

…...Oh, hell no.

“W-Wait, so… all those metal plates all over the school…”

In just a few seconds, everything around Leon, along with Makoto’s voice, drowned out into incoherent muffles. Trying to tear his eyes away from the bear after hearing the direction this ceremony was traveling down actually felt like it took a significant amount of focus and effort. And yet… his eyes dragged themselves slowly to land on the vision of the metal shutters that covered the windows above the bleachers on his left. Taking it all in, his mind brought him back images of the metal plates in that classroom and the giant metal hatch door in the entrance hall. So… t-those things were… they were to force everyone to stay inside this school building?

Then, like… this was for real? This Monokuma was honestly being dead serious about keeping all fifteen of them here for the rest of their lives?

…..N-No…. No, no no no, hell to the fuckin’ no-

F-Fuck that… seriously, no; fuck that...

He had his dream of being the greatest punk rock god there was, all brand new and shit. Like he’d be able to achieve that and sell double-platinum records and packed concerts by being stuck in a building for his entire life. And in a school one, no less. What the actual crap? And like… Kanon and his dad, right? Like, never being able to see them again and cutting off ties completely with them? There was just no way…

There was… H-He was just a teenager, for crying out loud… T-This can’t…

Leon’s breath hitched; his chest became tight with a seed of anxiety and dread being planted inside of him. Turning back, his eyes landed on the bear in the process of it talking. Unconsciously, his head began to shake repeatedly.

...Just… This was…

As his eyes remained glued to the thing claiming to be the headmaster of this place, Leon felt himself begin to smile awkwardly to the point of it nearly morphing into a grin, the right corner of his mouth stretching a bit further and twitching.

Ahh, damn it; he was that worked up…. He hated when he did that.

Unfortunately, that was a fact about himself he had to accept. Whenever Leon felt himself become nervous or intimidated, he had a tendency to smile like that. Some people were like that, where it was some kind of defense mechanism or some way that they could cope from stress or what not. Pfft, felt like utter bullshit, since it didn’t make him feel better in any kind of way. Not only did he look like a total idiot when it happened, but it took his dad a few years to finally realize that, hey, when your son gets into trouble, he’s not smiling, because he finds the whole thing funny or that he’s laughing at you.

But here? Here was totally justified.

His senses were able to turn on again and register Monokuma holding his hands over his stomach and saying, “...Help will not come. So with all of that in mind, feel free to live your life here with reckless abandon!!”

...Heh.

Actually using the word ‘free’ when talking about how they were going to be forced to live here forever.

T-That’s just…

Leon ended up breathing out a humorless chuckle. One that even surprised himself with how hollow and freaked out it sounded.

“Come on, what the hell is this?” he spoke up for the first time since coming into the gym, continuing to shake his head, “I don’t care if the school or whoever else is behind it all; this is just a really bad joke.”

Frankly, he didn’t even know himself whether or not he was talking to Monokuma or just voicing his thoughts to everyone else about how this was going too far, as if Hiro’s suggestion that the school was behind it all could have some kind of merit.

He was over this already.

Apparently, Mondo agreed with his sentiment and shouted, “Yeah, the guy’s right! Cut this shit out! It isn’t funny anymore!”

Initially growling in frustration, Monokuma ended up raising its hands to its weirdly-shaped mouth as if it found the whole thing hilarious.

“You keep saying that this is a lie, or a joke. Bah, bunch of skepty-skeptics, all of you! But I guess you can’t help it, huh? You all grew up in an age where you’re taught to doubt your neighbor… Well, you’ll have plenty of time to find out whether I’m telling the truth or one big massive fib. And when that time comes, you’ll see with your own eyeballs that I speak the undeniable truth.”

“Most unfortunate. Having to live here forever would be… quite the problem,” Celeste sighed, looking down at the ground with a crestfallen expression.

It seemed that everyone had their mood soured, because Monokuma tilted its head confusedly.

“Come, now. What’s the matter with all of you? You decided to attend Hope’s Peak Academy of your own free will, didn’t you? And now before I can even finish the entrance ceremony, you wanna go home?”

Screw off, ya dumb cartoon mascot wannabe. Leon wanted to attend the actual Hope’s Peak Academy, not whatever prison this was shaping up to be-

“But, you know, all of you are just so impatient, like your parents never taught you patience is a virtue. Tsk tsk, I’m trying my ‘beary’ hardest to get through this ceremony professionally to make this as memorable as possible,” it chuckled, ignoring some of the groans and faces it got from the students from bringing the bear pun gimmick back, “Now, if you wonderful students will let me, I can explain that there is one way to escape the school…”

Leon’s eyes blinked and widened, straightening up with curiosity as Toko’s voice behind him seemed hopeful, “R-Really?”

“Mhm, mhm, mmmhmmm! As headmaster, I’ve crafted a special clause for any of you who want to leave! And I call it the Graduation Clause!” the bear explained, very content with how the students quieted down instantly and listened, “Now, lemme tell you about this fun, little rule. As I mentioned earlier, in order to maintain an environment of harmony here, we rely on a communal lifestyle. However, if someone were to disrupt that harmony, they and they alone would be allowed to leave the school. That, my precious students, is the Graduation Clause!”

Byakuya’s arms dropped to his side as his icy gaze pierced into the talkative bear.

“What do you mean by ‘disrupt the harmony’?” he commanded him to answer.

Monokuma paused for a second. And then… despite being what it was… there was this evil sparkle in its eyes that made the baseball star’s chest feel tight again. Even more so when the toothy grin part on the black side of its body seemed to get bigger while it started to chuckle.

“Puhu… Puhuhuhu… Well, you know… If one person were to murder another.”

!!

“M-Murder!?” Makoto’s voice shot out in shock, being the charge of multiple gasps, incoherent mumblings of fear, and several people looking amongst each other.

Leon gritted his teeth, jerking his head backwards enough to take a step back. He felt cold sweat forming on his brow as the bear began to describe it in much unneeded detail.

“Stabbing, strangling, bludgeoning, crushing, hacking, drowning, igniting; how you do it doesn’t really matter to me. You must kill someone if you want to leave; it can’t get any simpler than that. The rest is up to you. Give it your all to achieve the best outcome in the worst way possible,” Monokuma explained, its face darkening with sickened glee.

Okay, for fuck’s sake… what the hell was all this shit!?

Leon was beyond trying to maintain his image, so he wouldn’t come off as uncool or what not. This was just way too much! Way beyond what he could deal with. His eyes growing smaller in size, he ended up bringing both hands and holding the back of his head, breathing elevating to a faster pace. Everything in his power was trying so freakin’ hard not to start panicking, but, come the fuck on!

How the hell do you react to something like that!?

Like, damn straight, he wanted to get the hell out of here and away from this bear that had the nerve to trap him in this god-forsaken building. But… Murder? Hell no! He wasn’t a murderer; he’d never do that to someone! H-His family and his dream; those things were WAY too important to blow on some bogus attempt out of this place and ruin his entire life like that! He’d never be able to live with himself if that happened…!

And yet, this… this stupid abomination of a toy, or doll, or whatever the others called Monokuma, was presenting it like it’s the only way to get out, and taking pleasure in doing so-

It giggled again.

He only heard that giggle a few times now, and already it made him sick to his stomach.

“Puhuhu! I bet that got the creative juices flowing in your brains! Beats the heck out of a human catching a salmon, huh?” it excitedly bounced up and down with another bear reference, “Like I said before, you guys are the hope of the world. But, you know… Taking that hope and seeing it get murdered causes a darkened shadow of despair.”

Suddenly, it roared, the mouth and teeth actually opening and making several students back away.

“And I just find that so… DARN… EXCITING!!”

W-What? Hope? Despair? What does that have to do-

Actually, no; you know what? Screw it; he didn’t give a flying fuck about that! What was more important was the fact of this ‘Graduation Clause’ and how stupid it was!

Leon found his voice and the strength behind it again as he yelled, “What the hell are you talking about!? To kill each other is… It’s…!”

Horrible. Insane. Impossible.

So many words floated into his mind to finish that sentence, but the tension and nervousness caught his voice in his throat and locked it into place, resulting in him stammering in the end, like stumbling at the finish line after a strong finish.

Due to his outburst, Monokuma actually turned to look at him. It didn’t matter that it tilted its head and innocently brought a hand, or paw, up to its face (while also... blushing; how the hell was that possible?), as if to be the cutest thing ever. But the fact that those eyes… one being a dot, and the other a red variation of what he just realized was part of the design of Hope’s Peak Academy logo…

That it was looking at him with those eyes…

He hated it. Creeped him the hell out to where it was hard maintaining eye contact.

“To kill each other is to kill each other,” Monokuma sounded confused, “I’m pretty sure there’s a dictionary lying around here somewhere if you need it, because I’m not sure how to explain that better than that…”

Oh, fuck you.

Leon felt himself gain a modicum of courage to glare angrily back at the bear at that. Maintaining eye contact wasn’t too hard now.

“We know what it means; that’s not the problem! Why do we have to kill each other!?” Hina’s voice piped up, ripping the bear’s attention away from him.

“Yeah! Stop blabbering on with all this nonsense!” Hifumi suddenly found the courage to join in, jabbing a finger towards it, “Just let us go home already!”

“...Blabbering…?”

The low tone and soft volume made him lose all of his fire, his arm hovering in the air before moving to his chest in nervousness. The reason probably had to do with the fact that Monokuma’s red eye started glowing out of nowhere. Add that to the fact it was visibly shaking, and… boy, it looked pissed.

“Blabbering, blabbering! What do you mean ‘blabbering’!? Stop blabbering on about blabbering on!!” it shrieked, causing a good majority of the students to back up.

And that alone drove Leon nuts in a way! Like, just judging from this distance, the dumb, stupid plush reject probably, once again, wasn’t even taller than his freakin' thighs! And yet, with… well, EVERYTHING ABOUT ITS EXISTENCE-

It just being real, claiming that it’s forcing everyone to live here forever, just everything! It somehow managed to still intimidate the crap outta him!

He probably could take a full-blown running start and then punt the thing up onto the stage with how small it was compared to him, and yet...!

“Do you guys not get it, or are you purposely trying to mess with me? ‘Let us go, let us go’! You keep on saying the same thing over and over and over and over, like a cd track locked on repeat, because some kiddie lacking in the mental department hit the repeat button, and can’t figure out why the heck it’s happening!” the bear started scratching at its head viciously, before clutching its paws into fists and apparently trying one last time to reiterate the situation, “Listen. From this moment on, this school is now your home, your life, and your world. Got it? And you can kill as much as you wanna kill! So go ahead; go on a kill-kill-killing spree!! I’m trying so hard to be patient for you, because you’re my beloved students, but this shit is seriously-”

Surprisingly, its rant was cut off by a calm chuckle.

Leon made a face that scrunched up on the baffled levels of why anyone would laugh at a time like this, and looked past Byakuya to see the one responsible. He and everyone ended up laying their eyes on Hiro, who shook his head and rubbed underneath his nose. Oddly enough, this guy was not even sweating whatsoever; like, he actually looked to be… amused?

“Alright, come on… How long you gonna keep this up?” he snorted, raising an eyebrow and having a smirk sketch its way onto his face.

“Eh?”

Monokuma had stopped dead in its tracks and tilted its head at the young man. Now, it very well may have been a misreading of its face, because honestly, it was kinda hard for Leon (and probably everyone else) to really get a good idea of what it was thinking. But based on what his thought process had currently, it seemed like the bear legit lost the wind in its sails and trying to comprehend what that guy just said.

“You got us, okay?” Hiro shook his hands a bit, chuckling again as he folded his arms over his chest, “You scared the hell out of us; a bit extreme, but not a bad prank. So you can go ahead and reveal the trick now.”

T-The freakin’... Did this guy seriously believe, after everything that had gone down up ‘til now, that this whole thing was still some kind of orientation schtick the school was doing? The hell was wrong with him? Like, even in the smallest percentage of this actually being a prank gone too far, the extreme lengths and bullshit of it all was still not friggin’ okay…!!

“Reveal the trick...?” Monokuma asked, legit curious as to what he meant.

Hiro’s smile seemed to finally drop in size, confused as to why it was seemingly uncertain of what he knew it was doing. He cupped his chin in one of his hands and closed an eye.

“Yeah, ‘cuz I mean… You know, this is all some kinda trick and all, yeah? I’m right, right? So uh, like-”

“Rrrgh. Dude, move.”

Leon turned his body to get a glimpse of Mondo walking forward and pushing Hiro out of the way. And by push, he meant looking so incredibly pissed off, he didn’t take any consideration of how strong his arm was. Just simply walking past and extending his right arm into his shoulder had enough power to knock the guy over. We’re talking like Hiro’s left leg going straight up in the air, a loud “WHOA!” being yelped out, and his arms flailing like a fish out of water before catching himself just in the nick of time to not end up collapsing into an ungraceful heap on the floor. Several students watched him to make sure he was okay, with even Makoto quietly asking if he was, to which he shakily laughed it off and nodded while picking up his jacket that had fallen off his shoulders during his fall.

Leon’s eyes moved his head back to watching the guy responsible march right up to Monokuma and crouch to its level.

Ooookay, mental note; don’t piss off the pompadour dude if you wanna live.

“Listen up, asshole!” Mondo’s voice rumbled like lightning, “This shit’s gone way too far! What the hell kinda joke IS this!?”

Monokuma paused for a second, before jabbing a paw towards the dude’s head.

“Joke? What, you mean like your hair?” it innocently asked.

The fact that Mondo somehow went absolutely still, yet even from the distance between them, could tell his shoulders started to shake…

Leon decided it was a good idea to take a step back… or three.

“The… hell… did you just…”

Despite the eerie low volume of Mondo's voice clearly struggling to contain himself, the bear acted utterly casual and scratched its head.

“I mean, what’s the name of that American snack? Fritos or something? You look like you love them so much, you decided to have your hair look like a giant one was glued to your head-”

Oh fu-

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-!”

Despite being started from a crouched position, the Crazy Diamonds leader managed to make a swift, powerful lunge towards the smartass bear. With a powerful hand, he was able to grip it by the neck, nearly palming it like a basketball. A “Gyahh!” came out of Monokuma as his stubby arms and legs begin to wave and kick around in the air.

A feeling of satisfaction swept over Leon as he couldn’t contain a bit of a smirk, despite feeling anxious about what would happen. Not just for the audacity it had to force them to stay here, but for that hairstyle comment.

Ya don’t mess with a guy’s do, alright? Guys can put a lot of effort into it, too, y’know.

“Gotcha, you little piece of shit! I dunno if you’re a toy or a stuffed animal, or whatever the hell else, but I don’t give a damn! I’m gonna fuckin’ tear you to shreds!!” Mondo roared, his teeth baring out like a predator.

“Waah! Violence against the headmaster is in violation of school regulations!” Monokuma protested, its dot eye clamping shut.

“Shut the fuck up! Lemme outta here, or I swear to Christ…” the biker growled, shaking it a few times…

...only for the bear to go entirely limp, and a loud beeping sound repeating at a slow pace.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

“What, no smartass comeback this time!?” Mondo snapped, tilting his head while his other first clenched so hard, he could hear his knuckles somehow crack.

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-

The shrill, high-pitched noise that was evolving into an unwanted grating on the ears seemed to push the guy over the edge again. Just a guess, considering the shouting.

“Stop that gawddamn beeping AND SAY SOMETHING-”

“Watch out! Get rid of it!”

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP-

Mondo’s rage died into pure frustration as he and everyone looked to see Kyoko, who had been silent the entire time, speak up with an urgent expression.

“H-Huh…?”

“Hurry up and throw it!”

Damn, that girl had spunk; just from her voice commanding him to do exactly what she said, the guy instantly obeyed. Massive force fueling his body, Mondo whirled around and reared his left arm back. A massive grunt came from him hurling the limp Monokuma into the air far from the whole group. The height of his throw was almost like his arm was a catapult-

BOOOOOOM!!!!

The bear suddenly exploded, a gigantic flash of orange and yellow alongside the bellowing noise shook the entirety of the gym!!

“UUUUWAAAAAAHHH!!!”

HOLY ASS, WHAT-

NO-

NO NO NO NO-

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

Unleashing a scream alongside everyone else that under normal circumstances would’ve mega embarrassed the hell outta him, Leon’s platform shoes assisted him in making a beeline straight to the bleachers after he could’ve sworn he jumped ten feet in the air. He leapt to about three rows of bleachers before slowing to a step, turning around, and crouching in utter disbelief and fear, both hands latched onto his head. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one who decided to get the hell out of there. Several others, like Hiro, Toko, and Hifumi had slightly jumped onto the bleachers and were shaken up, while some others like Makoto and Sayaka were nearby, but had definitely taken some distance from it.

The goateed jaw could’ve fallen to the ground if this had been a cartoon. The smell of gunpowder was evident, the black smoke still somewhat visible in the air before fading out of existence.

Metal plated windows. Crayon colored pamphlets. Action movie metal hatch doors. A talking bear who told them they either live forever here or kill each other to leave.

And now that same bear was a gawddamn bomb.

Leon closed his eyes, the beginnings of a headache looming over him.

Shit, he really wished he could take a nap right now. Hopefully to wake up out of this nightmare. Even if that meant that meeting Sayaka Maizono wasn’t real.

“T-The hell…”

He ignored both the pleas from his brain and eyes and opened his eyelids to see Mondo freaked out. He wasn’t scared shitless, but he definitely was in utter shock.

“T-That sure as shit wasn’t a joke. It blew the hell up…”

His words seemed to spur the other thirteen students into coming back, now that the danger had passed. Seeing everyone moving forward, the baseball star jerked, taking that as his cue, and did his best to shake off however horrified he was. He carefully moved down the bleachers and hesitantly regrouped with everyone near Mondo.

“I-Is… Is everyone okay?” Makoto asked, looking around.

With all heads looking around and no one disagreeing, Sayaka nodded, “Y-Yeah, I think we’re all fine…”

“T-To think it could do something like that… How truly bizarre!” Taka gasped in awe, his body visibly tense and teeth clenched.

“B-But… you know…” Chihiro’s timid voice spoke up, fidgeting with her hands, “This means that the teddy bear’s been destroyed, right?”

“Oi!! I told you already, I'm not a teddy bear! I’m Monokuma!!”

Before the girl’s statement could even be registered in everyone’s head and spark a glimmer of hope, a similar shape suddenly jumped out from behind the podium on stage and moved off, walking towards them-

A quick gasp followed by an audible grunt of terror, Leon’s arms flailed in front of himself for a second before his fight or flight instincts positioned himself ready.

“GAWD- There’s another one…!?” he yelled, everyone else as well shocked at this occurrence.

“You son of a bitch!” Mondo suddenly tensed up, gritting his teeth, but his face clearly spooked out, “You seriously tried to kill me just now!”

The bear’s red eye glowed even brighter as-

….Oh, gawd-

The bear actually had claws!?

“Well, no shit, sherlock! You grabbed me by the neck and threatened to rip me to shreds! So, yeah. I was seriously trying to kill you; you violated one of the school regulations, after all. ...Ahh, I’ll let you off with a warning this time, but you’d better be careful; you’re on thin ice, as far as I’m concerned,” it seethed, trying to reel its temper back with a huff and looking towards the entire group while its claws disappeared back into its paw, “That goes for all of you, capiche? Any naughty girl or boy isn’t just gonna get off with a tiny swat to the butt if you violate any of my rules.”

As Mondo scowled and did his best to regain his composure, a very nervous Junko carefully wiped whatever sweat was on her face before asking, “H-Hey… so does this mean that there’s like, a bunch more of you around somewhere?”

“Monokumas have been placed all throughout the school, yes. Plus, don’t forget the surveillance cameras installed everywhere. And if you’re caught breaking any rules… well, you just saw what happened, since none of you kiddies are blind, right?” the bear said, before giving a sadistic, sickening giggle again, “Puhu… And that’s not even taking in the fact that I won’t be so forgiving with punishments next time. So don’t let it happen again!”

“T-That’s… you can’t even call that a punishment. That’s just… wrong…” Hina was nearly unable to breath out.

She was right; no matter who you were… no one deserved to get blown up like that…

“Now then, lastly… To commemorate your joyous entry into our school-”

Joyous entry.

FREAKIN’ REALLY!?

Actually, also, you’re just gonna pretend like that whole thing didn’t just happen-

Screw this bear. Screw him. So. Hard.

“-I have a little something for you!”

