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Coincidential Connection

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“Y/N! Oi! Y/N! Listen to me when I talk to you, dumbass!”

Your best friend smacked you on the head, almost sending the headphones placed on your ears flying. A few seconds of fleeting silence passed between you when you saw his muscles twitch in regret. You playfully rolled your eyes at him to signal it was fine and you could see him visibly relax. You glared at him as he just flicked a strand of white hair out of his face. Itsuki fixed the cap on his head as he turned to look at you with a wide smile gracing his lips. His red eyes sparkled as your e/c ones flashed at him while meeting gazes. You sighed, removed the headphones from your ears and placed them around your neck.

“Itsuki. You know I especially put these on just to block you out,” you said as you shoved your hands into your pocket.

“Ouch!” he cried. He placed a hand on his chest “Oh how you wound me!”

“Shut up,” you laughed, socking him in the shoulder.

‘This is fine. We’re fine.’

He chuckled as he opened the door to the convenience store. Immediately upon entrance, you trailed off and grabbed a bag of chips which you frequented every once in a while to save money. At the thought, you bitterly laughed under your breath.  You just stared at your friend as he bought a stack of energy drinks.

“Don’t tell me,” you told him as he turned to face you, cans in hand. “Did you procrastinate on your homework again? You get those every day we come here. Those aren’t good for you...”

“Can’t help it when you’re a busy college student,” he chuckled while lifting a single can up and down.

“Busy my ass,” you snorted just as you began to make your way to the front. “You literally spent three days working on a painting for one of your minor classes.”

“At least I did something!” he squawked as he began to walk after you.

“You literally drew a dick and called it ‘realistic art’,” you shot back.

“I drew the veins and everything!” he protested as if he had done nothing wrong.

You choked on your laughter, “That’s not the point!”

You noticed the clerk working the counter snort, but pretend to scroll his phone like every millenial nowadays. Grazing your eyes over him, your eyebrows creased a bit. Something about him seemed so familiar to you, but you could never find out what.

“You need anything else?” Itsuki asked, being preoccupied with some drink options despite wanting to purchase cans of energy drinks.

Your gaze scanned the aisle as you hesitantly grabbed a box of apple juice. Putting back on your headphones, you turned on your phone and scanned for anything else you needed. You decided that was all you needed as you turned back to look at Itsuki. You just stared at the mass amount of coffee bottles he was trying to hold. That and the energy drinks, you swore your friend was going to die to caffeination of some kind.

“Are you gonna drink all that tonight?” you asked while raising a brow.

“You know that all the water in my body is replaced by caffeine,” he told you as he put the bottles on the ground and looked around for a basket. “No, of course not. I’ll save some.”

You grabbed a basket and held it out to him, “Dump that shit in here. This better not go beyond my budget.”

“We’ll see,” he laughed, but then nodded and agreed.

You stopped, but then snagged some pocky and headed towards the register. The man at the register looked up at you, yeah something about him felt so familiar to you. He was there literally every day Itsuki and you were shopping there. You squinted to see his name tag, but it was concealed by his polka-dotted scarf.

‘An interesting touch,’ you thought as you scratched your head.

He had teal hair and eyes, pale skin, a dotted scarf, purple sweater, and a green beanie. You slid over the basket of items as he began to scan the items. You didn’t know how the clerk put up with your friend and your shenanigans. One time, Itsuki and you knocked over a stack of magazines. 


“Oh crap!” you shouted as you rolled into the door.

You steadied your legs as the roller skates wobbled underneath your feet. Should you really have done this? Itsuki laughed as he opened the door and slid inside gracefully. The clerk looked up at the two of you as he then doubled over. You tripped over inside as you wobbled over to the nearest shelf to lean on it.

“Look, look!” you friend cried as he did a spin in the middle of the store. “The floors in here are perfect for roller skating.”

You slid the kendo sword off of your back, hesitant. “Hold on this is a bit hard…”

“I don’t understand why you lug that around with you everywhere,” he said while putting his hands on his hips and looking at the bag.

“Because I’m the club leader of the kendo club?” you told him in a questioning manner.

“Wanna hear a joke?” he asked, spinning around once again. “What’s the similarity between a human and a tree?”

You watched him do a pirouette while looking longingly at an ice cream bar in the freezer.

“What?” you asked while looking back at him.

“When you hit them with an axe, they both fall--!” he started to say but then he slammed into a spinning rack.

CRASH!

The rack fell over as the magazines scattered all over the ground. Itsuki followed as he landed on his bottom.

“--over…” Itsuki said as he stared at the fallen magazines.

“Oh shit,” you cursed while scanning the wreckage the other had caused.

‘This is awkward…’ you thought as you saw Itsuki laugh awkwardly.

“Aw, dammit, and it’s my favorite clerk that’s on duty!” Itsuki grumbled as he struggled to stand up.

The clerk had left the counter and came to look at the mess. He just stared at it blankly as you helped Itsuki up.

“Hey man,” Itsuki said, rubbing his bottom. “When does your shift end?”

“Right now,” the man replied.

You noted that the man looked older than the two of you. Probably in his twenties, while the two of you were in highschool.

“Fuck,” Itsuki hissed as he began to unstrap his roller skates. “The other guy is such a prick, I can’t stand him. Quick. We’ll clean this up.”

“But--” the man began to say.

“Please, sir,” you interrupted as you held out your hands. “We’ll take care of it. Don’t press charges.”

“I wasn’t,” the man said, shrugging.

Itsuki pulled the stand back up as you kicked off your roller skates and began to pick up the magazines. The clerk didn’t say anything, but he began to help you as well.

...

“Sorry, I made that awkward, didn’t I?”


...Yeah, the guy was pretty cool to be around.

‘I hope that never happens ever again,’ you thought, embarrassed while rubbing your head.

The man pointed at his ears, gesturing for you to remove your headphones, so you did.

“I recommend you grab this too,” the clerk said, sliding you a tube across the counter.

You picked it up and looked at it. Your eye bugged out and your stomach jumped up to your chest. Doing a double take, you almost choked. Your hands grew clammy for a second and you brushed the oncoming thought off. 

“What the fuck?” you asked, voice pitching higher than usual. “This is lube .”

“Then what else are the condoms for?” he inquired, looking at the items you were paying for.

You peered into the basket to see a pack of condoms sitting inside. Whirling around, you looked at your friend.

“You’re gonna make condom water balloons again?” you asked while staring at him judgmentally as he put down his phone..

“Hey! That one bastard from my math class egged my car!” Itsuki protested while crossing his arms.

“That was only because you farted in his face as he bent down to pick up his books!” you argued back, making sure your voice didn’t sound too harsh.

“Hey, I fart when I need to and you need to respect that,” he told you, his voice full of sass. “My body, my choice.”

Oh wow ,” you replied drily as you tore your gaze away from him.

You turned back to the clerk to see him laughing quietly beneath his scarf. You smiled and bowed towards him apologetically. Did the two of you look that close?

“Sorry that this happens every week,” you apologized while shooting a gaze at Itsuki who just looked at his phone.

“It’s fine,” the cashier reassured, his voice smooth with a touch of raspiness. “It’s entertaining.”

The man took the lube back and threw it behind him as if nothing ever happened between you, him and the lube (out of context that sounded strange). You purchased the items and left the store while bidding the man farewell with a wave and a smile. 

“Bye, mister! Hope to see you soon!” Itsuki shouted as he raced out of the store first.

You glanced at your wallet, but decided fuck it and placed a couple yen on the counter. “Bye!”

Following suit after the other, you caught up to Itsuki. Your friend hovered near you, then bumped against your shoulder.

“He’s so cool,” Itsuki said in awe, clasping his hands together with stars in his eyes.

“Yeah, he’s chill,” you said, poking your straw into the juice box.

“I should just drop out of college and be like him,” Itsuki sighed while glancing over his shoulder back to the store. “Drinking energy drinks and coffee everyday just isn’t doing it for me.”

You laughed, knowing it was a different story for you. “Go for it, I support your dreams.”

“Hey, didn’t you used to tell that to your underclassmen?” he asked with a large smile that made you want to hug him tight.

You grinned. “Ah, my favorite underclassmen.”

“Who’s your favorite?” Itsuki asked with a cheeky grin. “Joe is my favorite.”

You playfully slapped him on the shoulder. “I don’t play favorites.”

“Is it Sara?” he continued to say. “Or Ryoko? Maybe Joe?”

“Quit it,” you laughed while waving at him.

“Wanna visit them tomorrow?” he asked, looking at you straight in the eye.

It went quiet again and you thought about it.

“Sure.”

The two of you began to walk down the street as you listened to Itsuki complain about all his classes.

“Honestly, the only decent teacher I have is Professor Mishima,” he sighed while deflating a bit. “He’s not even full time. He only comes by once in a while.”

“The one that everyone thinks is weird?” you asked while checking what song was playing on your playlist..

“He’s not weird!” Itsuki defended, wildly shaking his head to show how wrong you were. “He’s unique. Eccentric. Whimsical. Informative. And I consider that a compliment.”

“Oh yeah,” you said, “And there’s that one time he brought over that girl who made that fuss over some people talking bad about him right? What was her name?”

You recalled the big event where a couple of freshmen got into a fight with an unfamiliar girl you had never seen before. You feared for the girl lecturing the other students, glaring menacingly at her. Itsuki told you he would step in, but Professor Mishima saved the girl. Apparently they knew each other. You were fearful of the escalation of the situation, especially with Itsuki stepping in because something in your gut told you that an angry Itsuki was not a good one.

“Yeah, Professor talked about her once. Her name was… No?” Itsuki asked, “Nao? I think it was Nao. Nao… Ekokoro? Yeah, that’s it.”

You sipped your apple juice, “Wow, surprised you remember.”

“I know, right?” he asked, putting his hands behind his head. “She’s pretty nice though.”

“Hm,” you hummed.

“Anyway, about the trio of your favorite underclassmen,” Itsuki said with another sneaky smile. “Who do you think owns the most money?”

You stared at him and slightly shifted. His face fell and he began to speak, but you shook your head. “What does that have to do with anything?”

He stared at you and shrugged. “I don’t know. I just remembered the fact that our little Chidouin has a housekeeper. Huh.”

“That’s normal,” you told Itsuki, remembering all the books you had read over the years.

“Really now?” he asked.

“Like a babysitter,” you said for instance. You then looked at him. “How do you know this?”

“Ah, when we went over to her house one time, I saw someone with black hair,” Itsuki said, then gesturing wildly, “Like, super long. I asked Sara’s dad, and he said that it was their housekeeper.”

“Really? I’ve never seen someone with extremely long hair,” you told him while raising a skeptical brow.

“I’m positive I saw it!” he exclaimed..

“Uh huh,” you said, glancing at some sports posters, “Huh? People still play baseball”

“Baseball?” Itsuki asked, touching his cap and looking at a baseball poster, “I think so. Or players are pretty small. Have you seen other teams from different prefectures? They’ve got really big players. Even the ones on the bench are humongous.”

You laughed at Itsuki’s wild expressions.

“You’re hilarious,” you chuckled as you snatched off his signature hat.


A few days later, the two of you were in the park, watching over a child. Right now, you were babysitting a kid for some of the extra cash you needed to live on. Since he had less homework than usual, Itsuki decided to tag along and watch you take care of Gin.

“He’s a cute kid,” Itsuki commented with a small smile tugging at his lips.

You thought you heard him wrong as you pulled off your headphones. You gave him the strangest look as he smacked you. He patted you a few times where he hit you.

“Not in that way, you idiot!” he cried, his face slightly flushed. “It’s just adorable how he wears that cat hoodie thing and everything.”

You smiled brightly and stared tenderly at the boy looking up the tree. “I guess. Gin’s very existence is cute… Aren’t you tutoring that one girl today?”

“Me?” he asked while shaking his head. “No. I only tutor Kanna on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.”

‘Her name is Kanna, huh. Never knew.’

You watched as Gin began to play in the dirt.

“Hey Gin?” you called out which made the boy turn around to look back at you. “Careful! You might get your clothes dirty!”

“I’m okay, w...!” he shouted, not finishing his sentence due to Itsuki’s presence. “Uh, how long are we staying?”

“As long as you want,” you answered with a smile. “Maybe we can grab some ice cream after this?”

You smiled and leaned back. Itsuki looked at Gin and frowned.

“You told me about his dad, right?” Itsuki asked in a hushed whisper.

Your smiled faded and you sighed. “Yeah. I try to keep him out of the house as long as possible. His dad isn’t that much of a good influence.”

“Heh, I bet he calls you ‘Mom’,” Itsuki teased while pointing at you.

“Actually, he does,” you told him nonchalantly.

“Wait, seriously?” Itsuki asked.

“As a joke,” you said as you shrugged. Endearing. “But yeah, he does.”

“Hey Ibushi!” Itsuki shouted, grabbing Gin’s attention. You looked at your friend. “Can you come here for a second?!”

You watched as Gin started to come over. You nudged Itsuki’s foot with a confused expression, causing you two to look at each other in stagnant silence for a moment.

“What was that for?” you finally asked, watching as Gin approached.

“Wait…” Itsuki told you as Gin arrived.

“Yeah?” the brunette boy asked as he hid behind his cat plush.

“You call Y/N ‘Mom’, right?” Itsuki asked.

“Yeah…” Gin murmured, “Why?”

“You gonna call me ‘Dad’?” Itsuki continued with a smile.

Your stomach leapt and did flips and a spread of heat exploded on your face. You frowned and smacked him.


“Excuse me,” you spoke quietly to some girl with mascara. “Are you lost?”

You were trying to get to the police station because somebody landed themselves into some trouble again, but some girl kept staring at the building like it was God or something. You grew concerned and had to ask.

“Me?” she squeaked as you looked at all her jewelry and bangles dangling from her neck, wrists, and earrings as they clinked against each other every time she moved. “No, I’m not. Just… thinking.”

“Good, you always should be,” you told her, giving her a thumbs up.

“Huh?” she asked while watching you walk into the station.

“Nothing, I’m gonna go inside,” you blurted as you made your way in.

You went to the counter to see a buff blonde police man with pale skin. His stature was intimidating as he towered over you. He looked tired and over it.

“I’m here to pay a bail for Itsuki Nakamura?” you informed him.

The man looked at you and nodded. “This way.”

When you got there, you looked at your friend behind bars. You crossed your arms as a moment of silence passed again.

“What are you doing here?” you finally asked as you looked at Itsuki straight in the eyes. “Weren’t we babysitting Gin about an hour ago? Was this what the ‘dire situation’ was about? What did you do?”

“Um… vandalism?” he asked while shrugging like he didn’t know.

“We are literally in a police station,” you deadpanned. “You might get kicked out of college.”

“You worry more about that stuff even though you’re a year early on it. Well I guess I now can achieve my dream as a freelance job worker,” Itsuki joked while you facepalmed at his jokes.

“You’re lucky I’m not beating you up right now,” you said drily while tapping your foot restlessly.

‘And the fine…’

“It’s not my fault that that one guy picked a fight!” he shouted, gripping the bars of the cell. “He’s asking for it if he insults my friends!”

“I know you feel that way, but--”

“Is this the man you’re picking up?” the blonde police man asked you, interrupting the conversation.

“Yep,” you replied, your personality flipping like a switch. “How much is the bail?”

“A couple hundred,” the police man coughed while averting his eyes.

You turned and pointed at your friend. “I’m beating you up after I pay this bail.”

He laughed at your threat and pointed to an empty spot next to him. “Careful, you might end up in jail too.”

“Itsuki Nakamura,” you grunted, wanting to throw the headphones on your neck at him. “Be careful of what you say.”

“So, can you pay?” the policeman asked while scratching his neck.

“Yes, Mr… Shinogi?” you said, looking at his name tag.

The man chuckled. “That’s me.”

After signing your paperwork, Mr. Shinogi began to unlock the cell.

“Wait!” Itsuki shouted, waving his arms. “Before you open the cell, take a picture first.”

“That’s it,” you grumbled, rolling up the cuffs of your sleeves. “I wasn’t the club leader of the kendo club for nothing.”


Months passed by and Itsuki decided that you and him should officially go straight to Sonobeno after class ended.

“Ugh, never thought I would walk back into the same place I dreaded to go into everyday,” Itsuki commented with a fearful expression.

“You think this was worth leaving school early?” you asked.

“Yep,” Itsuki said with pure confidence, pounding his chest. “100 percent positive. I know you want to visit your precious underclassmen. And see how the club is doing.”

“Fine. You right,” you grumbled while shrugging.

He laughed as the two of you trudged towards the building.

“Think the teachers will lecture us?” you asked, looking around with a smile.

“Nah,” Itsuki said while pointing at himself and then you. “I’m twenty, you’re nineteen. What’s more cool is that you graduated a year early.”

You chuckled, “Sure. It’s important to me, but education isn’t my everything anymore.”

Itsuki stared at you and ruffled your head. You hid a smile from him as he rubbed your hair.

“Oi!” you cried.

“Come on,” he said, “We don’t have all day, y’know.”

You smiled, “Yeah.”

You felt a little empty inside.

The two of you headed into the school, sticking out because of the lack of uniform the two of you were wearing. It was after school, so it was around the time clubs were still ongoing. As the two of you strolled down the halls, you spotted a boy with wild brown hair.

“Is that my favorite underclassmen?” I asked while stretching open my arms.

The boy turned around as a smile broke across his face. “Y/N! Itsuki!”

He still wore the same untucked uniform with his multiple bracelets, a dog keychain (which you remembered you saw Ryoko win somewhere), and his signature clip.

“What are you two doing here?” Joe asked as he ran up to the two of you.

“Just wanted to visit the three of you guys,” you replied. “Where’s Sara? You’re usually with her.”

“Am not!” Joe protested while crossing his arms. “I’m actually waiting for Ryoko right now…”

Itsuki eagerly shoved you aside with a smile. “Ryoko? Why?”

“We’re, um… going somewhere,” Joe coughed.

“Just the two of you?”

“Ah… yeah?” Joe asked.

Itsuki whirled towards you with an outstretched hand, “Fork it over.”

“I thought it would be Sara!” you exclaimed, smiling.

“Huh?” Joe asked.

“Nothing,” you said, smiling, “You and Ryoko go have fun and--”

“Y/N? Itsuki?”

You turned to see Ryoko wearing the school uniform and looking at the three of you.

“‘Sup?” you asked as she ran down the hallway.

“I can’t believe it!” she exclaimed, “It’s been a while!”

“I see you and Tazuna here got a little somethin’ somethin’?” Itsuki asked in a questioning manner.

You elbowed the white haired boy.

“Ignore him,” you said, “It’s nice to see you two again! Anyway, we should probably go before we interrupt your guys’s thing, so do you know where Sara is?”

“Sara?” Ryoko asked, “In the club right now.”

“Thanks!” you exclaimed, “See you!”

Ryoko smiled, “You too!”

Itsuki and you started to walk up the familiar stairs to the old kendo club room. You were less excited about being back at school, but at least you could see your underclassmen again.

“...hey, you alright?” Itsuki asked as you saw him looking back at you, gazing carefully.

You nodded and muttered. “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”

He didn’t say anything as you two walked through the halls, not saying a word.

“Ah, remember when Sara got those Valentines?” you asked, trying to break the silence.

“My girl is such a charmer,” Itsuki added as he wiped a fake tear away from his eye.

You laughed, adjusting your headphone wire. You walked towards the familiar kendo club room and opened it.

“Hello?” you asked as you observed and saw some people inside practicing.

“Itsuki?! Y/N?!” a familiar voice asked from afar.

You saw the lopsided bangs and purple eyes of Sara Chidouin. She leapt towards you as you embraced her. You wrapped your arms tight around her and laughed. She turned and hugged Itsuki. He hugged her tightly and he released her.

“What are you two doing here?” she asked breathlessly as she gripped your sleeve.

“Visiting my favorite underclassmen, of course,” you said as if it was obvious.

She smiled. “You know you shouldn’t play favorites.”

“I can’t help it,” you teased with a smile.

‘Although, I don’t really enjoy being back in school…’

“Hey! I heard my boy Tazuna is going out with Ryoko?” Itsuki asked with a casual smile.

Sara’s eyes glinted with recognition as your hopes sank. During all the elementary, middle,and high school years the five of you all spent together, you always thought Sara and Joe made a cute pair. You constantly teased them about it.

“That’s right,” Sara said, nodding as she looked out at the windows where the sunlight poured into the hallways. “They’re going somewhere together right now.”

“What about you?” you asked, staring at the girl.

“Kendo club,” Sara replied while looking at you with a small smile.

You grinned. “I know I can trust the club with you.”

Sara laughed, her voice tickling you to the bone.

Itsuki and Sara began to engage themselves in a conversation while you went off to go explore the school. You reached a window which peered out into a courtyard with a tree, green and devoid of sakura petals. Placing your palm on the window, you sighed.

“Y/N!”

“Coming…!”


“I never knew Sara was so strong…” Itsuki groaned, rubbing his back. The two of you had given your goodbyes and had left as the sun began to set.

“I told you that you shouldn’t have jumped her,” you just told him while leaning back to see any visible bruises his shirt wasn’t covering.

“Still… I didn’t know she would flip me!” he winced as he reached behind him.

You stared in concern and looked around.

“Want me to run by the convenience store and grab some bandages or something?” you asked.

“Sure,” Itsuki said as he touched the reachable ends of his back. “That would be great. Wait, actually I’ll get them at home since we gotta go--”

You jumped up a bit and slapped the hat off his head. You caught it before it hit the ground and put it on.

“I’ll see you then,” you said quietly and began to turn around.

You started to run in the direction of the convenience store.

“You better give that back later!” Itsuki shouted in the distance which made a small smile slip onto your face.

You began to pick up the pace and left him in the dust. You laughed as you slipped on your headphones.


When you arrived at the convenience store, your gaze turned towards the counter. There was no one there. 

“...hello?” you asked as you made your way around the store. “I guess… no one’s here.”

You grabbed a pack of bandages and walked towards the register.

‘I could just… leave some money here…’ you glanced towards the back room. ‘Should I go inside?’

You decided no, it was none of your business. You looked towards the back end of the shop and decided it would be a good idea to get some juice. You walked towards the back and tripped, landing on your knees.

‘Ow, fuckaroo!’ you thought as you turned to see what item you tripped over. No, it was a person.

In fact, in the middle of the store, you saw the figure of the teal haired clerk on the ground. You took off your headphones and put them on your neck.

“Are you okay?” you shouted as you ran towards his sprawled out body. You touched him and felt that he was limp.

‘What…’

Before you could flip him over, you felt something hit your head, hard. Pain exploded on the back of your head and you felt yourself fall forward, vision fading into pitch black.

“Fuck, what?” you mumbled as you blacked out and landed on the ground.

Your vision turned dark as you passed out.

 

Chapter Text

“Yo! What’s your name?”

You looked up to see a boy dangling his arms from the back of his chair. He wore a baggy jacket with white ruffled hair and sparkling silver eyes. It was the transfer student. He looked like a vampire, ripped straight out of the books you had wanted to read but hadn’t had the opportunity to finish. He smiled as your eyes darted towards his teeth and back to his face. No fangs. You closed your book and looked at him.

“My name is Y/N L/N,” you said softly.

“Y/N L/N?” he asked, “My name is Itsuki Nakamura. Can I call you N/N?”

“Call me whatever you like,” you replied, reopening his book and continuing to read.

He stayed quiet as you flipped a page. You could feel him moving and looking at the cover of your book. He got up, walked behind you, and started reading from your shoulder. You shifted around in discomfort but didn’t speak. You stayed quiet as so did he. His eyes tracked your every movement: everytime you flipped a page, tilted your head, or fidgeted your leg. What a nuisance.

“What do you want?” you asked.

“Nothing,” he replied while innocently blinking at you with wide doe-like eyes. “I’m just reading.” He gasped. “Are you assuming I have ulterior motives?! I would never!”

You blinked blankly at him. He just scratched his neck with a chuckle.

“I heard you skipped a grade?” he prompted as your gaze narrowed. “You skipped sixth?”

Your grip on your book tightened.

“Wow, Y/N skipped a grade?”

“She must be really smart?”

“Amazing. She must be able to do anything.”

“You must work really hard, huh?” he asked.

“Huh,” you breathed, the word tumbling out of your mouth.

He laughed, the sound of it tickling your stomach for some odd reason. You blinked again as he opened his eyes and grinned at you. His red eyes sparkled with joy and childlike wonder.

“Y/N and Itsuki,” he said, “I like the sound of that. How about it?”

You could hear the sound of your heart beating and your pulse racing. You took a tentative look at his outstretched hand, one that wasn’t criticizing you or shrinking away.

But still.

Boom

You took his hand, “Sure.”

He was just going to use you anyway.

Boom

“Great!” he exclaimed, “How about we go do something?”

Boom

“Sure.”

Just like all the others.

BOOM


Your eyes flew open at the repetitive noise that echoed through your ear canals.. Blearily blinking your eyes, you stretched your arms and slowly got up. Your back cracked like one of those ASMR videos Itsuki once showed you where those people chopped up chocolate or something along the lines of that.

Suddenly, you heard muffled yelling to the right of yourself. It was coming from the same direction as the recurring pounding sound. To your right, there was a glass wall with some messy writing on it from the other side. On the other side of that glass wall was another room. Next to that room was another room with a wall of glass. What was this, a mirror maze like in the books you read? There was another person there. Meaning, you were in one room and that other person was in another with a room in between the two of you. You looked and freezed on the spot once you saw that a girl with orange-ish hair and emerald green eyes was glaring at you. She pointed a finger at you and continued to scream like a siren. You looked at her side ponytail tied securely, the green scrunchy adorning her wrist, the jacket that hung around the tight skirt on her waist, and the signature gold necklace that hung around her neck with a flower on it. Of course you recognized her. You recognized that voice. You recognized that orange-y hair and hard green eyes. You recognized the ponytail, the scrunchy, the jacket, and the necklace. You would never forget her face. Had this been anyone else you wouldn’t have cared whoever that was, but it was her. You were deathly shocked and terrified at the same time.

Haruka Suzuki.

And she recognized you as well because you could assume she was cursing your name across the glass while spitting venom. Question was: what were the two of you even doing here? Huh? How the hell was she here? Where even were you anyway? Trapped? Was Itsuki okay? What about the convenience store clerk? Questions bombarded you all at once and you had no idea how to answer them. What was even happening?

“What the fuck?” you asked as the girl screamed her lungs out at you. She was strangely disarrayed, not like her usual cunning and calm demeanor. 

You stepped back as the girl began to bang on the glass once more like a maniac. You knew she was going to have a hard time since she never was the most athletic person.

‘Oh shit,’ you thought, as you saw the deranged look on the girl’s face. It chilled you to the core. She still frightened you after all these years. ‘Is she trying to murder me? Well, I guess that’s...’

The glass began to make some sounds of breaking as you could see the girl’s hands beginning to redden upon impact. Your eyes scanned the room, looking for something. Anything. What were you even supposed to do?

‘Shit shit shiiiiit,’ you thought, ‘My God, she is going to murder me.’

Your gaze landed on the writing on the glass which you hadn’t observed closely before. You scrambled over to it, nearly slipping on the smooth tiling of the floor. As you read it, you could hear glass cracking from where Haruka was. You internally cringed.

"...Beginning voiced guidance."

'What the?' you thought, looking around the room for a speaker system. Haruka looked perturbed, but more calm than you did.

"The First Trial will now begin."

'First Trial? What's going on?' you pondered to yourself as you began to assess your surroundings more clearly. There was writing scrawled on the glass that you could see. Another set of writing was also present on Haruka's side of the room.

"Haruka and Y/N, the rules are simple. Read the instructions on the glass wall in order to escape. There is no time limit."

The speakers shut off. You felt a rush of panic surge through you, mixing with your blood and melting down towards your toes. The sickening feeling of death swelled in your mind and made you feel sick, and the fact that Haruka was there didn't make you feel any better. Well, first thing's first: you had to read.

The rules are simple. Rules: This is a game of lies. There is one lie in this room. The only way to escape is to make the other person drink the bottle in the center room. Those are the rules. After the other person drinks it, the one who didn’t drink will live. Try to survive.

Your gaze darted towards the other glass wall, the backwards writing flashing at your eyes. You would do something, but there was one big problem. You sucked at riddles. It could mean anything and you just woke up, perplexed and not knowing what the hell to do. Your arms trembled, shit you were panicking.

‘Crap, does that mean I have to drink it?’ you thought, ‘Or does she have to do it? Either way, this is murder .’

The glass broke on the other side, fragments of glass scattering across the floor and soaring through the air. Haruka managed to carefully step her way inside of the center room and scan the area. You thought she would come after you, but instead she hastily made her way to the center of the room and grabbed the bottle. You inwardly cursed.

‘What if she goes after him again?’

Fear and instinct overtook your body as you moved without thinking.. With one clean kick, you shattered the glass. You cursed, some of the sharp edges scratching your leg and tearing at your pants. Ignoring the pain, you began to duck under the glass. Carefully but quickly, you retracted your leg and went into the other room.

Well now you could hear her laughing properly. You hated it. Her giggles and laughter that used to taunt you back then.

“Back for round two?” you snarled, tilting your head up. She was acting so out of character. 

The girl had already unscrewed the cap of the bottle as her green eyes narrowed at the cap on your head. You frowned.

“That’s his,” Haruka said with a predatory stare that made you want to smack her or run.

Normally, you were a pacifist that didn’t want to physically engage in any conflict. You fought with words. Fists were Itsuki’s job. Sara would try to get a teacher, reassure Joe or restrain Itsuki.  Ryoko was a mediator. Joe was the one that panicked or also got physically violent. Again, you were the one that chose a side and used your words, but you had stayed silent about this incident for far too long. Your mind flashed to the time where Itsuki flashed a sad smile at you, while rubbing his neck way too much to your suspicions.

“I’m okay.”

‘First time for everything,’ you thought, cracking your knuckles.

“What are you doing?” you cautiously asked, eyeing the bottle, the room, and Haruka.

A smirk crossed her features, one that you thought you’d erased from your memories forever. Especially when she has her hands around your--

“I thought you were smarter than that,” she said with a smug grin. She held up the bottle for you to get a better view. “Didn’t you read the rules, dumbass? The lie in this room is this bottle.” Haruka began to move the bottle in a circular motion, the liquid swirling inside while making a sloshing sound.

“The bottle?” you asked, your eyebrows creasing.

‘She came to a conclusion that quickly? This guessing game is full of way too many holes to be solved just like that.’

“There is nothing in the bottle that will harm me,” she giggled, taking a smooth swig.

Something in the pit of your stomach told you that the bottle was bad news. You watched as all the liquid in the vial slipped past the girl’s lips and to her mouth. The same one that would make their way to your friend’s, even though he insistently told her “no” and that he didn’t like to do it in public. Haruka placed the bottle on the ground and wiped at her lips with the back of her hand. Then her mouth shaped into a malicious smile that sent chills down your spine.

“Well, I guess you might as well die now,” she said with a cheerful grin, arms widespread.

Though you didn’t find humor behind her words, you thought they were utterly stupid.

‘What do you expect me to do?’ you thought drily, ‘Keel over and ask some other worldly being to strike me?’

“And I might as well have that,” she told you as she began to walk over to where you stood.

Her hands reached for the hat on your head. No, you would never let her have it. Your gaze shot down at the shards of glass widespread all over the ground.

You immediately clutched it on your head and glared at her. “No way.”

Haruka let out a feral snarl and lunged at you. Sticking a leg out, she ran into it and stumbled back. She clutched her stomach with a glare you hated. She was acting so strangely. Did she really change for the worse last you saw her?

“Eat shit, you--” you started to tell her.

“AGH!” she screamed, cutting through your words as she began to run at you.

Out of fear, you ran from her. You saw her skin turning blotchy red all over, covering her pale skin that was nowhere to be seen anymore. Her eyes began bulging like a dead fish, her body convulsing. Haruka fell over as spit began frothing from her lips which began to turn blue. The girl’s eyes rolled up into the back of her head.

‘She’s dying…!’

“Shit!” you exclaimed as you ran up to her. Her leg swung out at you which you swiftly avoided.

“No… way…” she wheezed as she looked wildly around the room.

“Shit, are you okay?” you asked once more, coming over while dodging her flailing limbs.

She then choked on her saliva, the noises driving straight into your soul like knives. Her hand with the scrunchie outstretched in her direction as she reached out for you.

“Help… me…!”

You began to reach out for her and tried to do something. Haruka suddenly avoided your grasp when she shuddered violently. Her fingers twitched and curled back and her head thrashed back and forth. Her hair flipped around forcefully and her body began to contort. Tears began to stream down her cheeks and you had no idea what the hell to do. Haruka screamed for the last time, scratched at her face which left red marks at her cheeks as she then stopped moving. Blood began to trickle out of the wounds she had inflicted upon herself and mix with her tears. You fell to your knees.

“...Haruka?” you asked quietly, getting no response from the girl who had gone still. “Oh...”

You sat there for a moment, just gazing at her lifeless form which looked too real to be true. There was no way she was dead. How… Just what had happened?

‘The drink.’

You looked at the bottle lying next to you and picked it up. Turning it over, you looked at the bottom. It said the numbers ‘7348’. You observed the bottle for another moment and shakily stood up. Walking over to the glass shards where the rules had once been, you squat down to take a good look at them. Tapping your trembling hand against your head, you tried to piece together the puzzle.

‘The lie,’ you thought, ‘Must’ve been the rules. It never said whether or not there was poison in the drink. The rule was: “The only way to escape is to make the other person drink the bottle in the center room”. She thought close, but not exactly. She twisted the rules and completely disregarded them. She thought the lie was the bottle, so she drank it. The writing even told us the person who drinks it would die. And the writing…’

You reached a hand over to the shattered glass pieces and picked one up. You looked at the messy letters scrawled on them.

‘The writing was messy because it was written backwards,’ you thought, ‘The rules were in the room, so that’s how the rules were the lie.’

You looked over at her body, motionless.

‘Shit,’ you thought, ‘What the fuck do I do?’

You walked over, straightened out her body and put your hand on her forehead. You closed her dilated eyes and began to use the jacket around her waist to cover her face.

‘She deserves at least this even though I don’t know if I can forgive her,’ you thought.

You got up, observed the table that originally had the bottle on it, and saw a combination lock on the side. You entered in the numbers as a slot popped out with a key. Carefully grabbing the key you looked around. Scanning the room, you saw a door and walked towards it. Opening it, you saw nothing but darkness. You pat your pockets and realized your phone was gone. All you had was Itsuki’s hat and the headphones around your neck which still had a dangling wire. You wrapped the wire around the band of the headphones and took a deep breath.

‘Here we go,’ you thought.

Turning back, you gave Haruka one last look.

“Rest in peace, Haruka Suzuki…” you told her lifeless body as you held back the urge to flip her off. “Fuck you for all you did but I hope you just rest happily.”

You bowed towards her and walked into the darkness. Feeling against the wall, you slowly made your way through.

‘If Itsuki were here, he’d be running into the darkness no balls,’ you thought with a disgruntled expression.

Suddenly, you heard a rumbling noise from all around you. Wind rushed up from beneath you and a sensation rang throughout you inside your stomach, something airy and strange.

‘What? Am I… falling?’

“What the fuck ?!” you screamed as you kicked and reached all around. You landed on a cushion, your head echoing with dull pain as your eyes closed in exhaustion.


“I’m so sorry,” you apologized, anxiously clenching your hands.

“It’s alright,” the girl said, brushing the dust off her uniform, “I should apologize for not looking where I was going.”

“No, it was my fault,” you insisted as you helped her up.

The girl shook her head, the side ponytail on her lopsided hairstyle swaying back and forth. “It’s alright. Accidents happen.”

“You are my… underclassmen, correct?” you asked hesitantly, looking at her uniform.

“By two years, yes,” the girl answered with a nod. “I just joined the school this year.”

“My name is… Y/N L/N,” you told her. “What is your name?”

“Sara Chidouin,” she smiled. “I hope we become well acquainted with each other, Miss Y/N.”

“Please, call me Y/N,” you said with a timid smile.

“Alright then,” she grinned and held out her hand. “Please do the same for me.”


“I didn’t know the two of you were friends,” you and Joe said in unison.

Sara laughed as she waved her hand at Joe. “Me neither. I met Joe in the library. He needed help researching for science.”

“I suck at science, okay?” Joe said as Sara raised an eyebrow at him.

“Wait until Ryoko hears about this,” she said which caused Joe to flinch.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Joe asked in a whiny tone, collapsing onto the table with a thud that sounded pretty painful.

“Pretty sure Itsuki calls it ‘the wrath of women’,” you supplied quietly, glancing at the two of them.

Joe groaned. Sara giggled and looked at you, clasping your hands. “Y/N! You have to meet my friend Ryoko too! You’re such a nice and friendly person, the two of you would get along so well!”

“I’m flattered, thank you,” you said with a small smile.

“I look up to you, Y/N,” Sara informed you as she continued to hold your hands. “You’re my role model, you know that, right?”

“Why… thank you,” you thanked her, eyes wide and you were speechless.

“That look on your face is priceless,” she laughed once more.

“Was it?” you asked looking all around, feeling self-conscious, “Oh, Sara. You have to meet my friend too, okay? I’m sure the two of you would get along well.”

“I look forward to it!” she exclaimed, eyes gleaming.


“--and then Sara fell over after she tried to sit on it!” Ryoko exclaimed in laughter.

“I thought we said we wouldn’t talk about that anymore?!” Sara hissed, her gaze darting at you and Itsuki. “That’s embarrassing!”

“It’s not that bad,” Itsuki said with a lax grin. “One time, N/N had to climb to the roof of the school shed.”

“Really?!” Joe asked, almost choking on his smoothie. “Why?”

You swallowed a fry before answering. “Someone threw my lunchbag on the roof.”

“Wait, are they bullying you?” Joe asked, his expression growing serious.

You shook your head quickly. “No, no! It was probably just a prank. It was on April Fool’s Day, after all.”

“Still, be careful, Y/N,” Sara told you, looking at you worriedly. “You’re looking tired these few days.”

“I am?” you laughed while rubbing your eyes. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“Sara’s right,” Ryoko said, nudging said girl with a smile. “Had she not brought it up, I would have forgotten. Sara dotes on you, Y/N. Take care of yourself.”

“I do not!” Sara exclaimed, hitting Ryoko on the shoulder.

Ryoko laughed as Itsuki grinned.

“I wanna stay like this for a long time,” Itsuki said with a small smile. “Can you guys keep that promise?”

“Of course we can!” Joe exclaimed, jumping up from his spot, “We’ll be together forever!"

"Don't get ahead of us," you joked.

Joe continued as he spun around. "Best friends! How about we get matching bracelets, huh?!”

“I have a better idea,” Ryoko suggested with a raised finger. “How about we do something like Secret Santa. We each get a present for one person. Pull names from a hat and stuff.”

“That’s a great idea!” Itsuki exclaimed, clapping his hands together. “We should do that!”

“I agree,” Sara said with a nod. “That’s a good idea.”

“Alright, we’ll pull names tomorrow, okay?” you asked.


“It’s too bad we don’t talk one on one like this much anymore,” you murmured as you smiled at the girl. “Probably because we’re two grades older than you guys.”

“That’s okay,” Sara told you, sitting down beside you. “I’m talking to you now, and that’s all that matters.”

You smiled at her. “You’re so sweet Sara.”

She grew embarrassed, fidgeting on the spot. “I just really enjoy spending time with you. I really look up to you.”

“So I’ve been told,” you replied, laughing quietly.

Sara smiled. You grew quiet. Then her expression grew serious and you looked at her. She reached out and put her hand on yours. You could tell that she was going to talk about something serious.

“Y/N,” she whispered, still holding your hand. “You look very tired. Is something going on?”

You blinked as you pulled out your mirror. You opened the lid and looked at your dreadful appearance. Eye bags were beginning to form, your skin was paler than normal, your hair tousled, and your clothes crumpled and creased. You closed the mirror with a click.

“Sorry you have to see me like this,” you apologized while running a hand through your hair. “I’m a bit tired.”

“No worries,” she told you. “It’s understandable. I just want to know what’s on your mind.”

“Work… school,” you said, intentionally leaving another part out. “Stress.”

“Is that all?” she asked, looking at you knowingly.

“I’m positive,” you said.

She hummed and glanced around. “Where’s Itsuki?”

That’s what you wanted to avoid.

You curled in your toes and bit your lip. “Itsuki got a girlfriend.”

Sara did a double take as she looked at you. “Really?! I thought he--”

“I don’t know,” you sighed as you leaned forward, defeated. “I guess he wanted to start a relationship. While I’m struggling with my studies… and just feeling like garbage.” 

“The year is almost over, so take it easy,” Sara said, scooting closer to you. “Don’t worry, we’re here for you. I’m here for you.”

“What about you?” you asked, changing the subject to something else. “Do you need anything?”


You hugged the girl. “I didn’t expect you to join the kendo club.”

“You’re the leader, Y/N,” Sara said with a timid smile. “Also, I’ve been interested in a long time. How about you?”

Your eye brow creased and you quickly erased your worries. “I needed some self-defense skills.”

Her expression grew concerned as she reached out for your hand. “Is there something wrong? I thought you said you were fine with Itsuki and everything.”

“I know, but…” you said, hesitating with your words. “Something is following me. I know it.”

“Someone’s stalking you?” she asked, her face shocked. “Who?”