The bear’s puffy body whirled around and ran up onto the stage, leaving fifteen teenagers in its dust. It quickly ducked behind the podium, making a few strained grunting noises before rushing back; in its arms, a giant pile of what appeared to be…

Whoa… what the? Some kind of electronic device?

“You all get an official student handbook! Neat, huh?” Monokuma beamed happily, waddling up to Makoto.

The boy seemed uneasy, but blinked with confusion as the bear lifted the pile up to him.

“Here, pass this out to your fellow classmates for me, will ya?” it asked, “While you’re doing that, I’ll explain what the handbooks do. They have removable stickers on the back of them that will show the names of who they belong to, so don’t worry about giving the wrong one to the wrong person!”

He had no godly clue why the kid listened to it, but Leon watched as Makoto actually obeyed it and took the stack of devices into his arms. Monokuma ended up skipping away and back towards where it initially stood.

And Leon’s handbook was apparently the top of said pile, because the boy turned to look at him and handed it to him with an uneasy expression. The baseball star pursed his lips, nodding a thank you to him, and took the item out of his hands. As this allowed Makoto to continue distributing the other handbooks out, Leon began to glance over the item a bit, while few of the others who stood near him observed the item until they got their own.

It was a super thin, shiny blue rectangular device that had the Hope’s Peak Academy logo on the back near the sticker that said his name. Sort of like a super small version of a tablet computer or something.

“Now, as you get yours, you’ll be able to tell that it’s fully digital. So naturally, we call it the e-Handbook!” it proudly explained, watching as slowly but surely, all of the fifteen students got one, “Now, please take super special note of this! Your handbooks are absolutely vital to a healthy school life, so don’t lose them! When it boots up, it always will display your name; make sure you have the right one on you at all times. That’s also why I put stickers on the back which you can remove if you so wish; just in case you’re doubtful if being able to tell whose e-Handbook is which.”

Crossing its arms over its chest, it continued, “Now, this ain’t your everyday notebook. It has so many more uses than that! Also, totally waterproof; splash it, wash it, or drown it, It’ll still keep tickin’! And with its space age design, it can withstand up to an impact of ten tons; very resistant! It’ll contain every school regulations, so make sure you review them thoroughly!”

Okay, so this thing is important. Good thing some of the inner pockets in his jacket are big enough for this…

“Now… Ahem.”

Leon looked up to see Monokuma huffing seriously.

“You’ll hear me say this a lot, but violations of school regulations won’t be tolerated at all. Rules restrict, yes, but they also protect. Society, for example, would be utter chaos without them,” it spoke, pounding its chest, “The same thing applies here! Which is why strict punishments are crucial for violators. And I won’t be hearing any pleas or begging for simple warnings, either.”

It turned its head to Mondo and flashed a… rather cruel grin.

“You can thank ‘Pompadour Man’ for giving you all your only warning.”

Mondo cursed under his breath.

“Okay, well! That brings our official entrance ceremony to a close!” Monokuma clapped, “Please enjoy your abundantly dreary school life! And… See ya!”

Before anyone could react, the bear crouched down and somehow managed to do ten backflips in midair, going above the podium, and landing behind it…

...to somehow disappearing, leaving the fifteen students all confused and in shock.

After several seconds of silence, confirming that the bear was indeed gone, everyone began to look around at each other.

“So, guys…” Taka’s voice cut through firstly, “How would you define what we just experienced?”

Wh… Define?

How the hell could you define that? Just… How…? Why…?

“Yo, can you even define something that nuts?” Leon shook his head, “I don’t understand any of this…”

“W-We have to live here f-forever…? Or… k-kill?” Toko’s voice desperately seeked answers, “Wh-What…? What just happened!?”

“Everyone, we need to calm down,” Kyoko cut through before anything got further out of control, having everyone look towards her eyes shifting downwards towards the floor in thought, “First, let’s take a second to summarize everything we heard. Based on what Monokuma said, we have two choices. Choice number one being that we each stay here, living a ‘communal life’ together until the day we die. And choice number two…”

“If we want to get out alive, we must kill someone. Right?” Celeste answered, hands calmly held in front of her stomach.

Chihiro’s eyes started to water, shaking her head as her hands trembled over the bow near her neck, “B-But… killing someone… T-That’s…”

“We were abducted out of nowhere and stuffed into this place meant to look like a school. And now we’re supposed to start killing each other?” Hifumi tried to stay calm, but ended up freaking out the more he talked, “T-This is… Gurk…! This is just…!! What IS this!?”

Leon felt his eyes glare into this giant sphere-like shape that just so happened to be a human being. G-Gawddamn, dude, shut the hell up! You don’t need to go freakin’ out and making other people just as freaked out…!

“Ridiculous! A lie, is what it is,” Taka said as he shook his head, attempting to try to convince Hifumi… and maybe himself, about how this situation wasn’t real, “All these ridiculous things we’ve heard… This all has to be fake!”

And at that moment…

A single noise.

One that wasn’t by all means loud, but it commanded the entirety of the room to pay attention.

“Hmph.”

Everyone turned to see Byakuya, who despite the entirety of the situation, had his arms folded calmly over his chest again and appeared to be aloof with his eyes wishing to stare at the wall instead of anyone else. His head shook disapprovingly before his mouth opened again.

And frankly… his words was all that was needed to really understand.

Understand the seriousness of what was now happening.

“Right now, it doesn’t really matter if it’s real or fake. What really matters is…”

His head slowly turned back, his eyes piercing into everyone as his arms dropped down to his sides.

“Is there anyone here who’s seriously considering all this…?”

...Seriously… considering…?

You mean… considering… to…

...murder someone…?

Something… something in Leon’s chest ended up stopping or… or something. Because everything… everything got really cold or it felt like it was hard to breath for a split moment.

T-That… That was just…

Leon felt himself staring at the blonde from behind him when he said that. Like… why would he say that? How could he say that? What in his mind brought him to the conclusion that this was the right thing to say…?

It was just… ridiculous.

R-Ridiculous, like Taka said.

So ridiculous… it was funny.

And it made him laugh.

A laugh that sounded frustrated, yet in disbelief.

To the point where Byakuya turned around to glance at him.

And the way that his eyes stared back at him, almost as if to challenge him to object to what he said…

Again, so ridiculous, right?

“H-hey, come on, man!” Leon finally found his voice after his laugh died abruptly, “The hell’s up with that? Don’t say such stupid crap like that; I mean, for real. There’s no way anyone here would actually... kill each other…”

The amount of effort it took to tear his eyes off of Byakuya after saying that was unbelievable…

And yet… when he finally did, he really wished he didn’t.

Because no one…

No one seemed to agree confidently that it was an impossibility like he said.

“...Right…?”

He finished the end of his question in a voice that was on the verge of being hushed. Due to the fact that he was alone…

They all were staring at one another, trying to gauge each other’s thoughts. It was like he could taste the hostility. He may not have always been the smartest person, but… even Leon now could realize the horror that had been weaved into the rules Monokuma laid out.

“You must kill someone in order to leave.”

That sentence kept ringing over and over in his head. No matter how he tried to block it out, it was front and center stage, continuously looping with no end in sight. And now, it was making him feel like an utter moron for actually saying what he said before.

But more importantly, it really had him take a strained, deep breath in. Because, like… there’s no way he’d murder someone. He’d never…

It wasn’t the question of ‘who could I kill’.

It was actually the question of ‘who could kill me’.

Eventually, his eyes started to dart around, glancing at everyone one. He tried to look at everyone’s face without them noticing, and he felt his skin crawl whenever a pair of eyes glanced his direction. And gawddamn it, why the hell did Sakura of all people have to be right behind him?

His right arm raising up to his head, he pursed his lips and closed his eyes for a short while. So he could control the pace of his breathing.

Fourteen people. He was trapped with fourteen people, who any of them, for all he knew or cared, could try to pull something and kill him or someone else here, betraying the group in order to have a selfish escape out of this place.

...Well, one thing he did know?

He officially hates bears. Like, a lot.

================

PROLOGUE: END

SURVIVING STUDENTS: 15

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 1: TO SURVIVE

DAILY LIFE: START

================

“So? What are you going to do now?”

The sharp voice cutting through the tense silence that Leon had closed his eyes and tried to calm himself against had them reopen again. Taking a second to blink and recognize what was said, he turned around with everyone else to see who spoke.

Kyoko.

Somehow, regardless of hearing the choices of life imprisonment or attempting to murder another person, her body stood firm. Arms folded over her chest, and her face… showing no fear. An expression that was strong, unrattled… possibly even going so far as to be… calm? In a situation like this…? H-How-

Her eyes came back from looking away to the side and glanced around at everyone.

“Just stand around glaring at each other?” her voice spoke to everyone in the room.

The inquiry of what the entire group’s next action was going to be had apparently melted the tensioned fear that claimed them. In a matter of seconds, people were starting to look around casually and their postures reverting to normal before the ceremony started. Even he could feel his chest take a breath and all of the anxiety built around simmering down into a pile of ashes.

W-Whoa… In a matter of seconds, this girl had destroyed the toxic, unhealthy atmosphere and calmed everyone back to their senses.

Hey, it’s not like he was complainin’ or anything.

“Nnrgk! R-Right… She’s right! Sometimes, even if you’re nervous or afraid, you just have to step forward and face the situation!” Taka clutched his fists passionately, though a shade of shame washed over his features, “To forget such a simple fact… How utterly humiliating to do an unforgivable mistake! Please, someone hit me! I have to be punished! Somebody hit me!!”

….Dude, you got major issues.

Leon’s eyes might as well have been tiny dots with how annoyed and incredulous he stared at him and how stupid he was acting. He ‘had to be punished’...? Just… Don’t even know where to begin with that one…

On the other hand, if he was really wanting someone to smack him-

“Jesus, dude,” Mondo’s voice shook him out of that thought, shaking his head with a grumble at Taka, “If you have energy to yell about it, how about doing something about it?”

“Perhaps, but… what is the mission, exactly?” Hifumi chewed at his nails while asking.

...Was he dumb?

Like… was he??

Maybe it was the fact that Taka being a moron and saying stuff that a normal person would realize is a very stupid and cringy thing to say, or that initially, the introductions with Hifumi in the entrance hall may not have been exactly something he wanted to remember due to how the guy rubbed him the wrong way. Hell, probably the whole entrance ceremony had taken a toll on his current behavior. But the fact this freakin’ guy had the nerve to ask that… Like it’s so obvious, you-

“Idiot! To find a way outta here! Duh!!” He hardened his stare, hunching forward as he spit out those words at him.

The harshness of his stare’s purpose most likely to make him feel stupid for even saying that; it worked, considering how Hifumi kinda fidgeted and looked away while scratching his head. And Leon made sure not to stop until a few more seconds, his body straightening up with a huff and shaking his head.

“And we totally need to find whoever was controlling that stupid bear and beat the hell out of ‘em,” Junko added on, her makeup being complimented by a nice shade of angry red.

He totally seconded that motion right there. Ugh, he wasn’t even afraid anymore. Now he was just annoyed as all hell.

Speaking of beating up whoever was behind the bear…

Where exactly did it disappear to?

Pale blue eyes swept from the other fourteen students and towards the stage, locking onto the podium where Monokuma somehow defied physics and backflipped behind. And yet, it straight up was gone. He wasn’t going to attack it out right, because like hell he was about to see if that bear would explode in his face or worse as a ‘punishment’ and keep its word about being strict. But finding where it went off to or how it pulled that stunt was a start.

Passing by Byakuya and Hiro, Leon started to make his way towards the stage. Many of the group began to notice and pay attention to him while he moved towards the stairs on the left side.

“Hey, just a moment! Where do you think you’re going?” Taka’s booming shout felt as if it echoed and rebounded against the gym’s walls and ceiling extra hard.

The baseball star stopped right at the bottom of the steps to turn and see the guy actually pointing at him, making everyone focus on the two of them. Geez, with how his body looked tense as hell, he’d probably start marching over to him if he didn’t answer fast enough.

A sigh came out of his mouth and he frowned at him.

“Yo, isn’t it obvious? I’m going to see where the hell that Monokuma thing went…” he said, jabbing a thumb towards the stage and returning to making his way up the stairs.

The fact that he heard a “Ah, I see! That’s a good idea!” almost immediately from Taka getting off his back nearly made his eyes glare aggravatingly at the ceiling.

That is… if he hadn’t noticed someone else beating him to the stage area.

A suddenly moving color of lilac caught Leon’s eyes to see that Kyoko was approaching the podium from the opposite stairs-

Wait a sec… wasn’t she at the back of the group? And yet, she somehow got up the stage steps before he did?

Leon blinked.

Huh... girl’s quick.

Well, whatever; he’ll take the help in searching the stage for that stupid bear.

Eventually, he and Kyoko ended up meeting towards the podium and began looking it over. And also-

A solid SMACK against the stage echoed as both looked to see Mondo slamming both hands onto it. Using his strength, he managed to lift the rest of his body to get up onto the stage.

“Mondo! Don’t do that! There are stairs for a reason!” Taka chastised him while the biker pushed off the ground and to his feet.

Mondo sent a glare in response for a second, before turning back to the podium and saying, “Piss off. Now’s not the time to worry about that…”

It didn’t seem like Taka entirely agreed, but how he huffed out of his nostrils suggested he was willing to put aside the issue for now. While he began to make his way towards the right stairs in order to join the three on stage, Makoto, Sayaka, and Junko had approached from the gym floor to spectate anything the four would find. Not wanting to be uncool and get in Kyoko’s way when she started to get to a knee and inspect the bottom of the podium, Leon opted to use his height advantage to peer over her as best as he could when needed, while maintaining an appropriate distance away from Mondo in order not to piss him off. Because seriously, that temper. No thank you.

And yet, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary with it. It was a fairly normal wooden podium that still had that microphone and untouched glass of water on it. There didn’t seem to be an opening, switch, or something that stuck out like a sore thumb to show a clue as to where Monokuma went.

What the hell? How can that be…?

“How’s it going? Are you guys able to find anything?” Makoto asked, taking a step forward as if he was about to jump up onto the stage as well to help (and suffer Taka’s scolding wrath).

“Uhhh… so far, nothin’, really…” Leon hated to admit, but mumbled loud enough for him to be heard.

His mind was running out of ideas on how that thing disappeared. Despite how it clearly landed behind the podium, his curious frustration would give a slight hit to his common sense when he just decided to peer underneath the red cloth on the front of the podium. Bending over, he did his best to try and lift the cloth with both hands for him to try and get a glimpse of it. Kyoko seemed to come up beside him and attempted to get closer to look-

“Tch. Fuckin’ shit.”

BAM.

Mondo swearing under his breath in a growl-like fashion was followed by him giving a swift kick to the wood, causing it to shake and take everyone off guard. Jerking his head back with a grimace, Leon immediately let go of the cloth to back up with Kyoko and the others down below. His eyes landed on Mondo who was staring out of the corner of his eyes in a miffed like fashion.

Just… geesume…

“Hey! Don’t just kick it like that; you’ll damage the podium!” Taka scolded, his eyes burning passionately at the guy.

The biker whirled around to face him.

“What, you seriously on my case about something as stupid as that? You think I care?” he argued, “We have some freak of nature tryin’ hold us hostage in this place! Is some stupid hunk of wood really that big of an issue to get pissed at me for?”

Taka took a deep breath, probably to control himself, before folding his arms and standing his ground.

“No. However! I don’t think I need to remind you of what almost happened to you a few moments ago,” he explained, the anger in Mondo’s face being wiped away with comprehension of where he was going with this, “Monokuma stated it will be enforcing whatever rules it’s placed very strictly. And I would think that damaging school property would be something it’d be against us doing.”

“He’s right. While we haven’t checked out the rules on our handbooks yet, it’s certainly plausible to think that for now,” Kyoko added, gathering the attention of the small group.

Mondo must’ve realized how silly the whole thing was, because he hmphed and stuffed his hands into his coat’s pockets.

“Tsk. Fine, fine, I won’t go kickin’ the stupid thing. Happy?”

Yeah, Leon was.

Please, God, don’t tell him this dude would have a meltdown every time he wasn’t happy…

“Yeah, so, anyways…” Junko shook her head and then pointed at the podium, “If there isn’t any kind of special switch or doohickey on that thing, maybe there’s like… I dunno, something underneath it where that bear slipped into?”

“Hmm, a possibility. Good observation! Let’s check it out,” Taka piped up, moving to the podium and getting the baseball star’s attention, “Excuse me, Leon? Could you remove the microphone and glass of water off this? That way, Mondo and I can move this, in order for us to examine the stage floor.”

He wouldn’t lie that he didn’t know if he should be annoyed at being told what to do by Taka of all people or that feeling like it would be a complete, uncool overreaction. But hey, the dude didn’t bark at him like it was an order, so… whatever.

“Ehh, sure thing,” he shrugged.

Carefully lifting the microphone (which thankfully wasn’t on, or else he’d risk embarrassing himself by causing an ear-wrenching feedback screech to attack everyone’s eardrums) and the glass of water (which was almost full to the brim, so he had to really watch himself), Leon’s tongue poked out of his mouth and pressed tightly against his upper lip. The face he made and how slow his steps were emphasized just how careful he was trying to be. Because like hell he was about to spill the glass and dump water all over himself and/or someone else right in front of Sayaka.

Eventually, he managed to back away far enough and set the two things down, while Mondo helped Taka lift the wooden structure up and move it a few feet away. The moment they did, Kyoko crouched down and traced her hands along the stage floor, examining it while the three below moved closer to see if they could spot anything. When the others on stage gathered around, the lilac-haired girl stood up and folded his arms, bringing a gloved index finger to rest near her lips.

“Hmmm… There doesn’t seem to be an uneven surface or anything of the sort to suggest there’s an opening or secret passage to move into,” she concluded for the others.

Taka was flabbergasted at hearing that and shook his head, “W-What? Then… Monokuma just straight up disappeared? T-That’s not possible!”

Offering up a solution, Makoto pointed behind them.

“Maybe he ended up running behind the stage and is hiding there?”

“Nah, man. I was over to the far right, and didn’t see it do that,” Mondo objected, shaking his head.

“Yeah, same here,” Junko added, her frown staying solid as she began to twirl the end of one of her pigtails, “If that bear tried to run further back, we would’ve been able to see the little bastard...”

“...What the crap…?” Leon heard those words come muttering out of his mouth before he realized it as he stared at the floor.

Sayaka pressed a hand near her collarbone and turned to look at Makoto.

“B-But then… how did it do that?”

The boy appeared as if he wished he could give her an answer right away, but was hesitant to admit that he had no idea and teetered on the verge of shrugging and shaking his head. Hell, Leon wouldn’t blame him in this case. Because for real, man. If the podium wasn’t suspicious, there wasn’t a secret exit in the floor, and running behind the stage wasn’t possible…

How the heck did that thing just-

BOOOOOOOM.

Now, one would think that the massive sound of a huge impact meeting a hard surface amplified by a hundred had commanded the attention of everyone in the gym. Well, that may have very well been a reason. But THE reason? A sudden, gust-like wind sweeping through the entire area, with such force and power that it made eyes clamp shut and arms raised to shield their faces. Even some of the students let out a small cry of shock. A few seconds after it passed, all turned their eyes upward to one of the bleachers…

Within the top of the seating area, near the blue handrails, stood Sakura and Hina, with the larger girl’s right arm against the metal shutters with a perfect strike form. And if… Leon’s eyes wasn’t playing tricks on him… t-there was a faint line of smoke coming from where her fist would be…

“Did…. did she just try to punch her way through that…?” Sayaka barely was able to ask, her eyes widening in awe.

Junko squinted in disbelief, her mouth in a grimace.

“I totally wanna say no, but like… I think she did.”

A grunt came out of Mondo’s throat as he rubbed at his neck, “You tellin’ me that girl punched that thing, and that’s what happened? Christ, she’s gotta be strong as hell…”

“A-Amazing…” Leon could hear Makoto barely being able to breathe out.

Amazing isn’t exactly the word he’d use.

Terrifying? Yeah, that- that would be the word right there.

After a moment, both Hina and Sakura began to make their way down the bleachers to rejoin the others in the middle. That seemed to be a cue for them to follow suit, as all seven at the stage made their way off it (though Taka was irked at how Leon and Mondo just hopped off the stage instead of using the stairs) and regrouped as well.

“Well? Any luck?” Celeste inquired, tilting her head slightly.

Hina frowned, stuffing her hands into her jacket’s pockets, “Nope, no dice. Those metal shutters aren’t going anywhere.”

“It appears my strength isn’t sufficient enough to break through,” Sakura closed her eyes, folding her arms, “My apologies.”

W-Well… C-Can anyone, even someone like her, really break through solid metal with just their own strength? Yet, the look on her face was… did she really think she could do it?

Shaking his head at that, Leon recollected himself and scratched at the back of his head carefully as he spoke up, “And no luck over on the stage. Somehow, that bear managed to give us the slip, but we couldn’t find out how it got away.”

“Whoa, for real? That’s insane…” Hiro gawked at that, eyes widely blinking.

Dude didn’t need to tell him that twice.

“T-Then… how do we proceed with our mission…?” Hifumi began to ask…

...until a soft, gentle voice peeked into the conversation with a trembling, nervous arm.

“...U-Um… Excuse me…?”

Fourteen heads turned to look at the smallest form. Chihiro appeared to have barely gotten the courage to speak up, but now that everyone was looking at her, she seemed to falter for a split second while glancing around at everyone looking at her. Leon couldn’t help but feel a bit concerned for her; maybe she didn’t think anyone would actually hear her. But after taking a few seconds, she took a shaky breath and somewhat regained her composure.

“S-Sorry, but… Maybe we should take a look at the handbook. Monokuma said that the regulations we need to follow are all listed there, so it’s probably best if we check them out, right?” she offered.

Celeste gave a smile, nodding to her.

“True. If we stumble around with no clue what the rules are, something like that may happen again,” she agreed, her eyes briefly darting towards the biker gang leader.

With Mondo once again cursing under his breath, Junko let out a huff as she pulled out her handbook, “Fine, let’s hurry up and check out what these stupid rules are, already.”

Taking a moment to dig out his own from one of his inner pockets he previously had stashed his there, Leon pressed the small power button on the side and turned his handbook on. The moment the screen lit up, it showed a blackish-blue tinted color with the Hope’s Peak Academy logo in the background. On the top right, it read ‘Hope’s Peak Academy e-Handbook’ near a smaller logo of the school’s insignia, and a small white arrow pointing left in the bottom left. After a few seconds, it made a small jingle tune and showed cased his full name in white letters before a small menu on the left appeared with three choices: Report Cards, Regulations, and Map. When he pressed the name for regulations, the screen turned to a blackish-purple color scheme as the rules were listed on the screen and could be scrolled up and down.

The following rules were:

1. Students may only reside within the school. Leaving campus is an unacceptable use of time.

2. ‘Nighttime’ is from 10 PM to 7 AM. Some areas are off-limits at night, so please exercise caution.

3. Sleeping anywhere other than the dormitory will be seen as sleeping in class and will be punished accordingly.

4. With minimal restrictions, you are free to explore Hope’s Peak at your own discretion.

5. Violence against Headmaster Monokuma is strictly prohibited, as is destruction of surveillance cameras.

6. Anyone who kills a fellow student and becomes ‘blackened’ will graduate, unless they are discovered.

7. Additional school regulations may be added as necessary.

So these were the rules that he needed to follow, or else he’d get blown up or worse by Monokuma…

Great. Flippin’ fantastic.

Already off to a horrible start, that first rule could go to hell. Because that was just dumb as dumb could be. The second and third rules, he’d have no problem with. He may have those nights where he loved to stay up late and hang out with his friends, but he was the kind of guy who really valued his sleep. Like, tons of it; he might love sleeping so much, he could have dreams of taking naps.

Having to be put under these regulations by that bear thing wasn’t exactly something he was looking forward to. And yet…

It was that seventh rule that really kept his attention focused.

Monokuma could add rules as the time of being forced to live in this place went on. And that really bothered him. Who knows what kind of messed up stuff it would try to implement on everyone? That was way too dangerous of a rule; one that gives the person holding them all hostage here too much of an advantage. And mixed with number five, that meant no fighting back, which was bullcrap. Leon’s expression seemed to emphasize that much, as his face was stuck between a disappointed frown and a glare that spoke volumes of annoyance.

Welp, he checked out the rules. What about these other options-

Ooookay, the map one said ‘Unavailable at the moment. Please check back in later,’ so that’s not working right now.

But probably, it would unlock sometime later? And was it like a map of the school itself, or…?

Whatever. How about the report cards?

The moment he pressed it, the screen turned to a darkish-orange color scheme and a list of everyone’s names were brought up in numerical order. He caught his name as number five in the list, and when he pressed it, it brought up a small picture of him that he remembered taking for his student registration for Hope’s Peak Academy (His dad was kinda ticked that he tilted his head in the picture, but personally, he thought it was pretty cool looking). Near it, was a list of all his information: Name, Height, Weight, Chest, and his Ultimate Talent-

Gah, it even says Baseball Star on this, and now everyone will see it…

Hitting the back button in the bottom corner, he scrolled down to Sayaka’s name and when he pressed it, it did the same for her info.

So the report cards gave a general description on everybody here. Alright, good to know. So, that’s all the e-handbook had at this point.

By the time he hit the power button, sending his handbook to snooze like he assumed it’d do, and stashed it back in his jacket, Leon realized that a conversation involving Junko and Mondo was happening and he pretty much missed out on whatever the heck the group listened to them talk about.

“None of that made much sense to me, but you are saying you will follow the regulations, yes?” Celeste seemed interested, twirling her hair with closed eyes as she asked.

“Huh? Oh, well… Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Mondo nodded, rubbing the back of his neck.

Oops. Well, uh… hopefully the guy doesn’t find out he completely ignored him…

“Hey, um…”

Leon turned to watch Sayaka start to speak up, “I have a question. For regulation number six… what do you think it means exactly?”

The rule about murdering someone and becoming a ‘blackened’... whatever that means.

“Oh, you mean about the second half, right? ‘Unless they are discovered’?” Makoto asked, and continued when she nodded to him, “Yeah, I was kind of wondering what that meant, too.”

“It shouldn’t even need explaining. But I suppose if you’re really having that much trouble…” Byakuya shook his head, but continued to elaborate without making eye contact, “It’s saying that if you want to graduate, you need to kill someone without anyone finding out it was you.”

“B-But why…? W-Why do we h-have to do that…?” Toko shook her head, questioning it.

The blond decided to glance over towards her and give her an answer, “I don’t see any reason to worry about it. Just worry about following the rules as they’ve been explained to us. Frankly, I don’t want to hear anything from someone who waits for others to decide what to do for them.”

Ouch. Like a sucker-punch of a low blow right there, damn…

Despite the fact that last sentence was really aimed at her, Toko seemed to have a bit of a blush come across her face with a smirk.

“D-Don’t jab at me…” she muttered back at him, her fingers fidgeting.

More like a full-on stab…

The girl looked over at his direction and shot him a nasty look-

Oh, wait; did he say that out loud?

“Okay, well, for now, let’s forget all about that silly junk of murders of whatever,” Hina waved her hands around, before fixing the collar of her jacket and getting a look of determination, “Now that we know the rules, let’s start exploring the school!”

Taka was on the same page with this notion as he agreed, “True. We need to find out where exactly we are. Is there a way out? What about food and supplies? There are questions that need answers!”

The two of them really seemed to invigorate a sense of working hard to find a way out of here, as everyone seemed to nod and regain some energy in their posture. And hell, that was enough to pump Leon up. Yeah, they were totally finding a way outta here! No problem!

“Damn straight!” he said, his serious excitement lighting up his face with an intense look as he clutched his fists out in front of him, “Let’s get started already and find a way to bust outta here!”

“...I’ll be going alone.”

“Eh…?”

Almost like a balloon being squished harshly, Leon’s bravado suddenly fizzled at what he heard. When he turned to look around, most of the group had gasps and grunts of shock as Byakuya spoke up with his head turned away, focusing on the gymnasium exit.

“What!? Why?” Junko folded her arms and raised an eyebrow, making no attempt to hide how dumb she thought he was being, “That’s a pretty stupid idea, don’t you think?”

Without even regarding her via eye contact, he replied, “Someone here might already have started thinking about murdering one of us. Are you saying we should stand around with them in our midst and make it much easier for them?”

The fashionista lost her fire and joined a few who had their expressions soften up with worry or concern.

Sayaka took a step towards him and urgently pleaded, trying to muster up some bravery against that horrible possibility, “W-Wait, hold on a second! You can’t say that; that would never-”

And within a millisecond, Byakuya’s arms uncrossed and he sharply turned to face her, catching her off guard and silencing her voice almost immediately. His eyes turned cold as a stone, yet sharp as a sword the moment they locked onto her.

“Don’t bother saying it couldn’t happen,” he nearly snapped at her as if it were a command, before his face only relaxed ever-so-slightly into a serious, aloof shade of emotion, “You can’t deny the possibility. That’s why you all seized up with fear the moment the graduation clause was explained to you. Am I wrong?”

And just like that, Sayaka frowned and nearly curled inwards, showing a deep insecurity and embarrassment to being shut down like that. The sight of that made Leon’s eyes move towards the prodigy and borderline leer at the guy. Dude, the hell was his problem? Like, he could get why Byakuya felt the way he did. It’s not that. But like… he didn’t have to treat Sayaka like that. She deserved better than getting a shit-like response.

With no rebuttal given back, Byakuya turned to walk towards the door.

“I’m simply acting in accordance with what I think is best for me. Surely, all of you can understand that much,” he scoffed, getting at least halfway to leaving the gym…

...only for Mondo to suddenly come rushing over and standing directly in front of his path.

“Hold on! Like hell I’m gonna let you just run off and do whatever you want,” he yelled, his teeth snarling at his target.

And whoa, okay; give credit to Byakuya, all right? The guy had balls, man. Wasn’t even flinching with that kind of a guy in his face-

“Out of my way, plankton.”

….Oh…. No.

“Wh-!? The fuck did you say??” Mondo dared him to actually say it again.

And Byakuya matched his dare with an unaffected air of superiority.

“One tiny bit of plankton, drifting across the sea. So minuscule, so insignificant, they couldn't possibly have any kind of influence on the boundless ocean.”

“Ohhhh, your paranoia is about to be right on, ‘cause I’m gonna kick your ass!” the vein in Mondo’s forehead visibly bulged and made its form present, as the biker menacingly cracked his knuckles and stared the other male down.

C-Come on, dude, not again-

Byakuya hardened his intense glare back at him, “You dare to insinuate that I’m afraid of you?”

“W-Wait!”

Before Leon could register it, Makoto went rushing past him towards the two, causing a small gasp from Sayaka. He stopped at their side, gaining their attention, and looked back and forth between them.

“The last thing we need is to start fighting each other,” he tried to reason, “We shouldn’t be-”

“Huh!? Who do you think you are, talkin’ to me like that!?” his pleading for them to stop was abruptly cut by Mondo slowly turning to face him with rage coursing through his bloodstream, “You some kinda goody-goody little bitch? You think you’re my dad or somethin’, tryin’ to teach me a lesson!?”

At that point, Makoto must’ve realized that perhaps stepping in between an anger-fueled guy who towered over him wasn’t thoroughly reviewed over in his head as a good plan. Because the kid tried to backpedal so hard out of that slippery slope and took a step backwards, waving his hands frantically all over the place.

“N-No!! I-I wasn’t-”

“FUCK YOU!!!”

Before the sole of Makoto’s foot that was retreating could even properly plant itself onto the floor, Mondo had taken a leaping step forward, planted it with a solid thud, and cocked his arm back as far as it could go. From that, his right fist formed into a powerful, yet extraordinarily swift straight punch that a professional boxer would be impressed with. It seemed like the smaller boy had some reaction, since his body tried to lower to duck. But all that did was make his forehead the new target instead of his face. The fist smashed into his head so hard, the poor guy actually went flying!!

Leon’s jaw dropped as Makoto legit went backwards a good five or six feet. His body sailed through the air, before suddenly…

Gravity’s such a bitch, right?

WHAM.

The back of his head and his shoulders were the first thing to smash into the floor, making a sickening noise that wasn’t anything like a crack of a broken bone, but sounded just as disturbing. His body actually skidded on his shoulders a few more inches, before momentum took over and brought his lower half down to the floor as well, ending with his feet bouncing slightly.

Several of the girls gasped and cried out in shock; hell, some of the guys did, too. A few of them even backed up (hell, more like darted backwards) at the terror of what just happened. Leon personally felt his voice leave him while his still-dropped jaw stayed wide open. His eyes took in the fact that not only was Makoto not moving at all, but hadn’t made any kind of noise during the initial punch. So, like…

He slowly turned to look at the person who caused it, and… it looked like even Mondo didn’t expect his victim to go that far back. Don’t get it mistaken; guy was still pissed. But more like a ‘Wait, that just happened?’ look came across his face. Really hammered in with the fact that he blinked a bit before straightening up.

And that’s when he realized someone was standing in front of him.

“Control yourself. Immediately.”

The guy looked up to see the only person who could tower over him.

Sakura.

She had spoken those words with a neutral face and calm voice; nothing that would send danger flags. And yet… hah… it was like the aura around her, man… it got so….

Yikes. Even being some amount of feet away from her had Leon on guard.

But for Mondo? It was right up in his face, and had him calmed. Like almost instantly.

His mouth closed into a thin line as he took a deep breath, let out a very scratchy sigh, and nodded a few times while bringing a hand up to his neck to rub it.

“Right… Got ya,” he said, avoiding eye contact with a look that could be conceived as regretful.

O-Of course, the one person who can control this dude who flies off the handle at any moment is the bigger, muscular person who has the confidence that she can punch through metal.

Freakin’... Hahaha…

“Did… Did you not just nearly get blown up by Monokuma for losing your temper several minutes ago!?” Taka’s voice started in a whisper, before he marched over to stand to Sakura’s side and scold Mondo further, “You cannot keep flying off the handle like this! If you don’t attempt to stop your temper from going out of control, you might actually kill…!”

His voice abruptly stopped, suddenly realizing the implication of what he was going to say. His paused moment caused Sakura and Mondo to look at him, with sudden realization dawning over their faces. That went for everyone as the three began to turn around towards the downed body of Makoto, who still hadn’t made any kind of movement since being socked in the forehead. Soon enough, everyone’s attention was focusing on him.

“Um… the dude’s not actually dead... is he?” Hiro’s voice broke through the tense silence, a slightly worried and uncomfortable frown apparent.

That question seemed to have a horrified, almost inaudible gasp come out of Sayaka, as she covered her mouth with both hands. Leon turned to look at her and realized how much she looked on the verge of being heartbrokenly shattered by Hiro’s words. Hmm, so… does that mean she and Makoto are close or something? If that’s the case, then…

He instantly looked back to send a glare towards the clairvoyant.

“Yo, come on, man! ‘Course he isn’t,” he argued, turning his head to Sayaka with a sympathetic smile and waved his hands towards that notion, “He just got knocked out from that punch; he’ll be fine, y’know?”

“I agree.”

The voice of Kyoko brought everyone’s attention to her, already crouched towards the unconscious boy, “He’s still breathing, and his pulse is normal. No other visible signs of any injury.”

That seemed to seal the deal for Sayaka, as the girl took a relieved breath and closed her eyes; she still was frowning, but hey, it’s progress. Leon felt a smile take over his face as he felt satisfied she was feeling better.

“I-I say, that was a rather intense blow! Almost like he was ejected out of battle from an attack that forced you to switch party members…!” Hifumi commented while fixing his glasses, going on about something stupid.

“Yeah… I can’t tell if he got knocked out from the punch, or the way he landed on the floor; did you see how his head and shoulders skidded…?” Hina grimaced, taking a few steps closer to where Makoto was laying down.

Glancing back at Sayaka frowning, Leon felt himself nearly roll his eyes. Okay, guys, it was awful; don’t keep going on and on about it and make her feel worse about the guy…

“Uhhh… guys?” Hiro suddenly began looking around, his hair moving back and forth rapidly catching everyone’s attention, “I think that Byakuya dude left…”

All of a sudden, the entire student body began to look around. Sure enough, Byakuya, the one who had riled up Mondo in the first place and made him extract his wrath onto poor Makoto, was no longer in the gym.

“Hey, you’re right. W-Where did he go?” Chihiro gasped, her eyes still searching for him.

“H-He slipped out the door,” Toko’s voice answered, her hands fidgeting again near her neck, “W-When you all were staring a-at that kid on the ground…”

“What!? Why the hell didn’t you say anything, then?” Mondo snapped at her, causing the girl to flinch, but have her mouth contort into a snarl.

“I-I have no o-obligation to keep tabs o-on people! I-It’s not my responsibility to d-do that!” she snapped back with, her eyes darting away from him when she finished.

Giving an exasperated sigh, Junko shook her head as she pinched the bridge of her nose.

“So now, we also have an unconscious person on the floor we gotta take care of, and another who’s roaming this place alone and is God knows where,” she huffed annoyed, her mood being officially done with all of this, “Looks like trying to stop that guy was totally pointless and only caused more bogus crap for us to deal with…”

The atmosphere threatened to sour again with silence.

“Hey, come on! Let’s not get down in the dumps just yet,” Hina tried to pump everyone, having a confident smile come onto her face, “For now, let’s just focus on our original plan! We start searching the school, okay?”

“W-Wait a minute!” Sayaka’s voice called out, looking distressed, “But what about Makoto? We can’t just leave him here on the floor like this…!”

“She’s right. Especially because one of the regulations specifically say that sleeping anywhere other than one’s dormitory is a punishable offense,” Celeste noted, glancing towards the unconscious boy, “I’m not quite sure if being knocked unconscious is considered sleeping. But if this Monokuma will go as far as labeling an explosion as an acceptable punishment, then it’d be best to do something, yes?”

The pop idol nodded frantically, moving towards Makoto quickly.

“Exactly! So, we can’t just let him lay here only for Monokuma to come back and… and…!”

At this point, Sayaka seemed to be really working herself into a massive panic. It was as if her form wanted to be frozen and didn’t dare to touch Makoto in risk of doing something wrong, yet her knees were threatening to bend down and attempt to pick him up. Taking a note of this, Leon frowned and began to scan around the room and… seriously? Not one person is gonna take the cue to help her? For real?

All righty, looks like it’s time to save the day!

“Hey, come on; who said we were gonna just ditch him here?” he spoke up, making his way over to her and saw her turn to him, “I’ll carry him; I got this.”

Seeing Sayaka’s face light up with hope made his heart flutter, not gonna lie. But it was so worth her smile coming back onto her face.

“Really? You will?”

“Yeah, totally! No prob, y’know?” Leon gave a thumbs up, winking at her before looking towards the others, “Yo, can somebody gimme a hand and help me get him onto my back?”

“Ahh, yes, of course,” Taka nodded, making his way over quickly.

Within a few seconds, he, Sakura, and Hiro had carefully lifted Makoto off the ground and helped Leon position him onto his back in the famous piggy-back-ride carry. Scooping his arms under his legs, the baseball star prayed to every god in existence to not make him look uncool by being unable to carry him or drop him by accident. Not in front of Sayaka-

-Oh…. Geez, this kid’s light as a feather. No wonder he went flying after being punched…

Nevertheless, he was able to get Makoto into an unfailing, reliable grip and carry him with ease. He could feel the back of his hair and the collar of his jacket being slightly messed up with the kid’s head resting on the back of his neck, which was slightly annoying. But, hey, this is for Sayaka, y’know? He can fix these things later; right now, this is mega important!

Drooling on his jacket, however, might be a bigger offense, but let’s not, like, dare for the worst possible outcome, y'know?

“Alrighty! I guess my next stop is taking him to his dorm room, yeah?” Leon grunting initially before asking and glancing around for some kind of confirmation.

“I believe so. But… where would that exactly be?” Hifumi brought a hand to his chin.

“It’s on the other side of where the entrance hall would be, past the purple-lighted hallway. The one that contained the classroom where you stated you woke up,” Kyoko spoke up, addressing Leon, “The area in which I woke up in was a dining hall, and near it is a red-lighted hallway with nameplates that show whose dorm room is which.”

Upon hearing that, Leon’s mind recalled the sign he saw after exiting the classroom: ‘Hotel Despair’. Ohhh, so that’s what that place was. Gotcha. Seemed fair enough!

“Okay, then…” Junko nodded, taking a breath before managing a smile on her face and putting her hands on her hips, “We put Makoto in his room, then focus on searching the school. It’s only been a few minutes, so that Byakuya guy couldn’t have gotten far.”

“Very well… Shall we begin?” Sakura said and began to walk towards the door.

With that, the group began to make their way towards the gymnasium exit. Leon waited for a few of them to go in front of them; hopefully one of them remembers what he’s doing, and can hold the freakin’-

“Excuse me? Your name was Leon, right?”