“I don’t know,” you told her while sitting down on the ground. “I just know. I can hear them. I can see them. At night, I’m scared that they might break in or something. I don’t know. Sara. I don’t know what to do.”

She sat next to you and made you lean on her.

“Y/N,” she whispered as she patted your head. “You need to vent sometimes, okay?”

“Why?” you asked her, cringing at your voice.

‘God, now I sound so whiny.’

“Don’t think of self-deprecating thoughts,” she chided while pouting at you. “I know you are. Just… rely on me, okay?”

‘I can’t.’

You didn’t say anything.

“Y/N,” Sara insisted, trying to make you speak. “We all love and care about you.”

Yelling. There was yelling.

“Sara,” you said, your voice shaky.

There was a squeaky, child-like yelling.

“What is it?” she asked softly, her brows creasing.

“Itsuki has bruises all over his body.”

“JOE!”


You jolted awake as your vision began to blur and adjust to the environment. There was yelling and talking you couldn’t hear properly. The first thing you couldn’t help but notice was the heavy weight on your neck. Too heavy to be your headphones. You immediately panicked, a strangled noise softly erupting from your throat as you grabbed it. Metal. Not flesh. You let out a sigh of relief as you let go. Wait, metal? You glanced around to see people gathered together having one thing in common: collars around their necks. You craned your neck to see a crowd of people yelling and talking to one another. A buff man with blonde hair walked towards you with a casual smile. He looked familiar.

“Good. You’re awake. Let’s discuss.”



Chapter Text

Your eyes settled upon the group of people around you. Some of them looked familiar, like a passing face or something, and some looked like complete strangers.

“What’s going on?” you asked.

“There’s no way…” a voice breathed, “Y/N?”

Your eyes scanned the crowd as they landed on two familiar figures. Your legs immediately moved as you ran up to them.

“Joe, Sara,” you said, “What are you two doing here?”

“We… don’t exactly know that yet,” Sara said, fiddling with the pin that you had given her after your graduation.

Your eyes landed on the collars on their necks. You then realized that there was one on yours. The heavy weight pressed down on your neck even more.

Joe nudged you, “We don’t have time to worry about that now.”

“Joe, Sara, and Y/N, eh?” a voice asked.

You turned to look at a large man with a fit build and blonde hair. He wore a black vest, gray collar shirt, and brown pants. His gaze seemed cool and calculating as he smiled at the three of you.

“... you three are friends?” he asked.

“Eh?” Sara asked, “Y… yes, we are.”

The man chuckled, “Thanks for that. Joe wasn’t speaking up here. Must’ve been wary of something… wouldn’t even tell me his name.”

You elbowed Joe, “Manners!”

“I have my reasons to be suspicious!” he hissed back.

“That’s still rude! Keeping a mystery figure doesn’t make you any cooler!”

“That wasn’t my intention!”

You noticed Sara pressing her lips together, trying not to laugh.

“Alright, everybody,” the blonde man said, “Listen up. I bet we’re all thinking the same thing. ‘What is this place?’ ‘Why was I brought here?’ And about all you know is who you are.”

‘Does he know something?’ you thought.

“What are you getting at, I wonder?” a man with spiky hair and glasses asked.

“How about we give introductions?” the blonde man suggested, “Should ease our suspicion a little, at least.”

“Introductions, you say?” a man with long, black hair asked.

You looked at his bright red, sparkly apron and all his kitchenware. The look of his hair looked so silky and smooth, your fingers itched to touch it.

“Not a whole lot else we can do,” the blonde man said, “Am I right, Sara?”

“Huh…? You’re asking me…?” she asked, hesitant, “I’d prefer it if you didn’t use first name basis with me.”

You snorted as Joe stepped on your foot. You glared at him and kicked his shin. He let out a soft cry as he harshly nudged your shoe. You prepared to step on his foot when Sara turned to the two of you.

“Will you two stop?” she asked, the embarrassment evident on her face.

You looked behind her to see everyone either staring you in awe, confusion, or laughing at the side. 

“Mom?”

You looked around as you saw a cat plushie.

“Gin?” you asked in confusion.

A small figure holding a cat plushie and dressed in a cat blanket rushed up to you and hugged your legs with small cat mittens. You pat his small head as you took a good look at him and his emerald green eyes.

“It is you,” you said, “What are you doing here?”

He didn’t answer as he hugged your waist. Joe kicked your foot for one good measure as you glared at him. You reached out to Sara.

You pat her shoulder, “Don’t worry, Sara. I got your back.”

“So, you ready to start?” the blonde man asked.

Sara stiffly nodded as you flashed him a thumbs up for clarification.

“Okie dokie, let’s begin,” he said, “Ahem, so then… I think we should all get to know each other a little more.”

“Meow, so?” Gin squeaked at your waist, “Mom tells me not to give personal information to strange guys I don’t know, woof!”

“I’m concerned,” the man with the spiky hair and glasses spoke, “Are you actually his mom?”

“I’m his babysitter,” you said.

‘What did you think happened?’ you thought.

Oh …”

“Keep it simple,” the blonde man said, “Name and occupation.Take turns saying them. That’s the ticket.”

Joe just stared at the man with a suspicious look. You chuckled to yourself.

“The wary ones can stay silent for now,” the man said, “Anyone comfortable blabbing out anything, raise your hand.”

There was an uncomfortable silence that began to fill the entire room. You looked at Sara and Joe, the two of them not saying anything. Your hand stretched out straight into the air as it let out a large crack . The sound resounded throughout the empty room. There was absolute silence besides some muffled laughing.

“Hello,” you coughed, “My name is Y/N L/N. I’m a first year college student.”

“My name is Kazumi Mishima,” the man with the glasses said, “I am a teacher.”

“Wait, wait, waiiiiit,” you said, “Do you teach college?”

The man turned to look at you, “Only for certain times. Why?”

“My friend has you as his teacher for his minor class,” you said, grinning like the idiot you were.

No …” Joe whispered, “That painting…”

Yes ,” you whispered back.

Joe let out a strangled cry.

“You’re a school teacher?” Gin asked, “The world’s going to dogs, meow.”

“Boo hoo hoo,” Mishima replied.

“Name’s Reko Yabusame,” a punk girl with black hair and makeup said, “I’m a singer-songwriter.”

Joe smiled, “Oh, I think I’ve seen you in the magazines! You’re THE Reko Yabusame?!”

You saw Reko get irritated, “...Dude. Is this the time?”

“....Sorry,” Joe said.

“Is she famous?” you asked.

He turned to whisper towards you, “Tell you later.”

The man with the red apron stepped forward, “...I’m Kai Satou. I’m a rather unremarkable homemaker.”

“Eh, I’m sure you’re good at your job,” you said.

“I appreciate the compliment, but I assure you, I’m not,” he said softly.

“The only thing I can cook is rice, eggs, and instant ramen,” you deadpanned.

“That is a bit pitiful,” Kai commented.

“What’s the stuff behind you?” someone asked.

“It’s a frying pan… and a ladle… and a spatula,” the man said.

“I-I didn’t mean it like that,” the voice said, coming from a man in a beanie and a dotted scarf.

“Convenience clerk?” you asked.

He looked at you, eyes widening, “Aren’t you that girl--”

“Q-taro Burgerburg!” a voice from a large man with a cap and bright red hair bellowed, “I play baseball! Second-string, though!”

“Hoowah!” a girl with the most outrageous pink hair you had ever seen exclaimed, “No wonder you’re so big!”

“193 centimeters!” he shouted, “And strong to boot ya’hear!”

‘W-well I’m (your height) a-and I could probably take you--’ you thought, obviously not intimidated by his height.

Silence filled the air as the blonde man scratched his neck.

“...seems no one else wants to talk, huh?” he said.

“How about you go?” I prompted, “You seem pretty confident in taking the lead.”

He laughed, “Nah, I’ll let Sara or you take the initiative. A lot of people seem to trust Sara. You seem… clueless?” 

“You wanna fight?” you asked.

“I think airheaded is the word,” Keiji chuckled.

Unbeknownst to him, you were starting to become a tad bit angry.

“You’re just some airheaded bimbo! You won’t understand what we have!”

“Mom isn’t clueless!” Gin shouted, getting off of you, “She’s uber smart! Unlike you! Blegh!”

“Y/N,” Sara whispered, abruptly taking your attention off of Keiji, “I’m going to take care of that girl over there.”

Sara pointed at a small girl with short green hair, a bucket on her head, and a green outfit. She seemed to be sniffling in the corner, alone.

“I’ll help if you need me,” you whispered back.

You watched Sara approach the little girl, placing a reassuring hand on her back. The girl then began shaking again as Sara got up and walked towards you.

“She’s in no condition to talk right now,” she said.

“I see,” you murmured.

As Sara turned towards the blonde man, you leaned towards Joe.

“Why are there kids here?” you asked.

“I have no idea,” he said, “It’s a bit disturbing, you know?”

“My name’s Keiji Shinogi,” the blonde man introduced, “Workin’ as a policeman.”

Joe jumped, “Huh?! Police?!”

“That’s right. So don’t trouble your friendly policeman,” Keiji joked, “...Well, I’m not really that sort of cop.”

“T...then you should’ve said that sooner!” Joe said, outraged.

“I got abducted in the middle of an investigation,” he said, “It was hard to find a chance to spill it.”

Joe blanched, “Shouldn’t have been wary… dammit… sHut uP, Y/N!”

You shot him a smile, “Sorry.”

Keiji looked to the side, “...Wonder if we got caught by that criminal group.”

“You were investigating alone?” Sara asked.

“No,” he said, “I was with someone.”

“Is your coworker here?” Sara asked.

“Sure isn’t,” Keiji said.

Blonde hair, tan skin, and cool attitude. You snapped your fingers.

“Hold on,” you said, “Have I seen you before? Maybe… a few weeks ago?”

Keiji’s face seemed to pale as he shook his head, “No. I work with the higher-ups. I doubt you would’ve seen me.”

‘Weird,’ you thought.

“You gonna introduce, yourself?” you asked Gin.

“I’m gonna wait,” he said.

“So I’m a ballplayer, but if ya work too hard and hurt’cherself, you’ll never make it to the big leagues,” Q-taro said, grinning.

“What dialect is that?” Sara asked, tilting her head.

The shine of a navy blue ribbon also swayed with her hair.

“Incidentally, I believe baseball has positions...?” the convenience store clerk said.

You silently looked at him, signaling “we’ll talk later”, but he just looked at Q-taro.

“I’mma pitcher,” Q-taro said, proudly, “Confident in my batting too, an’ I was lucky enough to go to Central League!”

“I don’t really follow, but…” the clerk said, “Does that mean you’re good at throwing the ball and hitting it with the bat?”

“W-well yeah, an’ stuff,” Q-taro stuttered.

‘Is it that hard to understand???’ you thought, ‘ Batting is hitting. Pitcher throws. Even a dummy like me knows that. Huh, the world must be ending soon.’

“I was all happy after a long-in-coming comeback game, so I went out drinking,” Q-taro said, “But I don’t remember a thing. Then when I wake up, I’m in this place with a collar on like I’m a dog or somethin’! Such a bummer! I can’t believe I can’t get this thing off!”

You nervously touched the collar encircling your neck. It was too tight for comfort, you agreed.

“Just like the gaudy guy said, my band’s made enough of a name to make it into magazines,” Reko said.

You snickered as Joe grimaced, “Don’t call me ‘the gaudy guy’...”

“We’d finally made it to the starting line. The whole future stretched out ahead of us,” Reko continued, looking absolutely pissed.

“Um… is that makeup for a stage?” the girl with unruly pink hair asked.

“Like hell!” Reko exclaimed, “The fans’d weep if I went onto stage looking this plain.”

“Out of curiosity,” you began, “How much makeup do you put on?”

“Wig, hella makeup, and rock ass clothes,” she said, grinning.

“Nice,” you said, flashing her a thumbs up.

“I just finished up a new track and was about to meet up with my bandmates when this shit happens…!” Reko exclaimed.

“Was your instrument taken?” Sara asked.

Reko grew more infuriated.“My precious bongos, my phone, my wig… It’s all gone!”

Sara’s face spaced out at the word “bongos”.

“B-but snatching wigs is supposed to only be a Twitter joke,” you mock stuttered.

Joe stomped on your shoe again as you smacked him over the head.

“Ow!” he cried.

“I demand respect,” you said.

“You don’t deserve my respect,” Joe shot back.

You whacked his back, “Then you don’t deserve my mercy.”

“I-is now the time to be bickering and worrying about our belongings...?” the girl with the insane hair and overalls asked.

“Some of that stuff’s as important as my life!” Reko exclaimed.

You subconsciously touched your headphones and Itsuki’s hat on your head.

‘I feel you,’ you thought, ‘I would die if someone took all this stuff.’

Your gaze landed on Sara’s ribbon and pin. Joe’s clip and earring seemed to shine in the light. You weren’t too sure about the dog keychain, but you were sure it came from Sara.

“I-I’m sorry!” the girl with the pink, crazy hair cried.

Sara then approached the man with the red apron and the long hair. Kai Satou, was it? His face looked almost expressionless. Unfazed.

“Hm… my best meal is Eggs Benedict,” he said.

“A chef, eh?” Q-taro asked, grinning at him.

“No, not a chef, but a homemaker,” Kai corrected, “Akin to a house-husband.”

“Same difference if you both make tasty food,” Q-taro shrugged.

“I suppose so...” Kai said softly.

“Do you enjoy your job?” you asked, “That’s the most important part of a career.”

A small sparkle lit up in his eyes, “Yes, I do.”

“Have we met before?” Sara asked, narrowing her eyes.

“No, I do not recall,” Kai answered.

“Where did you get your utensils?” Sara asked.

“They were in the room when I woke up,” Kai replied, “Would you like to use one as protection?”

“No thank you,” Sara replied weakly.

“Perhaps I should discard them,” Kai said.

“No, they might be useful,” Sara said.

“And it’s a waste of material,” you added.

“At the very least, I bet I could make Eggs Benedict,” Kai said thoughtfully.

You then went up to Mishima.

“Maybe we can get to know each other better?” you asked.

He laughed, “I’m a highschool teacher that teaches Japanese and art. I also do part time at a nearby college for art as well.”

“My friend has art for his minors,” I said, grinning, “He’s very good at it, but he draws… peculiar objects.”

“He drew me with Sara’s hair,” Joe hissed.

“And what is this young man’s name?” Mishima asked you.

“Itsuki Nakamura,” you replied.

“Ah, I believe I remember,” Mishima coughed, “He submitted a peculiar piece of art.”

“Huh, a school teacher,” Keiji said, “Can’t picture it.”

“Indeed, I get that often,” Mishima acknowledges.

Keiji sucked in a breath, “I’ve got no right to say it, but you’re suspicious from every angle.”

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” you said. Then you turned to Mishima, “Don’t worry. My friend thinks you’re cool.”

“Flattered,” Mishima replied.

“You truly have no right to say that!” the girl with the wild hair and overalls exclaimed, “Apologize to the professor, please!”

‘It’s like a hedgehog in real life,’ you thought silently, ‘And I thought that hair only existed in anime. Well, we do have Joe here.’

“Why do you keep touching my hair?” Joe asked.

“Nothing.”

“Whoa now,” Keiji said, “What’s this, little miss?”

“Pardon…” Mishima apologized, “You see, she is a former student of mine. Please forgive her…”

“He’s a really good teacher!” the girl went on, “Like what the cap girl said! Please don’t judge a book by its cover!”

“It’s Y/N L/N,” you said drily.

“I suppose my appearance is shady after all...” Mishima sighed, “How shocking.”

“Well, I don’t have a lot to judge on” Keiji said, “Dunno much about you either, little miss.”

The woman stepped forward, “I’ll introduce myself…! There’s nothing shady about us!”

‘Too late,’ you thought, ‘“That’s what they all say”.’

“...well, excuse me,” Keiji coughed.

“It’s time to cool down, yes…” Mishima agreed.

“Do you have any idea what’s going on?” Sara asked.

You pat Gin’s head as you saw him squeeze his cat plush. You felt yourself subconsciously smile as you ruffled his hair.

“Hrm, I don’t recall earning anyone’s ire…” Mishima said.

“I see,” Sara said.

“Well, there have been students that don’t like me,” Mishima said, “...but I doubt that they would do something like this. I even have students who visit me after graduation… mwahahaha. I believe we also made it through the First Trial with our combined knowledge, as well.”

‘I doubt this is even a prank,’ you thought, ‘I just watched someone die .’

“Is he talking about you?” you asked, turning to the girl with the overalls.

“I-I’m a former student of Professor Mishima’s!” she squeaked, “Currently at an art college! My name is Nao Egokoro! It’s thanks to Professor Mishima I attend an art college now!”

“Nao… Egokoro?” you asked, “But I swear I’ve seen you at my college before. Sakura University?”

She smiled, “I drop by Sakura University from time to time! I heard Professor Mishima began to teach there as well, so I come to visit! The professor is a good person! Please believe me! Saraaaa! And, um... Y/NNNNN!”

“I-I’m not especially doubting it,” Sara stuttered.

‘Did she almost forget my name again?’ you thought.

“Yep, just mister Policeman who suspected him,” Keiji chuckled.

“Mom, he scares me,” Gin whispered.

You pat his head.

“Then please, repent!” Nao exclaimed.

You choked and wheezed.

“Sure, Professor Mishima’s not suspicious,” Keiji said with ease.

“Yeah. Get on your knees and beg for forgiveness please,” you whispered to Joe.

He snorted as he covered his mouth. Sara turned to you two and quirked an eyebrow.

“Every time I don’t keep an eye on you two, you guys always do something weird,” she said.

“S… So you understand…!” Nao said, eyes glimmering, “In that case, my work here is done…”

“Burn him at the stake!” Joe shouted as you choked on your laughter.

Sara whacked Joe’s back, sending him and you into another fit of giggles.

Sara coughed, “What was your First Trial?”

“It was a game where we were tied to beds… and we had to escape with one key...” Nao said, her face paling, “I… Professor Mishima instructed me to use the sandpaper on the key… then I unlocked his restraints. Honestly… it was thanks to him I was able to stay calm…”

Out of the corner of your eye, you saw Sara’s eyes harden. Her hands curled up into themselves as her smooth expression crumpled up like paper.

“Sara... Are you okay?” Nao asked worriedly, “You look angry…”

You silently grabbed her hand as the girl exhaled. She smiled at you as you let go and smiled back.

“Ah… I’m fine…” she said.

Nao smiled, “...I don’t like Keiji, but I kind of like you, Sara.”

A shit eating grin spread across your face as Joe began to laugh silently again. Was your face that funny to laugh at?

“Aside from being a little strange, I kind of like you too, Y/N,” Nao said, “You seem trustworthy.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” you said.

“Eh…?” Sara asked.

“Please take care of each other and your friend!” Nao said.

You smiled at Joe, “See? Now we have to take care of you, Joe.”

He playfully hit your arm, “Stop it!”

“Neverrr!” you replied.

Joe shoved you off, “Me and Sara are highschool classmates. Y/N is my upperclassman who is a year older than me. Sara was being harassed by a stalker, so I went home with her that day.”

Immediately, you stopped laughing. You felt your stomach drop and your face pale. Dread spread throughout your stomach, making it feel hollow and empty. Your pulse began to race. You looked at Sara with wide eyes as you placed your hands on both Joe’s and Sara’s shoulders.

“You didn’t tell me about this?!” you hissed, “Why?!”

Sara looked away, “Sorry, Y/N. I didn’t want to tell you because…”

The sentence was left unsaid as the collar on your neck seemed heavier than before. The way the colors on her face shifted from white, to purple, to blue seemed more apparent than ever.

‘Don’t think about that right now,’ you thought.

“Joe…” you said, “You promised to tell me if anything happened. You know Sara is too much of a martyr.”

“Well, so are you,” Joe huffed, “We knew you would go out of your way to deal with it, and… we didn’t want you to. Especially after that .”

You frowned, “Is this how you two got here?”

Joe scratched his neck, “Yeah, um… there was an incident, so I called the police, but… I heard Sara screaming, so I ran upstairs.”

“You two aren’t hurt, aren’t you?” you asked.

“No. Thankfully we aren’t,” Sara replied.

“And there stood that damn stalker!” Joe exclaimed.

Sara and you turned to look at him. In a blink, you turned all your attention on Joe.

“The stalker didn’t hurt you, right?” you asked, “Did you see what they looked like?”

“That’s the first I’ve heard of that!” Sara exclaimed.

Joe smiled sheepishly, “Hehe… didn’t have the chance to mention it. So, I worked up the courage to punch the guy.”

“You suck at fighting,” you interrupted, “That’s Itsuki’s job.”

He laughed, “‘Course, I suck at fighting, so… since I don’t remember winning, I guess I lost. That’s why… I know the stalker is the culprit in this case.”

Keiji looked at him, “Interesting… go on.”

“Sorry, but that’s all I got,” Joe apologized, “Since I fainted. Then again.. This isn’t a stunt one jerk stalker could pull off himself. It’s an organized crime. Right, mister cop?”

“...could be,” Keiji sighed.

‘I’m betting on that as well,’ you thought, ‘There’s no way a couple of kids could pull this off. Especially after…’ you shut your eyes as you could hear her screams in her head. ‘This is real. I probably shouldn’t tell them right now, though. They’re already scared enough as it is.’

“You’re not hurt, right?” you asked softly, removing your hands.

“No,” Joe said, “But… I wonder if it’s one among us. A collaborator with the culprit, playing the victim to blend in…!”

“Eh?!” Sara asked.

You knew plenty about that. People playing victim. Sweet lies that burned your throat. Disgusting . Joe took your hand reassuringly as he squeezed it. God, now he could feel how sweaty it was and how fast my pulse was going.

“Hahahaaa!” Keiji laughed.

“What is it?!” Joe asked, lunging at the man, “You wanna laugh?! You can’t say there isn’t...”

You grabbed Joe’s arm and held him back, as he reluctantly stopped struggling.

“You sure are funny!” Keiji chuckled, “Hahaha!”

“I hate this guy…!” Joe groaned.

“Ah, I should introduce myself too, soon, huh,” a familiar voice said.

You turned towards the direction of the clerk with the beanie.

“Favorite clerk!” you blurted.

“Huh?” he asked, looking confused.

“Carry on,” you coughed.

“Fine, I can read the room woof!” Gin exclaimed, “It’s, you know, the mature response, meow!”

“Good job,” you whispered as Gin reattached himself to your waist.

“Well then, should I introduce myself too?” the clerk asked, “My name’s Sou Hiyori. Er… well. Just a job-hopper. Ahaha…”

Called it,” you said, “My friend says he aspires to be you.”

“So, living hand-to-mouth, meow?” Gin asked.

“Gin!” you whispers, “Manners!”

“I don’t know how else to say this!” he whispered back, “Sorry sir, woof!”

“H… hey, don’t put it like that,” Sou said, “It’s not a ton, but I’ve got savings.”

“He’s my favorite clerk,” you said, “Itsuki and I mess around in the convenience store, a lot.”

“Like that time Itsuki drove a golf cart through the school and hid it behind the store when you two were in eighth grade?” Joe deadpanned.

“Or how you and him went there, bought ten bags of dog food, came to school late with a bunch of dogs, and released them during school hours in tenth grade?” Sara asked drily.

“That was because that one dude kicked a dog in front of the school!” you defended, “When we confronted it about it, he said ‘aNiMalS dOn’T HaVE fEElINgs’! Then we told him that he enraged the entire dog population.”

“That was the reason why he transferred ,” Sara sighed, “They radio contacted our school to get our janitor to come and help.”

“Good for him then,” you muttered.

Sou coughed, “Anyways… um…”

“Ah! Why didn’t you introduce yourself at first?” Sara asked.

“Naturally, I was a little wary like Joe was,” Sou said, “Though, I wasn’t entirely bothered by Miss Y/N’s presence. Plus, I’m a job-hopper… It’s a little embarrassing, haha.”

“You’re cool with me,” you said, giving him a thumbs up.

“Haha, I think I know who to trust though,” Sou laughed.

“Just make up some lie, meow!” Gin squeaked, “You’re honest to a fault, woof!”

“Gin…” you said.

“H… hey now, I dunno about that,” Sou said, “You can’t trust people like that, right? Ahaha… C-come one now… Don’t look at me so pitifully. Miss Sara, you seem steadfast and strong. I’m jealous.”

“You usually don’t stutter,” you pointed out, “That’s hilarious.”

“Please. No,” Sou said.

“Actually, I have a question,” Sara said, “Do you have any ideas about our current situation?”

“Gosh… it feels like you’re asking me in such a ‘first thing’s first’ kind of way,” Sou chuckled.

You laughed silently again as Joe smacked your back, quietly laughing as well.

“Ideas… I’ve got none,” Sou admitted, “I apologize for any arguments right away, so not that… Haven’t left enough of an impression on anyone to be hated by someone.”

“Same,” Joe whispered as you nodded.

“Literally, you two have made the biggest impressions on everyone in this room,” Sara said, drier than dry.

“Some days, I don’t think I show enough gratitude to my parents, but…” Sou said, “They just spoil me so much… Man… I’ve gotta be independent already… Uh sorry, I can’t remember anything much.”

“Lucky you,” you murmured.

“...Well, neither can we,” Sara said.

“...right,” Sou replied.

“Don’t sweat it!” Joe exclaimed.

“Yeah, I baby Joe a lot,” I said.

“That’s a lie and you know it,” Joe said.

“Once you get home, go find a job, meow!” Gin squeaked.

“But he already has one,” you said, “He’s a clerk.”

“Urgh… job hunting… steady work…” Sou grunted.

“It’s okay,” you said, “I’m jobless too, and I have school to pay for.”

“I thought you said your parents were paying for you,” Joe said.

“Okay!” Gin cried, “My name is Gin Ibushi, woof! I’m a sixth grader, meow!”

“Great introduction, kiddo,” Keiji complimented.

“Don’t call me a kid!” Gin exclaimed, “I just introduced myself because you guys don’t seem like anything special!”

“Sorry, he does this to all strangers,” you apologized.

“Do you remember anything about why you were brought to this place?” Joe asked.

“Woof… nope,” Gin replied, “Mom, my real mom, was coming home late, so I stayed up to wait... And I heard the intercom, so I thought she came in through the back door, meow. And a different grown up was standing there, meow! ...Don't remember anything else, woof.’

“Gin…” Joe said, looking at him sympathetically.

Gin hugged your leg, “Don’t give me those looks, woof! I’m a strong boy, meow!”

You reassuringly pat his head as he squeezed you tighter.

“Let’s work together to go home,” Sara said, “Okay?”

“Work together…?” Gin asked, “Woof woof…”

“Right. Not all grown-ups are bad, Gin,” Sara said.

“...Can I believe that, meow?” Gin asked.

“What about me?” you asked.

“You’re Mom !” he exclaimed, “That doesn’t count!”

“Of course you can believe it,” Sara said.

“...I’ll only trust Mom and Big Sis Sara! Woof!” Gin exclaimed.

‘How the hell does she do it?’ you thought, looking at Joe.

He gave you a look that read “I have no fucking idea”.

“B-big sis?!” Sara asked, flustered.

“...huh? It’s not big bro, is it, woof?” Gin asked, “Maybe I got it all wrong, meow.”

You kept your laughter in as Joe literally died, “No, it’s big sis alright.”

“That’s not the problem!” Sara exclaimed.

“Okay,” you said, shooting a glance at the cowering girl against the wall, “I’m Y/N L/N. And as I said before, I’m a college student. I have one friend who is one year older than me in the same year in college. Sara and Joe are my two underclassmen, along with another friend of theirs. I’m two years apart from them. I was walking with my friend when I offered to go to a convenience store to get some bandages for him. When I went inside, I saw Sou on the floor. When I went over to him, I blacked out.”

“What was your First Trial?” Sara asked.

You swallowed, “Had to solve a puzzle.”

You shot her a glance telling her “tell you later”. Sara frowned, then slightly nodded. She turned to the little girl up against the wall. You thought the bucket on her hat was a bit strange, but it was a bit cute as well. Perhaps it held sentimental meaning.

“Are you okay…?” Sara asked, “If you’ve calmed down, can you talk to me?”

“I’ll say… I’m Kanna Kizuchi,” the little girl said softly.

‘Kanna?’ you thought, ‘As in the Kanna-that-Itsuki-tutors-Kanna?’

“Kanna… could you tell me a little more about yourself?” Sara asked.

“Uh… I’m… in middle school… and… erm…, um,” she said, panicking.

“Don’t push yourself,” you said, “Take your time.”

“She’s right,” Sara said, “It’s okay, you don’t need to rush.”

“...I was coming home… with my big sister… We were eating ice cream,” Kanna said, “We were just walking around talking… about what to have for dinner… Suddenly… some scary people came out from a black car parked on the road...”

“I see…” Sara said, “It must’ve been frightening.”

“Yes…” Kanna said.

“You’re a brave girl, Kanna,” you said.

“...thank you,” Kanna whispered.

I saw Sara’s eyes narrow as her mind started to think about something. I looked at Kanna and thought about her story.

‘Her sister. Sara, try to go around the question…!’ you thought.

“What happened after you got here?” Sara asked.

‘Shit,’ you thought.

“...here?” Kanna asked, “After… I came here… My… sister…”

‘There are the signs,’ you thought, seeing sweat on Kanna’s hands.

Kanna’s breathing began to hasten as her eyes widened. I saw her look at me as the little girl squeezed her hands over and over again.

“My sister…” Kanna said shakily, eyes shifting off of my hat, “...Aaaaaaaahhhh! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! She’s dead! My sister! Why?! How?! It’s my fault! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”

Kanna screamed and cried as she clutched her head.

‘Move,’ you told yourself.

You walked up to her and put your hands on her shoulders.

“Breathe, Kanna,” you whispered, “Breathe. You’re going to be fine. Just breathe and it’ll be over.”

You could feel the little girl shake and tremble, but her breathing began to steady.

“Breathe with me, okay?” you asked, taking her hands, “Feel my hands. What do they feel like?”

“Soft…” Kanna wheezed as her breathing began to slow, “Small…”

‘Okay…’

“...sweaty…”

‘Okay…?’

“What do you think they look like?” you asked.

“Like… hands?” Kanna shuddered.

You laughed, “Breathe… now, do they remind you of anything?”

“Snow? Because it’s soft and wet?” Kanna asked.

“oKaY,” you said, “Do you like snow?”

“It comes every year,” Kanna replied, “Yes.”

“Lucky,” you whispered, “I’ve seen it too, but... Okay… open your eyes.”

Kanna opened her glassy green eyes as you slightly squeezed her hand. You noticed that her eyes kept shooting up to your head. Kanna then wobbled then fell over.

“Oh shoot--!” you said, catching her frame.

You sat down. Slowly, you set the girl down against the wall and leaning on your shoulder. You motioned Sara over as Sara observed Kanna.

“Sara. Y/N,” Reko said, “How’s Kanna looking…?”

“It looks like she passed out…” Sara replied, touching Kanna’s head.

Sara began to reposition Kanna to lay on the ground. You removed your hoodie and made a makeshift pillow.

As you did so, you heard Reko curse, “Dammit, this is some messed up shit! She DIED? What the hell’d this poor girl do, huh?! Does this culprit even got a heart?!”

“And we’re all varying in ages,” you noted.

“Seems like… this isn’t some joke or a prank,” Sou said quietly.

Nao fidgeted, “I… I don’t like this… this is too awful… just too…”

“Hey now, everybody,” Keiji said, “Don’t lose your cool. You’ve got your friendly policeman over here.”

“Hey, Keiji!” Joe exclaimed, “You’re the reliable one here! What should we do?!”

The mood was too tense for you to crack a joke.

“...You’ve sure changed your tune,” Keiji said.

“The circumstances have changed,” you said.

“Well, first things first,” Keiji announced, “Why don’t we confirm what each of us has found in this place?”

“That sounds like a good plan,” Kai agreed.

“‘Zat’s just what I was thinking!” Q-taro exclaimed, “See, I picked up this thing.”

He held up a yellow box with four keyholes.

“It’s a huge box, meow!” Gin exclaimed.

“Bet you could fit a whole watermelon in there,” Nao commented.

“Was this… from the First Trial?” Sou asked.

“Yep… though, I mean, bringing this box was the point of the First Trial,” Q-taro said.

“Say what?! Did some people have different First Trials?!” Joe asked.

“Mine’s was different,” you said, “Mine’s involved a riddle.”

“We can discuss this later,” Keiji said, smoothly cutting over you, “First, let’s open the box.”

“It ain’t gonna,” Q-taro said, “It’s got keyholes, see?”

“Sara. You got any ideas?” Keiji asked.

“Wha…! Me?” she asked.

You nudged her, “Yeah, you’re smart, Sara.”

“Nah, I just like catching you off guard,” Keiji said.

“Assuming some of our trials are different, was this the only thing you had to do?” you asked.

“Yep! Absolutely!” Q-taro exclaimed.

“Hm,” you said.

Sara observed the box. She then took out a key from her pocket and slid it into the box. It clicked as it opened.

“Ooh! Can we try ours too?!” Nao asked.

“Let’s try! Oh, and I wonder if Kanna…” Sara said.

“I have one,” you said, going to your hoodie and carefully removing the black key.

You handed it to Sara who began unlocking the box. They all fit perfectly.

“Alright, this might be dangerous, so leave it to the policeman,” Keiji said, opening it, “And it’s open.”

“What’s inside?” Sara asked.

“Ah… you might not wanna look,” Keiji said.

You looked anyway. The head of a girl with brown hair.

“Waaah!” Sara screamed.

“Noooo!” Nao cried in terror.

“F-for real...?!” Joe asked.

Q-taro gaped.

‘There’s no blood,’ you noted, ’I have to make sure…’

You took the head and held it by the hair. You looked at the neck. You touched it. Instead of being repulsed by the contact of human flesh, it was hard. Fake.

“Wait… isn’t it just a doll?” Sou asked.

“Bruh, it’s as fake as the ten accounts Itsuki has to message back spammers,” you said.

“Huh…?!” Joe asked.

“Oh, you’re right,” Keiji said.

“Wanna see?” you asked, “Catch.”

“WaitwaitwaitwaitwAiT!” Joe cried.

He dodged as the head landed with a thunk on the ground.

“Oops,” you said, picking it up, “Sorry…”

You put it back in the box.

“Hey, there’s a letter,” Keiji said.

Find my body

Bring me back

For I don’t have arms and legs

“That moment you thought it was gonna be poetic, but it wasn’t,” you commented.

“Find her body?” Keiji asked.

“Where could the body be?” Kai asked.

“Do we even need to find it meow?” Gin asked, “It could be a trap, woof!”

Sou nodded, “That’s true. I don’t think there’s any need to do what the letter says… Think it’s about time we search outside of this room?”

“I… isn’t that dangerous?” Nao asked.

“Given the circumstances,” you said, “They probably would’ve done something right now. Besides. What else do we do besides wait?”

“I wanna get back home…” Q-taro said, “Can’t stand jus’ to sit still here.”

“L-let’s move in groups!” Joe exclaimed.

“So that no one does anything suspicious… right?” Keiji asked.

Joe didn’t say anything.

Nao sniffed, “I’m scared… If there’s some other horrible device like the First Trial…”

“Me and Nao can look after Kanna,” Reko said, “If you guys’re in danger, haul ass back here.”

“Yes ma’am,” you replied.

‘Who should I go with?’ you thought.

“I’m gonna keep an eye on creepy teacher, okay?” gin asked, “Don’t follow me, Mom! I’m grown up now!”

“Okay, okay,” you chuckled.

‘So Gin is off my list. Joe is in a group full of people now, so I should go with--’

“Miss Y/N, could we search together?” Sou asked.

“Sure,” you said, “Let’s get to know each other, mister clerk. Call me Y/N, please.”

“With pleasure,” he said, “Hey, Miss Sara, could you search with me and Y/N?”

“Huh?!” she asked.

“S-sorry!” Sou apologized, “If you can’t trust me… that’s fine…”

“It’s not anything like that, just…” Sara said.

“Oh, I’m glad to hear that,” Sou said, “I trust you, Miss Sara. But throwing around the word ‘trust’ makes you look a bit suspicious, huh?”

“Don’t worry Sara,” I said, “Whether you come with us or not, I’ll be here.”

“No, no… it’s not like I really distrust you, Sou,” Sara explained.

“Great,” Sou said, turning towards me, “You in?”

“You can bet on it,” you said.

“Alright, let’s get searching around,” Keiji said, “Don’t have any big spills, guys… and be sure to share any info you find.”

“Alright, Miss Sara,” Sou said, “Y/N, should we go?”

“Let’s go,” you said, adjusting Itsuki’s hat on your head.

Chapter Text

“Fun fact,” you told the two of them, circling your finger in the air. “I’ve been told it’s bad luck to sneeze three times and hit your leg.”

“Really, now?” Sou asked as Sara looked into one of the passages.

“Yep,” you replied. “Though, I’ve never tested it out.”

“Funny,” Sou said, shifting his attention to where Sara was searching. “Hey, see those huge cushions at the dead ends?”

“I wonder… When I fell, did I land on one of those cushions?” Sara mused.

Sou nodded, “Same for me. I bet all of us fell in a similar way. Joe came carrying you into the hall here. Didn’t imagine you two would be friends, though.”

“He did?!” you asked, putting a hand over your mouth. “Sara. That’s so cute, and you’re forever in Joe’s debt.”

“Huh?!” Sara squeaked, stiffening.

“Damn, I would’ve taken a picture,” you groaned, sad at missing the opportunity to see and do so. “Wait, how did I get here?”

The male coughed into his scarf, “Actually, some of the people who got here first heard, and I quote, ‘loud screeching and cursing as something hit a cushion at the end of one of the tunnels’. Then I assume one of them brought you here.”

“Cool,” you commented, a sweatdrop running down your cheek from his statement. “If you wanted to hide in the dark, you could sleep in here.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that,” Sara chuckled as she began to walk into one of the tunnels.

The three of you reached a blue hallway where there was a room with a sign reading “BAR” and a dark green vending machine.

“There’s a green vending machine here,” Sou commented as he stooped down to observe the contents inside said machine. “Seems to sell drinks… but I’ve got no money.”

“Me neither,” you added, noting your empty pockets.

You leaned over to look at the prices through the glass.

“Geez, these are expensive,” you commented with a grimace.

“Water and soda for 1000 yen each?” Sou agreed as he rapped his fingers lightly against the glass. “Talk about price gouging.”

Sara nodded then walked into the bar as you and Sou followed. There, you saw an array of alcohol bottles, Professor Mishima and Gin. There seemed to be a counter with a sliding door, some stools, and a black chalkboard with some writing on it.

“This looks like… a bar,” Sou said, “Seems to be a lot of alcohol present… but you’re underage, so keep away, Miss Sara.”

“Oh yeah, me too,” you added, remembering your age. “I just turned twenty recently.”

“Okay, you stay away too,” the man said, pointing at your figure.

“You too,” the girl with the lopsided hair teased, looking at Sou. “Don’t go slacking off on us now.”

Sou grinned as he tugged his scarf. “On the other hand, some might say there’s no better time to drink.”

Sara began investigating as you went up to chat with Gin who appeared to be looking at the blackboard.

“Hey, Gin,” you said, “What are you doing?”

He pointed at the blackboard, “Look, mom! Look at the sign!”

You began to read the board.

[Can Drink]

Alice, Kai, Kazumi, Keiji, Shunsuke, Sou, Naomichi, Mai, Megumi, Reko, Q-taro

[Can’t Drink]

Anzu, Kanna, Gin, Kugie, Sara, Joe, Nao, Hinako, Haruka, Ranmaru, Y/N

‘Haruka,’ you thought, ‘It’s weird because she…’ Flashes of her death began to sear into your mind and you felt a little weak. You felt uneasy at how unfazed you felt. Perhaps it was taking time to sink in? ‘And how do I tell Itsuki?’ Also, on the topic of Itsuki, you didn’t even know if your friend was okay. You were kidnapped because you were alone in the convenience store sans Sou. What if he was also kidnapped alongside you but… d i e d ?

“He can’t be dead,” you said, “No way.”

“Y/N?” Sara asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Just… thoughts” you stammered, grabbing your shaking arm. “It’s nothing, Sara. I’ll be fine”

“Calm down,” Sara told you quietly as she put a capable hand on your shoulder. “Y/N, you don't have to hide when you’re anxious.”

“I was with Itsuki, but then I left him… what if he’s… And I--” you began to say, but your thoughts got in your way.

‘He can’t be dead. But what if he is dead? What do I do? There’s no way--’

“You’re way nicer than people give credit for, N/N.”

“It will be fine, trust me,” Sara assured as you felt yourself be more at ease with her words than your own.

Alright.

“Bars are just full of alcohol, meow,” Gin squeaked indignantly, stretching Mew-chan in his hands. “I hate alcohol, woof! And I hate my drunkard dad more, meow!”

“Your dad has a bad drinking habit?” Sou asked, raising an eyebrow.

Gin nodded angrily. “He’s an annoyance, woof!”

Sou looked at the ground, rubbing the fabric of his scarf between his fingers. “When you drink, you better make sure not to get swallowed up yourself. I’m at the drinking age too… I should be careful.”

“Tell me about it,” you whispered back to him.

“You’re not of drinking age,” Sou said with a deadpan stare.

You grunted back a reply as you stared at the names on the board. Sara talked to Professor Mishima, turned to you and pat your back.

“Let’s go,” she said as she gave you a soft smile. “Try not to think about it, okay?”