Pale blue eyes blinked before turning to their right and noticing the face Sayaka had taken a few steps towards him-

W-Whoa, haha… she stepped really close to him, didn’t she-

“H-Huh? Oh, yeah? What’s up?”

She quickly did a small bow towards him before standing up straight again and giving one of those beautiful smiles she did.

“Thank you so much. For helping Makoto out like this,” she said, “It really means a lot to me.”

It meant a lot to her…

Dude... SCORE!! Hell to the freakin’ yeah!!

Leon’s cheeks got a nice, but small shade of red come over them as he chuckled and grinned back at her.

“Hey, like I said, no prob! A-Anytime, y’know?” he struggled not to stammer, but couldn’t help how his excitement was shooting through the roof, almost like his heart was going to burst through his chest.

Sayaka gave a small giggle before turning away and saying, “I’ll get the door for you.”

When her back turned, the dude was beaming from ear to ear. We’re talking like full-on, ‘you just made all the right moves’ kinda grin. And a pure-joyful laugh threatened to bubble up in the back of his throat. And yet… he managed to play it cool and contain it just as she turned around while holding the door open, allowing him to carry Makoto out of the gym no problem and make his way towards the dorms.

================

Chapter Text

“All right… There we go.”

A bit of careful positioning was required, but within a few seconds… Leon was able to back up towards the edge of the soft, neatly-made bed and sit down gently, leaning his body towards the left where the pillows were. With that, Sayaka helped him remove Makoto from off his back and shoulders, resting the boy on his back and head on said pillows. Doing this allowed the young man to stand back up and swing his legs over to lay on the mattress.

There we are! That oughta do it!

Well… y-y’know… besides the fact Makoto’s sneakers are still on, and he kinda has a big pet peeve of someone wearing their shoes while on a bed, even if it’s their own…

But it’d be even weirder to just go taking off his sneakers in a scenario like this, especially in front of Sayaka. First impressions were still ongoing here, and crucial for him to maintain in a positive light. So he was gonna have to let this one go.

And before this goes any further, a little bit of a recap.

The moment they had left the gymnasium, the remaining students had split up, deciding to cover as much as they could. It appeared that several people decided to follow him up towards the dorm areas. Aside from Sayaka, the group that followed him was Taka, Junko, Hiro, and Chihiro. They all had moved across this giant square intersection that was well lit and had a few entrances for rooms on each side, before a…

Wow, that hallway was creepy as all hell.

The purple, green, and yellow lighted themes were kinda cool, but this dark, yet bold red color scheme really wasn’t. Something about it being in the dorm room space was like… y’know, right? He couldn’t really describe it, but it was just unsettling. One of those feelings where it can’t be explained in words, but hopefully, the feeling was mutual. Fortunately, he didn’t have to carry the person on his back for much longer. Not that it was becoming an issue, as mentioned before, Makoto was surprisingly light. But even then, his jacket was a prized possession and something that made him look badass when he wore it. He didn’t need it wrinkled or something because of it. And wouldn’t you know it; the room that belonged to the kid ended up being the second on the right. That worked out even better.

“Hopefully, the doors are unlocked, so we can get into his room,” Sayaka hoped for out loud, as she approached the door to Makoto’s room.

“Well, they better be,” Junko sighed, putting her hands on her hips with a frown, “Otherwise, we’re gonna have to figure out what to do with Makoto...”

Hiro let out of a bit of a snort, his arms gently folding over his chest as he took a step back to chuckle.

“Hah, yeah! Man, imagine that, dude,” he said, glancing over at Leon before both eyes closed cheerfully, “You possibly havin’ to lug the poor guy all over the place while we investigate; that’d suck!”

Outwardly, Leon turned his body to give a chuckle that was sprinkled with a hint of acceptance at the fact he might have to keep doing it. Inwardly? It was a giant scowl which hoped to wipe that goofy grin off his face. Seriously? Mega uncool, dude! Even if Makoto was light-weight, he wasn’t up for carrying someone for hours over and over-

The sound of a doorknob twisting and the noise of a door opening gently rang in his ears, causing him to turn back and see Taka gently pushing it open to look around.

“Hm, it appears Sayaka was right; the door was unlocked after all!” he said, turning back to the group to announce.

Leon was careful to let his relieved sigh be subtle and unnoticed by the others.

“That’s a relief; I was worried it’d be locked, considering the door looks like it has a lock on it,” the pop idol brought a hand to her chest and smiled cheerfully at the hall monitor.

“I know I’m just guessing, but… I think Monokuma has all the dorm doors unlocked, so everyone is able to get into their room for the first time,” Chihiro suggested, looking away in thought, “Maybe we all have room keys somewhere inside?”

The fashionista’s shoulders raised up in a shrug with pursed lips, before looking up at one of the red ceiling lights.

“Who knows? Honestly, I wouldn’t put it behind that little bastard bear to give us dorm rooms, make that rule about only sleeping in them, and then lock us out, just to mess with us hardcore…” she griped, her forehead having a small tint of red from how annoyed she was slowly becoming.

Taka shook his head at the thought.

“Let’s try to avoid disparaging thoughts for now; first off, getting Makoto to his room. Leon, if you would, please?” he said, Leon unable to ignore the still intense red eyes locking onto him.

“Gotcha.”

And that’s where the recap ended when he and Sayaka entered the room. Now with Makoto on his bed and resting, he was able to readjust his jacket over his shoulders and fix the collar a bit, so it felt right again. A little hard to do without a mirror, but… hopefully, it looked killer, still.

“Ahh, I feel so relieved. Hopefully he’ll wake up soon…” Sayaka admitted, a touch of solemn sadness threatening to overtake her mood.

Leon glanced over to her, as he took a step closer.

“Yo, he’s gonna be alright, y’know?” he gave a reassuring smile, “Just needs a few hours and he’ll be up and walkin’ like nothing happened.”

He swore that cute smile of hers… when she smiled, it was like the whole area lit up more than usual… She should totally smile more often.

“Right; we just need to give him some time,” she said, turning towards him and holding her hands behind her back casually, “I know I said this already… but thank you so much, Leon.”

Having someone like her talking to him and giving appreciation for what he did still got the reaction of his heart fluttering. But at least this time, he could see it coming, so he didn’t have to worry about a giant goofy grin coming over his face. Instead, he flashed a wink and gave her a relaxed thumbs-up on response.

“Haha, no problem. Like I said, anytime,” he grinned, giving a nod to her before glancing back at the unconscious person on the bed, “Though, I gotta say… I’m kinda jealous of him…”

Sayaka’s eyebrows raised in confusion as her body slightly tilted to a side.

“Huh? Why are you jealous?”

“Well, uh… He took a pretty nasty punch to the forehead, and yet, I don’t see any kind of bruise or nothin’,” he said, shrugging with a nervous smile as he was now committed to trying to lighten her mood, “Seriously, I bruise easily, yet this guy got slugged by someone like that Mondo guy and not even a mark on him? I gotta know his secret…”

It finally seemed to dawn on her what Leon was talking about, as she let out a small laugh, glancing towards Makoto before looking back at him.

“Hmhmhm… Well, maybe when he wakes up and we have some time, you can try to pry his beauty secrets out of Makoto,” she joked.

Leon flashed an even bigger grin as he dug his hands into his pockets.

“Totally.”

“Whoa, check out this room…”

Both turned to see Hiro sort of stumble in awe through the door. His comment seemed to have it click in Leon’s mind that although he was in the room longer than him, he hadn’t exactly gotten the chance to take in what the dorm room actually looked like. And when he did…

...Um…

...He honestly couldn’t tell if the guy was meaning at how seriously cool he thought the design was, or how waaaay out of place it looked compared to what the hallway looked outside the door.

For one thing, the walls were something else. A weird, bold-like red with some kind of fancy pattern that wasn’t really his taste, it really clashed with the multicolored floor tiles that had a variety of blue shades throughout it and the pitch black ceiling that was invaded by multiple white borders. And of course, how could he not notice the whole giant metal plates on the walls where Makoto’s dorm room would have his windows at? It somehow was, like, hurting his eyes taking it all in; pretty sure if Kanon saw something like this, she’d go into a rant about how stupid and awful the room was designed like. She wasn’t an expert at interior design, but trust him on this; he knew his cousin well enough to know this would throw her into a slight conniption.

Making a face at it as he gently bit the inside of his cheek, he tried to focus on what the fashion disaster of a dorm room contained instead.

Behind the bed and under the bolted windows was a rather high quality wooden desk with multiple drawers on either side; it had a wooden chair and what looked like a pad of paper on top of the desk. Glancing towards the right, there was a door near the corner past where Sayaka was standing, where a small television-like screen was attached to the wall, similar to the one that was in the entrance hall. If he had to guess, that door probably led to a bathroom or something, because like… that’d be super dumb if they didn’t have bathrooms in the dorms, right?

...Or, uh… is he being too… spoiled in a way?

M-Moving on…

Frowning at that thought, he tried to look past Hiro still glancing around the area as if he was a toddler in some world famous candy shop who was told he could have anything he wanted to see the other bits of furniture. It seemed all that was left was a shelving unit that had some kind of a lint roller resting atop of it and a round table that probably was as high as his waist, with both of them being just as high quality as the previously mentioned desk.

And on that table seemed to be…

“Ehh…? Oh, hey, check this out.”

Hiro noticed it too, for he walked over to the table and picked it up, dangling it by the little chain.

“It’s some kind of a key,” he said, showing it to the other two in the room for a few more seconds before bringing it closer and looking it over.

“Just a minute there!” Taka’s voice called out from the doorway, causing him to look up as if some wild deer was hit with headlights from a car, “What do you think you’re doing? Don’t just go through Makoto’s things without his permission!”

The way Hiro blinked and then slowly turned to stare at the key was like… the guy’s brain was still having the gears turn on whether or not this wasn’t exactly a cool thing to do. Y’know… going through an unconscious person’s things? Good gawd…

“Yeah, I think that’s the key to Makoto’s dorm,” Sayaka agreed with the hall monitor, moving past Leon and reaching her hand out for the key.

Seeing her politely motioning for him to give it towards her, Hiro’s head tilted in curiosity as he plopped it into her palm. As she adjusted her grip on it, Leon walked over from behind her to see her lift up part of the key for both of them to see. Attached to the key was a larger keychain that was grey and had the name ‘M. Naegi’ on it.

“See? It even has his name on it,” she confirmed.

“Ahhh, yeah, I guess that makes sense,” Hiro nodded with a smile, folding his arms.

Leon placed a hand on his hip and began to speak, turning to Sayaka when she looked back at him, “It’s probably best we leave the key on the table then, so when he wakes up, he can find it.”

The pop idol gave an agreeing smile and nod (gawddamn, it’s still so freakin’ cute!) before turning to return the key to its original place.

“All right, I believe that’s enough time dawdling around! Let’s leave Makoto to rest already and begin our search of this school!” Taka called out to them, motioning for them to leave at once, but trying his hardest to not trespass into the room without permission himself.

All right, all right, they’re coming already! What an impatient ass…

Once the trio had left the room, Taka closed the door without slamming it, but in a way where the sound it made shutting was a declaration of nobody being allowed to go back inside without the owner’s say-so. He turned and clutched his fists tightly.

“So, it appears Chihiro’s earlier assumption was right after all! There is a dorm key inside of each room,” Taka proudly announced.

The girl mentioned seemed to have a small, relieved smile come across her face as Junko nodded slightly at this, putting her hands on her hips again before glancing towards the hall monitor.

“Hey, if that’s the case… You mind if all of us go grab our dorm keys before we officially start being explorers around this hellhole?” she asked, “I’d feel a lot better if I could make sure I had mine on me, you know?”

For a few seconds, the young man seemed to consider this suggestion, burying his chin into the top of his hand before standing in a neutral position (Well…. more like military attention pose, let’s be real...).

“Hmmm… I can agree with that. Very well, let’s have everybody go grab their dorm keys and then return here!” he decided the next plan of action for the group, getting everybody on the same page before he tried to locate his own dorm.

From there, the group began to split up, looking over the multiple doors to find their own room. The longer that he began to try and locate his room walking further into the eerie, dark red hall, the smaller the group following him became. Eventually, as he came towards the end of the hallway which rounded the corner towards the left, it was only him and Hiro walking to make the turn due to four noises behind him opening up. Upon glancing to the left, the hallway down offered three more doors towards the right hand side before its lightened area went back to the normal bright settings like the giant area before the dorms. And the second door down had a nameplate of an 8-bit version of him with his name underneath.

Okay. Other than the fact that there’s another hallway down that side where they’ll probably check it out… Of course, y’know? Of course, he ends up being in the creepier part of the dorms, where he’s near the end and God forbid someone could come around the corner and blindside him-

Leon grunted, shaking his head slightly to shake those kind of thoughts out; the last thing he needs right now is to have some kind of a panic attack. Look, it’s not like he would’ve preferred to be in the initial hallway where his dorms are surrounded by other people and in front of him. But at least with that hallway, he’d have a bit of relief as to be able to see a good majority of the rooms and space around him, whereas here-

“! Oh, ya gotta be kiddin’ me…”

Leon muttered as he realized that the first door that was smack dab in the corner, right next to his… was Sakura’s room.

For real?? It’s weird enough knowing she wanted him to be a training partner. More bizzarre… and he’d admit, kinda freaky how she could attempt to punch through metal. And now…

The biggest and strongest person, who is forced to live here with him and everyone, and who he had no idea on how to defend himself against, should she think of murdering someone.. was his next-door neighbor.

Come on, cut him some slack!

It was when Hiro had walked past him and located his room, on the other side of Leon’s, did he realize he had zoned out staring at her nameplate. Attempting to save face should the clairvoyant notice if anything was wrong, his hand casually moved towards his doorknob and began to enter what was supposedly his room…

“...! Dude…”

...Okay, not gonna lie; he was majorly conflicted. We’re talkin’ like… he didn’t know if he should be creeped out… or friggin’ impressed with how whoever had them all trapped here put godlike effort into designing his room.

Because, holy crap, this room was tailored not to his talent, but what he wanted his talent to be like!

The first thing that caught his eye was the awesome poster of a black skull on a grey background. There was like a weird red flower design on the skull, and the thing was even framed. It even said his name in the bottom left corner! Yo, what was this…? He was tempted to say he liked it, but that’d imply giving credit to his captor, so… he was really confused.

And that was only the start of everything! There was a good quality electric guitar and amp sitting near the floor with that other door would be, which really caught his eye. That is, until he suddenly widened both of them to see further into the room near the blue comforter covered bed was a stand and a microphone; just like one you’d see on the stage where rock guys would grab onto it with both hands and scream into it! And speaking of the bed, there was a pair of headphones and a portable cd player resting on it. And behind it near the wall and bolted windows? A giant boombox on the desk with a big shelving unit full of cds.

Aside from the fact of the stuff here, his dorm looked exactly like Makoto’s, both design and structure-wise. Nevermind that kid got the short end of the bargain when it came to what he had in his room…

Just… HOLY CRAP!

He gets this kind of stuff in his dorm? And it’s HIS!?

If it weren’t for the fact he’s being forced to play some survival murder game, Leon would’ve been hootin’ and jumpin’ with joy at how cool this stuff was. Seriously, he was trying to earn money to buy a guitar in the first place, and now there’s a damn good one sitting on a stand in his room! And all those cds, like, better have really good bands he loves! All that, with the amp, and the microphone, and…

His brain was overloaded with awe and confusion. Really makin’ it hard to decide if he should be creeped out or friggin’ impressed-

Just then, he tensed for a second with a small grunt, for his mind remembered what he originally came into the room to do.

“Right…”

Yeah, he can check out his things later.

With a sigh, Leon glanced over at the table to find that there was his room key. He walked over and picked it up, seeing the keychain read ‘L. Kuwata’ on it, just like Makoto’s did for him. He tucked it into his pocket before glancing around the room… Hmm… maybe it’s not a bad idea to have a look around. After all, if this is where he’s expected to sleep until they found a way out, it’d be nice to actually look through his stuff and see where everything was. And yeah, he knew he was supposed to meet up with everyone once he got his key, but this wouldn’t take long.

It wasn’t like he had any other alterior motives for doing this, like making Taka wait as a petty revenge for interrupting his introduction with Sayaka. Nope, not at all.

For the first check, Leon decided to check out if the door he suspected led to a bathroom was in fact just that. He backtracked a bit and opened the door in to be greeted with a sleek, grey tiled bathroom with the walls and ceiling the same color. And standing in front of him was this weird set of glass panels that divided the small area into bits. The main area was the shower which had a removable hose that you can move to get your body at any angles. To the right of that was a small glass door that led to the toilet, and before all of these glass panels was a sink and grey countertop with stuff like a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, body spray, hairbrush, and-

! W-What the…

Leon nearly did a triple take at the other things sitting on his sink counter. Primarily, the same kind of hair dye and hair gel he used! Like, the same brand and color even, too! And picking it up to glance at it, he nearly dropped the dye bottle with surprise at how brand new and full it was!

Ummm, so whoever was controlling Monokuma knows him down to even his hair dye and gel products… Now it’s leaning to creepy.

Setting the bottle down, Leon closed the bathroom door behind him and looked around his room to decide where his next area to look would be. And frankly, while the cd shelf was tempting (because he’d like to see which ones he could pocket when they escaped this dump), he decided to check out the desk behind his bed and see if there was anything in the drawers. Checking the left side first!

In the drawers, he found a notepad, some pens, and pencils to use. But in the bottom drawer was the more eye-catching of them all; an orange toolkit, still in the shrinkwrap packaging to signal it was never used yet, with small yellow handle-covered tools, such as a hammer or a screwdriver. And… like, freakin’ why? What the hell was he gonna need this thing for? He ain’t some repairman or whatever…

Closing those drawers and moving to the right, he opened the top one to find a white piece of fabric folded neatly. Upon pulling it out, it was a jacket with…

With… with a studded popped collar and…

Wait a second, was this-??

Shaking the piece of clothing until he became unfolded led him staring in disbelief when it was revealed that it was an exact replica of his blazer jacket!! It had the same studded collar as mentioned before, as well as the insignia of LL Academy on the chest protector-

…….No… No way….

Without a peep, Leon ripped off the jacket he was currently wearing that had his e-handbook and key in the pockets, throwing it onto the bed. With a fast walk of purpose, he nearly ran his face full force into the bathroom door, had he not opened it on time like he did. The door swung open and smashed into the wall; so much to the point where one could’ve sworn the baseball star kicked it in. A disturbed grimace on his face, he faced the bathroom mirror over the sink and began to put the replica on to find-

“..........”

It fit perfectly.

Leon stared silently with his eyes nearly bulging out, as his reflection showcased to him that was the replica a perfect fit.

Wha- you gotta be- HOW IN THE FUCK WAS THIS POSSIBLE!!?

His jacket wasn’t something you could just PICK out of the store and buy. This was a blazer jacket you could only get if you were a student at his old school! And and AND…! As mentioned before, he had one of his buddies help modify it. So how in gawddamn hell did whoever the fuck was forcing him to live here recreate his jacket?

And furthermore, how did they do it multiple times?

Huh? What was that about multiple times?

Oh, that’s simple, because THERE WERE MORE OF THEM IN THAT SAME DRAWER.

Skipping past the process of taking off the replica and putting on his original jacket, Leon had investigated that in fact, there were at least all together: Four replicas of his jacket, four extra pairs of the pants he was wearing, five of his t-shirt underneath, multiple pairs of boxer briefs and socks, and then on the top drawer was a jewelry box that had more of all the accessories he was wearing.

Even the giant safety pins for his jacket. THE FREAKIN’ SAFETY PINS!!

Okay! Yeah! It’s official! He’s no longer impressed; this was downright creepy moving onto disturbing levels of nope. Not just his hair products, but his clothing… and u-underwear…

Leon had never shut a drawer so fast and so loud in his life.

As he backed away, he decided just for a quick peek and then he was outta here, to look at the shelving area near the table and microphone-

“...Oh, fuck off.”

Leon’s building paranoia soon rebirthed itself into a big fat pile of grumpiness as he saw the only things in the stupid shelves: a baseball, a metal bat like one of those American Louisville sluggers, and a few good-quality baseball gloves. Because of course! Why only freak him out when you can annoy the piss outta him too?

Oh, there’s a black trashcan right there, near the corner of the room?

Welp, he knows where that shit’s being filled up with.

Leon didn’t even care that the sudden weight of the bat and gloves ended up making it tip over and fall out in a messy pile. As long as it stayed there and he could get rid of it later, he didn’t give a damn. Sighing, he looked to turn and head to the exit… before seeing a piece of paper taped to the wall just before the hallway to the door.

Oh, he swears to God, if this is another shitty crayon pamplet…

Taking it off the wall, he was subtly pleased it was just a letter with stuff written on it. He started to read:

“Announcement from Headmaster Monokuma: To all my beautiful students, I have some things you’ll need to know about your dorm rooms! Each room's lock has been designed to completely protect against tampering or lock-picking. Remaking an individual room key is quite troublesome, so please make sure not to lose yours.”

Reading that first part caused Leon to breathe out some relief. So, once he’s inside his room and locks the door, he’s pretty much in the safest part of this place he can be; no one can be able to get inside- ...W-Well… not if Sakura or Mondo decide to break through his door… and he sincerely hoped nothing would ever make it come to that…

Shaking his head at that, he kept reading.

“Your room comes furnished with a shower, but please note that the water is turned off at nighttime. Also, the bathrooms in the girls' rooms include a lock of their own.”

Okay, wait… nighttime was ten at night to seven in the morning, according to the regulations. So, that means he wouldn’t be able to shower, use the toilet, or get water from the sink during this time period? Um… that’s gonna suck if he gets sick or needs to go in the middle of the night…

“Finally, we've prepared a small gift for each of you. For the girls, a sewing kit. And for the boys, a toolkit. The sewing kit includes a map of the body's vital organs. One stab will do the job, girls! For the boys, we believe a strong blow to the head with any of the tools should be ample. Don't think! Just feel! And let's all enjoy ourselves!"

Leon crumpled the paper into a ball the moment he saw that last word and threw it to the corner with the rest of the trash before leaving outside of his door.

As he left, he saw Taka and the girls coming around the corner on the left, probably to check on him and Hiro. And speaking of the guy, the door to his right opened up and out came him.

“Ahh, Leon, Hiro! We were about to come get you; you’ve retrieved your room keys?” Taka asked, folding his arms.

Both of them nodded.

“So, like… is anyone gonna mention how super messed up our dorms are?” Junko said, her face displaying uneasiness, “Like… mine’s got fashion stuff and things I like in there…”

“Mine as well,” Taka admitted, a small, teeth-gritting frown becoming more evident, “They have things I would normally bring to my dorm.”

“M-Me too…” Chihiro admitted in agreement as well, her hands fidgeting near her neck.

Leon tried to be chill, but at this point, any attempt to cover how nervous he sounded or felt was being broken through easily.

“Yo, they got, like… the exact brand of hair products I use,” he admitted, using both hands to point to his hair as everyone looked at him, “And that’s not even countin’ the multiple pairs of the clothes I’m wearing right now.”

Everyone’s eyes widened. Looks like he’s not the only one who was getting massively creeped out at that fact.

“Yeah, that’s… kinda strange, right? How they managed to get us more of our clothes and stuff?” Hiro rubbed his neck, uncomfortably grimacing as he spoke, “They even have the kind of underwear I prefer…”

Leon could see not only Taka do a double take at that, but the girls nearly cringe at the fact he just let that slip out of his mouth. And the dude’s not even paying attention to the fact that maybe he shouldn’t have said that. Ugh…

“...Ignoring the fact that that’s borderline T.M.I,” Junko squinted with disgust at him before sighing and resting the tips of two fingers on her forehead, “He’s totally right. This is downright messed up, for real! How in the nine levels of hell does the person who’s controlling Monokuma know our measurements!?”

It seems that question really disturbed Sayaka to a great extent, as her forehead went slightly blue and she started to move her arms as if to hug herself.

“I… I’d rather not… know the answer to that,” her voice nearly so quiet, it could’ve died into a whisper at any moment.

Yeah, Leon was with her one hundred percent. He didn’t want to know that one either…

“It really looks like whoever has us trapped here is planning on everyone living here for a while,” Chihiro pondered aloud while looking towards the other girls, “It’d make sense why they would give us things like extra clothes or stuff in our dorms for us to pass the time…”

“All right! It appears we’ve made some ground on exploring the school,” Taka’s (broken volume knob stuck on too loud) voice came outta nowhere, forcing Leon to fight against giving a nasty glare at him for that, “We’ll let everyone else know in due time about our discoveries here, but this is far from over. Let’s continue checking the dorms, just in case!”

“Sounds like a plan; it’s not like I can think of anything else,” Junko admitted, shrugging as some of the others nodded.

“Um… actually…”

The group looked to Sayaka, who had calmed herself and held both of her hands together near her stomach.

“If it’s alright with you, I was going to go check out the dining hall area,” she offered, “I’d like to see where we’d be getting our food from and stuff like that.”

Leon whirled his head to look at her in shock. Was she meaning…?

“Wait, you mean like going alone, by yourself?” he said, facing her with a worried look, “I could come with ya to help.”

Much to his shock, the girl shook her head with a determined expression and declined, “No, it’s all right. I’m pretty sure I can handle checking out a dining hall by myself.”

Oh, shit, shit! He wasn’t trying to imply she was incompetent or anything…! Backtrack backtrack backtrack-

“O-Oh, I didn’t mean to say you couldn’t,” he urgently waved both hands, feeling himself not only a few beads of sweat forming on his forehead, but his butt figuratively hovering over a potential hotseat, “I was just worried since that’s kinda… dangerous, y’know?”

And the gods above once again heard his prayer, as Chihiro of all people nodded in agreement, causing Sayaka to look at her.

“Yeah, Leon’s right. I feel like you should have someone go with you if you’re going to a new area we haven’t seen before yet…” she pleaded, frowning slightly as if to worry that this would make the other girl mad.

Yeah, Sayaka. Especially because your friend was currently knocked out because another person tried to do just that and got the walking timebomb pissed off...

Luckily for Chihiro, the pop idol didn’t become angry; instead, she smiled sympathetically and nodded, looking up to the ceiling for a brief moment.

“Hmmm... How about this? If I need help or I’m in danger, I’ll scream as loud as possible and come running if I can,” she promised, looking back to the programmer, “Would that be okay with you?”

It seemed like the smaller girl was heavily conflicted on what answer to give. But with the pressure on and looking down to her feet, she finally conceded.

“O-Okay…”

When she gave her answer, Leon felt Sayaka’s eyes focus their gaze onto him. It wasn’t like she was a cruel person, hell no!! He couldn’t possibly ever see her being manipulative to get her way. But those eyes had this fierce motivation behind them, as if she was daring him to object still. It was the look of someone who wanted to give their all to help find a way out of here, even if that meant going into a potentially dangerous situation alone.

And… like, dude, it’s Sayaka Maizono. How the hell could he get into an argument with her and piss her off within the first twenty four hours of her knowing him?

NOT.

GONNA.

HAPPEN.

With a sigh, Leon felt a defeated smile come across his face while placing a hand in his pockets.

“Yeah, sounds cool with me,” he said, watching the girl become pleased that all of this worked out.

“All right; I’m heading out then,” she said, getting nods from everyone else.

“Very well! Good luck, Sayaka!” Taka emphatically encouraged, giving her an intense sendoff.

And with that, the pop idol made a small farewell bow before turning around and walking past the corner to go back to that plaza. The moment she disappeared from view, Leon felt a giant frown (let’s be real here, more like a total scowl) take that smile of his and break it over its knee. Damn, that was a major bummer. Like, he didn’t want to make her feel like he thought she couldn’t be by herself or what not, but… Honestly, with the situation at hand? It’s dumb and risky as all hell to go wandering around this place by yourself. It’s like asking for trouble to come find you, y’know?

On the verge of moping, Leon flinched when an arm wrapped around his shoulder. Looking to his right, it was Hiro giving a smirk to him.

“Man… Girls can be so stubborn sometimes, huh?” he whispered for only the two of them to hear.

Leon scoffed, “Yeah… Geez, I hope she’ll be okay.”

“She’ll be totally fine; this whole situation is gonna blow over as well!” Hiro replied with, being utterly cheerful, “Just relax and let nature take its course, my man…”

The baseball star’s goatee swung back and forth with how fast he turned to stare at the guy. Was… Wait, why was he...

“All right; enough chit-chat!” Taka called out to them, “There are still-”

And that was all that Leon could hear the guy saying. Because when he started talking, Hiro turned his head to look at him. And when he did that, one of the massive dreads coming from this guy’s hair ended up jabbing him in the right eye.

“!! Ngh!”

It wasn’t a super painful ‘I just lost my eyeball, help me!!!’ kind of painful, but the type where it stops you right in your tracks and you’re unable to do a damn thing about it. Hiro had let go over his shoulders anyway to face whatever conversation was going on anyways, so that allowed the young punk to bend down, clutching at his right eye. It would take multiple attempts for him to try and open it, only for the uncomfortable agony to cause him to grunt and groan under his breath.

Gawddamn it, that hurt! Geez, he knew he compared the guy’s hair to a sea urchin, but did it have to be nearly as sharp as one and blind him for life? Nobody’s gonna like a punk legend who looks like a pirate, for God’s sake!

“Come on, cassanova,” Junko’s voice called out to him, probably labeling him as such after showing concern for Sayaka.

Attempting to look up with his good eye, Leon say Junko motioning him into Hiro’s room, where the others had just walked into.

He grumbled before finally getting enough of the pain to go away. Blinking multiple times for a few seconds, he finally was able to walk.

“Alright, alright, I’m comin’...”

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Chapter Text

For real, he knew he shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up about it. With the so-called headmaster laying the law down and everything he’s come to know up to this point, it was a stupid move to believe there was a slight chance where someone in the entire group of fifteen high school students could find a way to escape. But still… he just had to go and have his hopes raised to the ceiling, only for it to smash into it and flop back down to rock bottom.

Can’t believe they spent the whole day searching this floor, every damn inch of it, and just… nothing! Nothing to show for it...

Leon groaned barely as his eyes had to squint to get used from walking in the dark purple-light hallway to the brightly-lit plaza near the dining hall and dorm rooms. And his feet made a beeline right towards the dining area to grab something to eat. Seriously, since waking up at seven fifty in that classroom and it close to it approaching seven at night, that meant it was getting closer and closer to not having a single thing to eat or drink for nearly twelve hours. He was dying of hunger and thirst.

Today had been one hell of a day. Specific emphasis on the hell part.

Going back when he just recovered from his eye nearly being gouged out by Hiro’s sea urchin hair, all of them had gathered in Hiro’s room, which had things on the walls from stuff like palmistry and Buddha, and a bright purple tablecloth on his table that kept grabbing his attention whenever his eyes glanced near that area. The reason? Taka had an experiment he wanted to try for the dorm rooms, to test if they were soundproof. So, he had himself and Junko stay in the room, while Leon was told to go into his room and Chihiro and Hiro stand outside in the hallway.

What they found out was that the rooms were incredibly soundproof; both the two had been screaming and shouting as loud as they could (and from the look of it afterwards, Junko seemed very happy to get some frustration out of her system), yet none of them, whether they were near the door or in the next room, could hear them. But the real test came when the group found that Leon had a guitar and amp in his room and he agreed to use it. With everyone going back to their places, he turned on the amp, plugged it into the guitar, cranked it all the way it could… and clamped his eyes shut as hard as he could when he strummed a cord-

Gawddamn, what a stupid idea! Screw that! Why did he agree to doing this!?

He tried to somehow shut his ears off as the blaring, unforgiving noise shattered the welcoming silence like broken glass. Eventually, the piercing loudness began to die, and Leon didn’t have to try and cover his ears anymore. And yet… he and the others were surprised that no one else could hear that. This proved to the group that the dorms were utterly soundproof; when that door was shut, no one could hear in the hallway or in the next room. This would be useful information to relay to the other students.

Taka was extremely pleased with this, but of course, it wasn’t enough. Hell, Leon actually agreed with him at this point. This wasn’t gonna help them find a way outta this place. But the fact he ordered, not asked, but ordered him and Hiro to go check out any other rooms for a way out was where that agreement had broken its grip in a firm handshake. Who the hell did this guy think he was?

Not even a full day had passed and Taka was officially his least favorite person in this place. Damn straight.

And that lead to Leon finding himself stuffing his hands into his pockets, walking down the purple-lighted hallway with the taller clairvoyant to his right side. Exactly what were they supposed to be looking for? Like, duh, a way out; he wasn’t Hifumi, turning his brain off and blurting something like that out. But at the same time, what was Taka expecting them to find? Some kind of secret entrance or…?

He wanted to get out of here, of course he freakin’ did! But the more he stressed and thought about what he was supposed to be looking for or where to start, he felt his patience crumpling up into a ball. Similar to what he did to that note Monokuma left in his dorm.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Turns out he wasn’t the only one confused.

“Hey, so, uh… You got any idea on where we’re supposed to be startin’, or…?” Hiro’s voice made both of their feet slow to a stop, right outside the classroom where the baseball star woke up this morning.

Contrary to the optimistic display he had created to Sayaka and the others in the gym, Leon felt his face be overtaken in irritation when the ceiling became the target of his glare.

“Tch… No idea, dude. Frankly, I’m so over this already,” he admitted, huffing before the fiery eyes gave the ceiling a break and decided it was the floor’s turn.

“Hey, come on, man. No need to get all bent outta shape, you know?” Hiro tried to encourage him, “This whole thing will be sorted out before you know it. Just take a breath and chill, like I’m doing.”

Normally, he could see and appreciate when someone was trying to be kind while he was in one of his moods. Lord knows when he got grumpy or annoyed beyond his limits, he was a handful if prevented to have a nap to get out of it, and Kanon and his dad deserved brownie points for having to put up with it so much. But the way this guy talked… something about it had him curious and skeptical at the same time.

“Do you really think this is the time to tell someone to be chill? This is literally day one of us supposedly having to live here forever, y’know,” he reminded, raising an eyebrow.

What he wasn’t expecting was for the guy to actually shoot him a look as if he was the one being ridiculous while glancing away out of the corner of his eye.

“What, for real? Come on. Don’t tell me you’re actually being roped into this prank the school’s doing…”

Leon felt his brain momentarily shut off as his eyes widened.

“W-Wha-”

“I mean, to be fair to you, I’ll admit that the school staff and this Monokuma thing are kinda milking this thing a bit farther than I expected,” Hiro folded his arms over his chest, actually laughing a bit with his shoulders shaking, “I gotta say, that’s some real dedication to this whole idea of theirs. The people here at Hope’s Peak Academy sure are something else!”

You…. You can’t possibly be for real right now…

“...Are you… Are you high right now??” Leon took a step towards the guy and felt his voice shout louder without any semblance of control.

Normally, depending on the circumstances and people involved, his actions could’ve been interpreted as threatening and caused Hiro to become uneasy. And yet, the taller guy simply tilted his head in confusion, his arms slowly unfolding in front of him.

“Uhh… No? I mean, I do grab some brewskis from time to time, but those don’t make-”

Leon suddenly waving his hand in a violent speed to cut him off signalized he wasn’t following. Ignoring what the guy just said, as that raised more questions, Leon frustratedly snapped out his next words.

“Du-No! No No! What you just said.”

“Huh…?”

“About this whole thing being a prank!”

“...Yeah, what about it…?”

Leon felt the bottom of his eyelids twitching at Hiro simply blinking at him casually.

“...You still think this ‘killing game’ thing we’re being told to do is a prank?”

“Uhh… Yeah?”

His jaw nearly dropped even further when him leaning forward in disbelief didn’t give the guy a hint at how utterly asinine this whole thing was. With the words that previously came out of his mouth were. How he wasn’t picking up on the baseball star giving him a chance to take back what he said and play it off as a joke (which he wouldn’t find funny, but it’s better than being serious about this whole thing being a prank). That mind-blowing way he was staring at him like he was the one being crazy and weird!

“...After everything you’ve seen.”

“...Yeah?”

Leon jerked his head back for a second, unsure if this was the real life or just some kind of fantasy he suddenly got plopped into. Before long, he looked back at Hiro and began wildly gesturing with his arms.

“After everything you’ve seen! With the giant metal plates, the machine guns mounted in the entrance hall, the fuckin’ walking, talking BEAR!” he paused for dramatic effect, before continuing his shell-shocked rant, “The same one who tells us we’re living here forever or to kill in order to leave, and THEN BLEW THE FRIG UP as an explosion which I saw you freakin’ run from with me to the bleachers!! You’ve seen all of that! And you’re telling me you think this is still some orientation joke crap Hope’s Peak is pulling on us??”

And yet… despite every recounting of indisputable facts of how messed up this whole thing was…

Why is this freaking idiot casually putting his hands behind his head (and again, HOW WITH THAT HAIR!?) and not being freaked out!?

“I mean… as compared to if it’s real and not a prank…?” he said, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

“Uh, yeah, dude!! As if it is real, because it-”

“H-Hey, just hold on, man… You’re so freaked out about this, you’re not even taking a step back to see how ridiculous this all is, you know?”

Despite him feeling as if he’d fly off the handle, Leon suddenly skidded dead in his tracks and blinked.

“Wait, what?”

Hiro took the chance the explain while he had the chance, giving a shrug, “Yeah, ‘cuz I mean… This whole thing is borderline ridiculous. Like, there’s no way anybody could actually imprison us somewhere without the police or military or someone not noticing, right? Especially not in a fancy schmancy school that the entire country, or for that matter the whole world, knows about. Not gonna lie with you, man… I kinda am gettin’ this weird feeling I’m the only one really seeing the bigger picture here; everyone’s so freaked out, they’re not even considering how bonkers this all is.”

………………………..

You know…

Leon should be still gawking at him for being an utter brainless moron. In the past twenty seconds, this dude has single-handedly proved to him that he was a dumbass who was completely oblivious to the situation he was in.

...But… crap, he was right in a sense. Or at least, starting to make sense.

Because for real, that was a good point. Hope’s Peak Academy was such a big deal in Japan; it produced the bright talents to carry the hope of the future or whatever it was all about. The news and stuff would specifically make a massively big deal about it, because it was. Hell, when word got out that he was accepted into Hope’s Peak, he got double the pestering of the students, teachers, and coaches of his old school about going back to baseball or how it was important for him to represent LL Academy and whatever shit they wanted from him. So the idea of someone actually imprisoning them in Hope’s Peak Academy’s school building was… really dumb. Because surely their families, like his dad, would notice and get the police involved.

Yeah, actually, that’s right. This whole thing is really mega dumb now. Monokuma or whoever the hell makes it work or whatever was able to capitalize on freaking everyone out, thus convincing them this is real…

That was okay to think, right? Yeah, it totally was. For real.

Leon felt his body relax as he rubbed at the back of his neck, carefully to not press against the back of his hair near it.

“Huh… So that’s it. I mean, I guess it kinda makes sense to think that way,” he admitted, agreeing with the clairvoyant.

Still was slightly off-putting that the guy could laugh about it, though. Especially because he let out a small one with a nod and closed his eyes cheerfully.

“Yeah, see? I’m right about this! Like I said earlier, about these guys here at the school being super dedicated to this prank? They’re probably just gonna keep this charade up for maybe a few days to a week, and then drop the whole thing, we’ll laugh about it, and then start our school year like nothin’ ever happened! Heck, knowing how boring school can be, this is gonna be the most exciting thing that’ll happen our first year.”

Ehhhh, he wasn’t entirely sure that anyone in their class was going to laugh about it. And a few days to a week…? Uhhh, he sure hoped not; considering this potential joke wasn’t funny to begin with, dragging it on that long wasn’t gonna miraculously make it hilarious…

“Besides… I’ve actually predicted that this is a prank.” Hiro proudly said, nodding with the uttermost confidence in his sly smirk.

“Huh?”

“That’s right; it’s already been foretold by yours truly! Check this out!”

With a sudden movement, the clairvoyant had dug into his jacket behind him and pulled out something with his left hand. Posing in an intense way, he held it out for Leon to be able to focus on what it was-

“What the… A crystal ball?”

That seemed to spark a confident hmph out of Hiro as he grinned at him.

“Maybe, to a normal pair of eyes, it’s just a crystal ball. But in fact, this bad boy is empowered with energy from our timeless Mother Earth!”

“Huh? Wait, are you for real?” Leon’s face scrunched up slightly upon hearing this, sparing a quick glance at him before looking back to the ball when the other boy continued to explain.