‘How can I not?’ you thought bitterly, grabbing the cap on your head and clutching it, ‘God, I’m whining again. I’m being a pain again.’

Her words seemed to haunt you even though she’s gone.

“You alright?” Sara asked.

“Fine,” you said, forcing a grin. Maybe Haruka’s death was beginning to get to you.

Sara, Sou and you began to march away and headed to another room. There, the three of you now stood in a blue hallway. There was a glass room which you recognized to be a smoking room, a green sign that read GAME, and a red vending machine.

“There’s a red vending machine here,” Sou stated, observing your surroundings.

You and him knelt down to look at it. Your gaze lingered on all the prices for the cigarettes through the glass pane.

“Seems to sell cigarettes,” the scarf wearing male mused as he turned his head. “And in the back is a smoking area, I guess…? Don’t buy any if you’re underaged of course. Can’t go turning you into a delinquent, Miss Sara.”

“I would never,” Sara replied with an amused huff.

You stuck your hand into the machine and felt around the bottom in case any objects were inside.

“Scraping for extras?” Sou asked jokingly. “I know the feeling.”

“Guess we can relate,” you muttered, sticking your hand in even deeper.

Your hand touched something small and round. You retracted your arm as you saw that you now held a cigar in your hands.

Sou looked at it and snickered at the item. “It’s got a high-class feel, huh?”

Fiddling with the stick, you held it up close to your nose and sniffed it. The faint smell of smokiness singed your nose as your face slightly scrunched.

“Don’t go smoking that now,” Sou teased with a light smile.

“Sure,” you said, pocketing the cigar.

‘Wonder what Itsuki would say,’ you thought, ‘No, stop it. Think about something else. Distract yourself.’

Sara pointed at the door to the Game Room.“Let’s check on the others.”

As you all walked inside, Sara observed a dartboard with a pit surrounding it.

“Is this… a game room?” Sou asked as he peered around. “Pretty lonesome. Feels like there’s a puzzle or a trick in here.”

“Seems like it,” you confirmed. “I’ve got a pretty good aim.”

“Yikes…” Sou winced looking down the pit. “It looks pretty deep. And there’s wind blowing up.”

You stuck your hand up and felt the strong draft from below. Retracting your hand, you backed away from the opening. Definitely a safety hazard.

“Pretty sure if you threw something here, it would fall down,” you commented.

“Agreed,” Sara said as she walked around the opening.

Sara continued to observe as you watched her. 

“Hey, you alright?” Sou asked, playing with the ends of his scarf as you turned to his attention.

You licked your lips. Dry.  “Fine.”

“You sure?” he asked with a questioning brow. “You look pretty shaken up.”

“Nothing,” you told him as your fingers picked at themselves. “Just that I left my friend before running to the convenience store. Meaning he could be… it’s nothing, really.”

You didn’t dare say it. There’s no way the savior of your life could die just like that. No way.

Sou put a comforting hand on your shoulder, “I’m sure it’s fine. Maybe he’s okay.”

“It’s nothing,” you repeated, flustered at the sudden attention thrust towards your wellbeing. “I’m just worried.”

“It’s okay,” Sou said, removing his hand.

“Alrighty,” you breathed shakily, walking towards the red door to investigate.

You turned the knob to no avail. Locked. You tugged on it harder as you knew if you tried even more, you would probably twist the knob off.

“This way,” Sara called, beckoning you over. “That door’s locked.”

“Coming,” you replied, leaving the door behind.

When you reached her, she reassuringly took your hand as the three of you headed through the blue door. Inside were nine checkered pattern chairs. Five of them had fake figures on them with Kai and Keiji observing them. Q-taro watched from the sides as Joe was standing, staring at a painting with a man with a top hat.

“Whoa, what are those?” Sou asked, observing the strange setting of a room.

You smiled softly, being reminded of the old meme.

“Looks like a doll,” you commented, specifically talking about the conspicuous mannequins.

“How about we take it off and inspect it,” Sara suggested as she reached for one.

“Good idea,” you told her.

Sou began to grab the doll and tugged but he couldn’t remove it. 

“Huh?” he asked as he tugged a bit again. “It’s attached to the chair.”

Sara frowned as she put a hand on one of the dolls. “Something’s strange about this…”

Sou chuckled with a smile. “That’s good. I wouldn’t know what to do if it attacked!”

“Uh, no,” you said with raised eyebrows.

Sou chuckled with shut eyes. “Don’t worry, Y/N. I’ll be here to protect you.”

“My knight in shining armor,” you said in a melodramatic tone, placing a hand over your head.

You chuckled as Sou hid his face in his scarf. You scanned the room and saw Joe observing a picture. You then walked over to Joe and smacked his back lightly. He removed the hand on his chin and smiled at you.

“Hey,” he said. Then he narrowed his gaze. “You alright?”

“Fine,” you replied, standing near him, “Just a little shaken up.”

You were never able to lie to Joe. He was like a lie detector made especially for you. How convenient.

“About what?” Joe asked.

“Itsuki,” you answered, “I’m worried about him since I left him alone last we were together. But he’s not here.”

Joe hummed, “Don’t worry, Y/N! It’ll be fine. Just relax and keep calm. He’s probably fine. Let us comfort you when you need it!”

‘Stop complaining. Just forget about it. It doesn’t matter. Focus on something else.’

You smiled at him, “With pleasure, Tazuna.”

He saluted you. “Likewise, Sargent L/N.”

“Lieutenant Tazuna,” you asked with a steady grin. “What are you observing?”

“wELl,” he told you, swinging his body towards the painting. “This piece of art looks kind of strange, don’t you think?”

You frowned at it contemplatively, eyeing the object of suspicion. “Agreed. But what about it looks strange?”

Joe waggled his fingers playfully.  “The aura of suspicion.”

“Is your third eye at work?” you asked, making a triangle with your hands.

He nodded and put his hands to his head as if conjuring a premonition. “Yes, and I see… something. Reaching out towards me. I see it…!”

“What are you two doing?” asked a dry voice.

You turned to see Sara, trying to suppress a grin on her face. Sou looked amused.

“Calling out to the spirits,” Joe replied with a grin.

“Impressive,” Sou commented.

You looked at Sara to see her pocketing something. You quirked an eyebrow at the items.

“Find something?” you asked.

“No,” she said, “Keiji gave me something.”

“What?” you asked, making sure it wasn’t anything strange.

She looked at you, “Three bullets…?”

You sighed in relief, nothing weird. “Okay. That’s good.”

“How is that good?!” she asked with a confused expression.

“What are the two of you actually looking at?” Sou inquired.

“Ah, we’re looking at this painting on the wall,” Joe replied as he pointed at the picture.

“Are you going to take it off of the wall?” Sara asked as she turned her attention to it.

“Too short,” you told her, looking at all heights of your group.

“Yeah,” Joe agreed with a heavy sigh.  “And it’s better to start with the easy stuff. Besides, Sara, it’s just barely out of your reach, isn’t it?”

“Damn,” you said with a wince. “Joe, that’s harsh. Making fun of someone’s height is a no-go.”

“I grew a centimeter last year,” Sara said with a pout and crossed arms. “Don’t take me lightly!”

Joe paled, “D… don’t put me down, man.”

“You’re already shorter than her so there’s no need,” you snarked, looking away.

“Hey!” he cried, shooting you a betrayed look.

Sara giggled as she turned to look at the painting. Joe began to talk to Sou.

“Uh… Sou, was it?” Joe asked.

“Ahaha, I’m glad you remembered my name,” Sou said.

“‘Course man!” Joe exclaimed, smiling, “Keep watch of Sara and Y/N for me!”

Sou clutched his scarf, “....ahahaha, I think I need to worry more about not dragging her down.”

“I’m sure you have your qualities,” you said, hanging off of Joe’s shoulders. “Don’t put yourself down.” You gave him a thumbs up.

“She’s right!” Joe agreed as he flashed the man a smile. “You’re a quirky person, Sou!”

“Wow,” you commented, drily, “Interesting terminology.”

“Sorry,” he apologized with a laugh.

“Did you know he bought a Hydro Flask last week?” Sara asked.

“No…!” you gasped jokingly, your heart feeling a bit lighter.

“I am not becoming vsco!” Joe exclaimed as he waved his arms. “I needed a new water bottle.”

“I don’t think there’s anything important here,” Sou said, bringing you back to the situation at hand. “How about we move?”

“Let’s go,” Sara told you, grabbing your hand.

“I want to sit on the couch and see how comfy they are,” you told her, looking at the furniture. And they needed investigating. “Please?”

“We’ve already been here for five minutes?” Sara asked, but it sounded like a statement.

You held up a finger, “Priorities, child. Priorities.”

“You seem more like the child,” the teal haired male commented quietly to the side.

“Shocked. Offended,” you replied as you put a hand over your chest.

You ran over and flung yourself onto a couch. You let out a pained whine as your bottom hit something hard. Reaching behind you, you pulled out a revolver. Heavy. Cold. Dangerous. Words began to hit your like a train all at once. Fear settled into your core and spread like the winter frost.

‘Holy crap,’ you thought, clutching the gun to yourself, ‘God, a gun ? A gun a gun a gun . Shit, what do I do? If this gets into the wrong hands, then people could get hurt. What--?’ Your mind raced to your highschool days, ‘Don’t think about him. Not now. He’s fine. Absolutely fine. Nothing to worry about. It’s fine. He’s fine.’

“What is that?” Sara asked.

“A gun…?” you said, letting her see. 

Sara reached out to touch it--

“Y/N…” Sou said, “What are you going to do with that?”

“Huh?” you asked.

He stared at it as if Sara’s hands weren’t allowed to touch it. Something akin to vehemence burned within his eyes as he stared. You slowly retracted the gun to yourself as he looked to the side. He looked back and smiled.

Something seemed wrong.

“Ah, sorry, Miss Sara. Y/N,” he apologized as Sara twitched at your side. “Hey, would you give me that?”

‘Give Sou the gun?’ you thought, ‘He doesn’t seem to have any harmful intentions, but the way he just acted was strange. Still… Sara has the real bullets, and I can trust her with those. She can take him or anyone who tries to take the real bullets. The gun is useless without bullets. Unless he’s planning to use it for something else.’

“Sure,” you said, nonchalantly handing it over, “Careful, I heard the recoil on those are really strong.”

“Y/N…” Sara whispered and you glanced at her for half a second.

‘I know.’

“Hahaha, I’m just joking!” the man exclaimed as your grip wavered. “You can keep it.”

“Wow, what an amazing joke,” you said, waving the gun but cautiously pocketing it.

‘It’s literally a gun, my dude,’ you thought drily as you felt your stomach twist. ‘I guess I should hold onto it since Sou doesn’t trust Sara carrying it. I kind of don’t want to--’

“Something amiss?” Sou asked, his smile as cheerful as ever.

Cheerful?

“No,” you replied, but more to yourself.

“Let’s go somewhere else now?” Sara suggested, her gaze uneasy.

“Sure,” Sou agreed, walking ahead.

The three of you then walked towards another destination. A cafeteria. It looked… homey.

“This looks like… a cafeteria,” Sou commented as he gazed at a room to the side. “Wonder if our kidnapper is telling us to eat here?

“You don’t say,” you replied, walking over to a table to pluck off an object. “Yo, Sara. My aim is pure trash, so you can have this.”

You handed her the red and white dart. Sou peered over to look at it in the palm of your hand.

“It’s small, but it looks fancy,” he commented, poking the object. “The tip is sharp, so be careful.”

“I will,” Sara replied, pocketing it within her school uniform.

“Ooh,” you said, grabbing their attention, “A lighter. Here’s how you use one, Sara.”

You flicked it on as it sparked. You turned it off and handed it to her.

“I guess you might use it?” you asked, “You were always the adventurous type.”

“Looks like an expensive looking Zippo lighter,” Sou murmured, tapping the surface of the lighter in Sara’s hands.

“You ever smoked?” you asked Sou as he turned towards you.

He looked as if you were dumb (you are). “Of course.”

You pulled out the cigar and looked at him. He put it back in your jeans pocket as a sign of refusal.

“No,” he said, cementing his resolve.

You heard some rattling as you saw Sara struggling to open a door. You walked up to her and gave her a confident smile.

“Watch,” you said, cracking your hands, “I’m a pro.”

You put your hands on the knob and twisted it. Nothing. You tugged it harder. You did it again as you heard a crack.

Did you break it?

“It’s locked,” Sara told you, in order for you to stop breaking the kidnapper’s property.

“...oh.”

The three of you headed towards the back instead and stumbled into a dark room with a strange light that barely lit up your surroundings. The ominous pressure loomed over you, enclosing you within that small room to a degree where you couldn’t breathe.

Discomfort.

“What an imposing atmosphere…” Sou commented quietly as he looked around. “The red lamp is eerie… I don’t think I have the courage to enter that door…”

‘Itsuki would call him a pussy for sure,’ you thought, smiling to yourself. Your stomach churned again as you tried to quell your anxiousness. ‘I’m sure he’s fine. He’s fine.’

You clutched at your hand in an attempt to do so.

“W-what should we do, Miss Sara…?” Sou asked hesitantly, looking at said girl for guidance. “...are we going in?”

“How cute,” you commented, steeling yourself. Sara didn’t have to bear everything herself. “Of course we are!”

Without hesitating, you flung open the door and headed in first.

“Y/N!” Sara exclaimed as she walked in after you. “Careful…!”

You looked at the pink room with a heart shaped vent, light pink shelves, purple stuffed bunnies, and some sort of bust in the middle of the room.

“Wow…” you said, looking at the bust in the center of the room. “...interesting fashion choice. Kinda looks like melted ice cream.”

Sara poked it as Sou pointed at it.

“I… it’s not gonna move, is it?” he asked from behind you.

“Could this be…” Sara murmured, hand over her lips. “Remember the note Keiji read?”

“It was disappointingly non-rhyming,” you remembered as you looked around.

“Find the body!” Sou exclaimed. “That’s what it said…”

“I wonder if the doll head from the box can be combined with this torso,” Sara mused.

“I wonder if the doll body is mad at me from chucking its head around,” you added.

Sou looked at it more closely, “Once we add the body parts, will that make something happen?”

“It might, which is a little scary…” Sara commented.

“I’ll be here to protect you,” you said, hugging her shoulders.

Sara let out some indiscernible noises as she bat at you playfully. “I think that’s my line to you, Y/N.”

Sou chuckled, “So the great Miss Sara can be flustered, huh?”

You laughed as Sara let out some more garbled noises. You then withdrew your gaze as it then landed onto something on the ground. You bent down to pick it up: a couple of bullets. The teal bullets felt pretty light as you held them, lifting them up and down.

“Huh,” you murmured as you rolled them within your palm.

“Hey… let me look at those,” Sou told you, taking one with your permission. “Ahhhh… these are dummy bullets.”

“Fakes?” you asked for confirmation, holding one up within the tips of your fingers.

“Dummies?” Sara repeated as she looked at the small items.

“They’re like toys,” the beanie boy explained while smiling. “If you put these in a gun, they won’t fire.”

“Interesting,” you said, handing them to Sara. “I’ve got no pockets.”

“So they’re not real bullets,” the latter repeated once again, taking the fakes.

‘Thank God.’

“Yeah, they’re safe at any rate,” Sou chuckled as he handed the bullet he held to Sara. “I know, let’s have Keiji look at these. He should have more expertise than us, so maybe he can tell us something.”

“Good idea,” you agreed, patting his back. “See, you don’t drag people down.”

He laughed while beginning to exit the room. “Thank you.”

We walked back to the room with the strange dolls to investigate once more as Keiji approached us.

“Hey, Sara,” he said with a lax grin. “Found anything?”

‘We exist, you know,’ you thought, looking back and forth from you to Sou.

“No… there’s still plenty I don’t get,” Sara replied, shaking her head. “What’s especially strange to me is why there is a gun and some bullets in this room. What meaning could there be for a kidnapper to give us a weapon?”

You looked at the revolver that was still resting in your hand. Cold (actually warm now) and heavy. How suffocating.

‘God, why did I choose to take the gun?’ you thought as Sara continued talking to Keiji, ‘Ever since then, I wasn’t really good around weaponry. Gah, why did I have to remind myself? Now I’m going to think about it and-- I don’t want to think about it. Positive thoughts. Forget about it.’

“...why do you trust me so much?” Sara asked the policeman.

“‘Cause you’re cute,” Keiji replied easily, unwavering with his words.

That snapped you out of your thoughts. Hastily snatching up an opportunity.

“Weirdo!” you screamed.

‘Joe, get your smarmy ass over here!’ you internally screamed.

“Uh, Keiji, we found these dummy bullets. Here, you can look at them--” Sara said, forking said items over.

“Y/N?” Joe asked, “What’s wrong?”

“He called Sara ‘cute’, that’s what,” you said, crossing your arms. “That’s illegal by law. Mr. Policeman .”

“What, to give compliments?” Keiji asked, observing the bullets.

“You know what I mean!”

Joe clutched your shoulder with creased eyebrows. “Y/N… I’m concerned…”

“Okay, let’s investigate elsewhere….” Sara said, as you were attracting the attention of the entire room.

You pat Joe’s hand as he glumly detached himself from you. You walked towards the exit with Sou.

“Oh, Sara. Hold up a sec…” Keiji called out to the girl behind you.

“Yes?” she asked, stopping to turn around.

Sara turned around as I stood in the doorway to look back at her. You should wait for her.

“Huh? Miss Sara, aren’t you coming?” Sou asked as he stood behind you, already outside.

Suddenly, a masculine voice boomed from somewhere in the room, vibrating the bottom of your stomach.

“Miss Y/N L/N, I advise you to please step out of the way.”

“Huh?” you asked, confused.

You heard rumbling. In a flash, a set of sharp poles shot upward. Your stomach lurched as your muscles loosened.

“Waugh?! What the?!”

“Y/N!”

“Look out!”

You fell back as one sliced your hand and leg. As you fell to the ground with a thud, you realized you were shaking. Retracting into yourself, you examined your wounds. You were fine. This was nothing.

In the darkness, the glint of the metal flashed into your eyes. Fear shook you to the core.

Another close call. Another almost-death. But if you were skewered… Haruka’s death once again seared itself into your mind and you winced.

“Miss Sara! Y/N!” Sou exclaimed, rushing over to your side. “Are you okay?!”

Waves of adrenaline that once rushed over you subsided as the numbness began to melt away. The pain started immediately after that. It felt like small jabs all stabbing into your hand in the leg. The stingy feeling numbing your skin as it seemed to burn.

“Y/N!” Joe shouted from within the room. “Are you okay?!”

“Y/N!” Sara exclaimed, wrapping her hands around the bars that maimed you.

“Fine,” you said, looking at blood trickling down your skin. “Fine.”

The blade sliced your cheek as you fell back. You shuddered, confused, not being able to see through the thick darkness.

‘Crap,’ you thought, ‘Don’t think about it…’

The others began to murmur as Sara and Joe tried to reach through the metal bars. You waved them off, not wanting them to get hurt.

“You guys, you--”

“Hey, now. Don’t put yourselves so on guard.”

‘That same voice,’ you thought, looking around. ‘Seems to be coming from inside the room.’

“Wha?! Whose voice was that?!” Joe asked loudly, looking around 

“Ha ha ha, don’t sweat the details,” the painting you could barely see said with a moving mouth, “I’m the master of this room. You can call me Meister. Now to get right to it, lemme explain the rules of the next game.”

‘Game?’ you thought, clutching your hand and leg.

“T… the rules?” Kai asked as he tapped his ladle to his lips.

“Well of course! You wanna stake your life without knowing the rules of the game?!” the painting asked. “That’s some real character, man!”

Kai’s expression slightly twisted in confusion. “Stake… my life?”

“This one’s simple! Right now, there’s you five humans in this room, right?!”

“Plus two outside,” you replied drily.

“You’re unimportant,” the painting said dismissively.

‘I’m literally in college to get a damn degree to become a therapist,’ you thought while curling your hand into a fist. ‘Never in my entire life did I think I was going to get roasted by a fucking painting.’

“Glance around the room! There are four open seats,” the painting declared. “One will be the Challenger, and the other four will sit down and be the targets.”

“Targets?!” Q-taro asked. “Targets fer what?!”

“Miss Y/N is holding that cool weapon I gave ya in this room, isn’t she?! Fork it over!”

‘Give the gun?’ you thought, looking at the weapon in your pocket.

“Why?” you asked holding up the gun with a bitter smile. “Meaning, if I don’t give it, this game won’t have to happen?”



Chapter Text

“Miss Y/N, what are you implying?” the painting asked.

“I’m implying that I don’t have to give you the gun. Duh,” you said, holding it with a shaking hand, “I’m not handing it over.”

“...Miss Y/N,” the voice said, “I’m sure we can come to a compromise.”

“Can we?” you taunted, “I’m bleeding over here. And it’s your fault. And what’s the point in playing this game?”

“If we give you some bandages, will you give us the gun?”

“No,” you replied flatly.

There was no way you were going to give away a weapon. No way. If it got into the wrong hands, terrible things could happen. And everything was already as bad as it was. Haruka was dead. You had no idea what had happened to Itsuki. You and a handful of other people were kidnapped including several acquaintances of yours.

“How about we make a deal? ” the voice asked, “I’m in your debt, Miss Y/N. I owe you one favor. I’ll even throw in the bandages. Do we have a deal?”

A favor? Was that even possible? Should you accept? Well, not like there was anything that could stop the blood leaking out of your hands--

“Y/N,” Sara said steadily, her face pale, “Just give us the gun. Trust us. We even have a policeman here. We got this. Take the bandages and go patch yourself up. Please.”

“I can’t,” you said, your breathing catching in your throat.

Images filled your head as you could practically see the hole forming in Sara’s head, blood gushing from the wound. Crimson liquid splattering onto the ground, Joe’s form slumping over. Vomit emptying out from Q-taro’s mouth and hitting the ground. Keiji on the ground, still and unmoving. Kai standing still, not knowing what to do. No way. There was a risk. No no no no no no nononononnonononononononono--

‘No.’

“I can’t,” you said, “But if you really want me to, I’m staying.”

“What?” Sara asked.

“I’ll give you the gun,” you told them steadily, “But I’m staying.”

You slid the gun through the metal bars.

“The transaction has been made!” the painting exclaimed, “Now let me get you some bandages, Miss Y/N.”

 

Do you really want to stay?

YES               NO

 

Do you really want to stay?

[YES]               NO

 

“I’m going to go look for something to break the bars,” Sou said, “Be right back.”

“Stay safe!” you called out.

He flashed a thumbs up and ran out down the room and to the corridor. He disappeared. A slot opened in the ceiling as a roll of bandages fell on your leg. 

“Ow!”

You began to unwrap the bandages while listening to the rules.

“So as I was saying with the revolver… ” the painting echoed, “You’re gonna play a little game.”

“So yer saying we’re gonna be targets for a revolver?!” Q-taro gasped, blanching.

Keiji just calmly smiled, “And? What are the rules for this? Surely there’s an outcome where nobody dies.”

“Ha ha ha! Naturally!” the painting laughed, “A regular deathtrap is just old-hat, get me? But… see, First you have to decide who’ll be the Challenger for me.”

Q-taro clenched his fist, “You’re tellin’ us to decide who’s gonna shoot without knowin’ what the game is?! Who’s gonna want to be the targets?!”

“... Will the Challenger be safe?” Joe asked.

“Yep! Only the targets get to relish the thrill! What a shame!”

“...I see,” Joe said.

‘Shame my ass,’ you thought, ‘God… I feel so… helpless.’

“Sara, can I ask you to be Challenger?” Joe asked.

“...Wha?!” Sara exclaimed.

“WHAT?!” you screeched

You accidentally tightening the bandage to hard, letting a stream of curse words flow out of your mouth.

“D-don’t kid me!” Q-taro exclaimed, “Ya can’t decide that all on yer own!”

“I suppose it may not be proper to make a young girl handle a gun…” Kai agreed softly.

“I’m in favor of it myself,” Keiji said, “Sara’s got a clear head.”

“Well, Sara?” Joe asked, “You confident?”

“...confident?” Sara murmured, “...please. Let me do it.”

“Joe, what are you thinking?!” you asked, “From what I know, she’s never even used a gun!”

“I trust her,” Joe said, defending Sara, “Out of everyone in this room, I’ll only let Sara hold the gun.”

“Joe,” you said, stressing his name, “What if this doesn’t work out? What if she kills someone?”

He shook his head, “She won’t! Just trust her!”

“It’s a weapon,” you repeated, “You’re giving a highschooler a weapon. D… do you know what could happen?”

“Why are you so stressed over this?” Sara asked, “Y/N… did you not tell us something?”

“I—”

“No way,” Q-taro interrupted, “Can’t approve’a that. ‘Snot like I don’t trust ya… Don’t think badly of me.”

“... Holding it to a vote…” Kai said as if it was the last thing he wanted to say, “Perhaps… this is the best way to settle this. Why don’t we discuss it… and then hold a majority vote?”

“Yeah… might be the only way,” Keiji agreed.

“Right…!” Joe breathed.

“...gotcha. Let’s do it,” Q-taro said.

“Do I get to vote?” you asked.

“I’m afraid not,” Kai said, “Since you are not going to be directly involved in this trial.”

“What?!” you exclaimed, pain shooting up your leg as you tried to stand up, “Wha?!”

“Don’t push yourself!” Sara said.

“You’re in more danger than me, Sara Chidouin,” you told her, “Sara… you don’t want to be…”

‘Like her. Don’t be like her.’

“Alright,” Q-taro declared, interrupting once again, “let’s discuss who’s gonna take the role of Challenger.”

“Are you ready?” Keiji asked Sara, “Just remember. I’m always on your side.”

“Once we’ve settled our opinions,” Kai continued, “We’ll hold a vote at the end.”

“...Sara…” Joe said, “You know what’s up! Show Q-taro that you’re worth trusting!”

Sara nodded. She turned to face Q-taro as he looked at her.

“No objections here, right?” he asked, “So let’s talk it out. Straight to the point: I’ve got experience handlin’ guns. So leave bein’ the Challenger to me.”

“Is that true?” Joe asked.

Q-taro grinned, “Yep, I hate lies. So I got real acquainted with shootin’ when I went to the US!”

“So you’re saying you’ve had training?” Keiji asked, “I’ll keep it simple too. Q-taro, even if you had experience, I can’t trust you. Heck, I’d even hand the gun over to Y/N over there is she were in here instead of Sara.”

“Me?” you asked.

“...really now?” Q-taro muttered.

“Sorry,” Keiji said unapologetically.

“Why would you give it to me?” you asked.

Keiji shrugged, “Although you seem pretty adamant against us even using the gun, I feel like you’re level-headed when it comes to the situation. You’re not as ditzy as you show yourself to be. But that gun really made you start sweating, huh?”

“How observant,” you said.

“The mood has become tense…” Kai commented, “Hrm… I’m undecided. It pains me to put responsibility on Miss Sara.”

“She’ll be fine!” Joe reassured, “She’s got a mind of steel! Just call her Steelmind!”

“...Steelmind…?” Kai repeated.

Joe walked up to Sara as the two began to converse. You just managed to bandage your arm and stand up. You clutched the almost empty bandage roll tightly and watched the others begin to talk even more.

“We don’t have time to build enough time. Time to build trust, that is,” Keiji said.

“Precisely,” Kai pointed out, “And yet… it seems you are very trusting of Miss Sara. I could say Miss Y/N as well.”

“Oh, you can tell?” Keiji asked, raising an eyebrow.

“If I may offer my interpretation,” Kai said, “Perhaps it’s because Sara, Joe, and Y/N are acquainted? Because those three can vouch for each other, you concluded that they could be trusted, yes?”

“Do I look that calculating?” Keiji asked, “That comes as a real shock. It’s just intuition. I’m confident in my eye for people. And you’re wrong. The only one I trust in this room is Sara.”

“Wow, thanks,” you said drily.

“You’re welcome.”

“I see…” Kai murmured, “However, there is a piece missing from your story.”

“...oh yeah?” Keiji asked.

Kai remained silent to his statement.

“Though I’m not confident in holding a gun myself, it becomes a question for who I want to hold it,” Kai said, “Of course… there is someone who is suited to such a task. But for some reason, he is not presenting himself as a candidate.”

“Oh yeah,” you murmured, “You’re a police officer, aren’t you? Aren’t all officers trained to fire a gun?”

“Whatever the case, if he refuses it, I have no desire to ask him,” Kai said, “...how troubling.”

“Not a lotta people in this country handle guns,” Q-taro said, “My experience is valuable, ain’t it?!”

“Yeah,” you whispered to yourself, “It’s illegal to use one without a license.”

“What did you say?” Joe asked.

“Nothing,” you said.

“We don’t know what the game entails,” said Kai, “But if it requires skill with guns, then yes.”

“Right! I aint’ thinkin’ a single thought to keep my own hide safe!” Q-taro exclaimed. “I’m just considerin’ the best way to beat this game!”

‘That makes it sound all the more suspicious,’ you thought.

“I… I do get what you’re saying, but…” Joe hesitated.

“You guys gotta think about it rationally,” Q-taro continued.

“It’s not like we’re not thinking about it either, okay?” Joe said in mild frustration.

“In all rational thought,” you said, “The game could also include something else other than accuracy. Speed. Logic. Luck. Or other skills one person might not have as much as another.”

“Thank you,” Joe said.

“I’m still not agreeing that Sara should shoot,” you said.

As the others discussed, Joe headed over to you.

“Y/N,” he said, “Why don’t you want Sara to shoot. Did… you not tell us something? Is this about that incident?”

“I’m not talking,” you insisted, “It’s… not my right and not something that I really want to talk about.”

“What happened?” Joe asked, “In that year… all Sara, Ryoko, and I know was that there was a stalker. That’s it. What the heck happened? And then you got all depresso espresso over Itsuki getting a girlfriend and him being clumsy—”

“It’s… not like that,” you laughed bitterly, “Not like that at all, Joe.” 

“Y/N…”

“What trial did you have?” you asked, “You could save her, right? Using the key and solving a puzzle or something, I’m gathering?”

“Yeah,” Joe said, “What about it?”

“Well, of all people, and of all trial outcomes… I had—”

“Keiji is the only one who I’ll let shoot!”

The two of you turned around to see the group in chatter.

“What’s happening?” Joe asked.

“Keiji is a cop, yet he won’t shoot!” Q-taro exclaimed, “He won’t even say why!”

“I’m sure he has his reasons,” you said.

“Keiji… what’s the matter?” Joe asked, “Why are you keeping silent?”

“If you refuse, I wish to know the reason,” Kai agreed, “At this rate, it’s quite an issue.”

“Keiji, why do you want me to shoot?” Sara asked.

“How many times do I gotta tell you?” Keiji joked, evading the question.

“Keiji, why are you staying silent?” Sara interrogated, “Answer me!”

“Sara! Calm down!” you exclaimed.

“Whoa there,” Keiji said, “Haha you sound just like my mom, haha! Anyway, thanks Y/N. I think you’ll understand the best out of everyone here. I… shot a person. Ever since then, I haven’t been able to hold a gun since.”

“...huh?! Sara asked.

“I know it’s pathetic,” Keiji said, “Should’ve been prepared when I signed up for being a detective. But… if something like that happened, wouldn’t it make the news…? Reality’s not the only thing that comes to the surface...That’s all. That’s the truth.”

“Keiji…” you said, “... you’re a good person.”

“Haha, what’s that supposed to mean?” Keiji asked.

You laughed, “Nothing.”

“Wait, really?!” Q-taro asked, “You can’t fire a gun?”

“Nope,” Keiji said, “Ever since, I get sweaty and dizzy and stuff.”

“I see…” Q-taro said.

“So you’re on board with Sara firing, right?!” Joe asked.

“Sorry,” Q-taro said, “Can’t trust her just yet.”

“Q-taro!”

“Use your words to convince me,” Q-taro said, “Then I’ll see.”

“Understood!” Sara exclaimed.

Q-taro began to shout, “Can’t a highschool kid handle this?! I can’t trust somebody who’s got no experience with a gun! This ain’t fun and games!”

“Of course it’s not fun and games! I’m taking this seriously like everyone else!” Sara argued.

“Ugh!” Q-taro grunted, “We should leave it to Keiji! Or Joe! You do it! Kai! How about you?!”

“Keiji’s trauma means he isn’t able to point a gun at a person!” Sara counter-argued.

“But… ugh…”

“Would you be able to trust your life in someone’s hands who can’t even trust himself?!” Sara continued.

“Dammit! That’s true!” Q-taro agreed, “Just havin’ motivation doesn’t mean nothin’! You guys don’t trust me?! You really got confidence?!”

“I do!” Sara exclaimed, “I can say this much loud and clear! I’m confident I can save everyone!”

“...! No value in trusting your life in somebody with no confidence,” Q-taro muttered, “But… Are you fine puttin’ everything on Sara?! Could be worse games to come! Like with monsters… right?!”

Sara put down her foot firmly, “Joe and Keiji have acknowledged me from the start!”

“Grm…”

“And even now, that hasn’t been shaken!” Sara continued, “Q-taro, please, believe in me too!”

“Urgh…” Q-taro cursed, “Sara doesn’t trust others! Is there any chance she’ll win?! She might even end up shootin’ her own friend!”

“I do trust others!” Sara exclaimed.

“Then why don’t you let somebody else do it?!”

Sara let out a noise. Then the two fell onto their knees and gasped for air, panting.

“Are you two alright?!” you asked.

“Pant… I’m exhausted,” admitted Q-taro, “Bein’ honest and arguin’ it out is kinda refreshing, though.”

“Huh…?” Sara asked, also breathing with exhaustion.

“Well, the discussion’s been settled down,” Kai said, “Shall we have our vote soon?”

Keiji nodded, “Right. Sorry, I know you two are tired, but we should get started.”

The vote began.

 

Sara: 4

Q-taro: 1

 

“Well… seems it’s decided,” Q-taro said.

“There’d be no objections, right?” Keiji asked.

“Hahaha! Naturally!” Q-taro laughed, “Sara, hardly any kids these days can make themselves as clear as you can. I feel like I can bet on you!”

“Q-taro…!” Sara gasped.

“What a cool thing to say,” Keiji chuckled. 

“Man, looking at you guys makes me feel like I’m bein’ selfish,” Q-taro mused.

Joe smiled, “Alright! Good luck with the rest Sara! It’s all riding on you!”

“...Right! Leave it to me!” Sara huffed.

“Well then, shall we take our seats?” Kai asked.

The three of them sat. Kai, Q-taro, and Keiji climbed up the ladder, while Joe sat on the vacant seat that was rooted to the ground.

“Sara,” you said, “Come here.”

She walked towards you. You placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Sara,” you said, “I might not completely agree, but… be careful.”

She nodded, “I will.”

After a brief hearing of the rules, you mapped out a strategy in your mind.

‘I know what order they’re supposed to go in,’ you thought, ‘Sara… I hope you do too…!’

You focused entirely on Sara, praying that she wouldn’t… you didn’t dare to finish the thought.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

“Hehe… my heart was about to explode.”

“Whew… feeling numb.”

“Hah... now I’ll be okay.”

“Bravo…”

And so basically, a hand was earned. Literally. You collapsed against the wall, sighing.

“Thank God,” you murmured, “It’s over.”

‘And you were completely useless .’

You hated that. So much.

“You… alright?”

You turned towards the source of the voice.

“Ah, Sara,” you said, hugging her, “Glad you’re alright. You too Joe.” You pulled him into the hug.

“Yay, hugs!” Joe cheered.

“Yay…” you said, “Sorry guys. Kinda drained.

“Same…” Sara agreed, “But I just noticed…”

“Oh! You can play darts here! Darts and billiards are cool, aren’t they?!” Joe asked.

She took the dart and the revolver, firing it at the dartboard. It let out a victory noise.

“Congratulations! Congratulations! A fantastic bullseye! For hitting a bullseye, you get a wonderful gift! Please look into the hole!”

The three of you looked into the hole. You saw something sticking out in the darkness. You grabbed it as you saw it was… a left leg. You grabbed it as you almost dropped it in shock, not expecting to pull out a body part.

“YAH!” Joe shouted in terror, “That’s fr… freakin’ nothing! I’m not freaked out at all! Sheesh… all these incomprehensible set ups. It’s just a fake leg, huh? I’ll hold onto it. It’s heavy, huh?”

“Wow, fantastic,” you murmured, “Hey, let’s go and explore some more.”

“Good idea,” Joe agreed.

As the three of you exited the room, you spotted a familiar little girl carrying a familiar hoodie.

“...Sara…” Kanna mumured.

“Kanna…!” Sara exclaimed.

“You’re awake,” you said, fidgeting with your headphones.

“H-hey… is it okay for you to be up?” Joe asked.

“I… I…” Kanna whispered.

“Did something happen in the hall?” Sara asked.

“I just… really wanted to ask you…” Kanna said softly, “About my sister… please… give me an answer… Back then… could Kanna have… actually saved her sister...?”

Sara stayed silent. You didn’t know, for you took a different test that Sara, Joe, and Kanna. While they had the option to save the other person… you didn’t.

“I was disoriented… so I didn’t hear what the others said,” Kanna continued quietly, “But you and Joe… and Mishima and Nao… you all had the same trial, right…? Kanna… could Kanna have saved her?”

Sara looked uneasy, her gaze shifting. Joe comfortingly holding her hand. You gulped and began to speak.

“Well, while I didn’t have the same trial as you,” you said, “I thought about the process in my head. And Joe told me a bit about it. You could have—”

“Oh my, Miss Kanna. Reko and Nao were looking for you, you know.”

You turned to see Professor Mishima walking up from behind you.

“...ah…” Kanna murmured.

“Wha?” you asked.

“I heard you talking here, so I came over,” he said.

Kanna hesitated, “...Mr. Mishima… please tell me… I…”

“You were unlucky, Miss Kanna,” he said.

“Eh…?” Kanna asked.

“Huh?” you murmured under your breath.

“Because we had only one key, we… we had to remove the other restraints by force,” Mishima said.

‘He’s lying,’ you thought, ‘That’s not even possible. By the looks of it, neither he nor Nao are physically capable of ripping off a restraint that even Sara or Joe couldn’t get out of. And Joe indirectly confirmed it was a puzzle. Why—?’

“...Luckily Miss Nao had myself,” Mishima went on, “and Miss Sara had Joe.”

“Wait, what—” you started to say.

He waved a hand at you, telling you to shut up.

“dUe to our having a strong man, we barely managed to survive,” Mishima lied smoothly.

Kanna shook her head furiously, “N... No…! That’s a lie… it can’t be…”

“I...it’s not a lie! This is the truth, Kanna!” Joe added.

You looked at him, confused. You saw the telltale sign of his eyebrows furrowing. He was lying.

Mishima spread his hands, “I suppose it was a trial of… both assessing the situation, and of might. For you and our sister… it was a trial with hardly any chance of success.”

“I… I don’t believe it!” Kanna squeaked firmly, “I won’t! You’re all trying to deceive me…”

“It’s true, Kanna…” Sara said.

‘You too ?’ you thought, ‘Wait… what’s—?’

“S… Sara…” Kanna whimpered.

“E...even if it sounds like a lie… it won’t change the reality…” Sara fibbed, “We’re all telling you… the truth…”

That seemed to shock the girl into silence.

‘She must trust Sara a whole lot to believe her that easily,’ you thought.

“Miss Kanna… you regret it, yes?” Mishima asked.

“I… Kanna…” Kanna whispered, “...killed her sister…! Her sister was frantically trying to help! But Kanna’s an idiot… She didn’t listen...!”

“You’re not an idiot, Kanna,” you said, her head shifting towards you.

“What was your sister like…?” Mishima asked.

Kanna stayed silent, then said, “...Sister… My sister was… kind… Even when we fought… she’d never be cruel…! She was always thinking about Kanna! Why… didn’t she use the key for herself...?!”

“Was it not your very existence that gave you sister happiness?” Mishima prompted.

The little girl looked shocked.

“Miss Kanna, I can sense you were very loved as if it were in the air,” Mishima continued, “Surely… surely you were raised with utmost care, were you not? I’m sure she was a wonderful sister.”

Kanna began to sniffle and cry. Your overcaring instincts began to kick in.

“Miss Sara, if you were her sister, what would you say to her?” Mishima asked.

“Kanna…” Sara started, “You being there… let me be strong even in hard times. I’m sure… even if we’re apart, I’ll be somewhere in your heart. So… don’t give in…!”

“... Sis...ter…” Kanna mumbled, “...I miss you… Sister…”

“Now, the time for blaming yourself has passed,” Mishima said, “Your sister is surely watching you from somewhere.”

“Kanna… Kanna won’t give in...!” Kanna shouted, “Because… her sister is watching...!”

“Kanna!” a voice shouted.

You turned to see it was Reko.

“Reko…” Kanna murmured.

“Dammit, you nutty professor!” Reko shouted, “What happened to ‘shout when you find her’?!”

“Oh dear, it appears I’m being yelled at,” Mishima said sorrowfully.

“That’s not it, Reko…” Kanna explained, “Come and I will explain…”

“Hrm?” Reko asked, “R-really…? Um, okay…”

“Oh! I--Y/N!” Kanna squeaked, “Th-thank you for lending me your hoodie! And… thank you for reassuring me earlier.”

“No problem,” you said, taking your hoodie back. You sneezed. “Guess I kinda need it because of the cold.”

The two of them walked away. Mishima sighed and turned to the three of you.