“I totally am for real right now! Because what you’re about to hear is the God’s honest truth about this one-of-a-kind artifact,” he said, his grin growing ever-so-slowly as the baseball star had been hooked into it, “This was found in the ruins of Atlantis! Now out of the ocean floor, this precious beauty of unfathomable mystery grants enormous power to anyone who holds it, bringing prosperity and peace of mind. This ball is so valued, it’s even known the fingertips of some of history’s greatest icons: Napoleon, George Washington, even Genghis Khan!”

Leon made a face, suspiciously looking the ball over. This was beginning to sound like some kind of infomercial now… Was, like… Hiro trying to sell him the crystal ball or just talk about it? Because his tone of voice and prideful boasting could’ve gone either way. Oh, and of course, that’s not even taking in the fact of how completely unbelievable everything that came out of his mouth-

“And lemme tell you, I’m so proud to be the chosen owner of this thing! It’s helped me give predict everything my clients have ever needed to know,” he grinned, folding his arms over his chest in pure satisfaction, “I gotta say, that one hundred million yen was a bit close to dippin’ into my life savings, but-”

“!!!”

A wheezy exhale stopped him once again to see Leon double freaked out this time. The spiky-haired punk was nearly doubled over in absolute bewilderment borderlining on complete stupefaction, with his jaw opened even wider than before. The size of Leon’s eyes could’ve been mistaken for pencil dots had it not been for their pale blue color.

“Y-You...You paid one hundred million yen for that thing in your hand??” his voice gradually increased, taking a step back from the other person and his possession, as if the stupidity of the whole thing was contagious and could lunge and infect him at any second.

“Well, yeah, man. Like I said, it’s a priceless artifact with such legendary history and all,” Hiro began to explain, seemingly becoming more distracted by the repetition of “Dude…” coming out of the seriously distressed teenager in front of him, “And I just had to make sure… Okay, for real, man. What are you freakin’ out about now?”

“...W-What am I freaking out- Okay, here. Look. You see all this?”

Leon stopped to take both index fingers to point all around his appearance. It was only until Hiro slowly started to nod and make eye contact with a raised eyebrow did he start.

“I paid, like, a lot of money to make me look this kickass, alright? The hair, the piercings-”

Which, by the way? Screw you and your dress code, Taka.

“-the outfit, and all the accessories. I kissed a lot of my allowance good-bye to get this stuff. Especially these,” he admitted, standing on his left foot to lift his right one up enough to showcase his shoe, “I had to custom order these platform sole sneakers online, and there weren’t cheap in the damn slightest, y’know? And what you’re seeing in front of you is how I’m gonna kill it when my future band and I come smashing the music industry when we release our soon to be double platinum debut album!”

He felt the itch of his nervous grin come back to his face as he stood again on both feet, shaking his head at him with dumbfounded awe, because really… what in the actual hell?

“A-And yet… there’s-”

Another wheeze of disbelief, this time accompanied by a split-second chuckle.

“Gh… T-There’s no way in hell that I’d pay a million yen for any of my stuff, let alone one hundred million…!”

And somehow, this comment was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as Hiro’s forehead got a nice new shade of angry red as he jabbed a finger at Leon.

“Well, I don’t know how you’re going to make it in the music industry when you’re apparently deaf!” the clairvoyant snapped out, his comments probably would’ve actually pissed off the other boy if he hadn’t continued, “Didn’t ya hear anything I just said!? About this ball’s history and junk!? A rare gem of such power and legend is a must-have for someone in the fortune telling business! In fact, it’s helped soar my correct prediction rate up to thirty percent!”

………….

Leon blinked and pursed his lips, unknown if it was the shock of his brain hearing too many stupid things at once or how tired he was becoming giving him a lack of a proper reaction.

“...You have only a thirty percent chance of being correct?”

“Yeah! And I already know what you’re thinkin’, so you can just shove it, okay? At least I’m honest about it!”

The shoulders of the taller guy went up and back down with a heavy sigh, his face nearly pouting with how the conversation had turned into a ‘let’s all bash on the clairvoyant dude’ while calming down to rub his neck. His eyes glanced away as he continued with a frown.

“Most people in the fortune telling business don’t even give customers a percentage of how right they could be, so that people can decide if they want their services. But I do, you know? I put it out there, so my clients can trust me with how honest I’m willing to be for them. Plus, there’s so much more to it than that, like how I base numerology and other things into it…”

The way that Hiro had become dejected sucked. Because, come on! What the actual crap? Nearly everything he said was ridiculous! The prank thing… At least he explained it in a way where it kinda made sense to him, so it wasn’t as egregiously stupid or anything. But everything about his crystal ball, how much he paid for it which had to have the sucker in debt up to his eyeballs, and the fact he was less than half right was just…. Gawddamn!

And yet… he just came off like he was trash-talking the guy and stomping on everything he does. And that made him feel slightly guilty, because Hiro started off this conversation trying to cheer him up! Just…. Good gawd...

Even then… as unbelievable as he still thought some of the stuff he heard was… Maybe he just doesn’t get it. After all, he wasn’t the Ultimate Clairvoyant. Maybe it’s just something he doesn’t understand because he’s not a fortune teller…

Still, he could realize when he was pushing it too close to being a dickhead.

Leon took a few seconds to take his facial expression in, before taking a deep breath and trying to calm down.

“Right. Yo, man, my bad, alright? I’m just… stressed about this whole thing and I wasn’t thinking, y’know?” he placed a hand on his hip and offered an apology, successfully retrieving Hiro’s attention to try and patch it up with a good comment about his crystal ball, “I’m just… honestly floored at how much dedication you have to your talent that you’d be willing to pay that much money to get something like this.”

Which was actually the truth, because… if he had to buy a guitar that was close to that price range in order to be a punk rock legend? He’d hope that the world could wait for a while for him to get the finances to afford it.

As for changing the topic and cheering up Hiro?

Mission accomplished, boys and girls! Just as he hoped could happen, the corners of the other teenager’s mouth went upward and his normal relaxed smile came back. He nodded, quickly going to stuff the ball back into his jacket pocket.

“Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to make a living, right?” Hiro light-heartedly chuckled, shrugging as he gave a thumbs-up in response, “And it’s not just how much money I’ve put into it. It’s also the amount of care I gotta keep up to make sure it stays with me forever. ‘Cuz it’s the only crystal ball I’ve got here!”

Leon’s eyebrows raised up.

“Wait, you mean in general, or…?”

“Oh, no way; I’ve got more back in my bedroom at home,” the taller male closed an eye and responded, putting his hands on his hips before having a distressed sigh come out of his lungs, “But for some reason, that crystal ball is the only one I’ve got in this place! There weren’t anymore in my dorm room, which is why I gotta double the TLC to this bad boy. And that’s adding onto the existing double that’s already there because it’s such a rare artifact, so that’s like…. Four times the amount of carefulness I need to have with it daily!”

Geez, this was starting to become exhausting talking about this thing for that long…

“Right… well, good luck with that, man,” Leon said, unsure of how to go on as he shrugged and looked away.

“Thanks, buddy! Now, uh… we probably oughta get searching or whatever, right?” his attention was grabbed pretty quickly as he watched the guy bend forward near him to try and take a peek near the dorm area, “If Taka happens to come by and see us just talking, he’s gonna probably chew us out.”

Oh, hell no, don’t tell him that the dude was coming-

Oh… okay, phew. Bending over to take a look as well, Leon was relieved to find the coast was clear. But still, the guy had a point…

“Yeah, sounds about right…” he groaned, scowling at the thought of it happening.

“Okay then! Let’s start by checking out this classroom!” The optimistic energy coming from Hiro’s voice seemed to give an extra spark of fuel to his actions of straightening up, turning around, and walking towards the classroom door…

But not before on his way to turn around, one of his dreads caught Leon in the eye again.

“!!! Aag- …Mother of… s-shit…”

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Aside from the irritation of being poked in the eye twice, which had properly built the very foundation of a giant mental note of ‘don’t stand right next to Hiro’ into his subconscious, Leon found himself following the other young man around into different rooms. Still having no clue on what to really find, he simply walked towards the metal plates and gave it a good look over. Yep, this thing was thick as all hell. No way was anyone gonna be able to break through it. But maybe…

Maybe they could unscrew it?

Leon’s eyes moved towards the massive screws that nailed the plates in. Some of them were way bigger than the others; like… how some of them were bigger than his hands, he had no freakin’ clue. He didn’t realize they actually existed. And frankly, he didn’t want to know how they got put on there in the first place. But the smaller ones were his target, and that one in the bottom right corner seemed ripe for the pickings. It was small enough for his hands to somewhat get a grip, so…

“Urhh… Gggh…”

Leon gritted his teeth and tried to twist his wrists to the left in order to unscrew it. But there were a good set of three reasons why this was difficult. One, he was trying really hard not to scratch up the rings on his right fingers and leave marks on them. May seem petty, he could understand why, but these were brand new and he didn’t want them to get ruined from doing something stupid. Two, it was hurting his hands; he’d like to think he was pretty strong for someone his size, but… that would be the third reason.

These things… were NOT moving any time soon.

And it’s not like he was being a weakling on purpose, because he didn’t want to have to try some physical effort into finding an escape. Sure, he may hate baseball and detest whenever he sweats, but he wasn’t one of those people who’d complain that they can’t do something, just to get out of doing it. He totally wanted to help find a way out of this place, alright? Damn straight!

But these screws? Like, they had to be bolted in, not just screwed. And frig, did he mention that hurt?

His legs walking backwards while rubbing his stinging palms just above his belts on his hips to numb the pain a bit, Leon most likely didn’t realize his head was shaking with defeat.

There was no way he was getting through that. And in extension, any of the other fourteen people. Not even if Sakura tried to punch through it or Mondo bashed it with a chair or something.

And due to that, his brain couldn’t think of any other way for an escape. He guessed it was a risk to do so in his attempt to remove the metal plates, but destruction of property wasn’t listed as part of the regulations, and yet… the previously mentioned biker gang leader had used their ‘only warning’ so to speak when he attacked Monokuma. With no more warnings from a strict ‘headmaster’, Leon wasn’t exactly gearing to go in being ballsy and seeing what the bear would do if he tried to start breaking through a wall or destroying crap in protest.

As such, all he could do was run a hand carefully through his hair with a sigh as Hiro came waddling over to say he didn’t have any luck either.

And it continued to the next classroom, where they ended up skidding to a dead end with no way to progress.

By the time they had gotten to the double red doors, which the baseball star instantly noted was still locked for some reason (which means obviously, whatever’s behind the door’s gotta be important, right?), Junko and Chihiro had shown up, walking towards them in the hallway. Apparently, Taka ‘instructed’ them to come join the duo, since he was able to finish up around the dorm area. And as such, two had become four.

Unfortunately, they had to backtrack to the previous classrooms, because Junko wasn’t satisfied in hearing they came up with squat and wanted to take a look at the plates herself. Which, like… why, girl? No offense to girls or nothin’, but like… there’s no way some fashionista is gonna be able to move this thing, especially if some ex sports star can’t, right?

He wasn’t a dumb fuck, though, and about to voice how there was no point in doing this. Not when the blonde’s face was gorgeously pissed to all hell. After all, when a girl is mad, you go into automatic damage control, alright? You might not be able to save or salvage everything, but at least any chaos is minimal. So keeping your trap shut can save your life.

And he was able to, as they left the classrooms, checked out what appeared to be an AV room, located a stocked, but crowded school store area, left the entrance hall to the trio of Hina, Sakura, and Mondo who just made their way towards it, noted the taped up pink doors, and even gave a good search of the public bathrooms.

But after checking the small trophies and awards area before the gym…

“...There’s no way we’re breaking out of here this way…”

Even his fiery passion of declaring for the group to find a way out this morning was gone as he found him and the others standing at the top of the bleachers, looking at one of the metal shutters. In fact, it was the very same one Sakura tried to punch through, because if his eyes weren’t messed up, he could see a slight difference on the surface’s appearance in a certain spot. And while he hated the thought of bringing down the mood and depressing the rest of them, the potential looming headache that was threatening to eat away at the front of his brain had made him lose the ability to keep quiet any longer.

After all, it was close to seven at night. Meaning, they had been at this searching thing for over ten hours now.

And now his stomach was rumbling, because he was hungry as hell, and while he didn’t want to stay a night here, that bed in his dorm room seemed pretty fine right about now.

Aaagh… This whole thing freakin’ sucked. Like, hardcore mega suckage.

“H-Hey, what’s the deal with saying something like that? You can’t tell me you’re giving up already!” Junko’s upper half whirled around to face him, eyes narrowing as her mouth nearly carved into a disappointed, yet frustrated snarl.

Now, Leon’s not the kind of person who takes too kindly to someone getting in his face and yelling at him. But fatigue and hunger were starting to creep up behind him, and this was turning into a potential argument where there was no winning in sight.

But the biggest thing of all, first impressions are key, right? He didn’t want to be some kind of a jerkbag to a girl, who would then tell all the other girls, especially Sayaka of all people.

Not that Junko was nothin’ to sneeze out, because she was damn pretty and cute as well. Did he also mention he’s got a thing for blondes?

Managing to play it cool, Leon rubbed at the left side of his face and looked at her with his other eye as he cleared his throat.

“No, ‘course I’m not. I wanna get outta this hellhole just as much as you, y’know? But like, you saw that Sakura girl try to punch through this earlier today, right? If she can’t do it, what makes you think we’re gonna be able to?” he said, eventually digging both hands into his pockets, “I’m just saying I don’t think the four of us are gonna be able to do anything to brute force our way outta here.”

Luck just must be something he’s got in droves, or maybe there really is some god above who blesses him massively. That answer appeased Junko, as she straightened up, folding her arms and sighed, her face relaxing into an understanding expression.

“Yeah, you’re right. I’m not exactly eager to go breaking a nail or the heels of my boots trying to attack the shutter to get out,” she agreed, her lips nearly breaking making a duck lips face with how she was slightly pouting (not gonna lie, that was pretty cute as well!), “Man, this whole thing just sucks.”

Hiro nodded, folding his arms with a slight frown, “It’s like I was sayin’ earlier. The amount of effort they’ve put into this is… just wow, you know?”

Junko, regardless of her grumpiness to admitting it, gave a shrug and a raise of her eyebrows in response. Uhhh… it’s a good thing the guy didn’t allude to the fact that he was meaning that as in this whole thing was just a prank from the student body, because he’s not really sure how she’d take that…

Far be it from well, but… y’know what he means.

A small whimper directed their attention to Chihiro, whose head was starting to lower in sad spirits and her eyes threatened to water.

“I really hope the others have had some luck in finding a way out of here. I feel really bad we haven’t been able to find anything…” she admitted, taking a shaky breath to try and pull it together.

Leon had join the nearly collective murmur of tired and sad agreement before he had realized it. And that was like the sourest grapes he’s ever had to swallow right there. Just…

Okay, he was really hungry now. His stomach had gurgled to the point where it was slightly painful. His eyes staring out into the open space of the basketball court, his objective had changed now.

New mission: get food!

Specific objective: excuse yourself in a way where you don’t look like a loser or someone who completely gave up on searching.

And just like the genius he was, the glorious excuse that wouldn’t and couldn’t fail dawned on him, nearly threatening to break his mouth into a clever grin. But with his skills and having to resist fixing his collar, Leon cleared his throat casually, causing the group to look at him.

“Well… I don’t mean to just bail on you guys like this, but if you don’t mind, I’m gonna head out to the dorms,” he said, looking away.

“Huh? You’re going back there?” Chihiro asked, her head tilting in confusion.

Junko squinted incredulously at him with a hint of suspicion on her voice, “You know Taka will get pissed if he catches you, especially after he confidently declared ‘he’s got the dorm area under control’. Plus, why do you even need to go back there?”

Sching!

Ya hear that? That’s the sound of the trap closing and his plan going off without a hitch!

Pale blue eyes glanced back over to her while his voice answered, “I’m gonna go check up on Makoto. See if he’s alright, y’know?”

The group seemed to realize what he was meaning now as Hiro nodded with a smile and folded his arms.

“Oh, yeah! The little guy’s been asleep this whole time; he’s gotta be awake by now, right?”

“If that’s the case, it’d be best to let him know everything that’s happened, so he’s not entirely left in the dark,” Chihiro nodded, giving a cheerful smile of her own, “That sounds like a good idea, Leon!”

Hehehe… Of course it is!

Junko gave a bit of a sigh, but flashed a peace sign and gave a grin of her own, “Alright, alright. I guess we can let you go to see if he’s okay. We’ll keep looking around and let you know if we find anything.”

With the other two nodding in agreement, Leon gave a quick “Gotcha! See ya!” before turning around and hurrying down the bleacher steps to stroll out of the gym.

And cue to where he was now.

Squinting as his eyes were trying to adjust to a brighter area while making a quick pitstop for nourishment before actually going through with his plan and checking on the kid.

Well… that was the plan. Because when he actually started to make progress in getting closer to the dining hall’s doorway-

“Huh? Leon?”

The punk’s body flinched subtly to jerk him to a stop. Blocking him from going any further was Sayaka, raising an eyebrow and being equally as surprised to see him suddenly here. The sight of the girl caused him to give a chill smile as he easily slid into his neutral posture.

“Oh, hey, Sayaka. What’s up?” he cheerfully greeted, giving a friendly wink to her as well.

The pop idol slightly tilted her head.

“I’m fine, thank you, but… why are you here? I thought you were searching with the others.”

...Well, crap. Of all the possibilities for his genius quick-thinking to get busted and flushed down the toilet, it’s right at the finish line by the Sayaka Maizono. It’s like he could hear the potential sandwich or whatever else he could most likely find in the dining hall begging him to find a way to get past her. But like… gawd, the struggle! His stomach wasn’t about to prioritize over a girl like this, but…. Man…!!

“Huh? Oh, yeah, I am, but, uh, y’know… I was just checking around this area and-”

Suddenly, it’s like his spine grew very cold. His voice trailing out into dead silence, he understood completely in a second why. He looked at Sayaka’s face slowly molding in a serious, disappointed frown. Her body straightening up and her hands locking in front of her waist, everything was screaming total red flags to him.

“You didn’t come back to check on me, did you?” her voice was polite, but to an expert person that could pick up things, there was a subtle accusatory tone to it, “I told you that I could handle it by myself. Do you think I can’t do it?”

Oh shit shit shit fuck fuck fuck!!

Leon’s eyes widened and shrank to three times its normal size. Well, of course, NOW the excuse of ditching his group to get food is the better option to bail out of this incoming disaster! It’s better than her thinking that he thought she was incapable of doing things by herself and upsetting her!!

“What? H-Hey, no, not at all! I-I wasn’t thinking that about you!” he stammered, going into damage control move while waving his hands and failing to force himself into making eye contact with her, “Uh, the reason why I came here was… um, y’know…!”

…!!!

Wait… wait a second! Calm down, you moron! You have a perfect reason already, and it’ll cover up everything!

Just take a breath and play it double cool, man…

“To… To see if you wanted to come with me to check on Makoto!”

Sayaka’s face quickly morphed into a surprised shade of emotion.

“Huh? Makoto?” she was immediately glued onto what he said when he mentioned the boy’s name.

While his heart was still racing, Leon acted like nothing was wrong as he went to rub at the back of his neck. The shrug he did before that may or may not have been kind of exaggerated, due to how freaked out he was over a potential conversation gone bad with one of his music idols.

“W-Well, yeah! I mean, like… he’s been out since this morning, y’know? So, I thought it’d be right to check out if he’s okay and all,” he found the confidence pouring back into his voice, and his eyes finally were able to meet her blue ones, “And judging from everything in this gym, I’m guessing the two of you are close. So, I came by to see if you wanted to come with me to make sure everything’s cool.”

Sayaka slowly had a smile come onto her face as she seemed eager.

“Ohh, I understand now! Of course I’ll come with you; I’ve been really worried about him all day, considering I don’t think he’s come out of his room yet,” she said, walking over the doorway and giving a small bow, “Thank you so much, Leon; I’m sorry for doubting you.”

Dude, he’s gotten her to say thank you like more than three times to him; his relationship with her has gotta be way high up now, compared to most of the others, yeah??

With a grin, he waved it off.

“Hey, like I’ve been sayin’, it’s not a prob!”

A small nod from Sayaka was his response, and the two ended up making their way towards the dorms.

“I do have to ask, if you don’t mind… how did things go for the others after I left?”

Leon closed his eyes briefly while recounting the tale, “Well… we checked out the dorm areas for a while until Taka eventually sent all of us away; the dude said he could handle the rest. From there, we kinda just went all over the school to look over all the metal plates barricading the windows and such…”

She frowned, “No luck?”

He felt his eyes glance up in defeat at the ceiling, “Nope, no dice. Those things ain’t gettin’ removed any time soon.”

He noticed out of the corner of his eye the blue haired girl looked away when she responded, “I was able to do a really thorough search of not only the dining hall, but the laundry room to your left over there.”

When his head lowered back down to see her hand pointing across him in that direction, he looked to see a small room located with green and white doors with a blue and purple awning over it with a yellow word that said ‘Laundry’.

“It seems like that’s where we can wash our clothes,” Sayaka continued, glancing over to Leon when he turned to look at her again, “Toko, Hifumi, and Celeste were in there the last time I went inside, so I’m not sure if they’re still there or not. There’s more to the dining hall area, too, but… it’s probably best to wait and let everyone else know what I found when we gather together.”

A simple nod from the punk was all that could be given before the two realized they had made it into the red hallway and stood in front of the dorm room they were in earlier that morning. Now the hope was that Makoto had already woken up and was checking out the place to, with someone else maybe bumping into him and giving a quick recap along the way. But if he was still in there… Well, uh… here’s hoping he’s okay and just unconscious and not… eegh…

“Alright, time for the moment of truth, huh?” Leon tried to smile and say, only to blink as he saw Sayaka rubbing at her arm.

“...I really do hope he’s okay… What happened this morning must’ve really hurt,” she confessed, looking down near her feet after sneaking a glance at the door.

Giving her a sympathetic smile, he started to make steps towards the door.

“Yeah, that was pretty messed up. But he’s gonna be o-”

Suddenly, something came out of the corner of his eye right at him and he looked-

WHAM!!

“!!! A-AAUGH… G-GAWD…!!”

His head had flown backwards, causing him to stumble and place a hand on the wall nearby. When he bent down, that’s when a flaring pain surged within his forehead and had him cringing with his jaw hanging open.

Fuckin’... what the crap was that!?

It took him a few tense breaths, sucking in air between his teeth before he was able to open his eyes and…

!!! Whoa!!

On the floor, Sayaka had been knocked onto her back with Makoto suddenly on top of her, both looking absolutely stunned as to what just happened. And behind them was Makoto’s dorm room door, slowly skidding to a halt to where it was half open now…

....You’ve… That freakin’....

Did that kid just seriously swing the door into his head and also tackle Sayaka to the ground?? What the hell!?

As he stared with utter dumbfounded aggravation, both the figures on the floor started to get up. When they looked each other in the face, both went red as the young boy scrambled to get off her, back up at least a few inches, and while remaning in his knees, immediately bow.

“S-Sayaka! O-Oh my gawd, I’m so sorry! Are you okay?” he apologized, his hands nearly reaching up to his head with how distressed and scared he looked.

Just then, another searing burst of pain came through where the door hit him and he closed his eyes, groaning out.

“Oww… G-Gawddamn it, man,” he cursed out, suddenly catching the off-guard Makoto into staring at him, “Did Mondo punch you so hard that you’re STILL dizzy or somethin’??”

“H-Huh? Leon? Are you okay; what happened?”

“What happe- You flung the door into my face, dude!!”

“What!? I-I did!?”

“Uh, yeah! Just now, when you came barreling out like a bat outta hell-”

“O-Oh crap, man, I’m really sorry! I didn’t mean to-”

“Heheh… Hahahahaha!!”

The sudden giggling caused both males to stop dead in their tracks. What they looked over at was Sayaka almost entering a full laughing fit as she was trying and failing to cover her mouth with a hand. She was able to contain herself somewhat as she looked over to Leon.

“Maybe now you can ask Makoto for his beauty secrets on how he doesn’t bruise easily!” she struggled to say.

Leon’s eyebrows and nose scrunched up. Wait, what? Why would…

……..Ohhhhhhh.

Suddenly, he felt himself scoff out a laugh as he bent over, rubbing at his head.

“Hah…. You’re totally right.”

That led to Sayaka having more difficulty in preventing herself from laughing, while poor Makoto kept looking back and forth between them without a clue as to what on earth was going on.

Chapter Text

Ding Dong, Bing Bong…

“!!!”

Since when has his alarm clock ever made that freaking sound!?

Leon felt his soul nearly part with his body as his senses went into overdrive, being raised to high alert before his body, or the main machine, could even register it was ‘turned on’. His legs violently shoving the comforter up into the air, as if they were a predator pinning him down and he was kicking for freedom, the coordination with the upper half was lacking a bit as two arms went flailing through the air with no direction. His legs freed and both eyes able to somehow communicate to his brain that he was dangerously teetering off the edge of what he was on, the teenage boy was finally able to get a good grip on the soft mattress, push off, and sit up on the edge.

What… the actual crap.

If it wasn’t for whatever the hell that noise was, the facts of his feet resting on a floor with the temperature of ice, his fight or flight instincts causing his heart to race, and how hard he was gripping the edge of the mattress would have compiled enough of a reason for him to get royally annoyed and spit out a few curse words.

His body jerked in surprise when he heard a loud static noise coming from across him, up where that monitor was hanging off his wall near the bathroom.

The screen instantly lit up with a figure sitting in a chair with a wine glass in his hand-

Monokuma.

“Good morning, everyone!” its cheerful, clearly wide awake voice was like if it was a cheese grater rubbing against his eardrums, “It is now 7 AM and nighttime is officially over! Time to rise and shine! Get ready for another bee-yutiful day!!”

The screen fizzling until it turned off left Leon’s eyes still glued to it. Several seconds felt like several minutes as every part of his mind and body tried to catch up. Dragging them off the monitor, he slowly looked around…

A red designed wall… blue tiled floor… wooden furniture… and a pile of baseball items barely stuffed into a knocked over trash can…

...No…

This… this really was real, wasn’t it?

His heart dropping in his chest, he leaned forward and buried his entire face into his hands. The fingertips rubbing at his forehead and temples, the muffled exhale that blew his warm breath back onto his skin finally gave him his complete wake-up call. What a load of bullcrap this all was. He really was imprisoned in this place with the Sayaka Maizono and thirteen other people by a crazy-looking bear. When he went to bed last night… as much as it would’ve sucked to know that he never really met Sayaka, he prayed for the first time in his life to please let this be some messed up dream he was having. That he’d wake up in his bedroom at his house.

But no… this was real. Holy crap, this was…

...Wait a minute, did that stupid thing actually make a bear pun at the end of its message?

Okay, now he was officially starting the day, being irked.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

With a shower finished, his clothes on, and doing everything he needs to keep his health in check, Leon carefully ran his hair gel covered fingers through his hair to finish the touches of his hairdo staying badass and in place. Satisfied enough, he quickly washed his hands before putting on his jewelry. But it was during the last one of funneling his goatee through the silver bead to rest it on his chin that he paused for a second. Not to take a good look at himself to make sure everything looked cool-

Er… Okay, kind’ve a little bit for that reason. But mainly… to take a second to think about what the hell he was gonna do today.

His lips pursing into a side scowl on the left side led to a small sigh coming out his nostrils.

Man, yesterday was just a clusterfuck. Nearly blinded by Hiro’s hair twice on the same eye and a door being slammed into his forehead by Makoto. Major blow to his pride and his nervous system. More of a total suckage when the latter ends up getting Sayaka, the one person in this place he adores and looks up to as a fellow person in the music industry, laughing uncontrollably at him.

Dammit.

Shaking his head to exit the bathroom, his mind briefly recalled what happened after.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

After helping Makoto and Sayaka off the floor and more urgent apologies, Leon felt the throbbing pain in his forehead plummet once the pop idol let the other boy know it was him who brought him to his room. Not gonna lie, it felt nice to get recognition for doing something good, especially from Sayaka! When Makoto thanked him and he assured it wasn’t any trouble with a grin, the three made their way towards the dining hall.

Now… Leon would absolutely let you know that he’s not trivial or petty when it comes to being the center of attention. While his goal to be a punk legend, he wasn’t gonna be one of those celebrities who demanded the full spotlight be on his good side every aching hour of his life. But somewhere during the conversation when they got into the dining hall, he blinked and realized the discussion had subtly bopped him out of the picture and it was solely between the other two. Essentially, this thing had become the two talking and him eavesdropping on their conversation.

Uhhh… d-does he still stay near them or… like, move away... ?

He had no clue… but, like, it wasn’t anything too private, really.

Mostly small talk, but apparently, both Makoto and Sayaka went to the same school together and she witnessed him saving a bird? Out of a fountain or somethin’? Like, uh… is the kid some kind of bird expert or…?

Well, there wasn’t really much time for him to really process it.

No, really, he didn’t get a chance.

‘Cause, you know… Taka.

Jerk said something about how he was impressed that they all finished and arrived before him, and that he was apparently ashamed that they did, so he needed to do better next time? Then the guy noticed he was there to begin with and started to march over in order to give him an earful about why was he even here and that ‘abandoning his group’ isn’t good and geezume, underneath his eye began to twitch. FOR REAL!?

But like a gorgeous angel from heaven above, Sayaka came to his aid and told Taka he left to go check on Makoto’s condition, with even the little guy confirming it. It was enough to get him off the hook and distract the now cheerful hall monitor (strict dumbass fit better for him right now) with praising him and Sayaka for caring about a fellow classmate and then asking Makoto if he was okay. Gave Leon enough time to roll his eyes up the ceiling and stuff his hands into his pockets grumpily.

Point is… Makoto and Sayaka are super cool in his book now. Might think about giving them some discounts for his future concert tours!

With that trainwreck prevented? One by one, the others started to arrive, until the whole group of classmates gathered at a table in the middle.

Ahhh…. Hm.

Actually, scratch that, okay?

Two things wrong with it.

One? Byakuya opted to sit at a table nearby instead of with everyone, with Toko kinda standing somewhat behind him a few feet away. He guessed they just don’t like people…?

And two?

Not everyone was here.

“Yeah, uhh, that silver-ish, lilac-haired girl. Kyoko was her name, I think?” Junko brought up with a frown, interrupting Taka who had attempted to officially start their meeting, “She’s not here.”

The guy seemed to be in shock, as everyone glanced around the room to see that in fact, she was not present.

“W-Wha… Darn it Kyoko! You're really going to be late like this on the first day of school!? Not only is she late, she didn't tell anyone she would be late! A most unbecoming personality trait…” he sighed with clenched fists.

...You’re seriously calling being supposedly imprisoned for the rest of your lives in this building the first day of school, man...?

Well, like he said before… school IS kind of a prison….

Junko blinked in disbelief.

“You’re being a real jackass right now, you know that?”

Woman after his own heart, right there!

“I can’t believe she’d just not show up like that, though,” Hina spoke up with a worried look.

“Then… It’s really true? Nobody’s seen her?”

Chihiro’s question had the entire group shaking their heads and looking at each other doing the same.

“You…” all pairs of eyes turned to look at the end of the table to see Hifumi start to look scared, nearly beginning to nibble at his fingers, “Y-You guys don’t think… maybe someone…”

The entire atmosphere grew tense and frightening. Surely, it didn’t need to be said what was being implied. A sense of cold-sweat inducing dread had befallen everyone…

…..Uhhhh, well…. To be honest?

It would’ve, and Leon probably could’ve been one of the most freaked out about it… if it wasn’t the fact it was him that quickly squashed that fear. You see, what happened was in a split second, some of that boldness that had him respond to Byakuya in the gymnasium earlier had resurfaced onto a figurative art canvas and had been mixed with grumpiness. Mainly distributed to being tired from this whole ordeal and searching with nothing to show for it… but partly due to how he still hasn’t eaten anything.

“Gimme a break,” he groaned, rubbing at his face as several of the others were surprised at his skepticism, “You seriously think one of us is gonna try to kill someone on the first day of us being here?”

“I do have to agree with him.”

He and the others turned to see Byakuya with a leg crossed over the other, yet his arms still folded dominantly over his chest.

“Although I could be wrong, but... I would like to think none of us would be stupid enough to commit murder without a plan. Especially when thirteen other people are wandering around who could catch them in the act,” he spoke as-a-matter-of-factly, yet not making eye contact with anyone.

Makoto readjusted himself in his seat before saying, “That’s implying that one of us would actually think about murdering someone in the first place…”

That seemed to get Byakuya to look at him, his eyes swirling with an unimpressed, forceful refusal to back down from that.

“I remember hearing something similar in the gym this morning, and I addressed it accordingly,” he spoke with such authority, referencing what he said to Sayaka, “Don’t make me repeat myself; I hate doing that to people who should be able to listen the first time around.”

Ouch, Leon could feel the sting on that one. And he wasn’t the person being spoken to… if you can call that simply speaking. Poor Makoto just hesitated before awkwardly looking away and rubbing at the back of his head.

Eventually, the group decided to let Kyoko know about what they discussed after they found her and it led to everyone giving out what they did:

Taka repeated what they had found in the dorms and reminded them to grab their room keys of the tables. He had also said that there was a trash room on the other hall near the dorms.

Byakuya had tried to find the mastermind controlling Monokuma, but came up short.

Celeste, Hifumi, and Toko actually had the gall to admit that they didn’t even try to do shit! They just hung out in the gym for awhile before moving to the laundry room where they stayed. The frig, man!? Didn’t they wanna get outta here? Bastards…! It led to this weird back and forth between Junko and Toko, where the latter called the former a slut (which was the cue for Leon to completely disengage and not even try to enter a potential catfight), to where Hiro said something about how all the arguing would damage their complexion? And then… Sayaka said they were fighting like sisters or something…

It’s hard to pay attention to what’s said when you’re trying to stay out of something that involves pissed off girls and could end badly if you jumped in like a moron.

Next was his group, and they went over the fact that none of the metal plates or shutters were coming off.

Hina, Sakura, and Mondo decided to try and find a way through the entrance hall’s main door, but with no effort. They had also found near the gym and apparently close to the dorms stairs leading to a higher floor, but were both blocked off by a metal gate. That’s gotta mean there’s a second floor to this place, but at the current time, it was off limits. Also, near the gate of the dorm stairs, was a door that was locked, leading to another place that was unknown.

And, uh… ahem… while they were on the subject of this… HOW THE HELL WAS SAKURA NEXT TO HIM YET AGAIN!?

When they had all came over to sit at the table, Leon nearly jolted out of his seat when he realized she had come from his left and sat next to him. Took his entire mental, physical, and, let’s be damn honest and might as well assume, spiritual strength to not spit out some shocked foul language and suddenly jerk in response, thus putting him in the most awkward position ever. Yeah, smooth move that’d be, right? Probably have her offended and then flatten him into a pancake. But, come on. Like, for the love of gawd, how did he keep finding himself in positions where he was next to the most intimidating and strongest person in this group? First walking up next to him in the entrance hall, then behind him in the gymnasium, then they’re next door neighbors in the dorms, and now this!

He swears he’s gonna get a heart attack from this woman, and he hasn’t even seen how ominous she could be when angry.

Lord help him.

Eventually, it got to Sayaka revealing that the laundry room was free and could be used repeatedly to wash their clothes. The dining hall also led to the kitchen, which had tons of food for them to eat. Apparently, Monokuma had shown up to tell her about this, which really had Leon secretly upset and feeling that maybe he really should’ve gone with her.

“But you’re okay, right? That bear didn’t try to eat you, did it?” Hina asked, frowning in concern.

Suddenly, Hifumi flinched and lowered his head, a creepy shadow residing on his face.

“E-Eat her… Um, uh… when you say ‘eat’, what do you mean? What kind of ‘eating’ are you referring to…?” he struggled to say, his finger nearly going inside of his drooling… smile….

Okay, that’s fucking disgusting!!

“What the hell, fatty!?” Leon didn’t even hide how appalled he was, leaning over the table to get a better look at what kind of sick psycho would say something like that, “You’re acting like some kind of sleazy drunk dude!”

He got what he wanted in making Hifumi recoil from embarrassment and (hopefully) realizing he was being an idiot, but that was short lived, thanks to a reaction from across the table.

“Uhhhm… You’re sayin’ that like there’s a good kind of drunk dude,” Hiro made a face, tilting his head.

Leon’s eyebrows went up and lost his anger almost immediately. Wait, was he off? Then again, Hiro did say something to him earlier about drinking brewskis or whatever…

Thankfully before it turned into another unorganized rambling, Kyoko had shown up and, while ignoring Taka’s inquiries of where she went, laid out a piece of paper for all to see. It seemed to be a floorplan of where they all were, thus cementing the fact that this was indeed Hope’s Peak Academy. Questions and mysteries had started to arise, before everyone’s e-handbook suddenly made a noise. When Leon took his out, a notification came up saying that the ‘Map’ section was now available and pressing on it gave him a layout of anywhere he could go. Huh, so it’s unlocked now. Good to know… Eventually, Celeste proposed an idea based on the concept of ‘those who can adapt to anything can survive’. She suggested that at nighttime, they make their own unique rule that no one leaves their room, to somewhat prevent the measure of growing mistrust. Not long after it seemed like there was pretty much agreed to by everyone, she treated that as a mic drop as she left to depart for the night. And that’s pretty much when everyone went their separate ways for the night.

THANK GOD, because it was time for a sandwich!! And man, Sayaka wasn’t kidding; this kitchen was decked out with all kinds of food and ingredients. At least the damn bear has a modicum of decency to have some soda on hand. He’ll just be pocketing a few pepsi cans, alright? Now with his glorious sandwich and pepsi cans, he quickly took his food, said a prayer of thanks to the gods above that Taka wasn’t there (because okay, he’s not trying to rag on the guy, but if the dude is willing to get after him for his piercings and clothes, who knows if he’ll blow a gasket for eating in his room… despite how that’s not of his business), and made his way to his room.

And a few hours later, he’d nearly have a heart attack from the first ‘nighttime announcement’ when Monokuma appeared on his screen. Glad no one saw that embarrassing shit…

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Finally finished with the morning stuff! Locking his room behind him and his handbook and keys in the pockets, Leon had moseyed down to the dining hall. Walking that far of a distance gave him enough time to go over a quick adjustment of his jacket and hair. A sigh of dreaded anticipation for the day’s coming events of another round of searching. As he entered the room, several people took notice of him and bid him good morning and he gave a cool-styled wave of his own. A yawn overtook him as he managed to make his way into the kitchen.

Now, he was looking for something quick to make, so he could be in and out fast. But, uh… mainly the reason why he was doing a sandwich again was probably because he… um, wasn’t all that huge of a culinary creator. Like, if you count sandwiches and instant ramen, then maybe he could be classified as one kinda…? But, um… aside from that and maybe snacking on fruit and veggies, Leon wasn’t an expert on how to make food.

And he didn’t feel too keen about asking someone for cooking advice, because what kind of awesome music legend would admit to being unable to cook? That’s a total blemish on what should be a perfect career for him, if he didn’t die from embarrassment.

Another sandwich it was again.

Putting everything away and getting ready to get some kind of a plate for it, Leon’s eyes suddenly caught a small glint out of the corner of his eyes. Pausing, he looked up to find several kitchen knives hanging on a shelving unit attached to the wall across the room. The glint came off one of the bigger knives from the room’s lights. He blinked a few times, not breaking away eye contact from it.

“You must kill someone in order to leave.”

“!!”

That same dreaded sentence suddenly floated up back into the forefront of his mind, sending a tense shiver down his spine. Creeped out, he had no desire to look there anymore. And yet, he could feel the knives’ presence as unignorable as possible, almost like the sharp inanimate objects laughed and beckoned him to draw nearer. What Monokuma said… about all the ways that you can kill someone, and stabbing was one of them…

Those knives would be…

...No. No no no, the hell was he even doing?

Come on, he’s obviously freaking out over nothing.

There’s no way someone’s already tempted enough to try and kill someone…

...And that sentence was stated with just as much confidence as when he said it out loud to everyone in the gym yesterday.

And that amount was barely.

Shaking his head with a near inaudible growl, Leon quickly grabbed his sandwich and a drink, fast-walking to get away from the kitchen knives as fast as possible.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

It wasn’t long before Leon had finished his breakfast and ended up strolling out into the halls by himself. The desire to search everywhere over one more time with everyone to find a way out fueled him to finish quickly-

Well, that, and uh… there wasn’t really anybody he felt close enough towards to have small talk with. Makoto and Sayaka weren’t there, so they had to be asleep. Junko and Chihiro, while not having that much interactions, he felt comfortable with, but they were chatting with other people. And it was way too early to try and deal with another type of conversation Hiro would bring up, and he’s only had one from him!