“I will return to searching, myself,” Mishima declared.

“Professor Mishima…” Sara said, “Thank you very much.”

“No, I’m thankful to you,” Mishima said, “That I was able to make something of it with you two following along. You resemble her older sister, Miss Sara. Please… take the role of her older sister until we escape.”

Sara looked surprised.

“And Joe… her younger brother.”

You swore, if not for the situation, you would’ve snorted.

“Oi… not even her younger brother…?” Joe asked.

Though, Miss Y/N why didn’t you say anything?” Mishima asked.

“Because I’m not a liar,” you told him.

“Y/N…!” Sara gasped, “Hey, it’s…”

“I would’ve told her the truth,” you said bitterly, “I’m not…”

“It’s nothing. Nothing at all.”

“...I’m not one who keeps things from others,” you finished, “Yes, you’ve cheered her up for now. But what would happen when she discovers the truth?”

“...I see,” Mishima murmured, “Well, then. I’ll take my leave now.”

He walked away. You turned to the two younger underclassmen behind you.

“Why?” you asked, “Why lie?”

“How about we not talk about it for now?” Joe suggested, “And let’s… let’s keep searching.”

You scanned their ashamed faces. You sighed.

“Alright,” you said, “We’ll drop it for now. Let’s keep searching.”

“Thank you I love you,” Joe said, hugging you.

The three of you walked into the bar. Sara crouched down and looked at the sliding door.

“Hey, Joe?” she asked, “Could you open this?”

“Sure!” he exclaimed, tugging it open with ease.

He reached inside and pulled out a cigar cutter.

“Hm? What is this?” he asked.

Sara took it into her hands, “I think I’ve seen it online before. You use it to cut open cigars.”

“Hey, there’s something else!” Joe said.

He pulled out a leg.

“WAUGH!” he shouted.

“Ha, scared?” you asked drily.

“N-no!” he squeaked.

“You are,” you drawled.

“No you!” he exclaimed.

“Oh, wait,” you said, pulling out the cigar from your jean pocket, “Use this.”

“Um… I don’t know how to use it,” Sara chuckled uneasily.

“Well, I don’t smoke either,” you said, “I’ll ask Professor Mishima.”

You took the two items and took it to the gray haired man behind the bar.

“M-miss Y/N!” he gasped, “Is that a cigar?! H-hand it over to me. I also see that cutter and lighter in your jean pocket!”

“Wat?” you asked, “You see that?”

“Fork it over!” he exclaimed.

You gave him the items as he giggled strangely and held them.

“I was wondering if you could cut open the cigar so we could observe it,” you said, gesturing towards your underclassmen.

He cut it open, and disappointment was clear on his face that there was a 1000 yen bill inside. You took it, breathed, and sneezed due to the cigar powder.

“Since this is not usable…” the professor said, “You can have these back.”

“Actually,” you said, “You two. You keep searching. I wanna talk to Professor, here.”

Sara nodded, “Okay… be careful… Y/N. You’re… okay, right?”

“I’m still disappointed in you two, so…” you trailed off.

You sat on a bar stool and faced the professor.

“So…” you said, “I get why you lied, but… why? It makes no sense to lie to her. She’s gonna find out.”

He faced you, “Miss Y/N… I understand you’re a, ah, a defender of the truth, but… she’s in a weak mental state. Telling her the truth would destroy her.”

You nodded, “I get that. But the truth will also destroy her later.”

“Understandable,” Mishima agreed, “I can tell. We think similarly.”

“I see that as well,” you murmured, tracing a circle on the table, “We should chat more about these things, eh?”

“Agreed,” he chuckled.

“Mom!” Gin squeaked, “What are you doing meow! I told you I’m fine woof!”

“No worries,” you reassured, “I needed to talk with the professor here.”

“Did he do something woof?!” he barked, “I’ll fight him, meow!”

“Nah, it’s fine,” you said.

The door slammed open.

“Everyone!” Joe exclaimed, “We’re gonna start attaching the body parts now!”


“Well now… we’re finally doing it,” murmured Keiji.

“Well, actually… where have the two of you been?” Joe asked Sou.

Sou smiled, “Oh, just… found a hidden room.”

“Sou! You’re okay!” Sara exclaimed.

“Oh, thank God,” you said, “I thought you died.”

“Glad everyone’s safe too,” Sou replied, “I should be asking you.”

“My hearts beating so fast…” Mishima commented, “What could possibly happen...?”

“Are you sure that’s safe?” you suggested.

“I’m sure it’s the adrenaline in my veins,” the former said.

“Mhm?” you asked.

“I got the door open just in case,” Reko said.

“We’re not closing it?” you asked.

“So our escape route’s secured!” Q-taro bellowed, backing Reko up.

‘Something doesn’t feel right.’

Keiji sighed, “Well, onto the fateful moment… let’s roll.”

He started attaching the body parts. Everyone waited for a few quiet moments as nothing happened. Your gut lurched.

‘Something’s not right.’

You sneezed, “Achoo! What is that smell?”

“Yeah, you guys smell somethin’?” Q-taro asked.

“...huh?!” Nao squeaked.

“Hey… is it just me, or is the room going white?!” Joe asked.

‘Wait… what the?!’

Nope. White smoke was pouring out of the pink heart shaped vent. It fogged up your vision as you couldn’t see anymore.

“It’s not just you!” you confirmed.

“It’s gas…!” Keiji gasped.

Sou tensed next to you, “P… poison?! Not good… we need to leave this room...!”

‘Shouldn’t the gas be emptying out through the door?’ you thought.

“What should we do?!” you hissed towards Mishima.

“I’m afraid I’m not sure,” he murmured uneasily.

“It’s not poison gas, everyone. So please relax.”

The smog cleared as you blinked furiously. As your vision cleared, you saw a tall woman with heterochromatic eyes: her right red and her left yellow. She had a crown placed on the left on her head, the style of it looking like it was melting. Her dress and sleeves looked like melting chocolate, complimenting her yellow gloves, red skirt, and yellow scarf. A red ribbon was tied around her neck while a yellow one adorned her waist. 

“Ahahaha. Good day,” she greeted.

Of course, you said something stupid.

“What is that?!” you asked, gesturing everywhere at who knows what.

You stared at the woman’s sad outfit. It was a bit classy, but looked like a melting ice cream. In other words, to you it screamed “what the fuck”. Okay, you admitted her outfit looked cute, but what was with all the melting stuff going on and how the heck did her hair curl up in the back like that?!

“You’re heterochromatic?” you asked, “That’s so cool! Isn’t that a rare trait?”

“H-huh?! You’re…” Joe stuttered, “The doll?!”

You froze. You remembered.

“Oh crap, I threw her head!” you hissed, scrambling behind Joe.

“Heehee, yes. I’m the doll you just rescued,” the woman said, “Advanced, am I not?”

“You might regret throwing her head around earlier,” Mishima said, “You might lose yours.”

“Gee, thanks,” you said drily.

“Haaaah?!” Reko snarled, “The hell’s going on here?!”

The doll giggled, “Ahaha. As it happens, I’ve been revived to tell you what is happening and to support you through your next trials and tribulations.”

“Stay away from me, you creepy-ass puppet!” Reko shouted.

“She looks pretty human to me,” you remarked.

“Ehehe…” the doll laughed again, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You have all my support…”

Nao started to wheeze, her face queasy.

“Are you okay?” you asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“Ahaha…” the doll sighed, “Is there no one who can speak calmly around here?”

“Taking in the fact we saw a doll come to life isn’t the most reassuring thing,” you said drily.

The woman-doll laughed, “Ehehe! How funny! You’re very amusing for a newcomer, Miss Y/N.”

“I’ll ask,” Sara said, “Just what are you?

“Tell the friendly policeman too,” Keiji added, “I’m not really following here…”

The doll laughed again, “Ehehe. We’ll start with my introduction… Hee hee. My name is Sue Miley, the Laughing Doll. I will guide you on this floor.”

‘Her laughing is kinda annoying.’

“Ehee. My master has instructed to guide you brave souls, who have already passed many trials, to the Main Game,” Sue Miley continued.

Keiji scratched his neck, “Your master… meaning you’re on the side of the kidnappers.”

“S...So you’re our enemy?!” Joe sputtered, “Don’t try and say you’re not!”

“Ahaha! How very serious! Ahaha!”

‘Wow, she’s laughing a lot.’

Reko flipped Miley off, “Stop laughing, asshole! Wanna die?!”

“Hee hee hee… I’d rather not,” she giggled, “No… I wouldn’t want to be all torn up again. Ehehe. I have to tear you all up first.”

“The fuck?” you whispered.

“Tear us up…?!” Reko squawked.

“Ahaha… as a warning, yes.”

There was a vibrating noise. You turned towards Joe, who was frantically touching his neck.

“...Wha?!” he asked, “M-my collar’s… vibrating…!”

“What did you do?!” you asked Miley, looking at Joe’s neck.

“Ehehe…” the doll laughed, “Anyone will do… if it’ll keep you all quiet.”

“W...what did you do?!” Joe asked.

“Eheehee… what indeed?” she asked.

Joe clutched his neck, “Hey! Answer me!”

“Ahaha! Oh very well,” Miley sighed, “I’m just making your collar explode. That’s all. Ahaha. Ahaha.”

You began to run as Mishima held you back.

“Get off me!” you exclaimed, “Joe!”

“H...huh?! No way…?! Wha…?!” Joe asked, “Gh… get it off! This… thing!”

You felt nothing. Then it felt like you were gone. Your stomach caved in. Your face paled. You felt like screaming and crying.

“Please!” you begged, “Dont—!”

“Ahahah! Get away, get away! It’s dangeroooooous!” Miley laughed.

“Stop!” you shouted, “I’ll—!”

Your heart was beating fast. Very fast. Too fast. Was he going to die? No. No. It can’t be. You didn’t even apologize to him yet.

BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEP

After the sound ended, Joe just started to pant.

“Eeeheehee,” Miley giggled, “That was a lie of course. Did you enjoy it.”

“What?” you asked hoarsely, going limp and falling to the floor.

“A… lie…” Joe breathed harshly as he turned pale.

Joe’s knees gave way as he fell to the floor.

“Joe…” you said hoarsely.

“That collar can’t actually explode, after all,” Miley said.

“You piece of shit…!” Reko snarled.

“Don’t attack her!” you exclaimed, “With these collars, we’re sitting ducks.”

“I agree,” Mishima said.

Miley let out a burst of giggles, “AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! Eheh. It’s so funny, ahah, I can’t even talk, mweeheheheeeeeeeee.”

“She out of her mind, meow...” Gin squeaked softly.

“Who’s your master?” Sara asked.

“Ehe… you don’t know, do you…” Miley cooed, “Ehee… what I’m about to explain… is in regards a fight you must take, ahaha, for your destiny. You will soon undergo a great trial to escape outside. As it has been prior, the superior will live, the inferior will die— it is far from easy. One among you… will certainly die. And the person to die… shall be decided by your own majority vote.”

“Eh….?” Kanna asked.

“I’m saying that you’ll pick it yourselves,” Miley clarified, “The one who is most unnecessary, hated, and acceptable to have die.”

“Stop talkin’ nonsense…!” Q-taro bellowed, “Like we’re gonna do somethin’ like that!”

“Ahaha. By all means. Starve to death here, all of you,” Miley giggled.

‘That’s painful,’ you thought.

“Whoa. Just laying it there on the table,” Keiji sighed.

Everyone went silent. No one knew what to say.

“Ahaha! Don’t go so pale, everyone! I’ve got something good to hand out!” Miley exclaimed, “Ahaha. Here, Sara Chidouin. Have this tablet.”

You watched as Sara was handed a tablet. Then more tablets were given to everyone else.

“Here you are, Miss Y/N L/N,” she said, handing you a tablet.

“Screw off,” you hissed.

Soon, everyone had one.

“Ehehe, does everyone have one now?” Miley asked, “Now, let’s test their functionality with some actual use. When voting, if you know who voted for who, it turns into a quarrel, doesn’t it? “Eheehee… thus, by voting with these tablets, you won’t know who made what vote. Ehehe. As a test. Try voting for whoever!”

“Miss Nao,” Mishima whispered, “How about we all vote for me? That way it’s safer.”

“W-why?” Nao asked.

“We don’t know what will happen,” Mishima said.

“I-I—” Nao hesitated.

“Vote for me then,” you whispered.

Nao turned to look at you incredulously, “Y-Y/N!”

“If you wanna test it, do it,” you said.

You pulled out your tablet. You looked at everyone’s faces. You pressed down on yours. You showed them. Then you gestured for them to do it. Mishima pressed on his and so did Nao. You watched as the votes came in.

 

Sara: 1 vote

Joe: 1 vote

Keiji: 1 vote

Kanna: 1 vote

Q-taro: 1 vote

Sou: 0 votes

Reko: 1 vote

Nao: 0 votes

Kai: 1 vote

Gin: 1 vote

Mishima: 1 vote

Y/N: 3 votes

~Results~

Most votes: Y/N, 3 votes

 

“Welp,” you breathed, “Nothing I can do about it.”

“Y/N!” Sara shouted, “What—?”

“Well, Miss Y/N,” Miley sighed, “I had big hopes for you. Unfortunately, your time has come to an end.”

“A pity,” you said, “So what’s going to happen?”

“Y/N!” Joe shouted, “What are you doing?”

“Testing something so you guys know what to do next time,” you swallowed, “Don’t fuck up anymore, okay?”

“Are those you’re last words?” Miley asked.

The collar on your neck seemed to grow hot. You swallowed harshly.

“Love you guys,” you said hoarsely.

“Y/N, wait!” Sara cried, stumbling forward, “You can’t—”

“Eheeheeheeeeee!”

The collar got hotter. So it wasn’t your imagination. It was actually burning up. Oh. Oh shit. You felt it sear through your neck like it was being torn apart. Hot air began to touch the rest of your skin as your neck burned. You couldn’t breathe. Your cooked flesh smelled repulsive. You can’t breathe. You can’t breathe. You’re choking. It hurts. It’s tearing you apart. You can barely see or hear. You shove Sara and Joe away and back into a corner. Your eyes… are they tearing up? You can’t tell. It’s burning. It hurts. It’s so hot. It’s suffocating.

You can’t breathe.

You fall over as you stop breathing at all.

 

Ending A

 

Chapter Text

“Miss Y/N, what are you implying?” the painting asked.

“I’m implying that I don’t have to give you the gun. Duh,” you said, holding it with a shaking hand, “I’m not handing it over.”

“...Miss Y/N,” the voice said, “I’m sure we can come to a compromise.”

“Can we?” you taunted, proceeding to twirl it around, “I’m bleeding over here. And it’s your fault. And what’s the point in playing this game?”

“If we give you some bandages, will you give us the gun?”

“No,” you replied flatly. You steadily slowed your rotation on the gun and kept a firm grip on it.

There was no way you were going to give away a weapon. No way. If it got into the wrong hands, terrible things could happen. And everything was already as bad as it was. Haruka was dead. You had no idea what had happened to Itsuki. You and a handful of other people were kidnapped including several acquaintances of yours.

“How about we make a deal? ” the voice asked, “I’m in your debt, Miss Y/N. I owe you one favor. I’ll even throw in the bandages. Do we have a deal?”

A favor? Was that even possible? Should you accept? Well, not like there was anything that could stop the blood leaking out of your hands--

“Y/N,” Sara said steadily, her face pale and her hands clasped together, “Just give us the gun. Trust us. We even have a policeman here. We got this. Take the bandages and go patch yourself up. Please.”

“I can’t,” you said, your breath catching in your throat.

Images filled your head as you could practically see the hole forming in Sara’s head, blood gushing from the wound. Crimson liquid splattering onto the ground, Joe’s form slumping over. Vomit emptying out from Q-taro’s mouth and hitting the ground. Keiji on the ground, still and unmoving. Kai standing still, not knowing what to do. No way. There was a risk. No no no no no no nononononnonononononononono--

“Y/N!” Joe shouted as he gripped the bars of the cell, “Get a hold of yourself.”

You stared at your shaking hands as they held the gun in their sweaty palms. The stinging sweat entering the cut of your hand, biting the wound. The weapon threatened to slip from your grasp as your hands refused to stop trembling.

“Fuck,” you whispered, shutting your eyes, “Keiji, hold out your hand.”

“Um…” he hesitated, growing a bit white.

“Keiji! She needs to get bandages!” Sara exclaimed, “Please!”

“You’re a policeman,” you gritted out while outstretching the gun through the bars, “I trust you know what to do with this. Hell, Q-taro looks like he hunts animals in the woods. You do what you have to do. Just please… make sure no one dies.”

Keiji’s face looked a bit pale as he gave you a smile, “Sure.”

“You good?” you asked, quirking an eyebrow. Sou began to help you up.

“Fine,” the blonde replied as he set the gun on the ground.

You took out the cigarette from your pocket along with any of the other items.

“Take these, maybe they’ll help you,” you stammered while pushing the items into Sara’s hands, “I don’t know. I’m dumb. This place… is full of puzzles. Careful.”

“Thank you,” Sara breathed as she enclosed her hand over the small trinkets, “Just… go bandage your hands. Please.”

“Deal has been accepted,” the voice said, “Miss Y/N, you not only have bandages…” a hole opened up above you as a roll of bandages fell out and onto your leg as you cursed. “...but also a favor from the Meister! Use this one time deal wisely!”

 

Do you really want to leave?

YES               NO

 

Do you really want to leave?

[YES]               NO

 

“Alright,” Sou wheezed, “Let’s get you somewhere to rest up and find something to break the bars.”

“I can walk,” you said, as you got off of Sou.

You internally cursed as a sharp stab ran up your leg as your other leg hit the wall.

‘Oh fuck off will you?’ you told your leg while glaring at it.

“You sure you’re okay?” Sou asked with raised eyebrows.

“Fine,” you lied, waving him off, “Let’s go find somewhere to sit so I can patch up.”

“The main room?” Sou suggested, jabbing a thumb.

‘Reko, Nao, and Kanna are in there,’ you thought to yourself, ‘Should we really burden them?’

“Nah, how about the cafeteria?” you prompted, shooting him a small grin.

So there you two were, sitting as you bandaged yourself. Sou was looking under the tables for God knows what reason.

“What are you doing?” you asked as you tied the bandages.

“Looking for something to break open those bars,” Sou replied as he lifted another tablecloth, “Aren’t you panicking? You were shaking back there.” He peeked back up with raised eyebrows.

“I trust Keiji,” you said, beginning to swing your legs around.

A little bit of a lie. In fact, it’s a lie everyone tells. The only person you can truly trust is no one. Not even yourself.

Sou sighed, frustratedly ruffling his teal hair, “That’s it. I’m gonna use that doll body.”

You got off the chair, “What?”

You followed him to the back of the cafeteria. Sou opened the door as the two of you entered a dark room.

“The light in here is weird,” you commented quietly while groping the walls.

Sou started to move, “Yeah, and--”

“Oh crap!” you hissed as the roll of bandages dropped from your hands, “Sorry. I need to find the bandages.”

You began to crawl on the ground as you felt around the ground. You probably looked like an idiot right now.

“Hold on, let me help,” Sou said. You heard rustling sounds, so you assumed he also bent down to help.

As the two of you searched along the ground, you grabbed something round. You held it up.

“I think I found it,” you said, rotating it in your fingers.

“Okay--”

Click

Sou fell forward in the darkness. A dim light shone out from another room. 

‘Oh shit!’ you thought as you got up and went towards him.

“You alright?” you asked, squinting at the light adjustment.

You sneezed, the dust getting in your nose. You let out a "belgh" and shook your head around like a dog.

“Fine,” Sou grunted in response. He sat up and stared with wide eyes. “But… what is this?”

You looked at the room. It was a bit barren with a shelf full of books, a desk with a lamp, and a laptop. A laptop.

“Jackpot!” Sou exclaimed, a wide grin spreading across his face.

A laptop?

“What do you mean?” you asked while tilting your head confusedly, “Sorry, I’m big dumb.”

“We can search up stuff and see what’s on it,” Sou said, the smile melting off his face. He looked serious as he ravenously eyed the laptop.

Your eyes widened as you snapped your fingers, “Ohhhhhhhh.”

He laughed while he bent over the desk to reach the device, “You’re funny.” He opened the laptop and cringed. “There’s a password.”

“And there’s no charger,” you pointed out while observing the floor.

“You’re right!” he exclaimed softly as he touched the laptop’s sides.

He hunched in front of the desk and began to stare at it, typing in some numbers and words.

“What are you doing?” you asked while hovering over his shoulder with a tilted head.

“Trying to guess a password,” he said, creasing his brow, “But I might have to work it out on paper since the battery might run out like you said.”

“Whoa, serious…” you commented. You nodded with your eyes closed. “Your attitude changes a lot.”

He blinked, turned to you, and smiled. You stared at him and his precious smile, sort of reminding you of a cat or something.

‘God he’s so--’ you thought while clenching your fists, ‘I’m soft.’

“Your emotions are rather mercurial as well, Y/N,” he said, laughing under his breath.

“I guess that’s a compliment,” you told him while shrugging.

“Unless you take it as one,” he replied, pointing a finger.

“Guess I will then,” you responded lightly.

All you could hear was the drumming of his fingers on the table as he mumbled gibberish to himself.

“If I put in a password, I would forget it so easily,” you joked while looking at the books.

‘All of these are useless,’ you thought while flipping some open, ‘Some of them are completely blank…’

“I usually remember them,” Sou said as he turned to look at you, “What would a klutz like you put?”

“Hey!” you exclaimed with flailing arms as he winced, “Maybe my address? Email password? Name?”

The teal-haired boy grinned and turned back towards the screen, “Interesting.”

“I’m forgetful,” you said, defensively crossing your arms.

“Oh I’m sure,” he said with what you could assume was rolled eyes.

“Hey!”

You sat on the ground quietly as you watched him type and groan in frustration. Sou slumped down and sat on the ground next to you. You shuffled closer to him as the two of you just sat in silence.

“So…” you said while gazing up at the ceiling, “What are we gonna do now?”

“I’m gonna think up of a few options and then type them in,” Sou replied, flicking his fingers, “One step at a time.”

You hummed, “What are we gonna do?”

“How about we talk a bit to pass the time?” Sou suggested while shrugging, “I need some ideas for a password.”

“Sure,” you replied while leaning on your hand, “So… what did you initially want to be when you were growing up?”

Sou let out a puff of air through his nose, “Computer engineer? I’m pretty good with computers.”

“Cool cool,” you said, slightly grinning, “I want to be a therapist.”

“Any reason behind that?” he asked, looking at you.

You laughed, “Just a bit… awe-inspiring to see what they can do in a person’s life.” Your gaze turned towards the ground. “Life is shit, you know.”

Sou nodded as he turned to look at the lamp, “I see. And what about your friend? How did you guys meet?”

“In school,” you replied, a smile spreading across your face, “I’d honestly do anything for the guy. He’s… everything.”

“Everything?” Sou asked, quirking an eyebrow.

You turned red, “Not in that way, you dumb dumb. It’s just that… he’s my first friend, you know? Just because a guy and a girl are friends means they’re automatically dating, you know?”

Sou nodded, “I see what you mean.”

“You have any people important to you?” you asked.

“My parents?” Sou asked while shrugging, “That’s probably it.”

“Not even me?” you asked, almost letting out a petulant whine as you frowned at him.

“We technically just met,” Sou pointed out, giving you a blank stare.

“Fair point,” you agreed with sagging shoulders, “So… what do you want to do after we get out of here?”

“Assuming if we ever,” Sou said leaning back.

“Yeah…” you whispered while drawing circles onto one of your crisscrossed legs, “But I doubt we will.”

Sou quirked an eyebrow, “I thought you were the hopeful one?”

You laughed bitterly while resting on a hand again, “That’s not my job. My friends are the ones who give me hope. I don’t have any. I probably would’ve given up a long time ago.”

“Guess you’re only relying on yourself now, then?” Sou asked leaning forward, “Because it looks like Miss Sara and her friend had a hard time getting you to come with me.”

“I guess it’s since Joe reassured me,” you muttered as you shut your eyes and sighed, “I would’ve never let them alone with a weapon.” You opened your eyes. “I… care a lot about them.”

“I guess,” Sou said. He nodded slightly. “It’s a gun and they’re just kids.”

You nodded as you looked at the laptop. It didn’t look special, but you knew it was going to help in the investigation in how to escape the hole everyone was currently stuck in at the moment. You watched as Sou grabbed the laptop and began to look at it some more. Everything didn’t feel real. You got kidnapped along with some of your friends and acquaintances. You saw someone die. And now your friends are in risk of death.

‘What is happening?’ you thought, rubbing your head, ‘God. I hate this. Why does life toy with us? Why do they treat us as if life is just something that we have. I… I want to live. I want to… do things with my friends. They’re the only reason I live, but I… how do I bear seeing her like that?’ You pressed your lips together as you put your head in your hands. ‘I know I hated her, but… she’s dead. How do I live on when I…’

“I saw someone die,” you mumbled with your head still in your hands.

“Huh?” Sou asked as he started to get back up, “Saw someone what?”

“Nothing,” you said. You took your head out of your hands. “I had a… weird trial.”

“...huh. Same,” Sou said while stretching his back. He grabbed the laptop and opened it again.

You nodded, trying to subtly change the topic, “Need any help with that password?”

“Well, I’m not sure,” Sou said while glaring at the screen, “There’s no hints so I have to literally type in anything I can think of.”

You heard his fingertips fly across the keyboard.

“...hey,” you said while staring at the wall.

“What?” he asked, not taking it eyes off the computer.

“...when we get out of here, can I buy you a drink?” you asked quietly.

He laughed as he continued to type. “Sure.”


A few minutes had passed as the two of you had spent time trying to find a password, making a long array of possibilities and testing them all at once. The two of you stopped once Sou sighed.

“Let’s get some fresh air to get some ideas?” he suggested while nodding towards the door.

“Good idea,” you agreed while standing up.

Your back made a large cracking sound, like when you stood up from your chair after you sat on a chair for too long.

The two of you walked out and into the cafeteria area. Before the two of you could exit, you saw Joe burst into the room with the others.

“There you are!” he exclaimed as his face brightened and his eyes widened, “Let’s go! We’re putting together the doll!”

“Wuh?” you asked as Joe grabbed your hand and began to drag you.

Once everyone was situated in the room, you saw Keiji clap his hands and sigh.

“Well now… we’re finally doing it,” murmured Keiji as he gazed at the doll body.

“Well, actually… where have the two of you been?” Joe asked you and Sou, tilting his head.

Sou smiled and replied nonchalantly, “Oh, just…” He melodramatically spread his hands. “...found a hidden room.”

“Y/N! Sou! You’re okay!” Sara exclaimed as she clasped your hands.

“Of course,” you replied, taking a bow at Sara’s feet, “Y/N L/N, at your service Madam Sara, Sir Joe.”

“Glad everyone’s safe too,” Sou replied with a thumbs up.

“My hearts beating so fast…” Mishima commented while patting his suit, “What could possibly happen...?”

“Cardiac arrest?” you suggested, snapping your fingers.

“I’d prefer if that didn’t happen,” the former coughed. You saw him inch away.

“I got the door open just in case,” Reko said as she patted the wooden frame.

“We’re not closing it?” you asked skeptically, raising an eyebrow

“So our escape route’s secured!” Q-taro bellowed while pounding his chest, backing Reko up.

You bit your lip. You had a bad feeling about this whole set up.

Keiji scratched his neck, “Well, onto the fateful moment… let’s roll.”

He started attaching the body parts. Everyone waited for a few quiet moments as nothing happened. Your gut lurched.

‘Something’s not right.’

You pinched your nose, “What the heck’s that smell?”

“Yeah, you guys smell somethin’?” Q-taro asked as he swatted the air.

“...huh?!” Nao squeaked as she covered her mouth.

“Oh crap!” you hissed as you smothered your face with your shirt, “Smoke!”

“Hey… is it just me, or is the room going white?!” Joe asked as he put an arm in front of his face.

‘This can’t be good…!’

Nope. White smoke was pouring out of the pink heart shaped vent. It fogged up your vision as you couldn’t see anymore.

“It’s not just you!” you confirmed as you squinted through the thick air.

“It’s gas…!” Keiji gasped as he expertly blocked his nose and mouth.

Sou tensed next to you while also masking himself with his scarf, “P… poison?! Not good… we need to leave this room...!”

‘Shouldn’t the gas be emptying out through the door?’ you thought, your hands finding their way to Sara and Joe’s.

Joe was shaking. Sara’s was terribly stiff. You pressed your lips together. Everything went white. You continued to clutch Joe and Sara’s hands as if they were your lifeline.

‘Suffocate to death? That’s so painful,’ you thought as you felt cold grabbing your neck, ‘Can’t breathe. You just choke and writhe in pain. You slowly begin to die, but the pain just keeps on going.’

“It’s not poison gas, everyone. So please relax.”

The smog cleared as you blinked furiously. As your vision cleared, you saw a tall woman with heterochromatic eyes: her right red and her left yellow. She had a crown placed on the left on her head, the style of it looking like it was melting. Her dress and sleeves looked like melting chocolate, complimenting her yellow gloves, red skirt, and yellow scarf. A red ribbon was tied around her neck while a yellow one adorned her waist. 

“Ahahaha. Good day,” she greeted while waving like a dainty princess.

Of course, you said something stupid.

“Oh sweet Tazuna! Good God, what are you?” you asked incredulously. You rudely pointed at her as your eyes bulged.

You stared at the woman’s sad outfit. It was a bit classy, but looked like a melting ice cream. In other words, to you it screamed “what the fuck”. Okay, you admitted her outfit looked cute, but what was with all the melting stuff going on and how the heck did her hair curl up in the back like that?!

“You’re heterochromatic?” you asked while clasping your hands together, “That’s so cool! You know, one of my favorite anime characters--”

“H-huh?! You’re…” Joe stuttered while pointing with a shaking hand, “The doll?!”

You froze. You remembered.

“Oh crap, I threw her head!” you hissed, scrambling behind Joe.

“Heehee, yes. I’m the doll you just rescued,” the woman said while lightly brushing her skirt, “Advanced, am I not?”

“Too advanced,” you muttered, clutching Joe’s shoulder.

“Haaaah?!” Reko snarled. She looked like as if she was sizing the doll up. “The hell’s going on here?!”

The doll giggled, covering her mouth, “Ahaha. As it happens, I’ve been revived to tell you what is happening and to support you through your next trials and tribulations.”

“Stay away from me, you creepy-ass puppet!” Reko shouted as she stepped back.

“She… doesn’t really look that much like a doll,” you remarked, peeking from Joe’s shoulder.

“Ehehe…” the doll laughed again looking away, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You have all my support…”

Nao started to wheeze, her face queasy. You felt the urge to go over to her and comfort her, but she was a bit farther away from you. It would be quite awkward and rude to walk up to her while in the middle of an urgent conversation.

“Ahaha…” the doll sighed while rolling her dual-colored eyes, “Is there no one who can speak calmly around here?”

“Yeah, well not everyday do you see dolls who come to life and start laughing every time they take a breath,” you said drily.

The doll laughed , “Ehehe! How funny! You’re very amusing for a newcomer, Miss Y/N.”

“I’ll ask,” Sara said, “Just what are you?

“Tell the friendly policeman too,” Keiji added, raising his hand, “I’m not really following here…”

The doll laughed again as she spread her hands wide, “Ehehe. We’ll start with my introduction… Hee hee. My name is Sue Miley, the Laughing Doll. I will guide you on this floor.”

“So does she have to keep laughing?” you asked Joe blankly.

“Shh!” he hissed, putting a finger over his mouth.

“Ehee. My master has instructed to guide you brave souls, who have already passed many trials, to the Main Game,” Sue Miley continued as she put a hand to her chest.

Keiji scratched his neck, “Your master… meaning you’re on the side of the kidnappers.”

“Fuck,” you mumbled as you put your hands on your hips.

“S...So you’re our enemy?!” Joe sputtered as he his behind you , “Don’t try and say you’re not!”

“Ahaha! How very serious! Ahaha!”

“Oh geez,” you muttered, slightly cringing.

Reko gave Miley the finger, “Stop laughing, asshole! Wanna die?!”

“Hee hee hee… I’d rather not,” she giggled as her face seemed to distort, “No… I wouldn’t want to be all torn up again. Ehehe. I have to tear you all up first.”

“Wat?” you squawked like an idiot.

“Tear us up…?!” Reko asked incredulously.

“Ahaha… as a warning, yes,” Miley said, still smiling like a lunatic.

There was a vibrating noise. You turned towards Joe behind you, who was frantically touching his neck.

“...Wha?!” he asked, clawing at the contraption, “M-my collar’s… vibrating…!”

“What did you do?!” you demanded, glaring at Miley.

“Ehehe…” the doll laughed as madness spread over her visage, “Anyone will do… if it’ll keep you all quiet.” She spread her hands and continued to laugh, her giggles stabbing your very soul.

“W...what did you do?!” Joe and you asked in unison.

You looked at the collar to see if there was anything to remove it. No. No. No. Nothing.

“Eheehee… what indeed?” she asked as she covered her mouth.

Joe clutched his neck and tried to yank the collar off, “Hey! Answer me!”

“Ahaha! Oh very well,” Miley sighed as she rolled her eyes glumly, “I’m just making your collar explode. That’s all. Ahaha. Ahaha.”

“Stop!” you shouted as you began to squeeze the collar as if to break it, “Just… don’t hurt him! You can do it to me instead! Please!”

“H...huh?! No way…?! Wha…?!” Joe asked, trembling in your hold, “Gh… get it off! This… thing!”

Fear began to overtake you as your hands trembled. The metal slipped in your sweaty grasp. Your stomach felt like it was gone, carved out. Your throat went dry. Your eyes began to water. Were you going to lose him? You can’t even do anything. Nothing at all. And you’re right in front of him.

“Please!” you begged as tears threatened to fall, “Dont—!”

“Ahahah! Get away, get away! It’s dangeroooooous!” Miley laughed as she spun around.

“Stop!” you whispered, clawing at the device, “Please! Don’t!”

Your heart was beating fast. Very fast. You just looked at Joe’s collar, seeing if there was any way to take it off.

BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEP

‘No.’

After the sound ended, Joe just started to pant, leaning onto you. You stared at him, confused and scared.

“Eeeheehee,” Miley giggled as her face turned serene, “That was a lie of course. Did you enjoy it.”

“What?” you asked hoarsely, staring at the woman.

“A… lie…” Joe breathed harshly as he turned pale.

He fell to his knees, dragging you down with him. You hugged him tightly.

“You’re… still here…” you whispered as you embrace him, “Don’t… leave…”

He just hugged you tighter.

'This isn't a joke,' you thought while trying your best not to tremble, 'God. First Haruka. Now Joe? I-- what's even happening?'

“That collar can’t actually explode, after all,” Miley huffed, crossing her arms like a child.

“You piece of shit…!” Reko snarled as she stomped forward.

“Don’t attack her!” you exclaimed with an outstretched hand, “With these collars, we’re sitting ducks.”

Miley let out a burst of giggles as she clutched her aching stomach, “AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! Eheh. It’s so funny, ahah, I can’t even talk, mweeheheheeeeeeeee.”

“She out of her mind, meow...” Gin squeaked softly, trembling to the side.

“Who’s your master?” Sara asked, her face pale and her frame shaking.

“Ehe… you don’t know, do you…” Miley cooed as she held her midsection, “Ehee… what I’m about to explain… is in regards a fight you must take, ahaha, for your destiny. You will soon undergo a great trial to escape outside. As it has been prior, the superior will live, the inferior will die— it is far from easy. One among you… will certainly die. And the person to die… shall be decided by your own majority vote.”

“Eh….?” Kanna asked, paling.

“I’m saying that you’ll pick it yourselves,” Miley clarified as she stood up, “The one who is most unnecessary, hated, and acceptable to have die.”

“Stop talkin’ nonsense…!” Q-taro bellowed, glaring and pointing, “Like we’re gonna do somethin’ like that!”

“Ahaha. By all means. Starve to death here, all of you,” Miley giggled while waving a hand.

‘A long and painful death. They aren’t going to let us out easy,’ you thought grimly while holding Joe tighter, 'Fuck....'

“Whoa. Just laying it there on the table,” Keiji sighed while rolling his neck.

Everyone went silent. No one knew what to say.

“Ahaha! Don’t go so pale, everyone! I’ve got something good to hand out!” Miley exclaimed while waving around some object, “Ahaha. Here, Sara Chidouin. Have this tablet.”

You watched as Sara was handed a tablet. Then more tablets were given to everyone else.

“For you, Joe Tazuna,” she cooed, “And little Y/N L/N.”

Soon, everyone had one.

“Ehehe, does everyone have one now?” Miley asked, “Now, let’s test their functionality with some actual use. When voting, if you know who voted for who, it turns into a quarrel, doesn’t it? “Eheehee… thus, by voting with these tablets, you won’t know who made what vote. Ehehe. As a test. Try voting for whoever!”

You pulled out your tablet. You looked at everyone’s faces. There had to be a way around this. There had to.

‘Do something. Do anything. Fighting will result in risk of death. Ask questions. Make them doubt their decisions and everyone can work together to solve whatever the hell is happening right now,’ you thought while clenching the tablet, ‘You’re fine. Think clearly. Don’t let them end up like… her. Do something, Y/N L/N!’

 

Choices:

 

A. Use the favor

B. Suggest a solution

C. Stall

 

 

Chapter Text

Option: B

 

“So, uh… shouldn’t we find a way to make sure we all come out alive?” you asked meekly.

Everyone turned to look at you. Nao raised her hand, directing your attention over to her.

“Um, could you elaborate on that?” she asked while looking to the side, “I don’t get it…”

You waved your hands in a panicked manner, “I mean, to this woman--” you waved a hand at Miley. “--we’re all disposable. She’s probably gonna kill the one who gets the most votes. So what if we uh... all vote for ourselves so no one dies?”

“I disagree,” Sou’s voice said as his words cut through the air like a knife. You turned to face him as he glared at you. “That’s too much of a big risk. Like you said: we’re disposable. What’s to say that she won’t kill us all.”

“He’s got a point,” Keiji spoke up as he nodded at you. “That’s too much of a gamble we’re willing to take. I don’t think any of us would be willing enough to side with your idea--”

“I’ll do it!” Joe exclaimed as he raised a confident hand in the air. “I trust Y/N, and her thinking is… way different than ours.”

Q-taro snorted. “You gonna side with her just like that? You could die!”

Joe narrowed his eyes at the tall male. “Better I die with her than making her die alone.”

“I… I’m also going to side with Y/N,” Sara said as she clenched her fist.

“Sara…!” Reko exclaimed as she stared at the girl like she had gone insane.

Sara held her gaze level with the entire room. “Y/N… has a point. Although it’s true, we could all die, the rules are a bit hazy.”

“Hazy? What do you mean?” Mishima inquired with a questioning gaze.

“Let me explain,” you said as you pointed at Miley, who was staying silent the entire time. “She said that whoever gets the most votes will die. While that is true, she never said what would happen if we all get the same amount of votes.”

The room went quiet as everyone thought to themselves. You looked over at Sou, who was looking over at you disapprovingly. Distrust. It seemed that there was a barrier between the two of you that you couldn’t get past. Well, not really your problem.

“So, um… what does happen if we all get an equal amount of votes?” you asked Miley, staring at her heterochromatic eyes.

The doll just smiled maliciously, eyes glinting. “Who knows? Seems you lot haven’t used your eyes well enough.”

‘Eyes?’ you thought as you looked around the room. ‘Did we miss something? What?’

“I still think we shouldn’t do it,” Q-taro said as he pointed at you. “I’m not trusting some girl with my life!”

Keiji let out a cough and mumbled something which made Q-taro panic.

“That’s not--! You know what?! Never mind,” the redhead grumbled as he closed his eyes.

The blonde policeman scratched his neck. “For me… I don’t fully trust Miss L/N over there… but I trust Sara. I have faith in her judgement.”

“Just like that?” said girl asked while raising her eyebrows at the blonde.

The man smiled. “You bet.”

You began to shuffle around and search around the stuffed bunnies for a clue. Anything. You peered behind the shelves and went on your toes to peer through the vent. Then something grabbed you by the cuff of your shirt.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” Miley asked as she stared at you with two cold eyes. "How dare you come near me. Learn some respect."

Her face was perfectly blank. The calm before the storm, you would often say to Itsuki. You felt your stomach drop as your body swayed and suddenly went flying across the room. The pain registered before realization as a sharp pain shot up your butt as you landed near the door. You gripped the door handle as you slowly stood up.

“Aw, fu--” you cursed as you bit your tongue to prevent yourself from saying such words in front of children.

“Y/N!” Joe and Sara exclaimed as they rushed over to you.

“Are you alright?” Keiji asked as he frowned at you.

“Oh my goodness!” Nao shrieked as her face turned several shades paler.

You waved them off and grunted. “Fine, I’m fine. Anyway--”

There was something behind the door. Before you could reach to open it, a voice reached the pits of your stomach.

Y/N L/N.

You turned around to see Miley, the Laughing Doll, smiling at you with no laughter or glee reaching her eyes whatsoever. It looked like she came straight out of a horror movie.

“I’ll let you off easy,” she said swiftly as she rubbed two of her fingers together. “There is a way to forfeit this practice round. That is: for there to be a tie.”

“A tie?” Professor Mishima asked as he fixed his glasses.

You noticed Sou tense up.