So, quick meal and he was off, walking through the halls. Problem was now that he was, he had no clue on how to proceed. And this had him wandering the halls, trying not to look like an utter idiot to those who passed by him. Because during him roaming the area, he came to a very troubling realization.

This place was a borefest. Like, oh my gawd. There was nothing to do here. We’re talkin’ ultra boring as shit levels that could and would drive him up a wall.

Because aside from a gym that didn’t seem to have any kind of balls or equipment in it to use, an AV room that lacked any kind of dvds or videos to watch, and a school store that pretty much had nothing catching his eyes, there was nothing to do here that was fun! Like, okay, sure, he’ll grant the argument of his cd collection in his room, and also that he had a guitar that he could practice whenever he wanted. And, by some absolutely strange occurrence that he goes temporarily insane in this gawddamn place and decides to entertain the idea of using the baseball crap he’s thrown away, maybe someone would be willing to throw a ball around with him for a tiny bit.

But that’s like… what; a few hours to maybe a couple days worth of time being occupied? And he’s apparently supposed to live here for the rest of his life… Yeah, that shit’s not gonna fly with him. Damn straight! Because Leon’s forms of entertainment were watching tv, watching videos online, and hanging out at the mall in the city. And that ain’t gonna be happening anytime soon thanks to that stupid bear and whoever’s controlling it.

His train of thought was prematurely derailed off the tracks and crashed horrifically when some kind of pounding sound echoed from the entrance hall. Just… what the hell…?

Briefly poking his head in, he was treated with a wonderful sight of Mondo balancing on one leg while rearing the other one as far back as he could before kicking at the metal door with all his might. Every landed kick did nothing, except for a new profanity to be spewed from his mouth.

...Dare he?

Oh good gawd…

Against his better judgement, Leon took a deep breath in and entered the entrance hall towards the biker gang leader.

“Yo, man. What’s happenin’?”

Mondo turned around, back on both feet.

“Oh, hey. Just trying to find a way out. I thought I might as well give this door another shot,” he said, turning to, what the baseball star could suspect, glare at the door in question, “I know that Hina, Sakura, and I already tried to bust this thing down yesterday, but… you know. Can’t give up, right?”

Leon nodded uncomfortably, already cautious of the guy being in not so great of a mood. Therefore, he needed to tread the waters of this conversation very carefully...

“Yeah, I get ya, but like… I don’t think anyone’s gonna be able to bust through this thing,” he said, giving a quick glance at the door before looking back at him, “I mean, if Sakura couldn’t break through the metal shutters in the gym, what makes you think you’re gonna have better luck with this?”

A huff came out of Mondo’s nostrils as he turned to look at him with an annoyed, yet understanding look. It still put Leon on alert as the biker answered.

“Tch, hell if I know. But I’m no good at thinkin’ stuff up; I’m better off leaving that to the rest of you to figure out, and then waiting for the cue to do what’s gotta be done to bust out of this dump,” he said, cracking his neck a bit, “Besides, I’m stoppin’ anyways. Fuckin’ thing is solid as shit…”

Leon quietly sucked air through his teeth; it was like this conversation was taking place above a frozen body of water that was starting to crack and if he said the wrong thing, it’d all shatter around him. Plus, despite how he sounds like it, he couldn’t really tell if Mondo’s actually pissed or not.

“Well, that’s true, but I was kinda thinking along the lines of that you shouldn’t?” he tried to explain, his nervousness making him mentally curse himself for phrasing that like a question.

Mondo squinted at him.

“Eh? The hell you talkin’ about?”

“Uhhh, I’m talking about the guns, dude.”

“The what?”

In a strange sense of déjà vu, thanks to a very complicated and unneeded experience with Hiro yesterday, his natural response was to gawk at how blatantly unaware he was of his surroundings and the potentially dangerous implications. Like-

Okay, side note, was all the guys but him not mentally there, or jerks, or creepy, or whatever? Like, seriously…

Regardless, he fought that response, due to this was Mondo he was talking to and just pointed up at where the giant guns mounted above the door and menacingly aiming down at them were located, getting him to look up at it.

“Those, man. Like… what happens if you keep kicking the door and it activates some protocol thing? That gun’ll probably start shootin’ at ya and rip you to shreds…”

……...And… And him, too.

...Somebody remind him why he thought it was a good idea to walk in here again?

Ignoring the hated feeling of anxiety bubbling at his chest over imagining himself being ripped apart by bullets, he noticed Mondo went silent as he kept looking at it. Eventually, the biker looked back at him and had this expression his face that was… uhhh, well, it was kinda calm, but like… he doesn’t the guy well, so maybe he was about to get rage at him. That thought suddenly sent Leon into full damage control, as he raised his arms up waving.

“G-Guh- uhhh…! N-Not that I’m, uh, tryin’ to be your dad or, um… teach you a lesson! Or how you said it to Makoto, before you…” he tried to reassure with a nervous grin, his voice dying out as his eyes flashed with fear upon the other guy turning towards him.

Oh, please, dear gawd, just not in the face; that’s his money maker…!!

Mondo scowled… took a deep breath in…

...and threw Leon off guard as he sighed dejectedly, rubbing the back of his neck.

...Um… Okay, he wasn’t thinking it was that easy, but… he’ll take that over being punched in the face, alright?

“...Leon, was it?” the young man asked, his eyes not even opening to look at him.

The punk felt his spine and shoulders straighten into a more military-esque posture.

“Y-Yeah?”

“Listen. Do me a favor and don’t rag on me about that, ‘kay?” Mondo sighed with a greater volume, eyes now opening to glance away with a guilty look, “I… really feel like shit about that. I know I got a problem with my temper and all, and I wasn’t thinking right when I clocked Makoto like that…”

Leon paused for a moment before giving a sympathetic look and nodding, “Yeah, totally, man.”

Mondo scoffed slightly, glancing back at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Being honest with ya? I’m surprised I actually managed to send him flying like that. I’ve gotten into fights with kids smaller than him, but they never went sailing that far back before…”

That makes two of them. Seriously, he thought something like that only existed in fighting games or anime, but apparently, you can shoryuken someone for real…

“So, anyways, uh… Yeah. I probably should apologize to the guy, right?” Mondo asked, scratching under his chin awkwardly.

Leon did slightly deadpan at this, but recovered and frowned, stuffing his into his pockets.

“Dude, you knocked him unconscious for more than ten hours yesterday. So, yeah; I think you should try to, the next time you bump into him…”

The biker nodded, folding his arms.

“Right. I’ll make sure to do that, for sure,” he committed to it and promised, prompting a nod from the other male.

And, right on cue, as if it was some kind of tv show or video game, two people strolled into the entrance hall. Both looked over to see who it was, and the identities of the two lit Leon’s face up with a smile.

“Hey! Makoto, Sayaka! ‘Sup?” he grinned, waving while his other hand placed cooly on his hip.

Both smiled and waved back, coming towards them.

“Good morning, guys,” Makoto gave a hopeful smile to them, “I hope you were able to sleep somewhat good last night.”

“Yeah, I totally did. I’m just not used to those kind of announcements as my alarm clock. I’m gonna have to get used to that…” Leon grumbled, his smile faltering slightly.

It got a sympathetic smile out of Makoto and a slight giggle out of Sayaka, so there was that going for him at least. He chuckled too, feeling a bit cheered up by it.

“You’re right. It’s slightly unsettling to have that and the cameras in our room while we sleep,” the pop idol agreed, trying to give some encouragement, “But all we have to do is to deal with it a little longer until we can find a way out of this place.”

“Yeah, she’s right; we’ll get out of here. I’m sure of it!” Makoto did his best to make the atmosphere a pleasant tone, sharing a smile with her.

Yeah… yeah, that’s right. They’d definitely find a way outta this place. There’s no reason to freak out about this…

Seeing as the two were looking at each other, this gave Leon the chance to subtly elbow the biker gently in his right arm. When he looked over, the punk motioned with his eyes to Makoto a few times. Once his face lit up with realization, Mondo’s face dropped slightly, but nodded and turned to look at the smaller boy.

“Yo, uh… Makoto?”

“Huh? Yeah, what’s up?”

“Listen… about yesterday…” he started, looking uncomfortable as he rubbed the back of his neck, “I was pissed off about this whole shitty thing and I… I know you were only tryin’ to help. Sorry, man…”

Makoto waved it off with a smile, “No, it’s okay, Mondo. I get that everything up until now is really stressful and all. I promise there’s no hard feelings.”

This brought a small grin to Mondo’s face.

“Heh, I owe ya, kid. Thanks a lot.”

Leon and Sayaka shared a small quick glance to each other, her nodding with a smile and him giving a grinning wink. Well, that was one problem over and done…

And with that out of the way…

“Yo, so… what brings the two of you over here?” he asked, directing the conversation into a new topic.

The moment the words left his mouth, both newcomers to the entrance hall seemed to get slightly serious, with the boy being a bit worried.

“Oh, um… Well, we were actually looking for something to use for self-defense,” Makoto admitted, rubbing at his left arm near the elbow.

Leon’s eyebrows went up.

“Self-defense?”

Mondo cursed with a half grimace, half scowl, “Shit, so you’re takin’ it seriously, with this ‘game’ we’re playing and all, huh…?”

Similarly to what he did to him yesterday, Makoto brought his arms up in a surrender fashion and waved them, but less frantically.

“I-It’s not like that…! I want to believe no one’s actually going to attempt murder and we can all get out of here together, but…”

“It’s just better to be safe than sorry,” Sayaka finished for him as his voice trailed off into slightly ashamed silence, nodding to Mondo, “I’m the one who suggested we ought to find something to protect ourselves with. Just in case, right?”

The biker shrugged with a nod of his own, “Yeah, makes sense.”

“How about you guys?” Makoto managed to bounce back somewhat and relax, “What are you doing here?”

“Ehhh, was tryin’ to find a way out again. Tried my luck with the door one more time, but… nah, this thing ain’t goin’ nowhere,” Mondo answered first, jabbing his thumb at it, “We’re gonna need to find another way outta here…”

“And the fact that there’s basically nothing to do here? Gonna die of friggin’ boredom, y’know?” Leon rolled his eyes up to the ceiling, slightly groaning as he shook his head, “And being stuck here is keepin’ me from racing toward my dream, too…”

“Your dream…?”

Leon looked back down to see Sayaka looking at him with curiosity at how he phrased that-

Wait… wait a second! This is perfect! By coincidental genius, he managed to find a way to bring up maybe asking for her help! And best of all, no annoying hall monitor in sight!

Okay, game time, man. Let’s do this, nice and slow…

“Oh, right; I tried to tell you during introductions yesterday, but we got cut off before I could. Y’know, the thing I wanted to talk with you about?” Leon’s face instantly warmed up with an excited grin, causing Sayaka to nod and signal she remembered, “Well, the thing is I’m actually getting done with baseball and am looking to get into music.”

The girl’s attention had risen to one hundred percent as she turned to face him with a pleasantly surprised look, “Really? What genre of music are you wanting to do?”

“Oh, punk music, obviously! I mean, you can sense my rockstar aura, right?” he chuckled, bashfully rubbing the back of his head, “The strongest vocals of the century right here!”

Of course, by this point, the other two boys were now into the conversation as well. Makoto brought a curious finger to rest under his bottom lip.

“Actually, yeah, you talked about that a little with me yesterday. I was meaning to ask you; how close are you to getting a band? Or are you planning to go solo?”

The question rocked Leon ever so roughly out of cloud nine and brought him back to his senses. Hoping to God above that the blush on his cheeks that he thought he felt wouldn’t be noticed, he internally struggled to smooth himself out and play it cool.

“Oh, that? I’ve got a few people who are willing to be in a band with me,” he admitted, his grin only downsizing to a smile, “I just need a couple more, then a songwriter and manager, and we’re all set!”

...Which was kinda utter bollocks, since all he had was just himself, but they didn’t need to know that yet. After all, how lame and uncool would he be to talk about his dream and then tell a national celebrity that he’s got nothing to show for it…? So it’s a little white lie; it’s not gonna hurt anyone...

“That’s wonderful to hear, Leon! Does that mean you sing and play an instrument, too?” Sayaka asked.

Leon’s face lit up again and he winked, “Yup! I’m gonna be the lead singer, and I’m already pretty good at the guitar; I even got one and a microphone in my dorm room to practice with, to make sure I’m still rockin’ it by the time we can blow this hellhole wide open! But that’s what I was gonna ask with your help for, Sayaka.”

“Huh?”

“I know you don’t do punk music, but, like… if we get a chance for free time, I’d love any tips or pointers you could give me to help me improve, y’know? If it’s coming from you, it’s gotta be great advice!”

Sayaka blinked, then had a very touched and appreciated smile come across her face as she brought her hands towards her chest.

“Oh… Of course! When I have some free time, I’d be happy to help you. I look forward to working with you when I can.”

He rested both his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. Oh, Lord, prepare his place, because he might just be in Heaven. Not only getting on the Sayaka Maizono’s good list, but now he gets to have her help him with his music and stuff!

Yeah, Kenta and the rest of the baseball team can suck it! Good luck getting him back now, bitches, because he’s now shooting faster to his dream and by the looks of it, there’s no catching him now!

Leon was so in pure bliss, he didn’t notice Sayaka looked away with a thoughtful expression.

“...Dreams…”

Makoto turned to look at her.

“Huh? Did you say something, Sayaka?”

“Oh, no, sorry; it’s nothing,” she said, shaking her head, and then looking towards the others, “Well, I think we’re going to keep searching for something that we can use for self-defense.”

Leon was finally broken out of his trance and opened his eyes with a nod when Mondo’s gruff voice snapped him out of it.

“Alright then, you two take care of yourselves, then.”

“Right; see ya, guys!”

With Makoto’s farewell, the group shared a wave between each other as the smaller duo left. By the time they were out of sight, Leon’s grin could’ve nearly doubled in size as he rocked back and forth.

“Gawd, man, I feel so cool gettin’ to say that in front of a national celebrity!” he admitted, his voice going higher in tone from just how happy he was.

After a moment of incredulous deadpanning, Mondo shook his head.

“Dude… you’re kind of a dork…”

At this point? Leon couldn’t even bring himself to be mad at someone insulting his undeniable cool appeal. He’s got one of the greatest voices in the music industry helping him, and his dream was getting a massive step closer to becoming a reality! With how happy he was, there might have been a bit of a spring in his step as he shrugged to Mondo and strolled out of the entrance hall.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Well, yeah, he was happy and all… but that lasted about a few hours until the hype wore off.

He was back to being bored out of his mind. And that was after listening to some of the cds he had in his dorm room and playing around a bit with his guitar.

Now Leon found himself standing in a corner by himself, arms folded over his chest as he leaned against a wall. For a situation that apparently had him an eternal prisoner in some kind of a sick game that demanded he kill someone to escape or become someone’s victim, this was really a massive let down. ...N-Not that he wanted this thing to be real and all, but…

Sure enough, he was massively bored out of his friggin’ mind. And when Leon Kuwata is in that state, his mind tends to wander. And with the circumstances he was in, this wandering session had led to questions that he desperately wanted answers to:

Would he and everyone else get out of here somehow? As in, no one succumbing to being a murderer and all working together?

Could he even trust the others? Sayaka was totally a given, so there was no need to doubt her. And some of the others, like Makoto, Chihiro, and Hina, seemed legit, good people, but… can he really put his faith into them?

...Did Kanon and his dad…?

That last question had his eyes become crestfallen shaded, his head losing a bit of strength and getting a better view of the floor.

It had only been a day, but… for real, he had to know if they could tell if something was wrong and such. Kanon was a bit of a helicopter cousin, but… she knew when to back off. And his dad always was laid back. But… surely… hopefully, they could tell something was off and get help, like the police or something, yeah…?

...Honestly… he just hoped they were okay…

...Frig, man, this just-

“Leon?”

A voice calling out his name jerked his head up to look in front of him.

About five feet from him stood the massive size of Sakura behind a smaller Hina, who had called his name. Being spurred by both the facts of trying to maintain his image and gigantic muscled body Sakura was close to him again, he casually pushed off the wall and force a hand into his pocket.

“Oh, hey! What’s happenin’?” he said, flashing a smile.

That didn’t seem to work, as the girl tilted her head with a concerned look.

“Oh, nothing really, but… you okay? Sakura and I were walking past, and we couldn’t help but notice you looked really depressed.”

! Crap, was he that obvious?

The rising movement of his eyebrows let on that he was caught off guard. He quickly attempted to reel himself back in with a chuckle and scratching at his face with his free hand.

“Oh, hah, that? Nah, I’m just deep in thought, y’know?” he reassured falsely, “There’s really nothin’ to do in this place, so I’m trying to rack my brain on things I can do, so I don’t die from boredom.”

“Is that so…?”

He glanced over to Sakura, who not only had those massive arms folded, but had just opened one of her eyes to glance over towards him.

U-uhh… S-Something about the way that gaze... that gentle, yet fierce eye just pierced into him; did she know, or at least assume, he was telling a lie?

Gawd, she makes him so uncomfortable, man…

“Oh, you’re just bored? Well, hey, I’ve got an easy fix for that,” Hina’s aura burst with energy, giving a confident smile as she motioned behind them, “Sakura and I were just about to go to the dining hall to hang out and find something quick to eat before going back to searching this place.”

The larger girl opened her other eye and added, “We tried inviting Toko and Hifumi, but they seemed uninterested.”

“Yeah, so, you wanna come with us?”

…...

The thing is… Leon was very close to just giving a shrug and accepting. After all, he didn’t have anything better to do.

It seemed like a genuine invitation, but…

Before the words could roll off his tongue… that sentence came back.

“You must kill someone in order to leave.”

Leon hesitated, becoming stone still before glancing up at the two girls.

Two people.

Two people who are inviting him to another location.

Two people who are, like he used to be, physically active.

One of them he knows in the bottom of his heart there’d be no way he could fight back.

...This isn’t… No, they’re not…

Leon felt his face twist into a nervous smile.

“You’re not… trying to get me alone, so you guys can kill me, are ya…?”

Before he even finished, both girls seemed taken aback, with Hina even gasping before her horrified expression turned into a serious one.

“H-Huh? Wha- no! Of course not; we’d never do that!” she protested loudly.

Pale blue eyes swept from her towards Sakura; while the face seemed calm, it seemed like the jaw was tense. But other than that, no signs of offended anger or overreacting.

...So they were really just being genuine and nice to him?

W-Well… shit. But just to be sure-!!

He slightly puffed out his chest and grinded his heels further into the floor.

“Well, hey, I’m just saying that my fans will go all psycho on anybody who tries to; I’m as popular as any international superstar, y’know?”

And just as quickly as that bravado appeared, it deflated as he turned it into a bit of a smirking grin. He gave a teasing wink to the girls as he attempted to pass it off like a joke.

“But, hey; if you’re not gonna murder me, then yeah, let’s totally hang out, for sure! ‘Cause I…”

...Huh, that’s…. That’s weird.

The words he was going to say... something about his future musical career or related to it, just… poofed. Like, damn straight left his mind and had him go blank in a millisecond. He seemed to freeze in time, before the facade he had put up slowly collapsed, and Hina and Sakura blinked in response.

Before they or even he knew it, Leon’s smile had vanished into a frown as he glanced away, scratching awkwardly at the back of his head. And that had brought back a sentence he could use in his mind.

“...I… don’t really wanna be alone, anyway…”

...Huh, that’s… that’s even weirder.

Why did he just admit to that? And in front of two people he hadn’t talked to since before the introductions?

Ehh, who cares. He really didn’t at this point.

The girls seemed to share a brief look between each other before focusing their attention back onto Leon. Hina gave a reassuring nod, catching his attention out of the corner of his eyes.

“Hey, it’s okay; I totally get it. This place is pretty messed up, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone felt like that,” she said, her mouth once again finding its smile, “Looks like you can do with some people to hang out with!”

The baseball star turned back to her and sighed, finding a real smile on his face, albeit a bit calm and tired.

“Sure thing; I’ll come with you.”

The swimmer clapped her hands together, motioning for him to follow them. Despite not smiling like her, the nod coming from Sakura seemed to suggest that she was pleased in him being willing to join them. The three then turned to move into the dining hall.

“All right! First order of business is to check out the kitchen; there’s gotta be some kind of stash of amazing food in there that’s not seen initially! And f.y.i, if there’s donuts, they belong to me, unless you’re willing to throw down for them.”

Leon did a double take at that statement and shot her a puzzled look. Wha… she’s just joking, right? Then again, if his ears weren’t playing tricks on him, he might of heard a snort coming out of the fighter. Either way…

This was about to get interesting...