“Correct,” the doll announced as she stared straight at you. “If you vote for a tie, the game is forfeit like you said.”

‘Should we… trust her?’ you thought as you swallowed harshly. It was hard to tell whether or not the doll was lying. You can’t trust her. Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t--

“There’s something behind this door,” Sou said as he pushed it back a little. “This is…!”

You peered beside him and stared at the bold black words written on a piece of paper. It read:

The Second Trial ~Practice Round~ This is a practice for the Main Game. The start is signalled by the doll’s revival. Follow instructions and hold a majority vote. The one with the most votes is the one to be sacrificed. However, this is a practice round. If the votes come to a draw, the game is forfeit.

“We should listen then, huh?” Keiji huffed as he stared at the paper as well.

“What if you’re lying?” Mishima inquired as everyone froze in fear again.

Miley smiled. “I swear it’s the truth. Those are the actual rules.”

“... it won’t hurt to try,”  Sara said as she pulled up her tablet. “After all, it’s the only shot we’ve got. Shall we?”

A few moments of silence, which was enough time to be seen as a silent agreement.

“Good idea,” Sou added as he nodded with approval, “That way, we won’t have blood on our hands.”

‘Man, did he have to word it that way?’ you thought as stared at the other people in the room uncomfortably.

“I agree,” Kai said softly, “Shall we all vote for ourselves then?”

“Alright,” Reko said as she showed everyone her tablet.

She pressed her finger against her face and put in her vote. Soon, everyone started to put in their vote. You looked out of the corner of your eye to see the Smiling Doll frowning. Her gaze slid over towards your figure like that of a predator as you quickly directed your eyes somewhere else.

‘Oh crap!’ you thought, internally panicking, ‘I just had to look over huh? That’s how you make enemies. Enemies, Y/N.’

Sara: 1 vote

Joe: 1 vote

Keiji: 1 vote

Kanna: 1 vote

Q-taro: 1 vote

Sou: 1 vote

Reko: 1 vote

Nao: 1 vote

Kai: 1 vote

Gin: 1 vote

Mishima: 1 vote

Y/N: 1 vote

~Results~

Most votes: None, tie

Your eyelids blinked at a rapid pace like a camera shutter. You looked at Miley’s face, carefully watching her reaction. Her expression was completely neutral, besides the way her eyes widened slightly. And that feeling in your stomach you got whenever you wanted to puke while seeing the sinister grin spread across Miley’s face wasn’t good.

“How interesting,” she cooed while covering her mouth, “You all managed to escape a possible death.”

A large sigh escaped your lips as you realized you had been holding your breath. Your nerves were a jumbled mess as you could feel your heart rate slowing and returning to its normal pace. You needed to keep a level head. Panicking and causing disarray would just make everything worse. Especially since you almost saw someone else die.

“Congratulations!” Miley cackled, spreading her hands, “I’m surprised! Maybe I was right for making a few changes! How interesting…You got lucky.”

Her giggles sent a cold ripple down your spine which caused goosebumps to pop up. You ignored the feeling, dismissing it as you redirected your attention to the Laughing Doll.

“Soon…” she giggled while looking at everyone. Still, you felt that her gaze was directed at you. “Soon you will die. One. By. One.”

“Why are you doing this?!” Kanna asked as her eyes shimmered with a mixture of fear and tears, “Everyone… everyone’s a good person here?! How can you do this…?! What did we do?! I won’t stand for this!” She clenched your hoodie which was draped around her frail shoulders.

‘She has balls,’ you thought as you stared at the little girl in awe with widened eyes.

Miley still held a huge grin on her face as she laced her fingers, “Heehee… heeheeehee… you annoy me, you powerless little girl… No. You sister-killer.”

With widened eyes, you watched the blood drain from Kanna’s visage. Her teary eyes looked like they were about to pop out of her head. Her eyes began to look down to the ground in shame and sorrow. In the corner of your eyes, Sara looked like she was about to explode. Kanna began to speak in mumbled whispers as Miley mercilessly cut her with her harsh words.

“Haha, I saw all of it. How useless you were in your First Trial, Kanna,” Miley said with a gruesome smile.

You had no idea what was happening, yet the world around you felt like it was crumbling apart. Mishima’s face was becoming increasingly pale as horror began to dawn on Sara’s face. You flinched out of instinct as someone across the room shot out at Miley.

BANG!

Blood trickled down Miley’s forehead towards her twisted grimace. The doll trembled in anger as her attacker stood before her in silent fury.

“Gah…” she gasped as if she was in pain with clenched fists. She probably was.

“Forgive me,” Kai said dismissively, as if the issue didn’t matter, “The hand with the frying pan must’ve slipped.”

‘Must’ve? Must’ve?!’ you thought while grinding your teeth in stress, ‘Geez, I think he just gave her a fucking concussion.’

“You little…!” Miley growled as she jabbed an accusing finger at him.

Kai nodded, “So even dolls bleed red.”

‘...he’s right,’ you thought as your eyes grew wide in realization, ‘She claimed to be a doll, yet she’s bleeding. She must be human just like the rest of us.’

The “doll’s” teeth just gritted against one another as she continued to point directly at the homemaker, “...Don’t think that you can do this… and just get away scot-free!”

“On the contrary,” Kai said, his eyebrows creasing in anger and his hands tightening their grip around the frying pan, “I don’t think you’ll be getting away with so little as this. I will have you pay for toying with people’s lives.”

Miley trembled in pure anger as she violently shook her hands, “Dammit! Damn it! I’ll remember this! I’ll be waiting… on the grounds of the Main Game!”

The Laughing Doll shoved her way out of the room and ran away. You watched as she disappeared into the darkness of the other room.

“Are you alright?” Kai asked as you began to space out.

‘We barely escaped death,’ you thought, ‘From Joe, to anyone in this room. Crap, this is not good.’

Keiji sighed while rubbing his neck, “Well, no one died. So let’s just be grateful for that.”

“He’s right,” Joe agreed while shakily nodding, “Well… I need some time alone. I’m gonna go…”

The brunette boy staggered out of the room like a zombie. You just let out a shaky breath and pounded your chest lightly a few times. Meddling with death… it wasn’t really your forte. In fact, the very thought made you want to throw up. You tried to calm your thoughts as you saw Sou whisper to Keiji, who exited the room. Your stomach suddenly lurched again. Wow, you really were sick.

‘Coward.’

“I’m gonna go search some more,” you agreed while holding up a hand, “Is everyone alright though?”

“Quite,” Mishima replied, though his and Nao’s face were inexplicably pale.

“...okay…” you said in a disbelieving tone as you turned towards Sara.

“You gonna be okay?” you asked her while gesturing towards her.

She fiddled with the ribbon in her hair, “Yep. Don’t worry about me, Y/N.” She started to exit. “See you later.”

The brunette left the scene. You sighed and decided to go search as well. You saw Keiji emerge out of the darkness, seemingly out of nowhere.

“You gonna go anywhere?” you asked Keiji while shrugging.

The taller male went to lean up against the wall and tilted his head towards the side, “Nah… I feel like I should keep an eye on those two.” His gaze darted towards Mishima and Nao. “They look pretty shaken up.

You nodded, “True…”

‘Maybe I should go join up with Sou again, huh? Where did he even go?’ you thought as you walked through the dark room, ‘I have a feeling he wouldn’t be too happy with me telling others about the hidden room yet. Though, I swear I saw Keiji walk out of there a few seconds ago. It’s his own business after all.’

“Keep your nose out of our business!”

“She’s right, just… please. Stop worrying about me .”

You shook your head side to side furiously, swatting the thoughts out of your head, ‘Stop that. You told him that you’d stop thinking that way.’

As you walked into the cafeteria, you realized it was dark. Suddenly, the lights flickered on.

“Whoa, what just happened?” you asked as you looked around the room.

Your gaze went towards Kai who was now facing you.

“Miss L/N. Hello,” he said softly while bowing a little, “The lights just went off for a while.”

Sara brushed her skirt as she nodded, “Yeah. Don’t worry. Nothing happened.”

“Okay…” you said as you walked past them, “Stay safe…”

‘Why do I feel like everyone is hiding something from me right now?’ you thought as you made your way to the main room in a rushed manner.

Upon entering you noticed Sou and Q-taro staring at a staircase that appeared out of literally nowhere.

“Whoa,” you gasped under your breath, your eyes widening. You walked besides Sou. “What the hell is that?”

“I’m gonna guess that’s where the ‘doll’ escaped to, if you could call her that,” Sou replied while touching his scarf again, “Are you thinking of going up?”

“...maybe,” you said, while squinting at the brand new structure, “Although… I think I lost the will to venture into dangerous places a long time ago.”

“I don’t really recommend it,” Sou said, gripping his scarf, “It’s dangerous… Ah! Miss Sara!”

Sou turned to chat to Sara as you stared at the staircase. You were left standing there as Sou completely ignored you.

‘Should I go up?’ you thought as you began to pick at your nails nervously, ‘Still… if Miley is up there… she could kill me. Maybe. Who knows. She treats this like… a game.’

A vision of Haruka's contorted expression as she died flashed in your head. You pressed your lips together and shut your eyes tight with annoyance.

‘Why am I thinking about that right now?’ you thought as you fought the urge to pinch yourself, ‘I should be glad no one else died. If they did… I don’t think I’d be able to comprehend it. I’m still… processing her death. I just can’t believe she’s really gone. All that anger and hatred I cursed towards her… and it came true? It’s just way too wild to believe. I don’t think her death has settled into my thoughts yet. But… was it considered murder? Am I justified to have clean hands?’ Thoughts swirled in your head like a washing machine. Over and over and over again.

“You okay?”

You blinked, turning to look at Q-taro, “Huh? Yeah. Why?”

“You’ve been standing there for almost ten minutes,” Q-taro said, furrowing his eyebrows.

“Holy crap, I was?” you squeaked incredulously, “I’m gonna go search.”

You turned to run off and decided to head towards the bar. As you rounded the corner and entered, you saw Joe sitting by himself. Getting the feeling he was in a deep thinking process, you quietly approached, and took a seat next to him.

“Hey,” you started quietly as you slouched forward onto the counter, “You good?”

Joe didn’t say anything, just sitting in silence, then said, “I’m thinking.”

“Thanks. Even a genius could tell.”

“Hey!”

Joe crossed his arms and huffed, “It’s just that… Y/N. Do you really think that Keiji is a cop?”

“Hm?” you asked as you stiffened at the question, “Well…”

“Hold on. Have I seen you before? Maybe… a few weeks ago?”

“No. I work with the higher-ups. I doubt you would’ve seen me.”

“I have my doubts,” you said as you sat up, “I feel that he has the demeanor of a cop. But… I just have the feeling he’s lying.”

‘Are you really sure about that?’

“I mean, I could be wrong. This is just a hunch. An unreliable gut feeling!” you said, flailing your hands in a panicked manner.

Joe put a hand on your shoulder as a sign of reassurance, “Calm thyself. Have confidence in your judgement.”

“Confidence? Who’s that?” you asked jokingly while shrugging.

“Y/N…” Joe said, putting his hands on his hips.

“Ah, but seriously!” you exclaimed while leaning on him, “I’m kinda… worn out, Joe. I don’t know what I’ll do if I lose you. Or if I see someone die again.”

“Again?” Joe asked, tensing underneath you.

“Haha,” you chuckled uneasily while tugging down the cap on your head, “And guess who it was?”

‘Wow.’

“Who?” Joe asked as you got off of his shoulder.

‘My chest kind of hurts.’

“Haruka,” you said in a sarcastic peppy tone, “Out of all people. I can’t believe it.”

‘My throat hurts.’

“Wait, that Haruka?” Joe inquired, with widened eyes.

‘I can’t breathe.’

“Yeah,” you croaked out with a shaky voice, “How do I explain this…?”

After explaining what had happened, you had collapsed onto the table in sheer exhaustion.

“... are you okay after seeing that?” Joe asked quietly, petting your head through the cap.

“I’d be lying if I said yes,” you replied as you drew circles on the table, “But at the same time… it’s like I forget about one minute, but the next it’s back. I guess it hasn’t sunken in yet.”

“... that’s good, I guess,”  Joe said softly as he sat up, “What are you gonna do now?”

You stood up, “Maybe get my hoodie? It’s kinda cold. I’ll… catch you later.”

You waved at him and left, feeling a little content with the conversation you just had. You walked through the quiet area and began to look around for Kanna. Perhaps she was alone? You gazed around the area and quietly opened the door to the room where you played Russian Roulette. There she was, the small, petite girl with green hair. She was all curled up one one of the couches, biting one of her nails. As you quietly approached her, her fearful eyes darted towards you.

“D-do you need something?” she asked, clutching her hands towards herself.

“Maybe my hoodie?” you asked while rubbing your neck, “It’s getting kind of cold.”

The little girl immediately got up and started hastily shrugging the hoodie off, “Oh I’m so sorry! Here! You can take it back! Here you go!”

“Ah, that’s alright,” you said as you gratefully took back the sweater, “Just kind of missed it.”

She quietly nodded and sat back on the couch. You watched as her eyes darted towards the cap on your head. The poor girl. She looked pretty worn out and tired. Her eyes were puffy, signifying that she had been crying. Honestly, she looked pretty defenseless, just sitting there all alone. You had the protective urge to comfort her. Questions filled your head as you pushed yourself to ask her.

“Is Bis Sis Sara really a good person?”

Her question came at you like a knife first. Your eyes widened as you turned to face her. Was Sara a good person? Why would Kanna even ask a question like that?

“I mean…” you croaked out while your eyes darted all over the room, “That’s not really something for me to decide for you… she’s been my friend for a while… you should get to know her too…?”

‘Kill me now,’ you thought as you looked up towards the ceiling.

“Kanna,” you said as you fumbled with your fingers, “Do you know who--?”

“What the?! What’s that?!”

You immediately stopped talking. You and Kanna peeked out the door to see Sara and Joe dragging a figure of some male away. You were about to start after them, but a hand grabbed your wrist. Kanna held you back as she hesitantly bit her lip. She stared up at you with a wavering, but determined gaze.

“C...could we talk about Itsuki…?” she asked quietly.

 

Chapter Text

“So… you wanted to talk about Itsuki, right?” you asked quietly, as you glanced at the small girl.

Just so the two of you could sit next to each other, you both had decided to sit on the two chairs beside each other on the second ledge. Kanna sat on a chair next to you as she quietly thought to herself. For a few moments, she didn’t say anything, so you decided to talk to her instead.

“Itsuki and I are friends,” you informed her as slipped off the cap on your head and held it in your hands. It was just an ordinary black cap with a customized white signature. “We met in middle school. We’ve been friends ever since. I’m assuming you know him too. You’re the same Kanna Kizuchi he tutors, right?”

Kanna’s eyes widened as they glimmered with comfort and happiness. Perhaps she was happy because she was connected to Itsuki through you.

“Yeah,” she replied, her voice tight. Her breathing got caught in a sob. “You’re probably the closest person Kanna can trust. Itsuki… talks about you sometimes. Kanna knows she can trust you. You… you’re a good person.”

Your chest bloomed with a warm feeling which circulated from your toes to the tips of your fingers. Your eyes widened as you bowed your head down.

“Thank you,” you said as you brought your head back up. “That means a lot to me. He talks to me about you. He says you’re a sweet, kind, and intelligent girl who chooses her words well.”

A small smile formed on Kanna’s lips as she giggled. “Really?”

“Really,” you told her while nodding. “He speaks well of you. I’m surprised he talked about me.”

“You two are very good friends as far as Kanna can tell,” Kanna went on as she nodded to herself. “Very close. Are you two… together?”

You snorted, as if there was a particular substance in front of your nose. That’s when you choked on your fucking spit. Immediately, you began to cough your very lungs out as Kanna panicked and smacked your back repeatedly like a drum. You sighed after managing to get the spit out of your lungs, sail over the ledge, and plop onto the ground. Leaning back into your chair, you let out a sigh of air.

“We’re not… a thing,” you said slowly as you slowly put the cap back on top of your head. “We… never really saw each other like that. I’m… not his type .” The words sounded so wrong in your mouth. “And… I wasn’t looking for a relationship.”

In every introduction, the two would always call each other a friend. Best friend, nothing more. You always respected his opinions and decisions on his love life, and he never said anything about anything you commented on anyone else.

Kanna tilted her head a bit to the side. “You weren’t .”

“Huh?” you asked as you looked at her in confusion.

“You said you weren’t looking for a relationship,” Kanna said quietly as she played with the edges of her skirt. “But are you now?”

‘Is a middle school girl seriously brain tripping me right now?’ you thought sarcastically as your eyes slid to look elsewhere. Anywhere but the truth.

Her words echoed through your mind as you gazed up at the ceiling. Were you looking for a relationship? After all that drama and shit, you felt like you needed no one besides your friends. Especially Itsuki. The two of you were basically inseparable after that. Even before, the two of you always together, as if joined by the hip. But the way the two of you stuck together held a tense atmosphere of apprehension and protectiveness. You wanted to protect him. The two of you were friends and you would continue to protect him, even if he pushed you away.

Though, that would be your worst fear to come true.

“Hm?” Kanna asked as she waved a hand in front of your face. “Are you okay?”

You blinked as you smiled and said. “Sorry, Kanna. Just spaced out. I don’t think… I’m looking for a relationship right now and neither does he.”

The girl frowned and kept on staring. Then Kanna just shrugged and got up from her couch spot. She turned towards you and smiled.

“Mom,” she said as her smile grew even brighter.

You stared in confusion and asked. “Mom? Me? You see me as a mother figure, Kanna?”

She nodded and mumbled. “Mhm. That boy… Gin. He calls you that as well, doesn’t he? Is that okay with you?”

“It’s alright,” you replied, as you got up. “Let’s go and search around, shall we?”

“And Kanna usually calls… never mind,” she muttered.

The little girl seemed to glow as she followed you out the door. As the two of you walked and entered the main room, Kanna tugged at your sleeve.

“I-I’m kind of nervous,” she admitted as she trembled in her spot. “Scared, actually. Mom… I miss my parents and my sister. So… can I hold your hand?”

You smiled and nodded as you slipped your hand into hers. Kanna giggled and smiled at you, despite the presence of the dark circles under her eyes.

“Y/N!”

You turned around to look at the source for the familiar voice and saw Joe waving at you as he went up to you.

“Can you two go the bar?” he asked. “We’re having a meeting.”

You furrowed your brows together. “A meeting? Why?”

“There’s a newcomer.” Joe said as he began to walk towards the kitchen. “Be right back! Just go to the bar!”

‘No.’

“Got it,” you said, your voice small.

“Y/N…?” Kanna asked as the two of you began to walk to the bar in a hurry. Or at least, you did.

As you entered the bar, you scanned the room and saw one unfamiliar figure who was tied up. It was a muscular man who donned a prison suit and was draped in chains. A cuff was attached to his left wrist and there was a chain ball at the end of his chains. He had dyed hair, a combination of blue, pink and yellow. He seemed to be angry as he was glaring at everyone in the room. You noticed that he seemed to be frowning at Reko in particular, but you brushed the thought aside. A heavy weight you never realized was there lifted off of your chest as you sighed.

‘It’s not him. He’s safe.’

The moment that thought entered your mind, you regretted it. That man was now in the same situation as the rest of you all were. And you didn’t care.

‘Why… I’m such a terrible person?’ you thought to yourself as you pressed your lips together. ‘I shouldn’t have thought that.’

A few minutes later, Sara, Keiji, and Kai entered the room.

“Hmph, such an annoying bunch,” the man grumbled. “You all make up ‘everyone’, right?”

‘Why does he have a British accent?’ you thought as you immediately thought of the prisoner brewing tea and wearing outdated European clothes.

“Ah…!” Sara gasped, a tad bit startled as a hand flew to her mouth.

Keiji just smiled. “Hey. Ya woke up.”

“...remove these ropes,” the man said. “So as long as you don’t want me to crush you…”

“You do realize we have two five feet men, a grown adult teacher, a punk rock girl, and two girls with fighting experience, right?” you asked quietly.

Joe coughed. “This guy’s… a little riotous. That’s troublesome…”

“Heh, a little chicken, aren’t you?” the captive man asked.

“Says the one who’s tied up in a chair,” you said drily, quirking an eyebrow as Joe released a snort.

“Hush!” the prisoner cried.

“Um… do you have a second…?” Sara asked as she approached the man.

The man in chains looked at her with widened eyes. “Hm…? You… Eee…. EYAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”

“Naaaaaaaaaaaats ingonyaaaaaaaaaa--*” Joe sang as you playfully punched him on the arm.

“As I do admire the enthusiasm between the two of you,” Mishima said quietly. “We have a problem on our hands.”

“Why is she walking around freely?!” the tied up man shrieked in absolute terror. “Hurry, hurry! Somebody capture her!”

You nudged Joe with your left elbow, as your right hand was being held on to by Kanna.

“I swear this man’s on something,” you whispered to the brunette.

“Well whatever it is, I want it,” Joe whispered back as you smiled.

“W...what’s this all’a sudden?” Q-taro asked, pointing like a maniac.

The unidentified man nodded to himself as if God had blessed him with an epiphany. “I know! Yes… yes, I do! This girl is bad news!!”

Sou waved his hands around as you noticed his arms shaking with fear. “C...calm down! How about you explain from the beginning?”

“...and could you drop that weird tone of yours,” Reko said as she looked down at the man with a frown.

The man went silent as he stared blankly at Reko. He cleared his throat.

“Hmph… look at me getting all disconcerted,” he chuckled, as you realized that he actually had a much deeper voice, not a British accent like you originally thought.

Q-taro stifled a laugh. “Is this guy playin’ a joke on us…?”

Keiji just stared at the man with a nonchalant demeanor. “Listen, we don’t have time to spend on you.” He then smiled. “But… I’ll allow a little time for inquiries. We’ll decide whether or not to untie you after that.”

“Hmph! Do not try to act superior, you blonde rascal!” the prisoner said.

“Oooh, scary. You handle the questioning, Sara,” Keiji said, casually passing the baton and attention to the poor girl.

“Whaa?! I’m doing that too?!” she cried as her eyes bugged out.

“Mr. Policeman’s shaking over here,” he fibbed as he averted his eyes.

‘I’ll die,’ you thought as you gagged at his obvious lie.

Apparently, after Sara constantly interrogating the man, you found out that his name was Gonbee Yamada, and he thought Sara was a murderer.

“My Sara? A murderer?” you asked Gonbee. “No way. She still hasn’t defeated me in kendo, yet, my good sir. In fact, the last time we fought she--”

“Anyway!” Sara interrupted as she shoved you to the side where Joe caught you. “You’ve misunderstood the situation, Gonbee.”

“Yeah, errr… so you were scared and hid, got in a panic because of gunshots… Then saw Sara with the revolver, foamed at the mouth, and then fainted?” Joe summarized as he rolled his eyes. You coughed a laugh out.

“Don’t give such a biased summary!”

After a few more questions, the interrogation was over.

“Understood,” Gonbee said. “Untie me.”

“You gonna help us?” Keiji asked, raising a brow.

Gonbee closed his eyes. “Hahaha. You’re all fools. Who would assist someone they don’t even know after hearing about the Main Game. Someone among you will most likely turn traitor! And only softhearted fools will die. It can’t be only me thinking that, right?”

‘I hate how his thinking works because he’s right,’ you thought as Kanna reached out and clasped her hand in yours again. ‘Anyone could be lying right now, and we wouldn’t even know it.’

Joe frowned, moved forward, and removed Gonbee’s restraints in one swift motion. The whole room went silent.

“Joe! What are you doing?!” Sara asked as she stared at her best friend.

Gonbee narrowed his eyes at the brunette. “...what is this supposed to be?”

Joe went silent and said. “I’ve given up on suspecting my allies.”

“...hah?” Gonbee squawked.

“I can’t imagine it!” Joe went on as he looked away. “That there’s a bad guy among us…”

‘But it’s possible, Joe,’ you thought in the depths of your mind.

Gonbee laughed. “Given up on thinking, eh? What do you know about them?”

“Well yeah, I dunno anything, but…” Joe said with a determined glint in his eye and smiled. “It’s what my heart says, so what else can I do?! I’m not smart anyhow. So I’m gonna believe in this feeling.”

“Joe!” you cried as you flung yourself onto him and hugged him. “My baby is growing up.”

“Stop it!” he cried.

After that, everyone decided to go back to investigating.

“Let’s go investigate the area better so we can figure out more about this place,” Keiji said as he rubbed his neck. “Sound good?”

“I’ll rest…” Sou said as he clutched his head. “I’m not feeling so good…”

“You good?” you asked him, as your brows knitted together in concern.

“He was attacked,” Sara said as her eyes darted around. “They hit him good.”

You narrowed your eyes. “I see.”

“Kanna… Kanna will rest as well,” she said. “Kanna wants to feel better before… the Main Game.”

“Alright,” you sighed.

‘Where should I go?’

 

Stay with Sou and Kanna

 

Leave and join someone else

Chapter Text

‘Where should I go?’

 

Stay with Sou and Kanna

 

Leave and join someone else



‘Where should I go?’

 

[Stay with Sou and Kanna]

 

Leave and join someone else

 

You felt the protective urge to stick near Kanna. It would make Itsuki happy if you kept an eye on the little girl he tutored.

“I’ll take a rest. I’m a bit pooped,” you admitted, rubbing your neck. “Is that fine with you, Sou? Kanna?”

“O-of course!” Kanna exclaimed, her eyes brightening.

Sou smiled and sighed. “Sure.”

You slumped down next to them, your back laid up near the wall. You leaned forward to look at the two. Kanna seemed to be making herself comfortable, but still looking a bit anxious between you and Sou. Sou rubbed his head, shifting his teal locks and beanie along with the circle motions of his hand.

“Your head good?” you asked, your eyebrows knitting in concern. “You don’t have a concussion or anything, right?”

He shook his head softly. “Nope. It just hurts. A lot.”

Your lips pursed into a firm line. The whole thing unsettled you. Sou being so vulnerable and getting attacked by someone. You shut your eyes.

Giggle echoed in the darkness, sending some horrid shivers up your spine that made your stomach turn in disgust.

‘Fuck,’ you thought in your head as your hands scrunched up like a piece of paper. ‘I need to stop thinking about this and just focus on something else--’

“You good?” Sou asked, raising an eyebrow. “You seem a bit agitated over there.”

You rubbed your neck. “Sorry. Just a lot to take in I guess.”

He smiled. “So the cheery and calm Miss Y/N can lose her cool, huh?”

Chuckling drily, you closed your eyes. “Bold of you to assume I was calm this whole time. Inside, I’m very worried.”

“You are?” Kanna asked, her eyes shining with pure innocence.

“I’m worried about us all, of course,” you said, smiling at her. “I want us all to be alright.”

“K-Kanna does as well!” she exclaimed, clenching her fists together.

“Alrighty!” you whispered with a smile as you fist bumped her.

You leaned forward and looked at Sou. “Hey, give your hand over here.”

The two of you fistbumped as well. You slumped back against the wall. It was a bit… saddening. What was the point in rounding up all these people and forcing them to die? It was inconceivable. Something even you couldn’t understand. And you were good at those things. Wielding knowledge, that is. You were good at that. Yes, you were. Yeah. Yeah. At least, you used to be. Maybe that’s why you couldn’t comprehend the cause to why this was happening.

You watched as Kanna sat on one of the bar stools and began to silently read the variety of alcohol drinks from afar. A bit concerning, but you would leave her to it.

“Got any plans if we get out?” Sou asked beside you.

You took note of how he said “if” and not “when”. Pressing your lips together, you thought about it.

“Going back to study?” you suggested. “I… don’t really have any other purposes or things to do than that. Oh, and hang out with my friends.”

Sou nodded as if he understood, his eyes twitching due to the pain in his head. “You in a relationship?”

You stared at him as if he just let out an atomic fart.

“Pardon?”

He tugged at his scarf. “Sorry about that. I assumed you and that white haired dude were dating…?”

“A-ah, no… we aren’t,” you said, stumbling over your words like a fool. “I-I’m not ready for one and… uh...”

“Huh,” Sou said, raising his eyebrows.

Suddenly, his eyes darted towards Kanna, who was now looking at something in her hand near the sliding cabinet. There was a bunch of small fluorescent-looking text you couldn’t read, but when the green haired girl flipped the card over there was a huge skull. You squinted hard, barely making out the words on the card. A skull that read the words “Sacrifice” at the bottom.

“You ought to toss that,” Sou breathed, fixing his beanie.

“A… aah… This is… um…!” Kanna stammered, almost dropping the card out of surprise.

Sou’s eyes slotted upwards to meet hers. “If someone finds out you have that card you die… did it say that?”

Kanna jolted, her face paling. Your head swerve to look at the scarf-wearing male.

‘What?!’ you thought, the blood rushing from your face. ‘That means…!’

The beanie boy smiled. “Relax. That’s just a dummy rule.”

“What…?” You and Kanna asked in unison.

“Oi, don’t scare us like that…!” you harshly whispered, jabbing a finger at him.

“Seems the kidnappers want to distribute one of those cards to each person,” Sou explained, pointing at the card. “...Anyway, that’s a dangerous card. Trust me and hand it over, okay…?”

“Wait, Sou. Do you have one?” you asked, looking at him.

He pulled out a card with a hoe on it. “I do.”

“...then… I’ll take that card,” you said, outstretching your hand to Kanna.

“Wait, what?” Sou asked, his voice growing inaudible.

You looked at him again. “You already have one. And you said this one was dangerous so… I’ll take care of this one.”

“No no no,”  the teal haired boy said, pushing you a little. “You don’t even know what it does--”

“So what are you going to do with it?” you asked, still not lowering your hand or gaze.

He didn’t say anything after that. You just smiled grimly.

“That’s why I’m just gonna borrow this card,” you said, your fingers beckoning Kanna to give you the card.

Sou just watched. “Well, not like I can stop you.”

Kanna gave you the card as you flipped it over. You scanned the words and scanned them again.

‘Well fuck,’ you thought as you tucked the card away. ‘I may have messed up. It’s probably karma.... For leaving her like that.’

“So.” Sou said, looking at your every movement. “Do you know what to do?”

You shrugged. “Sort of.”

He smirked. “Good to hear.”

Kanna played with the edges of her sleeve, hesitantly opening her mouth. She looked at you and then began to speak.

“Kanna… Kanna doesn’t understand things very well,” she stammered, looking at the ground. “But…! Kanna can tell that the card is… is dangerous…!”

You just smiled at her with ease. “That’s why I’ve got to take care of it, Kanna. I’ve got this.”

“D-doesn’t Sou have a plan?” Kanna asked, her voice growing small.

“Ah, Sou is weak,” you lied, silently apologizing to him. “He needs my help.”

“No I don’t,” he muttered.

“MHM,” you said loudly, nodding aggressively. “Don’t worry about it, Kanna. I… I will take care of this card.”

Sou shrugged in a nonchalant manner. “It’s up to her. Not like I can stop her.”

“...thanks, Sou,” you said, tucking the card into your hoodie pocket. “Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of this card.”

He just stared at you and tore his gaze away. You pressed your lips together again. This really wasn’t going to end well. Kanna left the bar and sat between you and Sou, smiling.

“Do… do you think anybody else is going to die…?” Kanna asked in a wobbly voice. “I… I don’t want anyone to die…”

‘What do I say? Especially since…’

The card in your pocket suddenly turned into a ticking bomb. You stopped yourself from self-consciously touching your pocket. Your attention was caught by Sou, who was staring at you as if you had all the answers. Over her head, you and Sou looked at each other, having a small mental conversation. You mouthed the words, “what do I say??” , and he mouthed back, “I don’t know” . You just stared at him pointedly as he mouthed the words “me???” as you nodded.

“I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because--”

Kanna tugged at Sou’s sleeve. “Sou? Are you sick?”

“Our good old buddy old pal Sou here is just worried about us,” you said, nodding with your eyes closed.

“I--” he started to say, raising a finger.

“Yes, yes,” you continued putting your chin in between your index finger and thumb. “He’s says that we’re all going to try our best.”

Kanna looked up at Sou with billions of stars in her eyes. “R-really?”

‘Yes, I’ll try .’

“Y-yes…” Sou said, tugging at his scarf.

He shot you a stare. You shrugged in apology.

“You truly are capricious, Miss Y/N,” he muttered, pulling his beanie over his head.

“Please. Don’t call me that.”

‘I’m losing my shit over some lousy card over here.’

‘I don’t want to die.’

‘I won’t die.’

The bucket-wearing girl clasped her hands together. “Ah! Sou! Are you feeling better?”

The teal haired man rubbed his head, wincing. “Ah bit. I’ll just wait a little longer before we continue to investigate.”

‘You’re bad at lying.’

“Don’t push yourself…!” Kanna said, clenching her small hands. You smiled at the small girl.

“She’s right,” you said, nodding. “Who knows what might happen if you get hurt again.”

Sou let out a sigh of exasperation. “You know what? Let’s go. I think I’m feeling better now.”

”Alrighty, let’s go,” you said, pointing towards the exit. “Come on, Kanna.”

You held out your hand and helped her up. The three of you walked out and entered the main room. Sou pointed up the steps that had magically appeared before.

“Let’s go check out what’s up there, okay?” he asked, a small smile appearing on his face.

“Sure,” you said, giving your hand to Kanna again. “Careful. Don’t fall.”

She nodded.

‘Ah… she’s so precious,’ you thought, as if flowers had just bloomed all over the place.

After walking up the stairs, the three of you got onto the second floor. Then you spotted Sara and sent a small wave at her. She smiled back and waved back.

“Hey, Miss Sara,” Sou said, nodding at her presence.

‘He calls her “miss”?’ you thought. ‘I didn’t know Sou was this respectful. He’s probably more friendlier to me because of our closer age gap.’

“Sou! Y/N! And…” Sara trailed off as she looked at the girl beside me.

Kanna flinched, and moved to hide behind me. I gripped her hand tight in fear of her panicking again. Still, she gave you the vibe of shyness and the feeling of not wanting to be seen by Sara at the moment.

Sou smiled at her. “Aren’t you tired? It’s not good to work too hard. You should take some time to rest.”

“Hmm… I can’t rest. Not while everyone is working so hard,” Sara replied determinedly, clenching her hand.

“I think rest is a valuable choice too, myself,” the male replied with the air of seriousness. His gaze wandered around the room. “Still… who knows who you’ll be attacked by… So I know how you feel, Miss Sara.”

‘Oh yeah,’ you thought, your eyes zeroing in on Sou’s beanie. ‘I have to keep in mind that he’s still hurt and that he shouldn’t push himself too hard.’

“Miss Sara… I don’t think you should go to the first floor on your own,” Sou said, looking at the ground.

“But…” Sara meekly protested, hesitance gently landing onto her feelings and words.

“Err… hey…” Sou said, his voice dropping a few tones. That concerned me.  “...Joe’s your best friend, right?”

‘What?’

A small smile graced Sara’s face, the uneasiness retreating like ocean water. “Yes, he can be a bit stupid in ways… but he’s a really good guy.”

“...uh-huh…” Suddenly, Sou’s face lit up with a smile again. “Miss Sara… so you trust Joe then.”

It felt as if something had grabbed your shoulders. It didn’t feel good. Something was up.

“Miss Sara,” Sou said as he walked forward. His voice lowered to a whisper while he quietly told her something.

Too quiet. You couldn’t hear what he said. Yet, you didn’t strain your ears to hear because you didn’t want to invade his privacy. 

‘What are they talking about?’

As they spoke, you gripped Kanna’s hand slightly tighter. You were suddenly reminded of something else.

‘Are they talking about me?’

‘No, stupid idiot.’

“...Sorry. That must’ve bewildered you,” Sou said, stepping away from her.

You looked at Sara’s face, astounded that her face was extremely pale. Her eyes were wide in confusion as she searched Sou’s face.

“We’ll be going now. Catch you later,” the beanie man told her as he began to walk away. 

You waved goodbye at Sara, who was still dazed out of her mind. You frowned.

“Ah, I’ll go downstairs because there’s somebody dangerous lurking around,” you told them. “Sorry, Kanna. I have to go.”

You gently let go of her hand as she nodded and ran after Sou. Turning towards Sara, you nodded.

“Shall we?”

Descending the stairs, you looked back to see if Sou was still watching. Seeing that he wasn’t, you tapped Sara’s shoulder.

“What’s wrong?” you asked as she turned around with an uneasy expression. “You look like… I don’t know. You saw a ghost?”

She shook her head, smiling. “No… I’m just… confused…”

“Confused? On what?” you asked, tilting your head.

Sara began to fidget with her hands. “Something about Joe.”

‘Oh thank God.’

“I see,” you said, pursing your lips. “Go talk to him then.”

“What?” she asked, looking at you in surprise.

You nodded again with your eyes closed. “You heard me. The best way to take care of those thoughts is to talk about them. If you’re confused about Joe, just go talk to him about it. Don’t turn into those tropes where you guys don’t talk and have miscommunication issues, okay? Don’t do that. Ever!”

She nodded, her eyes brightening a bit. “What if--”

“If you don’t want to tell him directly,” you suggested, a smile crossing your features. “Just talk. You can take something out of that. Got it?”

“Yes ma’am,” she replied with a beautiful smile.”

You grinned. “Now go! I don’t want to see you being sad!”

She nodded. “Are you going to…?”

‘Should I go with her? No… I need to think about something.’

“There are some things I need to mull over,” you said, glancing to the side. “You go ahead.”

Sara disappeared. You stood there, sighing. You put a hand on your head.

‘Fuck,’ you thought while walking forward. ‘I need some time to think.’

You walked into one of the dark hallways and flopped onto a beanie bag thing in the darkness. Sitting, you pulled out the card from your pocket. You turned it over in the dark, despite not being able to see. You put it back in your pocket again and let out another long sigh.

‘What do I do…?’

You sat there in the darkness. Just thinking about nothing for what felt like a millennia. You let out another long sigh. 

‘Karma. This is…’

You thought back to Haruka. How she screamed at you and cursed you all the way to her death. How… her death was on your hands. It was disgusting how you… constantly forgot about it. You should’ve felt more horrified. You should’ve been ashamed. You should’ve cried while you had the chance. After this, you won’t anymore. You… you could still hear her laughing. 

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴊᴏɪɴɪɴɢ ᴍᴇ ɴᴏᴡ?”

In an imaginary world, (probably in your damn head), you looked to see her lifeless corpse hanging upside down. Even thought you Her mouth opened and closed like a door with broken hinges. Her emerald eyes seemed to be more like a dead forest. They bulged out of their sockets. Her orange hair was dull and now trailed down. You didn’t bother looking up past her skirt. Her mouth began to rapidly flap up and down as her teeth sank into her mouth flesh. The sound was gruesome. Blood began to flow past her lips and down her face. Her eyes dilated as red tears erupted from them. No, it was blood. All of her blood mixed together and dripped to the ground in one big puddle. Her limbs twitched. Then began to dance violently, clashing against one another. Her hair swang around with her shiny golden necklace. Ah, that necklace. How badly you wanted to rip it off and throw it into the nearest ocean. But that's besides the point. Her fingers flexed pointlessly as her eyeballs spun in circles then stopped. They stared dead straight at you.

“ʜᴏᴘᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ꜰᴜɴ, ʏᴏᴜ ᴍɪꜱᴇʀᴀʙʟᴇ, ꜱʜᴏᴡ-ᴏꜰꜰ ᴡᴇɴᴄʜ!”

You jolted aggressively. Putting a hand over your chest, you could feel how much your chest was beating. 

“Fuck…” you breathed, squinting your eyes shut.

Placing an arm over your eyes, you began to think.

‘Sorry, Sara. Joe. Guess we won’t go out for another big hangout with the whole group again. Sorry, Gin. I won’t be able to babysit you anymore. That one time was probably the last time. Sorry, Kanna. I’m selfish. I just comforted you and now I’m about to tear you to pieces. Sorry, Sou. You’re probably feeling extra guilty for letting me have the card. Well, who am I to decide emotions? I’m not God. If only… If only I had the same power. If I did, this would’ve never happened... Sorry, Itsuki. Guess I couldn’t bring you your bandaids. I won’t be able to care for you anymore. Not anymore. I won’t talk to you anymore, laugh with you anymore, see you anymore… Sorry. Sorry I couldn’t--’

You stopped. You lifted off your arm and sat up. You walked out of the darkness and blinked blearily because of the light. A mistake, but you needed to clear your head.

‘Don’t think of things that aren’t good for you. They aren’t true.

Walking around, you saw no one. Deserted. Empty.

“Where is… everyone…?” you asked yourself, walking up the stairs to the second floor.

Standing before you down a dark hallway was a door with a shining light. You walked towards it.

“What the--?” you asked as you looked inside.

Suddenly you were pushed. Your stomach felt light and sick.

When you came to, you suddenly sat up.

“--fuck!” you shouted as you stared at the pilings of food before you on a table.. A bright TV screen with the Laughing Doll herself was positioned at the end of the table. Standing up, you walked towards the table and looked at the assortment of delectables and beverages.

‘What is this…?’

Chapter Text

The pilings of food on platters seemed to be a bit ironic. You felt so sick to your stomach, you could throw up. Especially with the threat of death looming overhead, you couldn’t think rationally. The moment you had obtained that card, you just knew. Based on Sou’s warnings and the blatant words “sacrifice”, you just knew. 

You were going to die. 

Thinking rationally was one of your best traits. Still, here you were losing your mind. Your gaze glanced towards the screen, where Miley stood in front of a tropical beach with the crystal blue water and tall, swaying palm trees.

“Eeheehee… everyone… how are you feeling?” Miley asked with a condescending smile.

‘Like shit,’ you thought while picking up a glass of water to calm your nerves.

“This is a pre-recorded video… so I am afraid I cannot answer any questions,” she went on. “Allow me to thank you, truly, for taking part of the Main Game.”

You finished guzzling down the water and placed it onto the table. ‘Makes sense. I figured.’

“This is a waiting room for participants… the Last Supper Room,” Miley went on, gesturing through the screen. “You may fill yourself before the game, or form a strategy. Use it however you please.”

Sitting on the floor, you made sure to pay close attention to her words. They were going to be crucial towards your survival.

She grinned maliciously. “Those who beat the Main Game will proceed to the Next Floor! Hooray! Not that those who do not leave their waiting rooms once the Main Game starts will die as a penalty. Please be aware… eeheehee…”

You held up the card with the ever so deadly skull on its face. This wasn’t going to be good. The word “sacrifice” was off-putting as well.

You already knew your fate. It was so obvious.

“I will now explain the rules of the Main Game,” Miley said, clasping her hands together. “Everyone, please take the cards you obtained while exploring and touch it to this screen.”

Miley stopped, her face frozen as if the reel had ended. Or paused. You got up, walked over to the TV screen, and placed it onto the flat surface. After you did, Miley seemed to animatedly talk again.

“The rules are profoundly simple,” she said, the smile still present on her face. “One person will be selected by majority vote and that person will die. That is all.”

‘Then… what’s with this card?’ you thought, sending daggers towards the wretched card in your hands. ‘This wasn’t decided by majority vote. This card probably serves a different purpose. But what?’

Miley rolled on. “The vote will be split into two parts. The first will be the preliminary vote, where half the total will be chosen as candidates. Currently, 13 people are alive, so 6 people will be chosen. A final vote will be held using these, deciding the ultimate victim. In short, the victim is decided by narrowing 13 people, two six, to one!”

‘How reassuring,’ you thought dully while blankly staring at the Laughing Doll.

The woman’s expression grew dark on the screen. “Of course, even those who have not been chosen as candidates can participate in the vote! So please don’t kill of your own volitions!”

‘So trust also counts into this,’ you thought. ‘You have to be trustworthy in order for you to be safe.’

“Of course, there are holes in this game,” Miley said, her eyes growing darker with each passing second. “We do not want to have intentless games of luck. Such worthless acts to decide the victim like rock paper scissors are forbidden!”

Your eyes narrowed at the words. You wondered what the purpose behind those words were.

“And so, everyone! Please take out your cards!” Miley exclaimed with glee as her expression let up.

You held your card in your hands as you listened to Miley’s next words carefully.

“There are four roles given by the cards. The first is the Commoner,” she explained as the screen suddenly changed to show green stick figures. “This is a meaningless card with no power at all. The second is Keymaster.” The figures turned red with one of them hanging on a noose. “And oh my! It’s a terrifying role indeed, for if chosen as the victim, everyone will perish!”

‘So at all costs, the Keymaster has to be kept alive,’ you thought as you bit on a nail. ‘Unless someone wants a mass suicide--’

“This is the Sage. By holy divintation, they know who the Keymaster is. A very lucky role! Congratulations to the owner!” Miley’s voice crowed with vigor as the stick figures all turned green except for one who glowed yellow and was point at with arrows. “Fourth is the Sacrifice.”

‘My card,’ you thought while looking at the card.

“Amazingly, this card allows the person to survive only if chosen as the victim!” Miley informed as all the stick figures turned red except for one which was green. “Which means if they are not chosen they die!”

‘...ah,’ you thought as you felt the earth rumble. Or perhaps that was your imagination. Your whole world was beginning to fall apart. But what did you expect? You had already known. Sou had told you the risks of the card. And the words “sacrifice” were kind of obvious. Still, you took the risk. That was all on you.

“However, there are positives as well!” Miley declared brightly. “Not only do they get to have two votes for themselves alone…” The screen flashed, and a green arrow with a heart connected the green person to another green person. “If they win, they can escape alive with a person of their choice! Well in that case… all the others will perish. So good luck!”

‘The two most important cards are the Keymaster and the Sacrifice,’ you thought, nervously tapping your foot. ‘They make or break the game. I… am one of those people.’

The screen flashed back to Miley’s smiling face. “There is one Keymaster, Sage, and Sacrifice each. All the rest are Commoners. Committed to memory, yes?”

‘Yes ma’am,’ you thought dully while pocketing your card.

“So at minimum, two people die,” Miley said calmly while clasping her hands like some saint. “So everyone, try your best not to die!”

You looked up at the screen. ‘That’s… a lot of people out of thirteen... considering the amount of times they want us to do this. And I’m pretty sure they want us to do this a lot.’

Again, the screen flashed, and seemed to reel back like a film. You watched as Miley’s face reappeared again, her smile was wide as ever, but seemed a bit different from the last pre-recorded video.

“Apologies if you are afraid,” she said while smiling at you. “We just did what had to be done. Better you I guess.”

The screen paused again. What did she mean? Nevermind that. You needed to figure out what to do. What should you do. You were placed with a card that plummeted you into danger.

‘Ah, if only I had listened to Sou and used common sense,’ you thought, suddenly thirsty for more water.

"ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ʀᴇᴀᴅʏ?"

When you had the card in your hands, the imminent feeling that you were going to die had already washed over you. So why were you so surprised at Miley’s declaration of the roles of the cards? You just guessed that you were scared. You needed to make up your mind. Still, there was no perk for you at all. Even if you did get to choose someone to leave with you, you knew a lot of people here. From a selfish view standpoint, your heart would hurt leaving any of the people you knew before you got here would hurt. So, what should you even do?

 

What goal should you attempt to do?

 

A. Sacrifice yourself in order for the others to survive

B. Make everyone to vote for you to survive

C. Figure it out as you go along.

Chapter Text

Option: C

 

Despite searching your brain for any thoughts in mind, you had no plan. With no other choice, you reluctantly decided to go with a plan to bullshit your way through the preliminary round to figure out your course of actions. Although logic and facts were your specialty, this was some other sort of deep thinking which you lacked. The only thing you could try to do now was to trust your instincts and figure out what to do along the way.

‘I’m screwed,’ you thought while knocking on your head with your knuckles as if that would help. ‘I’ll just wing it. That’s all I can do for now.’

You grabbed the glass cup on the table and had another cup of water, the refreshment flowing down your throat. This whole situation called for you to use your brain and think. In all seriousness, how was the whole procedure even supposed to start? No matter how one looked at it, you all were voting to kill someone. That in itself was something you really weren’t so sure about.

‘It’s murder either way,’ you thought, your fist curling in itself.

Internally screaming, you knew the time had come to enter the grounds of the Main Game. The card in your pocket suddenly felt heavy again, weighing down your every step. The feeling of dying… you knew that feeling. Faintly touching your neck, you brushed off any thoughts that was distracting you from the present reality before you. Whether it was when you felt that your life had no value or the time you were almost murdered. You knew this “Main Game” wasn’t going to end well. Then, the projector flickered back to life as Miley began to speak again.

“It’s now time. Please head to the grounds via the door near the screen, everyone,” Miley said, pointing through the screen. “I wish you luck. Eheeheee… Ahahaha… If you wait ten minutes without leaving, you will be killed as penalty. Please hurry.”

“Clown,” you muttered while slapping the palms of your hands onto your cheeks.

‘Retain your composure. You can do this,’ you thought while clenching your fists in quiet defiance.

‘I don’t wanna die.’

‘But if any of them die, I…!’

You cautiously opened the door and walked through. Your heart was beating fast, your chest felt tight. Your stomach swirled around in a circular motion like it was being flushed down along with your spirits. You held your head high up, back straight, and walked into the room. Overall, the ambience was different from the area you had investigated. The walls and floor were darkly colored with these strange looking desks that were about waist height. They looked like hourglasses of some sort. You looked around and almost everybody had come in.

‘Where’s Kanna?’ you thought while searching around for the green-haired girl.

“Mom!” Gin cried while latching onto your waist. “I’m scared!”

“Don’t worry,” you reassured while running a hand over his head. “I’ll make sure you’re safe. I’ll make sure of it.”

He squeezed you even tighter as your heart clenched. Why were there kids here? That was just messed up…

“...here we are,” Keiji said, rubbing his neck with a smile.

“You guys…! That was fast…” Q-taro gasped as he stood in a defensive position.

Reko’s face just twisted in anger as she looked away. Nao groaned, she looked pale as a sheet while Mishima stood by her to make sure she was well. Kai stood solemnly, taking in our situation. He looked unfazed but scared, it was hard to put my finger on it.

Gonbee put his hands together, rubbing them with either nervousness or anticipation. You assumed the former.. “...Hmph. All of you, so pale…”

“You seem unfazed,” I commented while stroking Gin’s head to relax him.

He smiled at you, a steely look in his eyes. “I am not afraid to face death head on.”

“I see,” you replied, nodding in his direction.

‘Huh,’ you thought while looking around.

Gin squeezed my waist even tighter while Joe just grimaced. Sou gripped his scarf tightly as if it was his lifeline. I heard someone gasp for air as I turned and saw Kanna hurrying to join us.

“Kanna…!” you exclaimed as the girl joined the group.

“...sorry…” she mumbled, her fingers toying with her hair. “Kanna… Kanna had to catch her breath...”

‘This is messed up,’ you thought, watching the girl tremble in place.

“Eheehee… ah, so you’ll take part after all?” a familiar sinister voice asked.

You turned your head to see Miley standing before all of you, her and her horrendous outfit.

Q-taro clenched his huge fists. “Miley…! You…!”

She just smiled and laughed. Her arm stretched out towards the strange set ups. “Ahaha… please take a good look at those desks, everyone. A rather interesting setup, isn’t it?” Some strange red-maroon color started to fill the hourglasses. “Eheehee… they are reverse hourglasses. Most curious indeed. When these hourglasses have all reached the top, the discussion will end. You have 70 minutes until the preliminary vote. After that, you can discuss for 20 minutes before the final vote. Well then, shall the discussion begin?” The Laughing Doll gestured towards the tables. “Let us start the Main Game! Everyone, stand at whichever desk you like!”

You just went with the flow of people and ended up next to Gin and Kai. Standing before the others, you clutched the round edges of your desk and looked around.

‘How… does this even work?’ you thought while scanning the other’s uneasy faces.

“Now then, you seem to be ready!” Miley exclaimed with a gleeful grin. “Ahaha…! Let this wonderful, wonderful Main Game begin!”

The air grew thick and heavy as Miley went over the rules once again. Once she finished speaking, she sat on a big throne of some sort, watching us as if we were mere ants. I was tempted to grab Kai’s frying pan and wack her over the head one more time. Everyone stared at each other, not sure what to do.

Sou raised his hand to gather everyone’s attention. “Okay, so… before we begin, there’s something I wanna say up front.” Everyone nodded, waiting for him to say his statement. He smiled. “Thanks. Well… it’s just a short one. I’m nervous… but I’ll say it. You see, I’m the Keymaster.”

‘Mental note,’ you thought while looking at Sou. ‘Sou is the Keymaster.’

Sou looked to the side. “I was unsure whether I should keep quiet… but I want to avoid us all dying so…”

The large baseball player leaned forward. “Really…?! That’s the truth, ain’t it…?! If nobody else is gonna name themselves… Then yeah, I’ll believe it!!”

‘Huh, I wonder when he picked that card up. Well, I guess he’s in the clear--’ you thought until your eyes darted over to Sara.

She looked uneasy, her eyes piercing into Sou. You looked at Sou, his face perfectly calm and smiling. It was a feeling something bubbling within you that said something was amiss. It was most likely your imagination, but your instincts were screaming at you. And you trusted those instincts out of everything you doubted within yourself.

“Sara… you got something to say?” you crossed your arms in thought and looked at her.

Her violet eyes widened for a split second. You could practically envision her gaining her resolve back as she held her head up high. It was something that you always admired, yet you could never achieve.

She nodded, and turned towards the others. “Wait, please! I’m… the Keymaster!”

Once again, your instincts were correct.

‘Okay, so Sou might not be the Keymaster,’ you thought in your head. ‘Then… who’s actually the Keymaster?’

Q-taro’s face twisted with disconcertion. “What’d you saaaaaaaaaaay?!”

“There’s two Keymasters?!”

Everyone burst into whispers, looking around at each other like brown statue-looking people. You took your hands and slammed them onto your desk, causing a large sound.

“Order!” you shouted, as the noise ceased. You looked up to see everyone looking at you. “Uh, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As Miley said: there’s only one Keymaster. The only role with multiple holders is the Commoner.”

Sou nodded as he put his hand on his beanie like he thought it would fall off. “She’s right… So, Miss Sara… why are you lying?”

“That’s… my line, Sou,” Sara said, her mouth set in a frown.

“Didn’t you hear your dear friend, Y/N?” he asked, nodding in your direction. “There’s only one Keymaster. I never imagined that you would lie like this.”

“What’s going on now?!” Nao exclaimed, her face becoming even paler. “Is one of the two lyingggg?!”

“In accordance to the rules, it would seem so,” Mishima said, nodding as if he was thinking to himself. “But… who?”

You glanced at the two: Sara and Sou. Who was lying? You scrutinized both of them to decipher any signs from their body language and speech. Sara was hesitant but sure, while Sou was calm and reasonable. They were almost the opposite yet the same. Wait, that didn’t even matter . You just needed to examine their body language and behavior. There was no need to add any extra thinking.

‘But I’ve been with Sara for a few years now,’ you thought in your head. ‘And I know her features become easily scrambled when she lies. So that means…’ Your eyes glanced at Sou and back to the floor. ‘Sou is lying. But why?’

Q-taro let out a frustrated grunt.

“This makes no damn sense!” Reko exclaimed, her anger increasing along with the color in her face.

Keiji spread his arms apart. “Hey, hey. Settle down, everybody. Listen, the roles of the cards only really become important come the final vote. First… our priority is to look at the suspicious characters. There really might be someone lurking on the side of the kidnappers after all.”

‘Okay,’ I thought while pushing my thoughts around as if they were food to pick out an answer. ‘Let’s think about the roles later.’ You thought about the card in your pocket and swallowed down a dry nothing.

Q-taro cleared his throat while confidently putting out his statement. “...think we just gotta choose the most suspicious, least uncooperative person here. I’ve already settled on my pick…”

Joe’s eyebrows shot up. “Huh…?!”

“Curse me if you wanna, I…” Q-taro accusingly pointed at the friendly neighborhood prison mate. “Gonbee!! I’m votin’ fer you!!”

‘Bruh.’

Gonbee just smiled and opened his eyes. “What about it?”

Bruh .’

“Say what?!” Q-taro asked, hunching over like always.

The dyed hair man chuckled to himself like Joe when I take his fries. “Mwahahaha… do what you like.”

“D...dumbass! What are you talking about?!” your brunette male friend asked, his mouth falling open in shock. “That means… you’ll die!”

The prison inmate just put his hand onto his chest. “You’re the fools… just think for a second.”

“What do you mean?” Nao asked, her face so pale that you were willing to donate your blood.

Keiji spoke up to voice his thoughts. “This vote… shouldn’t be focused on one point.”

Kai nodded, agreeing with the policeman. “Agreed. This is a preliminary vote. If we all were to unanimously vote for Mr. Gonbee…”

“Gonbee would be our only choice in the final vote…” Sou added, also coming to the same realization.

Joe grimaced, also pitching in. “Oh man… And if Gonbee is the Sacrifice or the Keymaster…!”

“We’re screwed,” you finished, your lips pressing together.

“We’re all done feeeerrrrrr?!” the muscular baseball player exclaimed, his bellows echoing throughout the room.

“It’s not as if we freely chose which role cards we got, right?” the freelancer asked, surveying our faces.

‘Ahahahahaha….. Definitely not,’ you thought to yourself while having a nice uncomfortable laugh in your head.

Gonbee let out another evil chuckle. “Mwahahaha… the chaos ensues! I’ll watch closely as you all flail about…”

“Dammit…!” Q-taro cursed, though it was really nothing to be angry about.

‘Poetic,’ you thought while taking another mental note in your head. ‘Okay, so I have to be careful who I vote for. Considering the fact I have two votes.’

“Whew… this game is more malicious than I thought,” Keiji sighed, looking off to the side.

‘Well, we are killing each other based on our votes,’ you thought grimly while crossing your arms again.

“If we want to survive, we have to assemble as close to five candidates as possible,” Keiji said, looking at all of us.

“We gotta suspect FIVE people?!” Joe asked incredulously as his teeth grit together.

You closed your eyes. How were you even supposed to do this? This was pushing everything to the brink of murder.

"ʜᴇʏ..."

‘Focus.’

"ᴅᴏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɴᴏᴡ..."

You looked up and forward.

"...ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴡɪʟʟ ʜᴀᴘᴘᴇɴ ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅɪᴇ?"

You felt a scalding hand grab onto your shoulder, and a freezing grip on your neck. They were two opposites both trying to kill you at the same time. You tried to ignore the feeling, but the words echoed in your head. "ʏᴏᴜ'ʟʟ ᴄᴏᴍᴇ ᴊᴏɪɴ ᴍᴇ."

“Sheesh… already beaten at the first push?”

You looked up at Gonbee, who was smiling again. Then he opened his eyes in a passionate fit of emotion.

“Sara Chidouin! I will vote for you! Have you anything to say back?!” he asked, pointing at the girl.

“Eh…?!” the girl cried as Joe and I leaned forward angrily in unison.

“Hold on! Sara’s like our leader!” Joe exclaimed while pointing at Gonbee. “What’s your basis…?!”

“I agree with that!” you added, pointing at Sara. “Sara’s solved most of the puzzles here-- Wait. Sara’s our leader?”

Joe leaned over his table. “You didn’t know?!”

“Uh… no?” you said, shrugging while Joe facepalmed at your ignorance.

Gonbee lowly chuckled to himself again crossing his arms. “Haha… Then why don’t we discuss whether her actions are suspicious or not? I found it suspicious from the word go… how a mere high school girl became a leader…”

“Sara’s almost always acted with others,” Keiji defended, still cool as a cucumber. “She couldn’t do anything suspicious… right?”

Nao stepped forward, her complexion now a pale purple. “Doubting others is one thing, but doubting Sara?! You’re awful…!”

‘I don’t see the difference, but someone please let this woman lay down or something,’ you thought to yourself as you leaned on your table.

“Sara, talk back to him! Gonbee’s just got the wrong idea about you!” Joe called out a frown on his face.

Gonbee gave a half grimace, half smile. “Hmph… you sure do have a lot of friends. Have at you, Sara Chidouin…!”

‘He’s… not wrong. It’s been a few hours, and yet Sara has everybody defending her. I can see how he thinks it’s strange,’ you thought, sighing grimly.

“I’ve seen through to the reason the others have submitted to you,” Gonbee said, still smirking.

“What do you mean by that...?!” Sara asked, her eyebrows scrunched, perplexed by everything.

“Sara, don’t take it personally,” you said, holding your hand out. “It’s understandable depending on different viewpoints.”

Gonbee continued as he laid out his reasoning. “You alone have a weapon… the only one!”

‘Huh?’ you thought while you traced back into your mind as Gonbee went on about Sara being a dictator. ‘When did Sara carry a weapon…? We already explained the Russian Roulette… was there another weapon I wasn’t aware of?’

Sara brought out a long narrow box with numbers inside. She explained the imprint of the weapon and how she did not take it.

‘Looks like a knife,’ you thought, your hand tracing your cheek subconsciously. Your hand halted as you swore it began to flash colors. Blinking, your delirium left you as your sight began to right itself again.

“Well, where did it go?!” Gonbee asked, his face masked in anger.

“That’s not relevant right now!” Sara shot back, her presence oozing confidence.

‘Hah… I aspire to be like her,’ you thought as the conversation toned down.

“I’ve… decided on an answer,” Q-taro said out of the blue as he took a deep breath.

“Q-taro…” Sara murmured, her purple eyes sliding over to look at the baseball player.

He nodded as he gained more resolve. “Lettin’ this end in silence’s the most insane plan we could take. That’s why I’m gonna say it. In all our searchin’ and discussions… who were the biggest burdens, an’ the most weak…?” You held your breath as he announced three names. “Kanna, Gin, and Y/N… I’m talkin’ about you three.”

Gin violently flinched and Kanna shrunk into herself. In confusion, you whirled around to Q-taro.

“Huh?!” you exclaimed not only for the two children’s sake but also yours.

Mishima murmured to himself. “This is troublesome…”

“What are you talking about?!” Joe asked, his eyes growing slightly larger with surprise. “Y/N… she’s contributed to searches and discussions!”

“You can’t--” Sara started to say as Reko shouted.

“Are you shittin’ me?!” the punk girl asked as she glared at Q-taro. “You think you ain’t gonna get picked just ‘cause you’ve got strength?!”

“Then go ahead and vote for me!” the large man bellowed while holding down a stare at Reko.

Reko blanched as she squawked. “Wha…?!”

“Vote what your will tells ya!” Q-taro exclaimed while clenching his fists.

The discussion moved one as you sank into your thoughts again.

‘He’s right,’ you thought while staring at the ground again for the thousandth time today. ‘If we’re left with no choice, our only option is to weed out the ones who hinder our progression the most. This sucks, but he’s right.’ “I’m sure… Gin found something,” you said, trying to regain courage from the shock of Q-taro’s declaration. “Just give him some time. He’s… shy.”

‘I need to save them. I absolutely won’t let them die,’ you thought, gripping the table.

“Kanna took care of Sou when he got hurt,” you lied as you continued to talk. You tried to maintain a calm look on your face. “Kanna is far more useful than I am.”

Joe squawked, his voice turning wheezy as his eyes bugged out. “Wha?! Y/N!”

‘I don’t want you to die.’ Itsuki’s face flashed in your head as your heart ached. ‘He won’t like it if you die either.’

“Kanna… are you afraid?” Sara asked the little girl while carefully observing her.

The girl just gave you the most heartbreaking expression as she whispered. “...Kanna… doesn’t… care what happens anymore.”

“H… huh?” you asked as your voice grew distant.

“Kan… na?” Sara mumbled as she stared at the girl in horror.

“Even if she’s chosen… it’s fine,” Kanna mumbled, her face paler than Nao’s. Her glassy eyes looking at yours. “Kanna… doesn’t really mind if she’s picked…”

“Wh... aaaaaaaaaat?!” Q-taro exclaimed, his jaw going slack.

Kanna looked up at the ceiling as you felt your stomach drop the opposite way. “She’s had… enough… Kanna… just wants to go to her sister.”

“Kanna! Don’t be ridiculous!” Reko exclaimed, her facial expressions widening.

“Kanna… you can’t…” you insisted while pointing at her. “I… I won’t let you…”

“I’m just… tired,” she mumbled, her form slumping.

‘Is this… really how she felt? Was I… that oblivious?’ you thought as everyone around you continued to talk. Everything was going dim as you could feel walls towering over you, threatening to crush your very being along with your will to fight for Kanna’s sake.

Kai’s voice drew you out of your thoughts. “This is troubling… Miss Kanna may have drawn the Sacrifice card.”

‘Wait… but I have the Sacrifice card,’ you thought as you began to sink away into the floor.

“Sacrifice?!” Joe exclaimed, his eyes widening.

Kai nodded solemnly. “The Sacrifice must be chosen to survive. Thus, they would put on a one-man show.”

“Yet she’s got enough motive that we could believe she actually wants to die,” Keiji murmured, looking over to the side.

‘No.. way…’ you thought as you felt the floor crumble beneath you. ‘Kanna wants to die?’

‘Stupid.’

“T-then no picking her for now, right?” Reko asked as you could feel yourself nod.

Sou agreed and wanted to move onto the next topic. You noticed Sara staring at him.

“Are you… protecting her?” Sara asked as your eyes widened a fraction.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sou denied, as you squinted. There was some sort of lurking intent underneath, but you weren’t sure what it was.

“Gin,” you whispered. You turned and crouched down to look at him. “You’re an amazing boy… I’m sure you found something amazing. Don’t you want to share it with us? Please?”

“...meow…” he whimpered as you pat his head.

“Reko, did he find something?” Sara asked, turning to the rockstar.

Reko looked up and thought to herself when she snapped her fingers with a smile. “That’s right! Come to think of it, Gin said he found something amazing in the second floor room! Gin, show it to them! That amazing thing you found in the second floor room!”

“Amazin’ thing…?!” Q-taro asked, now curious.

Gin hid behind you. “...dunno… anything about that, meow…”

“H-huh?!” the woman asked, shock plastered onto your face.

‘Gin, why are you lying?’ you thought, fear sinking into your chest.

A betrayed look crossed Q-taro’s face. “Reko… ya got a fine attitude… but see here… It ain’t right to go an’ spout lies to protect people, alright?!”

“No! I… I tell you… I’m not lying!” Reko stammered as she grit her teeth.

“Somebody’s gotta die in his place… maybe it’ll be you?” Q-taro asked as Reko twitched and cursed.

“...Woof… Big Sis Reko…” Gin whispered behind you as you turned to pat his head.

“Gin… are you gonna let them talk to Reko like that. You need to tell the truth in order to protect yourself and Reko,” you said gently. You gave him a small smile.

He nodded a little. “....I do… I do, meow… but… but…”

“What a cowardly kid! And you call yourself a man?!” Q-taro asked, antagonizing the boy.

Gin let out a whimper and sniffled as you turned to glare at Q-taro. You were tempted to yell at him.

“Quit it,” you growled while turning away from the large man. You spoke gently to Gin while placing your hand on his shoulders. “Gin… Q-taro’s right. You need to speak up for yourself or no one’s going to help you. I can’t even take your place when we vote…”

“Ya won’t get special treatment, kid!” Q-taro argued, trying to get something out of Gin.

Gin sagged lower. “...I didn’t see anything, meow…”

You looked him in the eye seriously. “So… did Reko lie?”

“N...no… Big Sis Reko didn’t, meow… but…” Gin mumbled as he squeezed Mewchan tighter to his chest.

“Gin… what’s wrong?” you asked, trying to get him to speak. “I… we’re all trying to defend you. You need to convince Q-taro because Reko looks like a liar and you look like a fraud.”

“I… just didn’t wanna believe that thing, woof!” he yelped as he buried himself into your arms. “I… didn’t want to show anyone that thing and make them worry, meow…”

“Whatever it is, don’t worry about it alone,” you said, holding out your hand for a high-five. “We’ve got your back.”

“Okay, Mom!” he exclaimed, slapping one of his gloved hands onto yours. “Seeing Big Sis Reko getting yelled at by Big Muscle Gorilla really ticked me off, meow!”

Gin explained how he was trying to piece together papers that were shredded on the second floor.

“I… didn’t wanna believe it, meow…” he said softly while squeezing the nonexistent life out of Mewchan. “It said… Big Sis Sara was a murderer!”

You stopped as you felt your brain fart. “What??”

“...Huh?” Sara asked as her voice cracked in confusion.

“WHAAAAAAAAT?!” Joe exclaimed, his voice echoing across the room.

“What’re you on about?!” Q-taro asked, his face swirling with confusion.

“Gin,” you said, calling his name as he turned to you. “Do you have this letter?”

“It looked more like a list than a letter, woof!” he exclaimed while pulling it out. He handed two pieces of paper to you. “See, meow?”

You looked at the papers. There were percentages on the left side, names in the middle, and then occupations. First you saw Sara’s, her name was on the top. Her percentage was the highest out of everyone’s on the paper. Her occupation was a murderer. And the next person was some man named Naomichi Kurumada. After that was Keiji and then Q-taro. 

You showed it to Sara. “Wanna see?”

Walking over to her, you handed it to her as she examined the papers. Her face lit up with recognition as she opened one of her uniform pockets. 

She took out a torn piece of paper and cried with a confident expression. “This is it!”

“What is it, meow?” Gin asked, peering up at Sara.

“Take a look at this. It’s a piece of paper I picked up,” Sara said, handing me the paper as You ran back to Gin.

You handed him the paper. He gingerly took it and looked at it carefully.

“M-m-meow?! This looks…” he stammered while looking at the paper with wide eyes.

“Y/N. Paper, please?” Sara asked, smiling in your direction.

You gave it back to her and decided to go back to your desk. Sara demonstrated how the rips between the papers looked the same and was able to piece the other half onto another.

“That means… they ripped it in a stack!” Sara exclaimed, her reasoning and logic clear.

“But y’know… what are these sheets in the first place?” Joe asked, looking at them curiously.

Sou looked to the side and commented. “...They are creepy, aren’t they?”

“Yay! Big Sis Sara isn’t a murderer!” Gin cried with relief while grinning behind his mask.

“Wait, who’s the name that connects with the murderer?” you asked, looking at Sara who pieced the papers together.

“It would be… Alice Yabusame,” Sara informed while setting down the papers.

“Yabusame?” Gin asked, his eyes widening in recognition.

“Reko,” you breathed, turning to the girl in realization. “Your last name is Yabusame, right?” you inquired, looking at the punk girl.

“Yeah… but I don’t know anybody named that,” Reko denied, shaking her head.

Keiji looked at Sara. “Sara, what do you think?”

“I think…” she said while crossing her arms in thought. “...Reko and Alice are different people.”

“Why’s that?”

“That blackboard in the bar!” Joe piped up as his eyebrows furrowed. “The blackboard had a list of people who could and couldn’t drink! Both the names ‘Reko’ and ‘Alice’ were on there!”

“Um, come to think of it…” Nao spoke up while clutching her hands. “When I was searching… I found some chalk on the floor.”

Reko denied that her identity was this “Alice” and said that it was her brother.

“Your brother and not your sister?” Kai asked, his eyebrows raising. “Your excuses are becoming more and more illogical.”

“Hey, it’s possible,” you defended as you put your hand over your mouth in thought. “I don’t think she’s lying either.”

“Miss Y/N is correct,” Mishima agreed, adjusting his glasses. “Gender isn’t that stiff.”

Everyone began to gang up on Reko, and you thought the shift in mood was really strange.

“Reko! Are you lying?!” Q-taro interrogated as he pointed at the woman.

“Objection!” you shouted, your voice cutting through the noise of mixed voices. You slammed your hands onto the desk again. “Let’s… have Reko explain. Besides, gender is not contained by names--”

“WAAAAAAAAAIIIIIT!” a voice cried out.

You turned towards Gonbee, a panicked expression on his face. “It’s me, okay?! I’m Alice, okay?!?!”

Everybody looked in silence as Keiji coughed a “huh?” into his arm.

“I’m Alice, I’m telling you!” Alice cried agonizingly while he clutched his prison uniform. “Reko did nothing wrong! It’s a misunderstanding!”

“Erm… we don’t have time for jokes,” Keiji said, a smiling breaking onto his face.

“No, that’s wrong,” you disagreed as the smile slipped from Keiji’s face. “I don’t think he’s joking. They might actually be related.”

“Reko… is my little sister,” the not-Gonbee-but-now-Alice explained while gesturing over to the punk girl. “I lied. I went to prison for murder.”

“He’s right. He’s my older brother,” Reko said, casting a frustrated look at the ground. “I told him to hide our relationship because I didn’t want to scare the others.”

“Wait, murder?!” Joe grimaced, his face turning pale again. “That’s even worse!”

Keiji looked at Alice with a serious expression. “So, you deny any connection with the kidnappers?”

“I was brought here unbeknownst to my knowledge as well,” Alice proclaimed as he screwed  his eyes shut in anger. “Seeing each other after such a long time... it’s not funny! She told me she didn’t want to see my mug around too!”

“I guess that’s solved,” Sou interrupted as he looked at us. “How about we hear why we should vote for Y/N. I’m curious.”

“I agree,” Mishima added as he pointed at the hourglasses. “We don’t have much time.”

‘I forgot about that.’

‘How could you forget? Or…’

“ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴇᴀɢᴇʀ ᴛᴏ ᴅɪᴇ?”

“R...right…” you stammered as you felt your resolve crumble away. “Uh… Q-taro? Why would you vote for me?”

‘I’ve participated in discussions and went around as well.’

“I don’t get it,” you said, raising your hand. “Why am I one of the weakest? I’ve talked in the discussions and went around--”

“If ya think goofin’ off during the discussions is gonna progress it, it ain’t!” Q-taro shouted as you felt your heart stop. “Sure you’ve talked, but all ya did durin’ those was mess around with yer friends!”

Everything was starting to fall apart like a house of cards. Each falling piece of useless cardstock was a shard of your confidence, personality, and life. Still, the material valued your quality and worth: flimsy and useless.

‘Was that… all I did during the discussions?’ you thought as the world seemed to move slower around you once again. Everything felt as if time stopped and you were slowly drowning in the air you could breathe no longer. ‘Sure when we first met I did goof off with Joe a lot and not take it seriously… but I searched. I was with Sou…’

“But… I searched,” you said, your voice suddenly small because of your shrinking confidence. “I was with Sou…”

“But ya can’t do anything with the laptop. Plus, Sou was the one who found tha room!” Q-taro argued as you realized another thing: he was right. You had zero skill sets whatsoever. You had nothing to contribute. “Plus, I saw you zonin’ out after the practice round! Ya stood there for ten minutes!”

Your resolve and conviction shattered. The truth of his words struck you in the heart. He was right. Besides, it was easier for the preliminary vote. It made it easier for everyone if they voted for you, someone with no value at all despite being present in the face of others’ talents.

‘Why? I participated in conversations… I just… tried to lighten the mood. Is that not what they’re looking for? Is that why I’ll get cut off?’

“Wait, but she has participated in the discussions!” Joe interjected as he pointed at Gin. “She was comforting Gin and she managed to make him speak for his sake!”

“Don’t do Mom like that, woof!” Gin exclaimed loudly, glaring at Q-taro.

“Right, but…” Keiji added as you turned to him in shock. “We’re talking about who contributed the most. If you say that... she hasn’t contributed much at all. Anyone one of us could have done that.”

Crack

You could feel your confidence break and waver again. The dilapidated state it was in was fragile. Still, it was mercilessly assaulted by something that tore down everything standing in its path if deemed unworthy: the truth.  It was falling apart because of its uselessness. This new personality that you had. You liked it so much after shedding the old one. In the end, it hindered the group investigation and didn’t add on to the group discussions.

“W-wait....” you heard Kanna murmur as her eyes darted all over the room in fear.

‘Ah, you’re worrying them again.’

“Y-You can’t say that!” Sara exclaimed as her confidence burst forth once more. “Y/N provides emotional support, and--”

“Sara. It’s fine,” you cut in as you smiled at her. “I understand. I get it. You can… You can add me in the preliminary vote.”

“Y-Y/N…” Sara stammered as she looked at you in horror. “You can’t…”

“I won’t die,” you said, as you looked up and smiled. “Promise.”

“Y/N, wait!” Joe cried while reaching out towards you.

You held your hands up and laughed. “It’s okay! I’ll be fine!”

“We can’t…” Sara said, her face twisted in hurt.

Oh?

Sara flinched as she looked at Sou.

“Sorry, that was in bad manners.I have another thing to talk about,” Sou quietly chortled, speaking up. “About the person that hit me in the head when I was trying to hack into the laptop.” A smile crept up on his face as he turned to look at a certain individual. “Right? Kai?”

Kai was silent as he frowned at Sou’s smile. You turned towards Sou, looking at him strangely.

“...Why did  you bring it up now?” you asked, furrowing your eyebrows.

He smiled and let out a chuckle. “I just remembered. It was so quick, that’s why. I barely saw Kai’s long hair and red apron… he was so swift in hitting me on the head. And it hurt.”

“That’s enough,” Kai interrupted, Sou still smiling.

“Don’t be a wet blanket. I was gonna describe how quiet you were. Like a kidnapper,” Sou told him, narrowing his eyes at the word.

“I don't understand why you’re entertaining such lies,” Kai replied smoothly, frowning at the subject at hand.

Sou’s face went blank, a new side of him you didn’t expect. Yet, you weren’t surprised.

“...that’s what I’d like to say as well,” Sou replied, his face still dangerously calm.

“I will not allow you to lie any longer,” Kai said, his face tinted with determination.

Sou frowned. “What do I achieve if I lie?”

“Sou’s right!” Sara cried as she tried to shift the argument. “He has no reason to lie, but if you were the culprit, you do!”

“I see…” Kai murmured as Sou mumbled to himself.

“You have no reason to be suspicious of me,” Kai said in his defense.

“Now that I remember, I saw you very clearly” Sou said, eyeing the homemaker.

“There is a reason!” Sara shouted, connecting the dots in her head. “The fact that Sou brought this up in the first place! Like I said before: there’s no reason for him to lie!”

“He can’t remember well and has mistaken me for someone else” Kai said, pushing on. “He got hit in the head.”

“I didn’t see your entire face, just key details,” Sou shot back. “The fact I’ve witnessed it is testimony.”

“Nobody else wears a red apron like you do, Kai!” Sara added, pointing at Kai. “It’s only you!”

Kai shook his head. “Anybody else could have attacked him.”

“If I recall, the weapon felt hard and heavy,” Sou said, closing his eyes to remember.

“Your pan, Kai!” the highschool girl realized, snapping her fingers. “You’re the only one with that kind of weapon!”

“What do I gain if I knock him out?” Kai asked, showing his hands. “There must be some benefit.”

“I think we all know that you’re the culprit,” Sou deduced, pulling up his scarf.

“There was a benefit!” Sara finished as she looked at Kai. “You stole the laptop!”

Kai went silent after that, making everyone realize the outlier in their small group.

“I see… so Kai is working with the kidnappers?” Mishima asked, his face falling.

“You were trying to steal the laptop for your own sake?!” Reko asked, her fists shaking in anger.

“Actually… it might not be just for his own sake,” Sou piped up as we all turned to look at him again.

Sara whirled towards him, her side ponytail flying in the air. “Huh?!”

“The laptop is password-locked. So then, why was Kai so adamant on taking it back?” Sou asked, raising an eyebrow.

You tapped your foot in thought and looked up. “Was it… that easy?”

Sou smiled, his expression friendly but eyes cold. “Right on. The password was easily guessable.”

“You opened it?!” Reko asked, her eyes bugging out in shock.

“What?! Didn’t you say you couldn’t open it?!” Sara asked, her hair starting to get disheveled from all the heart racing discussion.

“Yeah, but that was a lie,” Sou said, brushing it off as you could feel Sara growing angry. “See, the password… was ‘chidouin’.”

“What?” you asked, your breath leaving you.

“It’s ‘Chidouin’?!” Q-taro exclaimed, a trickle of sweat running down his face.

Sou shrugged and went on. “Sorry to say, but it’s true. Y/N over there suggested that some passwords are typically names. So, I tried to insert everyone's name. And my last attempt… was trustworthy Miss Sara’s last name, Chidouin. Imagine my shock.”

“I…! I’ve never seen that laptop in my life!” Sara exclaimed, both shocked and enraged.

Enraged? Is she… angry at Sou?

“Of course I know this isn’t your laptop, Miss Sara,” Sou replied dismissively as he turned to us all.

“Then--!”

“It’s Kai’s. Isn’t it?” Sou prompted, giving said man an innocent smile.

Kai was silent for a moment, then said. “You… read the emails?”

Keiji commented with a tilted head. “So… you admit it.”

“He prevented me from reading them all… what a shame,” Sou murmured as he fingered the fabric of his scarf.

“Well… what did they say?” Keiji asks, his expression growing serious.

“I remember them well,” Sou said, smiling at us. “‘As planned 19 people have been secured’. ...That’s what it said. It seemed it was all sent to one person, although it had different addresses, they were probably just codes. I’ll recount them starting from the oldest, okay?”

‘Kai… is the mole?’ you thought while watching the whole thing unfold in front of you. ‘But why… does he look so scared and why does Miley not care?’

“Email 1: As planned, 19 people have been secured. Just in case, is there no error in the date of the Death Game? Everything is proceeding smoothly. Email 2: I feel a deep affection for Miss Sara as well. I will certainly protect her. I am prepared to offer myself up to the Chidouins. Email 3: Most favorable. If any harm comes to Sara Chidouin, I will stand against even you as an enemy. Email 4: Miss Sara is looking forward to the games. Surely her friends will also take part.”

Everyone began to talk as you thought about his words. ‘Why is everything surrounding the Chidouin family? I’m sure… Kai cares a lot for Sara as his intentions aren’t harmful. What is going on?’

“Um… you don’t think the ‘friends’ are… Joe and Y/N?!” Nao squeaked, her timid form shaking.

Sou nodded in agreement. “I inferred that much myself. The fact that Kai is connected to the kidnappers and knows much more about the Death Game… Miss Sara, Joe, and Y/N are with them too.”

Silence fell over like snow once again.

“What are you talking about?!” “How dare you say that?!” You and Joe shouted in unison.

Joe’s expression turned enraged as he pointed back and forth at him and Sara. “If we were with the kidnappers, obviously we wouldn’t do such a dangerous trial!” He then pointed at you. “Y/N has suffered in her first trial too! We can’t even trust the contents of those emails to start with! What if Sou’s just making it up as he goes?!”

“Sou… what are you talking about?” you repeated, glancing over at him. “You think… we’re working with the kidnappers. There’s something… more to this.”

“Huh… so you won’t admit it…” Sou commented offhandedly.

“Obviously! We nearly died in the First Trial, too!” Joe exclaimed in exasperation as he threw his hands up.

“Y… yes… there’s no point in doing something that terrifying on your own!” Nao protested, her face turning pale once more.

Mishima nodded as his mouth fell into a frown again. “I agree. There must be some misunderstanding we need to clear up.”

“You can’t even prove whether or not you guys did the First Trial. Y/N didn’t even come out with a partner,” Sou replied calmly, but I saw the tension building up in his muscles.

“Some of us didn’t do it with partners,” Kai answered as he played with his ladle. “You can’t even prove if you’re telling the truth because you don’t have the laptop.”

Sou continued to grin, his fist hardening on his table. “Even after your scheme was exposed, you're still stubborn, eh?”

“For argument’s sake, I can get Kai bein’ our enemy. Although the possibilities are slim, I seriously doubt Y/N is with the kidnappers if she’s friends with Sara and Joe. And I can’t see those two as our enemies!” Reko shouted at Sou, whose confidence began to shake.

“Eh…?” he asked, confusion spreading throughout his face.

“Back in Russian Roulette, it was Sara and Joe bein’ who got us there safe!” Q-taro exclaimed, clenching his hands. “Even though she was spacin’ out, Y/N got hurt because of the iron bars before that Russian Roulette game!”

“Big Sis Sara got me out of the cage woof! I’ve known Mom for a long time, meow!” Gin added as he held up his hands. “You look weak, but you’re real cheeky, woof!”

Keiji stepped forward nonchalantly. “Just makin’ sure… you didn’t read the emails wrong, did you?”

Kanna mumbled to herself. “Y/N… she’s not…”

Sou looked at us all with wide eyes. “...H… Huh? Er… H-how strange…” He smiled again, this time it was filled with nervous tension. “What’s the matter, everybody…? Think calmly now…” He held out his hands, as if he was showing us something. “L-look, Kai’s actions were proven! There’s a big bump, and… doubting me now… it’s illogical! This is… just weird…” His hands lowered as he looked at you with blank eyes. “W-why does everyone believe Miss Sara…?”

‘He’s gonna have a breakdown,’ you thought. ‘Is the way Sara forges bonds really strange to him? He’s… suspicious from her. From the very beginning.’

“...Hmph, how pitiful,” Alice commented with a bitter smirk. “Seeing the difference in trust between you is the difference between heaven and earth.”

‘Don’t antagonize him…!’ you thought, Sou flinching. ‘He’s going to break--’

“...What the hell…?!” the scarf wearing man mumbled with a pained grimace. “Open your eyes everybody! I’m… I’m telling you what’s right!”

You saw Sara open her mouth to say. “Sou, you’re a liar.”

The man flinched at the harshness of the girl’s words.

‘Oh no.’

“Nobody will believe the words of a liar. So would you please shut--”

“Sara, that’s enough,” you said as the girl stopped to look at you in shock. Sighing, you looked at Sou. “Sou. Is the way Sara gains a lot of allies unnatural to you?”

His eyes widened as he looked at you. You swallowed back your nerves and kept on going.

“I know it looks sketchy how she’s got a lot of people backing her up and all… but that’s how trust works. Especially in a situation like this,” you said, trying to pick out your words. “I think there’s a communication issue that I--we’re giving off that we can clear up--”

“...enough…”

‘Huh?’

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...!!!” Sou cackled as he leaned over, clutching his stomach and chest. His eyes widened as he sneered at Sara. “Amazing, Miss Sara! You’re a prodigy at seizing people’s hearts! Shameful, the rest of you. The riffraff. Glad you can see my reasoning, Y/N. Too bad Miss Sara’s got you on her strings. Don’t you value your lives? Don’t you doubt when others are kind?”

You pressed your lips together as a certain someone’s face appeared in mind. And this… was definitely something you didn’t expect seeing.

“Do you not even have brains to think for yourselves? Death is just a matter of time for you! That’s the way weaklings live! Hahahahahahahahahaha!” Sou laughed with unstable malevolence that bounced all over the room.

Everyone began to yell as I became trapped in my thoughts again.

“Enough,” Sou said, the look in his eyes completely different. “I can’t even communicate with you riffraff.”

‘I knew… there was something off. Especially with the knowledge of the Sacrifice, but… how did I not see this?’ you thought as you observed Sou. ‘Agitation. Anger. This strange determination.’

No, you did see it. On the stairs when he talked to Sara. He approached her in a strange way. You should’ve known. ‘And now…’

Sou and Sara were verbally arguing with each other. Sara shot down the slightest mistake she saw while Sou kept retaliating against her. Once the argument ended, suspicion clouded over us once again.

‘This is not good,’ you thought as you could feel the tension again.

“G-get a grip everybody!” Joe shouted with his hands on his hips. “Doubting Sara just isn’t right! You want us all to be killed off?”

‘Huh?’

Sou just grinned. “Hey, you wanna know what would be the worst for you. If a guy like me with no trust were the traitor? No, that can’t be it.” He turned to smile and stare with blank eyes again. “It’d be if Miss Sara was your enemy… right? And also… but that’s just a theory.”

Keiji didn’t say a word as Joe wagged his finger. “Now see here--”

“Attention everybody. Eeheehee.. Sorry to intrude while you’re all getting fired up.” Miley smiled a dark expression covering her features. “It’s nearly time for the preliminary vote!”

Everybody exploded in shock and fury as you remembered your two votes. You needed to figure out what to do.

‘Two votes… the most important two of my life… I should… I can eliminate a potential spot for someone else by asking them to vote for me.’

“I’m the Keymaster! Don’t forget that!” Sara shouted, your thoughts dissipating.

“Ahaha… coming in at the last second,” Sou laughed lowly as his smile lost its warmth. “Don’t lie. I’m the Keymaster. You’re a really slippery one.”

“No! That’s you!” Sara shot back, her cool starting to wane away.

“Stop, let’s just… vote already,” you interrupted as you pulled out your tablet.

“She’s right,” Sou agreed. He looked up at Sara with a menacing but blank expression. “It’s your turn to die… Miss Sara.”

I almost dropped my tablet out in shock. “Stop it. Just… quit it.”

Sou grinned and pulled out his tablet. “Well, I’m just trying to get my point across. What about you? Got any? Or do you wanna die?”

‘Gin is in the clear. Joe isn’t under suspicion. Sara is our leader. Sou… I… I’ll figure out what to do once the preliminaries are over.’

‘You can’t save everyone. It’s just not in your character.’

You stood there, clenching the tablet. “Just… don’t vote for Kanna!”

“What?!” Q-taro asked incredulously as he held his tablet.

“I have a friend who is an acquaintance of hers outside!” you shouted desperately as you knew who to vote for. “She’s still got something to live for! Don’t vote for her!”

“Enough. Insert your votes,” Miley said, her voice sharp and piercing.

Shutting up, you pressed your own icon twice. After a few moments, your tablet glowed.

[All votes have been received]

You watched as two slash marks appeared on Sara’s face, making your stomach drop. One appeared on Kanna’s, making your grimace as she had voted for herself. Both you and Sou had gotten three votes. Kai had gotten four.

‘Ah… well, I need to come up with a new strategy now,’ you thought as you put your tablet onto your desk.

“Heeheehee… what do you think of the results?” Miley asked with a taunting smile. “Five will proceed to the final vote. Kanna Kizuchi. Kai Satou. Y/N L/N. Sou Hiyori…”

“I see…” he mumbled while looking towards the ground again.

“...Sara Chidouin,” Miley finished with a smile.

“W-we’re safe, right…?” Q-taro asked, secretly relieved as you could tell.

“Y-You’re kidding! Me too?! Woohoo!” Alice whooped with a cheer, obviously very happy.

“Dumbasses, this is the hard part!” Reko snapped harshly as she glared at Alice especially.

Keiji sighed as he looked at us all grimly. “Our votes… will decide our fates.”

Nao stammered in horror. “D-do we… have to choose?”

“I’m afraid so…” Mishima whispered as his mouth tightened into a thin line.

“Big Sis Sara… Mom…” Gin whimpered, he buried his face into Mewchan.

“You’re kidding…!” Joe cursed, looking down in frustration.

You glanced at Sara, who was looking pale. She looked sick and looked ill.

“Sara,” you called out as the girl looked at you. “You won’t die. I’ll make sure of it.”

“But…!” she stammered, her words becoming stuck.

“We advance the discussion and we’ll discover the truth. What we need to focus on now are the roles,” I said, nodding to myself. “Let’s do that now.”

You needed to think of a new plan, now. Tapping your foot with haste and impatience, several thoughts rang out in your head

 

What should be your next course of action?

 

 

A. Reveal you’re the Sacrifice

B. Keep quiet about being the Sacrifice

 

 

Chapter Text

Option: A

 

You exhaled, fidgeting around with the headphones placed on your neck. You had to do it. Open up your mouth and say it. There was no other choice. If that was the case, why did you feel so sick? You gripped the hoodie above your stomach and grimaced. Why did you feel so… queasy?

“The most important thing to do now is to focus on our roles,” Keiji said, taking the wheel of the conversation. “That’s the thing we have to prioritize now. We need to narrow it down to one person. Forget your sympathy and your grudges. Focus on the roles.”

“How… how about the Sage?!” Reko suggested, her eyes lighting up at the idea.

“She’s right!” Nao agreed, a trickle of sweat running down her face as her face returned back to its normal color. “If the Sage can just speak up, we can ask them who they found who the Keymaster is…!”

“Eheehee… you have 20 minutes, everyone,” Miley giggled as she sat back atop her throne.

You swallowed back hard, everything suddenly feeling heavy. You had the sudden urge to shrug off your jacket, but you sucked it up and pressed forward.

“Alrighty,” Keiji calmly said, proposing an idea. “Let’s all go in order about our role cards, shall we?”

“I… I have nothing to say,” Kanna murmured, looking away from the group.

“K-Kanna…!” Nao gasped, her face turning a strange shade of purple.

“I have nothing to claim as well,” Kai added softly. “You are free to imagine as you wish.”

Sou gave everyone his winner smile and chimed in. “Sheesh, okay. I’m the Keymaster. I’ve been trying to tell everyone since the start.”

“Honestly?! This piece of beanie sack shit can’t be trusted!” Reko growled as her eyes sharped at a certain freelancer. “Makes my blood run cold!”

“Hmph, I’ll believe in Sou…” Alice said, his words contradicting his sister’s as he grimly smirked. “And whoever protects him is the Sage. That’s where we ought to aim.”

“Why vote for the Sage, woof?” Gin asked, tilting his head to the side in confusion.

“‘Cus if you confess, yer outed,” Q-taro explained while looking at the boy. “Like if they confess, everybody will just say ‘Oh I can vote for them!’.”

“So they can’t confess?” Gin murmured in thought as he squeezed Mewchan.

“I mean, I guess the same also applies to Commoners,” you mused, looking to the side, waiting for the time to confess.

“What about the Sacrifice?” Mishima prompted, tilting his glasses. “They propose a major problem.”

“About that,” you said, cutting in apologetically. “I have something to say about my role.”

Sara turned to you, her hair trailing behind her. “Yes? What about your role?”

‘Say it.’

You gulped, the dryness in your throat and your saliva were hard to swallow. Your stomach swirled with the dance of butterflies as you felt unrest in your chest. You opened your mouth, afraid something else was going to come out instead.

‘Say it. “I’m the Sacrifice”.’

You shot her an uneasy grin which faltered. A dry breath made its way past you as you said. “I’m… the Sacrifice.”

The whole room hushed as you could feel their eyes zeroing in one you. The very feeling made you twitch as you instinctively bit your tongue. Sara’s jaw dropped as Joe’s eyes bugged out. Keiji let out a sigh as he turned to look at you sternly.

“Are you serious?” he asked, his gaze piercing through you.

“Are ya really?!” Q-taro asked, his facial expressions contorting at your confession.

Sara silently stared at you, pointing, her words becoming stuck in her mouth like gum. They wielded her mouth shut to where she was speechless.

You nodded. “Keiji. Would I lie about this?”

“N… No way!” Reko exclaimed, her face growing angry.

“Y-you’re lying…!” Sara exclaimed, her composure leaking away.

“Well, at least that solves one of our problems!” Alice remarked as Reko sent him a scalding glare.

Sou just looked away as you let out a sigh and smiled bitterly. Well...it was to be expected.

“Mom…?” Gin asked, his eyes wide. “What does that mean, woof…?”

You let out a laugh to comfort him, but it just scared you more. “It doesn’t mean anything, Gin. It’ll be okay. It’s… It’s for the better.”

He squeezed Mewchan. “But… doesn’t the Sacrifice die, meow?”

You let out a sigh.

“I--” you began to say, opening your mouth.

“Uh…” a voice said, grabbing your attention as you turned to face a certain green haired girl. “I have something to say about that.”

Keiji lifted a brow. “What is it?”

Kanna clasped her hands together in nervousness. “Y/N… she’s… she’s lying.”

You stood there and stared at the girl soundlessly as your lips let past an “eh?”. The girl shifted to look away, becoming timid once more.

“W-whaddya mean?!” Q-taro asked, his eyebrows shooting up to his forehead. “She’s lying?!”

“Wait, but I have the Sacrifice,” you said, perplexed as you stared incredulously at the younger girl. “I’m not lying. Kanna. What are you talking about?”

“Kanna… Kanna saw you pick up a card… she passed by the Sacrifice card after...” the green haired girl murmured as you felt your heart drop twenty feet.

“Wait, so what’s the truth?!” Nao squeaked, her eyes widening in confusion.

“She presents a good point,” Kai mused as he tapped a ladle to his lips. “Y/N could be lying in order to escape the majority vote.”

Reko stared at you incredulously. “Were you really?!”

“Of course not,” you shot back as the girl tensed up.

‘I’m not lying.’

Your throat went dry as you saw everyone look between you and Kanna. You turned towards Keiji in an attempt to convince him as he and Sara were the most headstrong in the group.

“Keiji!” you hissed, holding your hand out. “You have to believe me!”

‘Why would she lie?’ you thought, looking over at Kanna. ‘Could it be? No way…’

Keiji’s face remained passive as he smiled. “I see. Well… let’s keep moving on for now. We’ll keep in mind that Y/N is possibly the Sacrifice--” You frowned at that. “Let’s try to figure out who the Keymaster is.”

“Wait, but are we sure she’s the Sacrifice?!” Joe asked as he gripped his table.

Keiji grinned at him. “But no one else is saying anything. Unless you have something to say?”

Joe grit his teeth and looked to the side frustratedly. Sara opened her mouth to say something, but you shook your head to stop her.

“Y/N…! You’re lying! You’re lying…!” Sara spluttered, obviously flustered and unsure. She ran a hand through her hair. “There’s no way…! Come on! Take it back!”

“We’re moving topics,” you told her, looking at her distraught form. “We have to figure out--”

“But--!” Sara exclaimed as you interrupted her.

“Sara. Stop. We still have to figure out who to narrow this down to. I know you aren’t happy with this result, but…” you inhaled a breath to calm your nerves which were suddenly pumping your heartbeat. “It’s come to this. We don’t have time.”

Sara relented, defeated. Joe gripped his table in pure frustration. The young boy next to you whimpered and buried himself into your waist as if you would disappear. The world began to slow as their voices dimmed.

‘...I did it,’ you thought as the conversation moved on. ‘I… told them I was the Sacrifice. Now what? Am I… am I going to die? I’m…’

You looked down at your feet.

‘It’s over.’

“Moving on,” the policeman declared, grabbing everyone’s attention. He shrugged. “Does anyone have anything to suggest for the roles?”

“Big Bro Joe said it before the preliminary vote, meow ‘If you pick Sara, there’ll be a massacre for sure!’ woof!” Gin chirped as Sara turned towards Joe in order to interrogate him. The boy wilted under her attack and faltered.

“Okay! I’m the Sage!” Joe cried as he crossed his arms. “It doesn’t matter hiding it anymore anyways! I haven’t declared my divination because I can’t lie! But I did my divination, and I declare that the Keymaster is Sara!”

“Joe…!” Sara exclaimed, her face lighting up. Then it suddenly dimmed as her eyes turned to you.

“Uh… I’m… The Sage,” Kanna squeaked, causing more confusion. Sara looked at Kanna, surprised. “My reading was… that Sou was the Keymaster…”

“H...Hey…” Reko said uneasily, her eyes darting back and forth like a ping pong ball between the group.

‘I can’t confirm or deny any of these,’ you thought, looking around at the four: Joe, Sara, Sou and Kanna. ‘Kanna is too nervous for me to do a proper analysis. Who is telling the truth? At this rate--’

“No, no, I am the Sage. Miss Sara is the Keymaster,” Kai popped in, his eyebrows raised.

‘So who is really telling the truth?’ you thought, burying your head into your hands like a disappointed parent. ‘How… can we test whether their claims are valid or not?’

“My head’s spinning, wooooooooof!” Gin exclaimed as he dug his hands into your hoodie, stretching it.

“Eeeheehee… 8 minutes to go, everyone. Ahahaha…” Miley giggled as you had the sudden urge to jump up on her throne and spit in her face.

‘I swear it hasn’t even been ten minutes,’ you thought, biting your thumb nail. ‘And…’

"ʏᴏᴜ'ʀᴇ ɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴅɪᴇ."

‘I’m going to die.’

The thought… seemed wrong to you, even though it didn’t a few years ago.

Keiji paled as he made up his mind. “Quit giving statements, you six. We’re going to solve this amongst ourselves.”

“And me?” you asked, raising your hand. “I’m the Sacrifice, not the Keymaster.”

“Well,” Keiji said as a grin spread across his face. “Although I trust my skills, I can’t trust you. I can’t trust my skills all the way.”

You had another nagging feeling to take out your card and slam it onto Keiji’s table. This wasn’t the time to argue and disagree with each other.

“Hey! We need to hurry! We’ve got no time!!” Reko barked, her face contorting in panic.

‘She’s right,’ you thought, your leg shaking with your rush of adrenaline. ‘We need to hurry…!’

You clutched your chest, that sick feeling twisting within which you wanted to purge so bad. You had to push the conversation forward as fast as possible. How? Sara was going to stay silent for now, and Keiji wasn’t going to listen to you.

“Sou and Kanna are working together,” Keiji said, giving out his opinion. “...I’ve got no doubt. Hm? Y/N, shouldn’t you know?”

“I… never heard about it during our conversation. But we did split up at one point,” I informed, trying to recall the moment I separated from them.

‘I should’ve…!’

“Keiji…!” Reko refuted, denying his claim. “There ain’t no way Kanna is up to no good! Kanna’s… being used by that beanie guy! He’s gonna cast her aside. Don’t you dare pick on her!’

‘I’d like to believe that as well,’ you thought while glancing over at Kanna and Sou. ‘I’d like to believe that both of them are not up to no good, but… I can see it. It’s so weird… why did I feel that they were so… genuine?’

“I got it, woof!” Gin cried, giving a suggestion. “Long-aproned guy gave his suggestion last, so he’s suspicious, meow! Definitely lying, woof!”

Q-taro also stepped forward with a claim, pointing at Joe. “I was about to believe Joe earlier… but is he really the Sage?!”

“We… we can’t possibly find out with this little time…!” Nao cried, her face turning a deep shade of indigo hue.

Alice grunted, frustrated. “Gh…! It pains me, but as Sou or Sara could potentially be the Keymaster, we shouldn’t vote for them...!”

‘Think,’ you thought, your eyebrows creasing in concern. Your stomach felt like it was flushing down something again as your chest felt like it was going to be ripped out. What should you do? It was as if your will was falling apart. No, you had to keep going. ‘We… we need to--’

‘What’s the point?’

‘...huh?’

‘They voted for you too. You’re going to die either way. So… why don’t we have the Keymaster as the result of the majority vote and so everyone dies. Hey, win-win situation.’

‘That’s more of a lose-lose--’

“ꜱᴏ ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴛʀʏ ᴛᴏ ᴋɪʟʟ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏᴏɴᴇ ᴇʟꜱᴇ ꜰᴏʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜱᴀᴋᴇ--”

You slapped yourself. Hard. The sound was small so no one noticed as you rubbed your cheek from the slap.

“I-isn’t there something we could use on the cards or something?!” Nao suggested in a brief moment of panic.

“Maybe… if there was something that could determine who the Keymaster was…” Mishima murmured to himself.

“Actually… I have an idea,” Sara said, looking up. “We test… what’s on the cards.”

“What’s on the cards…?” Keiji repeated, pausing to think to himself. “...just maybe…”

“Eeheehee! Three minutes leeeeeft!” Miley squealed in delight as she squirmed on her throne.

Why was everything moving so fast?

Keiji smiled and agreed. “Let’s take a gambe on it. Listen up everyone. This is our last discussion.”

You swallowed back the nausea you could feel welling up in your chest.

“Actually…” Joe said, lifting a hand. “I’ll confess. I’m not the Sage.”

“J-Joe?!” Sara exclaimed, her eyebrows raising in shock and hurt.

“Quickly,” you urged to Keiji, giving him a pointed look. “We don’t have time…!”

“Okay, Kai and Kanna,” Keiji addressed as he looked at them. “What were the designs on the cards?”

“Go on, tell them Kanna,” Sou urged, flashing a winning smile which was growing more dubious to you every passing second.

“...it was a key,” Kanna whispered as everyone in the room took that in.

“Kai?” Sara asked, turning towards him.

“Yes?” he asked, looking at the girl.

Sara took a deep breath. “Please tell me… the results of your divination…”

Kai stayed silent, constantly looking around and fiddling with his ladle. Sara reached into her jacket and pulled a paper out.

“It says this in Rulebook 2…” the girl began to say as she held up the paper. “The Sage knows who the Keymaster is via divination, but cannot lie about the results. It doesn’t say anything about being able to see the card… so Kai who didn’t mention anything about the design is the Sage.”

Kai stayed silent, just looking around once again. He cracked a smile and laughed. “Ahahahaha… ha...”

It didn’t sound scary, yet… sad. You felt your resolve waver as Kai’s expression broke, obviously distressed and scared. His eyebrows furrowed into pained arches as a trickle of sweat ran down his face.

“My fate… has been set, then,” Kai said softly, his eyes wobbly and afraid.

‘I want… to help him,’ a voice echoed throughout your head.

“Guys,” you said, spreading out your hands. “Vote for me and I’ll hate you forever.” A pathetic attempt. “Okay? So… don’t. Just… please. It’ll hurt me if I could only take one.”

“But--” Sara started to say.

“I don’t care!” you shouted, your voice reverberating across the room. “Just don’t do it! Don’t! Sara… if you truly want me to stay alive and be happy… don’t vote for me.”

The girl remained silent.

“Huh, so Kai was the Sage,” Sou commented lightly as he grinned.

“You…! You must’ve been lyin’ to Kanna after all!” Q-taro roared, pointing at Sou.

Sou grinned and looked down upon us condescendingly. “More importantly, we should listen to Kai. Kai’s last words, that is.”

The words sent shivers up your spine.

‘Why… why do I feel the need to help this man. He looks so… afraid.’

“When we came to the subject of designs, I realized I was in danger,” Kai explained, meekly looking at us all. “I thought I might play dumb… but it was clear I would be most voted simply due to my lack of trust.”

‘Kai, I….’

“Yet...yet… I…” he said, gripping his pan. “I do not wish to die…”

“Kai…” Keiji said, his face creased with concern.

“The Sacrifice… is surely Y/N. She has said it herself,” Kai went on, spilling everything. “Joe… Joe took actions to claim he was Sage to protect Miss Sara… And thus, please… vote for Sou!”

‘Vote for… Sou?’

Sou pulled up his scarf and closed his eyes. “Ahaha, why me?”

Kai began to yell, his desperation clutching at your heart, reminding you of all those years ago. “He is a dangerous man! He will certainly disrupt our teamwork and lead us all into danger...! I did indeed have contact with the kidnappers! But if you let me live, I will tell you everything! I have vital information for our escape….!!!”

‘That’s not… so bad… and he wants to live so bad… and I…’

“See ya, Kai,” Sou said with a fat smirk on his face.

“Wait, so Y/N is really the Sacrifice?!” Joe exclaimed, sweat all over his face.

“It’s time to vote, so please refrain from whisperings,” Miley said with a sadistic grin.

“Please… don’t kill me!” Kai shouted, rattling your bones.

‘Is there a way to save him?’ you thought, as you pressed your icon twice. ‘There has to be… there must be a way…’

You weren’t a saint. So why? Why were you desperate for yourself to die? You were just some girl. You weren’t anything special. Why try to be a hero?

[Displaying results]

Well, you didn’t really know that yourself.

Sou earned five votes, Kai had six, while you had the two you owned. It...was over…

You and Kai were both about to die.

Kai stayed silent as he saw the votes. Sou looked at the floor.

“That’s too bad… you lose, Kai,” the teal haired man sighed, closing his eyes. “If they picked me with emotion… that would be your will. But everyone chose with logic… awful, isn’t it?” He looked down at all of us patronizingly. “This vote isn’t about our own wills! That’s what everyone’s telling themselves--how they’re fooling themselves.”

Nao began to cry, tears flowing down her face. “I’m sorry…! I’m sorry…! I’m sorry…”

“Kanna… I didn’t want Y/N to hate me…” Kanna mumbled as she clutched her shoulders. “I’m sorry…”

“Mom, wait, meow…” Gin said, tugging at your hoodie as you just smiled and pat his head.

Miley ignored them all and laughed. “Eeheehee. Now everyone, enjoy yourselves as I check your answers! First, the Sage! You were right everyone! It was Kai Satou!”

‘Kai…’ you thought as you looked at him with a forlorn expression.

“Next,  the Keymaster!” Miley exclaimed with a smile. “Eheehee, the fierce battle between you two was an exciting sight to see! Amazing! It was Sara Chidouin!”

“Stop it…” said girl mumbled, her expression hurt.

“Aaaaaaand! The Sacrifice! The one who dies with an incomplete objective isssss…” Miley said, bringing up the tension.

“Hold on!” Joe shouted, his hands shaking from who knows what.

“Wait!” Sara cried out, reaching out for you.

“Tadaaaahhhh! It was Y/N L/N!” Miley cried as she pointed at you.

“Haha…” you chuckled, awkwardly looking at everyone. “Sorry, guys… should’ve said so sooner.”

“You… you liar…!” Sara exclaimed, running across the room and gripping your shoulders. “Why… .why?!”

“I didn’t lie,” you said, settling her down. “I meant in your heart and memories.” you said these two words as you pointed at her chest then at her head. “It’s a shame, really… I… I...”

“Don’t you… don’t you feel bitter?!” Q-taro asked, clenching his fist. “I mean… you…!”

The question felt strange. Why… why did you feel like throwing your life away?

‘Ah, it’s simple.’

“I mean…” you tried to say, looking towards the ground. “I mean… I don’t know… I felt like I had to do it. If I did it for myself… it would make me a worse person.”

‘My life isn’t worth as much as theirs.’

Sara’s eyes began to water as she desperately rubbed at her tears. “Isn’t there… some way we could… save you?!”

“There… probably is…” you murmured as your eyes widened in memory. “I…”

 

[Use the favor] ---> [unlocked]

[Route unlocked | Changed question]

 

“I have… I got a favor from the Meister!” you shouted, your hands starting to shake.

“...what?” Miley asked, her smile beginning to falter.

“During the Russian Roulette, the Meister gave me a favor and a bandage in exchange for the gun!” you exclaimed, your whole body beginning to tremble. “I… You can go ask them! I swear!”

“ᴄᴏᴡᴀʀᴅ.”

Miley’s expression turned dark. “I see… you…” Another smile lit up her face. “So, Miss Y/N. What do you intend to use this favor for?”

“...huh?” you asked, your eyes widening.

“Your favor has the cost of a life,” the Laughing Doll explained, pointing a finger at you. “One. Life. So… who will you choose.”

You glanced at Kai, who was looking back at you in horror. Miley’s grin turned wide.

“Who will you use your little favor for?” she asked, a smile crawling up her features. “You or Kai?”

You pushed Sara away a little and ran towards the other side of the room, tugging Kai aside. You looked at Miley and held up a finger.

“Give me five minutes for a mini discussion,” you said, then turning away.

Kai looked at you, gripping his ladle. “I hate to say this because I so desperately want to live… you can’t use the favor on me. Although our positions are similar, you were supposed to be here. Your actions… I am sure they will affect the very roots of this game…! Mine on the other hand... ”

You swallowed back. What to do…? You felt everything beginning to crack again as you desperately took deep breaths. Reassuring yourself that there wasn’t a pair of hands wrapped around your neck, you opened your eyes. Your chest felt like it was rising with bile as you felt the urge to throw up because of the nausea and adrenaline you felt.

 

Who will you use the favor for?

 

A. Yourself

B. Kai

 

 

Chapter Text

Option: B

 

“I… I choose Kai,” you said, your breath exhaling his name.

Your heart beat in your chest, threatening to break out. You breathed in the thick air which had suddenly grown suffocating and too old for your lungs.

“No…” Sara gasped as she stumbled to steady herself on her desk. “Y/N…”

It was strange. Some sort of a sensational silence fell upon the room that slowly asphyxiated you. You felt so sick to your stomach, yet you managed to hold it in. Pulling on a brave face, you turned towards Kai.

“Kai… Thank you,” you told him, your words falling out as your chest stirred with unrest. You clasped your hands in sheer nervousness. “I… I need you. They need you. You know more than me. I… I’ve contributed nothing. I’m not worth anything.”

His eyes widened as his face paled. “You cannot! This is… a mistake…! No. Y/N! I-- you must not die!”

“For what reason, Kai?” you asked, staring at the man as drops of sweat rolled down the sides of his forehead. “I… I don’t even know. But you do. So…” You grasped his hands. Honestly, you didn’t really care anymore.

Since you were going to die anyway.

“You… you can save them,” you finished, trying to expel the repulsive, chest-wrenching turmoil in your heart. “Please. Protect them.”

He shook his head furiously, his black locks following his every movement. The man wrenched his hands out of your grasp.

‘How pretty,’ you thought listlessly, staring at his hair.

“No!” Kai exclaimed, grasping his ladle. “This is unheard of! You--!”

A sudden burst of courage burst from your chest as you shook your head to stop him. You stepped closer towards him and stared him in the eyes.

“Kai Satou!” you exclaimed, gripping his hands again, but even tighter. “I’m entrusting my will to you! Please… Please save them.”

He froze, motionless. You let go of his hands and bowed slightly. You smiled and turned away from him. Before you could move, you saw Miley. She looked… displeased? You couldn’t really tell.

“Please,” you told her, looking at the Floormaster. “Give me time. These are my last words. I won’t run. I won’t defy you. Just… give me time.”

The woman said nothing and waved her hand. “Five minutes.” A smile stretched across her face. “The longer you stay, the more amusing your death will become.”

Whatever that meant.

You bowed, already grateful for her lenience, and turned to look at your friends. You saw Sara, who was breaking down into tears. Joe had left his table and stood next to her, his face already wet.

“Ha, Joe… you’ve got eye fluids all over your face,” you commented, reaching over to ruffle his hair.

He dodged your touch and held down a stare. “Why…? Why would you--?”

“Y/N…!” Sara exclaimed, bringing your attention and sight to her. “You can’t go! I… We need you!”

Your chest began to squeeze again, your stomach beginning to slowly cave in once more. “Sara…” you murmured, reaching over to grab her wrist. “You might need me, but you need Kai more. He has the potential to grasp escape, whereas I have nothing.”

“That’s not true!” Sara exclaimed, shaking her head rapidly. “You don’t understand! I need you the most! Joe, Kanna, Gin, and me! You can’t just leave!”

“Sara,” you said, your smile disappearing as you forced yourself to hold back your emotions. “I don’t have time.” Your chest felt so empty and it was beginning to hurt the inside of your throat. You hugged your two friends with both arms. “Thank you for sticking with me all this time.”

You let go of them. Joe stood in place, unmoving. Sara just fell to her knees in shock. You smiled, taking off Itsuki’s hat, and placing it onto Sara’s head.

Moving on, you thought. ‘Three minutes.’

You began to walk to Gin and squat down to look at him. Tears were already dripping down his face as you ran your hand on his head in concern.

“Gin… don’t cry,” you told him gently while pulling him into a hug. “You know I don’t like seeing you cry.”

He sniffed and rubbed his head into your shoulder. “But Mom… Mom is gonna leave forever, meow…”

“Hey,” you said, looking into his apple green eyes. “I’ll see you someday, you know. Just... close your eyes, okay?”

“Woof…” he mumbled as he latched himself onto your shoulder.

He hugged you tight which caused you to swallow back your sins. You squeezed your arms around him as you suddenly felt so sentimental like you were about to cry. No, there wasn’t any time for that.

You stood up, carrying him and walked over to Kanna and Sou. ‘Two minutes.’

You stood in front of the girl, not knowing what to say to her, but then forcing the words out that then began to flow naturally.

“Kanna,” you whispered, shifting yourself to carry Gin. “I’m sorry. I’m a liar.”

“No…” Kanna murmured. Her eyes were wide and shocked, gaze peeled to the ground. Kanna… Kanna couldn’t protect you… worthless… so worthless.”

You stuck out a hand and pushed her bucket down a bit. The girl let out a squeak as her hands flew up to her head. “Don’t say that. I’m a tad grateful that you did that for someone like me.” You knelt down to look at her. “But I did what I had to do. Don’t feel bad.”

The girl nodded as silent streaks of tears fell down her cheeks. She tried her best to hug you with Gin on your back. You stood up, looking at Sou.

“Sou,” you murmured, smiling and tilting your head at the man. “Sorry. You warned me, and yet it came to this.”

The man didn’t respond and just gripped his hat in pain. He averted your gaze as you just sighed.

“Hey, Sou,” you said, calling his name. The man looked at you, his face scrunched up with guilt. “Your reaction… it shows you care. So you’re not a total jerk. You… You’re just human, you know? I’m gonna… gonna miss the old times.” Your voice cracked as you shut your eyes.

‘Don’t cry, not now… why did this have to sound so cringey…?’

“Please… use your skills to protect the others… This isn’t a choice of logic or emotion. It’s a choice that’s mine and mine alone.” You told him while fistbumping his shoulder. “Thanks for everything.”

The man’s mouth gaped as he then looked over to the ground with hurt. You headed over to Reko to give her Gin.

“Sorry about this,” you apologized, giving Gin over to her.

She took him into her arms. “This isn’t something you should apologize for! More like… we should… I’m sorry I doubted you. Really shitty of me. You’re really… a bright and charming girl.”

“Glad to hear it,” you told her, smiling. “Please… you and Alice are great people. Take care of each other.”

“Five minutes has ended,” Miley crowed, sweeping her arms out as you began to walk towards her. “Be grateful I even gave you time.”

“I’m grateful I won’t have to see your horrendous outfit any longer,” you shot back while standing before her.

“ɪ ᴡᴀꜱ ʀɪɢʜᴛ. ꜱᴇᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ꜱɪᴅᴇ.”

“Wait, aren’t ya angry?!” Q-taro bellowed, his voice rumbling across the room. “Don’t ya wanna live?!”

“Now, let the Sacrifice commence!” The Laughing Doll continued to declare.

You shook your head. “It’s not that, it’s…”

Miley giggled and pointed at you. “Puppeteer Strings, come and rip Y/N L/N apart!!”

My life isn’t worth as much as all of yours.

The next thing you knew, ropes of barbed wire flew out of nowhere and wrapped themselves about five times around your arms, legs, torso, and neck. You noticed the one around your torso was connected towards the back wall. The loop on your neck was pressing against the collar, extending in the same direction as the one on your waist. The thorns of the metal wires dug into your skin, blood beginning to drip down and slightly soak through your clothes. The smell of bitter metallic liquid reached your nostrils as your nose wrinkled. You gasped as you managed to bat the headphones Itsuki had given you off the base of your neck. They landed on the ground with a clatter.

“Y/N!” Sara exclaimed in anguish, which made your heart clench. “Please! Miley! Don’t--!”

One of the ropes at your leg tugged back as you fell forward. You let out a grunt as the impact of your skin kissing the ground and barbed wire hurt. It kept eating into your flesh, the pain causing you to wince and skin to cry blood. You bit your tongue as you ignored the bloody mess all over yourself. The loop around your torso then tightened as you felt your body fly back into the wall at the back of the room.

“Stop it!” you heard Joe scream.

“Ah…!” you cried in pain as your back and head collided with the wall.

You heard Gin sniffle and let out a cry that became muffled. Your blurry vision spotted to see the boy stuffing his face into Mewchan.

You noted that you were some height up from the floor, your hands and legs hanging limply as the only things keeping you up was the thick barbed wire pinning your waist to the wall. Also the same thing causing your skin to hiss in pain as more blood soaked through your hoodie. 

‘Don’t scream, don’t cry,’ you thought as you felt one of your arms being pulled.

The leg that had been tugged backwards before kept pulling in one direction downwards, which was the left, as your other leg started to be pulled down to the right. With each tug, your legs felt the barbs of the wire sinking in. You let out a silent exhale of pain as you willed yourself not to scream. Liquid trailed down your legs and arms as you grit your teeth. Everything felt so light and empty.

“Y/N!” Joe and Kanna yelled as you could feel something leaving your body. Blood?

“Miley!” you could hear Sara scream as she stormed towards the Laughing Doll in tears. “Please! I’ll do anything! I’ll take her place. Please! Don’t kill her!”

‘No, Sara…’

“Heeheehee! Anything? Then…” the woman pulled out a small object. You squinted as you felt one of your arms being pulled forward. “You can use this button to slow down this execution. Maybe, you’ll even save her, heeheehee!”

“Give me that…!” Sara cried, snatching the small object from Miley’s hands.

You could barely see her rapidly clicking something in her hands.

‘What…?’ you thought slowly as you felt your arms slowly being tugged up towards the ceiling.

Then the collar began to be tugged slowly into the wall. You couldn’t breathe. You let out wheezy breaths as your eyes watered. The breaths began to force themselves in and out of your lungs so fast and painfully. All you could heart was Miley’s laughter, engraving itself into your ears. Your legs and arms were being pulled in several directions at such a slow and agonizing pace as you couldn’t even see how much you were bleeding. Glancing over to the sides, all you could see was red coating your arms. You felt the room spinning, the lights flashing. You couldn't breathe, it hurt so much just to get air through. Every second, your limbs were being pulled, your neck was being squeezed, and your torso was being torn into.

‘Why… is it taking so long?’ you thought as you could feel your head about to explode.

Suddenly, one of your arms felt very strange.  Your right arm let out a huge burning sensation as you heard the most horrid crack echo out from them. The feeling in your arm went limp and hurt especially at your shoulder. You couldn’t resist the pain and let out a huge scream that you could barely squeeze out from your tight throat.

“No, no…!” you could barely hear Sara murmur.

You could barely feel anything but pain in that arm and wanted to sob. You couldn’t though as you felt the wire around your neck press even harder. Your collar cracked into pieces and fell to the floor. Then the wire began to work at your neck flesh. The loop around your torso squeezed tighter as you felt more blood trickle down your waist. Your vision was coated in red as your nose was just clogged up with the smell of blood. Just breathing hurt and your skin felt like it was being burned aflame. Your breaths weren’t even in your own control anymore as you could feel panic and adrenaline seize your body. Your papery breathing turned watery as you gurgled the mixture of blood and spit in the back of your mouth.

‘Is this torture?’ you thought drowsily, your eyes slowly flitting and blinking.

You heard another terrible cracking, but you couldn’t feel anything. All you knew was that you were dying and you couldn’t breathe. Everything roared in your ears like a symphony of unholy screams. Probably the effects of the adrenaline. Still, you felt so weak. How much had you bled? Your head felt as if it was about to burst as you desperately breathed for air. When was this going to be over? It felt so long? What was happening? Questions flooded your mind like water bursting out of a broken dam. When you could feel your last moments of harshly breathing, you felt tingles of pain. 

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ꜰᴇᴇʟɪɴɢ?” the voice asked, taunting you. “ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ᴅʏɪɴɢ.” You could practically see hands gripping your throat as you let out a choked sob. You couldn’t stand it anymore.

The room began to spin even faster and the lights just hurt your eyes. You had to close your eyes. Your throat squeezed in on you, flooding blood in your throat and down it. Your last thoughts suddenly filled your head.

‘Gin, Kanna, Sou… I’m so sorry. Sara, Joe, Ryoko… we should’ve spent more time together… and Itsuki… I… I…!’

Some metallic liquid gurgled from your throat and expelled itself out of your mouth. You gagged as tears began to flow out of your mouth. The pain started to register itself again as you let out dry gasps of pain. You then blinked as the barbed wire around all your body parts tugged hard--


Y/N expired.

Her broken limbs, torso, and neck fell forward limply as she didn’t make a single movement. Blood painted the wall as it flooded down in a wave. The acrid, sour smell of the liquid made many look away and scrunch their noses.

“Y/N… please say something…” Sara begged as she held the button. “Joe and I are here waiting for you... You need to go back home… to Ryoko… and Itsuki… didn’t you, didn’t you…?”

Clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick--

“Ugh... no….” the girl moaned in sadness as she rapidly clicked the device in her hands. “This can’t be…”

With each press of the button, Sara could feel her heart being stomped on.

Clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick--

It was like a certain woman was trampling all over it, destroying her mentallly and emotionally.

Clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick--

“Please…” the girl mumbled as a hand stopped her from clicking.

“Just stop, Sara…” Keiji’s voice instructed, his face calm and collected. “It’s enough.”

“You’re cute when you cry, eheeheehee. Too bad…” Miley cooed as a grin spread up on her face. “You should’ve just ended her suffering. But your determination just wouldn’t let you, huh? You had to give her false hope and make her unwillingly cling to life to the very bitter end! How hilarious! You were so close! Maybe she could’ve lived.”

“Dirty liar…” Sara mumbled as she clutched the button in her hands. She sniveled, wiping her sleeve over the tears and snot on her face. “You never… intended for her to survive…! Now she’s… she’s… ah…”

“Dead,” Miley giggled with utter delight as she gripped Sara’s chin. “It was soooo funny watching you try to desperately save her while she struggled in pain. Sara Chidouin, the girl who looked up to her dear friend, Y/N L/N. And she made her suffer before dying in such agony… well, now you’re both broken so that’s a bore.”

“Ugh…” Sara sniffled as more fat droplets of tears fell off of her face.

“Ah…” Joe mumbled, stumbling towards your bleeding body. His tears had started to dry up concerningly fast. “Y/N…”

Q-taro grabbed Joe, restraining him from going any further.

“Get yourself together!” he cried as Joe struggled against the man’s grip.

“Let go of me!” Joe shouted, reaching out towards your corpse. “Y/N…! Get up! I told you to get up, so get up!” His eyes filled with lifelessness as an uneasy grin spread across his face.

“She… She ain’t alive anymore, so quit it!” the baseball player exclaimed as Joe weakened in his hold.

“No… she’s… she’s just sleeping, right? She’s not dead,” Joe mumbled incredulously while he ran a hand through his hair. “She’s just… lying there. No… No…!”

Joe’s eyes rolled up into his head as he went limp in Q-taro’s arms. The man sighed and laid Joe on the ground. Miley giggled and walked away as Keiji comforted Sara who dropped the button as it clinked to the ground. The Laughing Doll walked towards your body as she sneered. She muttered something and turned away.

“Everybody! Get ahold of yourselves!”

Sara turned to see Kai, clutching his frying pan. He took a deep breath and continued speaking.

“We must move on from here. Do not, ever let Y/N’s sacrifice and life go in vain!” Kai shouted as he pointed at Sara. “Miss Sara! Our lives are being toyed with to our enemy’s whims, we are unable to save a single person… What Y/N did to save the victim of the majority vote… she broke the system. She had resistance! Y/N… she paved a path for us. She entrusted us her hopes and her regrets! She wanted us to be alive, so please! Open your eyes!”

Sara nodded blankly, but she didn’t understand.

“She’s dead,” Sara murmured emotionlessly as she looked at your body, trying to reach out. “She’s dead....”

She then stared into empty space, and then passed out. Kai then felt his body shudder and his legs give out as he fell to his knees.


“...How’s Sara?” Reko asked, looking over at Nao and Mishima.

Nao looked over at said girl. “...she’s tossing and turning.”

“She might get a nightmare,” Mishima mused nervously. “Losing a friend in such a horrifyingly brutal way and at such a young age. And Gin?”

“Still unconscious along with Joe,” Reko replied as she checked the two boys. “At least they’re still breathing. I managed to cover his eyes and ears when she… died. Dammit!” The girl stood up, frustrated. “They basically tortured her!”

Kai sighed as he glanced over at Sara and didn’t say anything.

Nao fidgeted with her hands. “I don’t know what I can do… but I’ll at least stay by Sara’s side!”

“I agree,” her teacher said, nodding along. “We owe it to them.”

“Yeah…” the rockstar murmured as she clenched her fist. “This time we’ll give them strength. I… I owe it to Sara and Y/N!”

‘Y/N…’ Kai thought as he grasped his ladle. ‘I’ll take care of your promise. I’ll fulfill it out the best I can.’

Meanwhile, Q-taro sat hunched at the bar. He whispered his troubles to himself while fighting the urge to kick over his chair in a fit of confusion and rage.

In the Main Game grounds, Miley strode across to your bloody corpse which had been released from the restraints. She looked down at you and grinned..

“Hm, too bad,” she murmured as she then nudged your headphones with her foot. She then began to walk off. “It is time to go up to the next floor.”

Upstairs, Sou and Kanna were standing in a dark hallway, not saying anything. Sou then got off the wall and shoved his hands into his pockets. 

“Well… we… you said you wanted to know everything, didn’t you?” Sou asked, looking at Kanna.

The girl toyed with Itsuki’s hat in her hands. “Please don’t make Sara sad… don’t you… don’t you feel anything from Y/N’s…”

The girl stopped herself from talking. Sou grimaced and looked down at the floor. He glared bitterly.

“I…”

In the secret room, Alice confronted Keiji.

“Hey,” he said, looking at the policeman. “You said you were a policeman, yes?”

“...What about it?” Keiji asked, staring back at the man.

Alice fiddled with one of his chains with one hand. “A policeman knows about murder cases, yes?”

“Yeah… If I’m in charge of ‘em,” Keiji replied as he raised an eyebrow.

The prison mate didn’t say anything and then spoke quietly. “...do you know the crime I committed?”

“...Why?” Keiji asked, his mouth beginning to set into a thin line.

Alice hesitated, opening his mouth, swallowing, then saying it. “I imagine it’s just a coincidence, but… I killed a person once.”

“What was the victim’s name?” the blonde asked, nodding along.

“It was… Sou Hiyori,” Alice answered, a serious look on his face.


Access snippets of this route in Chapter 2 Part 1?

YES                 NO

 

Access snippets of this route in Chapter 2 Part 1?

[YES]                 NO

 

[Loading…]

 

“Y/N…!” Sara cried as she ran towards you.

You turned around and tucked a strand of hair over your ear. “Sara. How are you?”

“I haven’t seen you in a long time,” the girl said, smiling at you.

“Ah, that’s because I graduated highschool, you know?” you told her, sporting a small smile. “A shame.”

“Let’s… let’s hang out more!” she exclaimed, grasping your hands with stars in her eyes.

You smiled and squeezed her hands back. Your gaze looked down at your clasped hands.

“How?”

Sara’s smile faltered as she mumbled. “H… Huh?”

“How will we even hang out, Sara?” you asked, tilting your head, still staring at the intertwined hands. “I’m dead.”

Blood began to trickle down your head and coat you in red as your eyes grew lifeless. You continued to clamp down on her hands as Sara began to sob.

“I’m sorry…!” she cried as she shut her eyes in tears. “I’m sorry…!”

“Sara…” you told her, squeezing your hands even tighter. “That won’t do anything. I’m dead. You won’t talk to me anymore. You won’t see me anymore. I was robbed of my life, my future. Why… Why couldn’t you save me, Sara?”

“Ah… AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!” Sara screamed as she tried to pull away.

“Why are you running?”

“Stop it!” she cried while shaking her head.

“Don’t run. Does it hurt? You want to know what hurt more?” you asked while leaning towards her. “Dying. Didn’t I suffer longer because of you? Yeah… it’s your fault. You murderer.”

“No… Stop…!” Sara sobbed as she tugged her hands.

“Stop what? Just like how you stopped me from dying to force me to endure all that pain?” you inquired while looking at her. “Hey… why? JUST SUFFER LIKE I DID IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.”

“WAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!”

After she had woken up, Sara had observed not only her lifeless reflection, but the new room she was in. 

‘I look terrible,’ she thought while tracking her eyebags with a finger.

Suddenly, her vision flickered as blood seeped through the sheets of the bed and leaked from the walls and floor. In the mirror, a hallucination of you began to appear.

“This… This is just a nightmare!” Sara yelled as she turned away from the mirror.

“Aw… aren’t we friends?” your voice asked, hurt. “Or was that a lie?”

Sara reared back her fists and punched the mirror. “Shut up, you’re not her!”

Blood dripped all over her fist and clothes as she stared at her wounds in horror.

“Ah… someone help me… it hurts…” Sara moaned in pain as she felt a hand encase her throat.

“Are you okay? Here, let me take care of you,” the hallucination of you said as it began to choke her.

“Stop it, Y/N! I can’t breathe!” she gasped as she tried to get air.

“...I love you, Sara.”

“Ah…!”

The girl hated how the illusion donned your face and used your voice to say such horrid things. Oh how much she detested such a thing.

“Sara, get a grip!” a voice shouted.

Sara blinked as she saw Keiji. Her eyes darted around the room, completely devoid of a certain hat.

 

[Loading…]

 

Rio Ranger, the new doll put a smiling paper over his face. “All depends on you assholes, haha!”

Sara didn’t say anything and glared at the object resting on Rio’s ears.

“Whazza matter? My face scare you? C’mon, Sara Chidouin!” Rio exclaimed, switching his face cards again.

“Shut up…” Sara growled as she narrowed at the item. “Before your stupid explanation... take that off! That thing… you’re wearing… isn’t that... Y/N’s headphones?!”

Rio didn’t say anything as his eyes filled up with despair and glee. “Aha. Sure enough... you recognize these headphones...? Feels good, y’know… it’s full of the dead’s regrets. The regrets of Y/N L/N, the cheery and hardworking girl. But…” Rio tilted his head, grabbing the headphones. “Apparently she didn’t care if she died if she could save you guys. Disgusting. Still, I know she had regrets. She didn’t die right away, after all.”

Sara clenched her fists in anger as Rio plopped the headphones back on his head.

 

[Loading…]

 

Q-taro was wrong. The atmosphere was dampening, almost suffocating even. When Q-taro had stated that Y/N contributed nothing, Keiji was starting to see the opposite now. She was a moodmaker and a huge support to  headstrong and cheery people like Sara and Joe. She could comfort children like Kanna and Gin. Y/N was probably the only one who connected Sou to the rest of the group besides Kanna who could barely restrain him. Her connections to most of the people here were essential, her presence being a crucial factor in the group’s mood. Although people like Mishima and Reko didn’t know her, they felt guilt. He himself admitted that the girl cracked a few jokes here and there, but he could sense a layer of sincerity and solemnity underneath which he found reassuring. Now she was gone, and Sara’s mind was unstable. The policeman didn’t even know when he would crack.

 

[Loading…]

 

“Kai,” Sou said slowly as he grinned at the man. “How’ve you been?”

“...fine,” the homemaker replied as he looked at Sou. “Why are you engaging this conversation now?”

They were alone and… it was nighttime. Sou just let out a breath of laughter as he closed his eyes and opened them.

“Just wanted to know how you felt,” Sou told him while staring intensely. “How guilty you felt.”

“What do you mean?” Kai asked, his eyes narrowing.

“She was innocent,” the freelancer went on as he looked elsewhere. “And yet she gave her life for yours.”

Kai stared at Sou for a silent moment, putting his ladle to his lips. Yes, he felt guilty, but he knew he had to carry out your will. The long haired man removed the ladle from his lips.

He raised a brow and directed the ladle in Sou’s direction. “Could it be that you feel for her?”

Sou just stared hard. “I don’t know what you’re getting at.”

“You cared for her and you’re angry that she died instead of me: an underling for the organization orchestrating this,” Kai told him as he put the ladle back behind himself. “Is this the reason for conversation?”

“I’m not,” Sou said, grinning at Kai. “Just wanted to prod to see if there was some secret info you didn’t tell us. Guess not. Just thought that you were lying.”

 

[Loading…]


[You died]

 

Go to last checkpoint?

YES                 NO

 

Go to last checkpoint?

[YES]                 NO

 

[Loading…]

Chapter Text

Option: A

 

The grip of death seized your shoulders as you went stiff. You were frozen and couldn’t move. The air in your lungs wouldn’t budge as you couldn’t breathe. Your hands tightened against the fabric of your pants. You didn’t want to die. There were things you wanted to do and you couldn’t just go. But if you didn’t choose yourself, Kai would die. Kai would die. You would be a murderer.  Still, you couldn’t die.

‘I… I want to live…!’ you thought, closing your eyes and squeezing tendrils of hair at your roots. You felt weak and wanted to throw up. You were so sick of yourself. ‘I don’t want to die.’

The desperation to live seared through your body as you said the words you never wished you would ever say.

“I… I choose... me,” you said hesitantly, your hands shaking as you felt like falling to your knees. You clamped a hand over your mouth.  “I’m sorry… I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Dread dripped through your chest as you wanted to scream. The guilt weighing down on you threatened to bury you under the earth. You should’ve just died. God, why couldn’t you stop being so stubborn?  Your head pounded like a gavel declaring your guilt, you wanted to just take it all back the moment you said it. Kai let out a sigh and just nodded with a small smile on his face. An eerie and oppressive atmosphere settled over the room as Miley’s cackles were the only things echoing throughout.

“Heeheehee!” she laughed as she clutched her sides. “It’s too funny, heehee! You think you’re so self-righteous, but you throw others away! It’s so funny!”

‘That’s right. I’m a selfish hypocrite who falsely preaches encouragement and laughs at the dumbest things,’ you thought while running a hand through your hair as Itsuki’s hat fell off. Your eyes went wide as you felt fog starting to enter your mind. ‘Why… why did I do that? What’s the point in me even living? I should’ve…’

“Don’t say that about her!” Joe exclaimed, pointing at Miley. “Everyone has the right to be scared! This is a matter of life and death!”

Miley continued to laugh as you swallowed down your guilt that kept on coming back up to drown you. Then you felt a tug from Kai. You turned to look at him as he handed you his frying pan.

“Buy me some time,” he whispered as he pulled out a knife.

You knew exactly what he meant.

‘This is the only thing you can do for him. Don’t be selfish.’

You gulped, nodding. Taking the frying pan, you wrapped your hands around it and ran towards Miley.

‘Please, please…!’ you thought while jumping onto Reko’s table. The woman let out a squawk. Sara let out a cry. You leapt across the circle and onto Sou’s table. You launched yourself off and swung to whack Miley in the head. 

‘This is the only thing I can do for him--!’

CLANG!

The metal of the pan collided with Miley’s head as she stumbled and fell on her bottom. You landed on the ground and scurried to the side. Miley put a gloved hand on her head as she glared at you.

“How dare you!” she growled as her face contorted into a menacing glower. “Such insolence to hit me for no good reason. Unless…”

“Unfortunately, I will not let you do as you wish,” Kai declared, stepping forward in a trail of crimson blood. “I will issue… my own death.”

She turned to see Kai, revealing his torn and bloody arms. He held them up for everyone to see. The cuts in his arms ran as deep as the seeds of guilt beginning to sew themselves into you. The color of the blood dripping on the floor sent chills up your spine. Kai’s face was beginning to get steadily pale, the same rate as all the blood he was using to water the floor. Another surge of nausea towards yourself and your own selfishness came forth as you tugged the roots of your hair.

‘It’s my fault.’

“Y….you!! …what selfishness…!” Miley exclaimed as she started to stand from the floor. “The knife from the kitchen?! As if I’ll allow suicide…”

‘It’s my fault he’s going to die.’

In the spur of the moment, Q-taro charged forward, pinning down Miley to the ground. “HRAAAAAAAAHH!!!”

“Graaahh!” Miley grunted as she fell to the floor in a squashed heap. “Dammit…! Get off! You idiot brute…!”

‘I should’ve… should’ve chosen him to live…’

Q-taro continued to restrain the woman and spat. “Like hell! I wouldn’t let ya go if you killed me!”

“Dammit…! I can’t… activate the device…” Miley wheezed as she tried to wriggle out of Q-taro’s hold.

‘He’s more useful than me, he could’ve gotten everyone out.’

“Y/N.”

You clutched your shaking wrist. ‘But in my selfishness, I…!’

“Y/N! Everyone!”

Your head snapped up from your daze as you looked at Kai who was looking determinedly at everyone.

“Our lives are toyed with to our enemy’s whims, we are unable to save a single person…” Kai uttered as everyone in the room stared at him. “As we die off, this is… my feeble… resistance. But it is one large step... towards counter attack...!” He turned to look at you. “It was a step I was able to take… because you bought me time. It is surely… not futile…” He held up his torn and bleeding arms as the look of dreary happiness crossed his face. “I entrust them to you…! Our regrets…! Our hopes…! I.... am satisfied.”

With one last breath, the man fell to the floor with a smile. Blood splattered like paint across the floor as you looked at Kai in horror.

“Kai… Kai!” you exclaimed, as you tried to run over to him.

“Y/N L/N,” a voice growled as you turned around. 

You turned to see Sue Miley standing behind you, her perfectly smiling face twisted into a furious snarl. One of her hands shot out and grabbed you by your hoodie. She yanked you forward as you stumbled towards the woman.

“Y/N!” Sara exclaimed as she stared at the scene in horror.

“Y/N… I swear, you will pay for this,” Miley threatened as she stared at you with two hard heterochromatic eyes. “Don’t forget.” She yanked you closer. “You basically killed Kai. His death was caused because of you. Your selfishness caused him to die. You’re a fool and a hypocrite.”

It was as if that cracking mirror appeared again and it finally shattered. The realization of your actions finally stabbed into you.

You killed him. In your desperation to survive, you killed him. Why couldn’t you just suck it up and die. You should’ve died instead of him. You’re selfish selfish selfish.

“Y/N…” Miley said as her eyes gleamed with menace. Another wicked smile spread across her face. “You should’ve just died.”

“Get away from her!” a voice shouted as footsteps came running near.

You turned your head to see Joe heading in your direction at high speed. Miley merely frowned and kicked Joe away from her out of some sort of instinct. He landed on the ground on his head and slid away from you.

“Joe!” Sara shouted as she went over to the boy.

“Joe!” you exclaimed as Miley opened her grasp.

You got up and ran over to Joe. Sara touched Joe’s head and her hand was smeared with blood.

‘It’s my fault.’

“No…” you gasped as you went over to Joe. “What do we do? He’s gonna… He might…!”

‘Why… what is happening?’

You imagined as if the roof was falling down and the whole room was shaking. What was happening? You were so confused and frustrated. Questions and accusations filled your mind like water as you held your head.

‘Why? Why?!

“Everyone evacuate,” Miley ordered as she pointed towards the door. “Joe will be returned to you as you ascend to the next floor. I will try my best to salvage the damage.”

“You…!” you exclaimed as you turned towards Miley.

Before you could do anything, something hit your neck and you went out cold.

‘I’m sorry.’


“Welcome to the gift exchange!” Itsuki shouted as he spread his arms out. “The person who gets my gift will be so excited.”

“ I’m pretty excited,” Ryoko admitted as she held up a long narrow box.

Joe groaned with the tiny box he had. “I swear it’s good! Size doesn’t matter.”

“I actually did put a lot of effort into this,” Sara said, smiling proudly.

You fumbled with your box as you glanced over at the person you had gotten nervously. You had never given someone a gift before and it was making you nervous to say the least. The ribbon wasn’t bad, but you were worried whether or not your gift would meet the person’s taste. Well, you did try to find something to fit their tastes, but you weren’t sure. What if they got angry? What if they wouldn’t be your friend anymore. Would they--

“N/N!” Itsuki exclaimed, snapping you out of your thoughts. “Got anything to say about yours?”

You gave him a half grin and showed the small box you had put your gift in. “Kinda nervous.”

“Nothing to worry about!” Itsuki said, giving you a friendly grin. “No matter what happens I guarantee it’ll at least give us a memory about it.”

You let out a puff of laughter and smiled as your chest fluttered. “Yeah. Thanks.”

“No problem!” Itsuki exclaimed as he held out his gift. “Let’s exchange now! My gift goes to the lovely…”


“...How’s Y/N?” Reko asked, looking over at Nao and Mishima.

Sara had taken off your hoodie and made it into a makeshift pillow. She held Itsuki’s hat carefully in her hands.

“...she’ll be fine,” Sara said hoarsely as she sighed. “I’m worried about Joe, I… I can’t just leave him there.”

“Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do about it,” Mishima sighed as he frowned. “It’s… a shame. I’m sorry, I’m having trouble picking out the right words.”

“We’re all afraid,” Nao said, reassuring the older man. “It’s alright.”

“Mom, it’ll be alright meow!” Gin exclaimed as he held one of your hands.

“I’m worried,” Sara murmured as she put a hand on your forehead.

Nao fidgeted with her hands. “I don’t know what I can do… but I’ll at least stay by Sara’s side!”

“I agree,” her teacher said, nodding along. “We owe it to them.”

“Yeah…” the rockstar murmured as she clenched her fist. “This time we’ll give them strength. I… I owe it to Sara!”

Meanwhile, Q-taro sat hunched at the bar. He whispered his troubles to himself while fighting the urge to kick over his chair in a fit of confusion and rage.

In the pink room, Miley stood with a grin. A bandage was wrapped around her head.

“Eheehee, everyone. Please rest up before proceeding to the next floor,” Miley giggled as one of her eyebrows twitched from pain. “Eh? Can you go home…? A funny joke! We’ve only just begun!” Her face turned dark. “Let’s enjoy this everyone… eheehee… ahahaha…”

Upstairs, Sou and Kanna were standing in a dark hallway, not saying anything. Sou then got off the wall and shoved his hands into his pockets. 

“You said you wanted to know everything, didn’t you?” Sou asked, looking at Kanna.

The girl toyed with her hands. “Please don’t make Sara and Y/N sad… don’t you… don’t you feel anything from when Kai… I thought.... I thought Y/N was your friend.”

The girl stopped herself from talking. Sou grimaced and looked down at the floor. He glared bitterly.

“I…”

In the secret room, Alice confronted Keiji.

“Hey,” he said, looking at the policeman. “You said you were a policeman, yes?”

“...What about it?” Keiji asked, staring back at the man.

Alice fiddled with one of his chains with one hand. “A policeman knows about murder cases, yes?”

“Yeah… If I’m in charge of ‘em,” Keiji replied as he raised an eyebrow.

The prison mate didn’t say anything and then spoke quietly. “...do you know the crime I committed?”

“...Why?” Keiji asked, his mouth beginning to set into a thin line.

Alice hesitated, opening his mouth, swallowing, then saying it. “I imagine it’s just a coincidence, but… I killed a person once.”

“What was the victim’s name?” the blonde asked, nodding along.

“It was… Sou Hiyori,” Alice answered, a serious look on his face.

And with that, the first Main Game was over.


“Hey, N/N,” Itsuki said as you continued to read.

Your eyes looked up from the book in your hands. “What?”

“Can we… skip school tomorrow?” Itsuki asked while  twirling his pencil between his fingers.

“Nope,” you replied, scribbling down a note from your book. “College is expensive, you know.”

“I don’t even know what I want to do,” the boy groaned as he tilted over to look at your work. “You got your mind set on something?”

You set down your book with a frown. “Somewhat.”

“Well, at least you’re somewhere,” Itsuki sighed as he leaned back. “A clear goal in sight is good. Try to strive for your goals and not get carried away by the flow.”

“Since when did you get so poetic?” you asked, raising an eyebrow.

“At least let me be cool for once!” he exclaimed as you chuckled and silence filled the room once again.

There it was again. That uncomfortable silence that would always sit between the two of you. You picked up your book again and continued to take notes. You just needed to break the silence. Say something. Forget everything that had happened before.

“Say, you want to go to the beach with the others when summer comes around?” you asked while looking at him.

The white haired boy stood up and raised a brow. “Why did you suddenly ask?”

“Never been,” you admitted while your foot moved up and down. “How about it?”

“Why would I?” he asked, his eyes going wide. “Who would want to go anywhere with a murderer?”

You froze, not being able to move. “Huh?”

“Did you forget?” he asked while picking up a book. “Wow, you really are cruel. You killed Kai. You also killed Haruka. You know… you’re also the reason why Joe is hurt. He might even be dead, you know?”

“...no,” you denied, shaking your head. “It was… It wasn’t my fault…”

He closed the book and dropped it as it fell to the ground with a thud. The surrounding area turned pitch black as you fell, no chair present. Itsuki walked towards you, leaning forward, your noses almost brushing.

“Who was the one there when Haruka choked out on the drink?” he asked, his red eyes burning into yours. “Who was the one that chose to save themselves rather than someone who had more use to the group? Who was the reason why Joe tried to run and save them?” He stuck out a finger and jabbed it at your chest. “You.”

It hurt. Being accused like this from someone so close to you. Especially since… You shook your head.

“No… it was the game… I didn’t do anything,” you stammered, your words clunkily falling out of your mouth.

Itsuki smiled with his eyes shut. “Aw, scared? Why? You know I’m your best friend. Or is it…” You turned to look away as his eyes grew bigger and dug into your very being. “Are you feeling guilty?”

“Get away!” you screamed as your eyes shot open.

You sat up in an unfamiliar bed. There was a window of some sort to your right, along with a cabinet, two chairs, and a light. It looked like a hotel room you had seen online. Sitting up, you looked around.

‘It was… just a dream,’ you thought as you looked at the hat on the cabinet. ‘It’s… not real. My head...’

You clutched your pounding head as you got out of the bed. You remade it until it was neat again and began to look around in the room. After you checked that there was nothing in the cabinet, under the bed or chairs, you looked at the window. Your hair was a mess, clothes rumpled, and eyebags were beginning to form under your glassy eyes.

‘I look like shit,’ you thought while trying to smooth out the underparts of your eyes. ‘God--’

"ʏ/ɴ."

Suddenly, an image of Haruka appeared in the window as you let out a yelp, fell backwards and hit the ground. One of the lights suddenly flickered out as you looked at the bed. A puddle of blood was beginning to soak through the sheets and spread throughout.

“ᴡʜᴇɴ ᴡɪʟʟ ʏᴏᴜ ʟᴏᴏᴋ ᴛᴏᴡᴀʀᴅꜱ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʀᴜᴛʜ?”

Blood began to flood the ground as you frantically stood up as it lapped your shoes. You saw your dirty hands and began to wipe them on your pants. The other lantern began to ooze blood as it leaked through the cover of it.

“ᴀᴛᴏɴᴇ ꜰᴏʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜱɪɴꜱ ᴀɴᴅ ᴅɪᴇ, ʏ/ɴ.”

Crimson blood trickled down the ceiling like water as you staggered back into a chair. Bumping into it, you turned around to see a corpse slumping forward. Kai’s lifeless form sat on the chair, wrists bleeding out as his blood trailed to the floor. Joe sat across from him, blood trailing down his forehead. You were unable to tell whether or not he was unconscious or dead. Glaring at the image in the mirror, you yelled.

“You aren’t Haruka,” you told her while pointing. “You’re just a nightmare I’m having!”

She let out a chuckle. “ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ꜱᴏ ᴅᴇꜱᴘᴇʀᴀᴛᴇ ᴛᴏ ʟᴏᴏᴋ ᴀᴡᴀʏ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʀᴜᴛʜ?”

“Shut up,” you growled as your eyes darted across the room.

You turned heel and began to run. You began to make it to the door.

“ɪ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅɴ’ᴛ ɢᴏ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴡᴀʏ ɪꜰ ɪ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ!” Haruka exclaimed in a sing-song tone.

You ran into something. Sharp sensations exploded across your body as you let out a groan. You stumbled back as you could feel pain seep through your skin. Your forehead burned with pain as something trickled down your face. You held your hand which had blood splattered onto it.

“Ah…” you mumbled while staring at the blood on your hands. “What the…”

Looking up, you saw Haruka, instead her figure distorted into some sort of red creature. Her trademark smirk was disturbingly wide, her eyes now black holes, and black cracks spreading throughout her entire body. You tried to stand up, but she shoved you forward as you fell to the ground with a grunt. She got on top of you and stared into your eyes with her soulless ones.

“ɪᴛ’ꜱ ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜰᴀᴜʟᴛ ɪ’ᴍ ᴅᴇᴀᴅ,” she whispered as her hands wrapped themselves around your throat. “ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴍᴇ. ʏᴏᴜ ᴀᴄᴛᴜᴀʟʟʏ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴍᴇ. ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ꜱɪᴄᴋ. ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ᴇᴠᴇɴ ᴡᴏʀꜱᴇ ᴛʜᴀɴ ᴍᴇ.”

Her hands squeezed as you let out a gasp. Your legs kicked as she continued to squeeze the very life out of you.

“S-Stop…!” you wheezed as she just tilted her head.

“ᴡʜʏ?” she asked, choking you even harder. “ɪᴛ’ꜱ ɴᴏᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ɪ’ᴍ ɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴀɴʏᴡʜᴇʀᴇ.”

“Agh…” you groaned as you began to lean back.

“ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ꜱᴛᴀʏ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ꜱɪᴅᴇ...” she crooned as her nails dug into your flesh. “ᴛʜɪꜱ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ’ᴠᴇ ɴᴇᴠᴇʀ ʜᴀᴘᴘᴇɴᴇᴅ ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴇʀᴇɴ’ᴛ ʜᴇʀᴇ…”

“Y/N!”

Your eyes shot open as you saw you were still on the ground. Sara looked at you, concerned. She pulled you up.

‘Thank God,’ you thought, staring blankly at her.

“Are you okay?” she asked, holding your hand.

‘She’s okay.’

“I… I’m fine,” you told her while shaking your head. “It’s nothing.”

She glanced behind you. “What happened here?”

You turned around to see a giant crack in the window. Touching your forehead, you could feel a cut.

‘Did I seriously run into the window?’ you thought while sighing.

“Let me get patched up first,” you told her while sitting down.

Sara began to walk. “Let me go get Keiji.”

After the two had come back, Keiji cleaned your wounds and you were set.

“Where… are we?” you asked, glancing at the unfamiliar room.

“It’s the third floor,” Sara said, handing you Itsuki’s hat and your headphones.

Keiji huffed in amusement. “It’s like telling you to ‘get some rest’ or something like that.”

“I see…” you murmured while slipping on Itsuki’s hat. “Well, thanks for getting me up here. I must’ve been heavy.”

“Nah, don’t mention it,” Keiji said, as he put a hand on your shoulder to settle you down. “Go rest some more. You need it.”

“I… I can’t sleep right now,” you mumbled while rubbing your head.

“Just try,” Sara pleaded as she made you tilt back.

Your head rested on the pillow as you took Itsuki’s hat off and placed it close to your chest. Sara put your headphones on the dresser.

“...I’ll try,” you told her as you closed your eyes to sleep.

Before you knew it, you drifted off again.



Chapter Text

Hi this is the author and I’m here to discuss the rules and new features in Chapter 2. Chapter 2 will have 3 days to collect Clear Chips, but instead of three will be split up into four segments because math. Anyways, the new little thing I’m adding into this chapter is character interaction and the Guilt Meter.  It’s so important that I’m making a separate chapter to explain the rules just in case some of you who want to comment on voting decisions skip the ending chapter notes. Character interactions will more or less affect this entire segment for Chapter 2. I will split it up into multiple segments to explain.

Character interactions can raise different characters’ favorability stats. This allows the reader to have a certain amount of influence and likeability to characters. Like if you tried to convince a character, the more favorability you have the more they would listen to you. Certain actions throughout this chapter of the game require a certain amount of favorability so watch out for that. You won’t be able to interact with any of the Floor Masters or the “Dolls”, however, so you don’t have to worry about that. Favorability points can be lost when interacting too much with a certain character that another character doesn’t like. For example, Sara + Keiji + Reko + Nao + (almost everyone holy shit) with Sou or vice versa. Once or twice in a row might be fine, but it’s recommended not to interact too much with one person. Becoming non-platonically involved with another character is highly unlikely and not recommended, (I really mean it when I say this,) because it blocks off certain memories and interactions. And I’m being really petty so I’m not gonna tell you how to do it :P

Different events will occur through discussions and negotiations of trade. The moments of negotiation are crucial in selecting choices. I will be counting up the amount of usable tokens you earn and some of these events can earn you favorability stats. You can obtain different information, items, and the videos if you carefully trade tokens. You might be able to gain favorability points from some of these, others I will roll a dice for.

Memories and the reader’s backstory which I haven’t revealed yet will also be used when she sleeps and especially character interactions. For example, (I’m kind of giving you a cheat sheet for this one) you can see glimpses of memories of the reader with her friends when interacting with Sara and especially Joe, but you can unlock certain memories when interacting with certain people.

As you can see, the reader also has a Guilt Meter. If it reaches 100%, she will have a breakdown similarly to Sara and it will be game over. This will occur when she is reminded of Haruka (the OC), Kai, or if she messes up badly. This can also happen through talking to certain characters. Some characters will sometimes lower the Guilt Meter, or raise it. Make sure to keep an eye out for that.

Regarding all of these, there might be some hidden events O0O. Events might be like not being able to sleep, eating meals, or just random events after attempting an attraction. These will also be decided by a roll of a dice.

Reminder: the game will not progress if the reader or Sara dies. It will always restart to the last “checkpoint” which is when you make a choice. Voting on a choice will last for about a week and then I will start to work on the next chapter. Make sure to choose what you think is right and happy reading :)

Chapter Text

You blinked, opening your heavy-lidded eyes. Sitting up in the big bed, you blinked blearily and looked to see Sara and Keiji standing at the foot of your bed. Rubbing your tired eyes Sara handed you Itsuki’s hat and your headphones.

“How was your nap?” Sara asked while fixing a strand of hair in her face.

You smiled, beginning to reply--

“𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠? 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐜 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐥.”

A sharp voice rang out throughout the room which caused you to slightly straighten on instinct. You stopped, your smile naturally frozen as your eyes carefully slid over to the other side of your bed. A shadow stood, small but powerful. Someone you hadn’t seen in years. You nodded as your hair fell onto your features, hiding your shrinking smile.

“Fine,” you told Sara as you slid out of the bed.

Sliding on Itsuki’s hat and placing the headphones on your neck, you looked into the mirror. Swallowing back uneasily, you stared at your gaunt reflection in the mirror.  You started to walk out as you glanced back. The image waved at you as you twitched. You looked forward and marched out.

“Nice place,” you remarked quietly while playing with your headphone string which trailed down towards your knees.

“I admit it is,” your friend replied as the three of you got out to the main area.

It looked like a comfy hotel, a few tables and couches here and there with a light shining down. A few lamps here and there and some nice ferny plants. Someone’s singing voice drifted around the room with a beautiful melody. You shifted your gaze to see Reko, Nao, and Gin on the couch.

‘Her singing is pretty,’ you thought listlessly as you spotted someone approaching you.

“....Entranced by it, Y/N L/N?” a familiar “Yamada Gonbee” asked as he stationed himself next to you. “Hmph. You look terrible.”

“Hey Alice. I could tell,” you replied while looking back to Reko on the couch.

“Alice…” Sara murmured as Keiji smiled.

“Why’re you listening in from the wall? Isn’t she your sister?” the policeman asked, raising an eyebrow.

You shrugged limply. “It’s probably… complicated.”

“Right she is, you buffoon of a cop,” Alice growled lowly as he glared at the blonde. “We’re complete strangers now! Reko is… surely singing with pure feelings out of grief for the dead. I don’t care to introduce any unnecessary distraction with my presence.”

“Pretty conscientious of your sister, eh?” the blonde commented while looking away.

“Alice,” you said while playing around with your headphone string. “I don’t want to intrude on your family business, but do you want to stay strangers with your sister? Especially in a situation like this?”

Said man huffed with indignation as his face twisted with annoyance. “I told you it’s none of your business… just… what do you all think of Reko?”

“Huh? She’s… a kind person,” Sara answered with a raised brow.

“Mwahahaha… I see,” the rainbow haired man murmured to himself while nodding with the smuggest grin you had ever seen.

“‘Course she’s got no mercy for men. Like Mr. Policeman over here,” Keiji said as he pursed his lips in a playful manner. “Kind to the weak and harsh on the strong, that’s the kind of impression I get for her.”

“She’s… very mature and caring?” you said as you tilted your head. Then you winced. “Sorry, I’m a dumbass. I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

“No, you’re right…” Alice said with a soft look in his eyes. “She was… different before.”

“Was she harsh on everyone?” your friend asked softly while looking at Alice.

The man nodded. “That’s right. Since Reko’s birth, she’s been brimming with vitality, and had talents in music and charming others. She was harsh on herself… but especially harsh on those who didn’t act without regard for whether they were weak. She’s undergone a startling change.”

“Due to your murder case, I take it...?” Keiji guessed while looking at Alice straight in the eyes.

The latter flinched as you tightened a grasp on your arm. “Mwhaha… exactly right... Sorry to make you hear these trifles.”

“No, it’s fine,” you told him quietly while fiddling with your fingers. “I think… I’ve gotten to know you and Reko better.”

“Y/N!”

You turned at the sound of your name to see Reko, Nao, and Mishima walking up to you.

“Y/N, you came to!” Reko exclaimed while giving you a kind smile.

“I’m glad everyone’s safe…!” Nao sighed as she put a hand on her chest.

Mishima nodded in agreement. “Yes… but are you alright, Miss Y/N? You look ill.”

You opened your mouth to speak. “I--”

“Moooooooooooooooom!” a familiar voice shouted as a small body wrapped itself around your waist.

“You’re alright, right?!” Reko asked while placing a warm hand on Gin’s back.

“You don’t have to push yourself!” Nao reassured you while squeezing her eyes shut.

You didn’t say anything and just nodded as Sara laughed softly. After letting go, Sara hugged you from behind.

“I’m so glad…” she murmured into your ear as she shut her eyes. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

You nodded again as Reko raised a brow. Sara laughed as she let go of you.

“I think she means she’ll be fine,” Sara translated while patting your head. “She’s a little tired.”

“I’m here Mom, woof!” Gin cheered while squeezing your torso again. “Don’t worry!”

Your eyes glanced at Alice, who was simply staring at the scene with wide eyes. Reko followed your gaze to look at Alice. She frowned as you stayed silent and watched.

“...the hell you lookin’ at?”  she asked lowly as Alice blinked.

“E-er, sorry…” he murmured before scurrying away, his chains jingling in his wake.

You stepped into the conversation. “Ah, he was just trying to see if I was okay--”

“Y/N, you don’t have to lie for that bastard…” Reko told you, pointing a finger at you. “He’s nothing but trouble.”

You shook your head. “No, it’s fine. I’m grateful that the both of you are concerned for someone like me.”

Reko huffed and placed her hand on her hip. “Tell me if he bothers you and I’ll talk to him.”

‘She’s not listening to me,’ you thought while petting Gin’s head.

“So, did anything happen while I was asleep?” you asked while looking around at the room. “Sorry, I just…”

“Nothin’ yet,” Reko replied while looking at the room around. “After that awful Main Game, we’ve just been off by ourselves resting.”

“We were given rooms for every person, so…” Nao informed you while fidgeting by herself. “We carried you here and were standing by…”

Mishima pat you on the shoulder. “You have nothing to worry about. Just relax.”

“But that bad doll girl is nowhere to be found, woof,” Gin told you while holding your hand. “Should we look for her, meow?”

You pressed your lips together and thought to yourself. ‘There’s no need to look for her. It’s better that way, anyway.’

“We should check if this place is safe, first,” Sara told us while smiling at you. “Some trap might already be set in motion…”

Keiji laughed to himself while looking away. “...Sheesh, I was about to say don’t overdo it. But you’re getting serious quick, Sara. You’ve been fretting over both Joe and Y/N, and you haven’t been resting.”

You felt a cold chill in your ear. Joe. How could you forget about Joe? Were you that thoughtless? You should’ve checked on him first before getting sleep. You were so stupid. How could you do that? And you didn’t check up on Sara. She was tired. She was caring for you. God, why didn’t you say something sooner?

 

[Guilt meter: 20%]

 

Keiji broke the silence that you heard in your head. “Alright, sitting around isn’t my style either. Let’s take caution when exploring the area.”

“What about Joe?” you asked while gripping Gin’s hand a bit tighter. “Where… where is he?”

“Joe is still asleep, but he is fine,” Mishima replied while pushing up his glasses. “No need to worry, he isn’t in life-threatening condition.”

“Should… should I go check up on him…?” you asked as your feet twitched. “I mean, it’s my fault--”

“It’s fine,” Sara told you while placing both of her hands on your free hand. “He’s sleeping. He’ll be fine. Let him… let him rest.” Her voice grew small, which concerned you.

“Okay…” you murmured as you turned your gaze away.

The group first entered a hallway. There was minimal lighting, many passages, and rubble scattered about. Q-taro stood out in the shadows, crouching in the corner as if looking for something.

“Ah! Y/N, you okay?!” Q-taro asked while giving you a thumbs up.

You nodded while staying silent. You gave a slow and quiet thumbs up back. Q-taro frowned and crossed his arms.

“Cheer up!” he exclaimed while nodding. “This isn’t like you!”

“Got it,” you said while smiling uneasily. “It’s just… I’m really, really selfish, you know? I’m not some cheery, happy-go-lucky girl.”

He grimaced and averted his eyes. “... ‘course, I know that. Sorry. I know you made your decision… I won’t judge ya because I know I would’ve done the same… you really suffered, hadn’t you? Wanting to live isn’t wrong! Miley’s just a piece of crap doll! Don’t ever blame yourself!”

You nodded while squeezing Gin’s hand. He rubbed up against you as you almost buckled under from how tight your chest was constricting.

‘Wanting to live isn’t wrong? Still, I… I killed him for that.’

“Thanks,” you mumbled with a wheeze, your mind swirling with delirium. “I…”

“Hey, it’ll be okay,” Q-taro told you while putting a hand on your shoulder. “Don’t sweat it. I’ll find something out about the kidnappers. You don’t have to carry Kai’s… wish alone. Got it?”

“Ye,” you replied hoarsely with a voice crack as the man bellowed with laughter.

“That’s the spirit!” he cried while turning back to search.

Gin nudged you shyly. “...that gorilla’s… actually a good guy, meow.”

“Uh huh,” you replied quietly as the group went to go investigate somewhere else. 

The next room was the medical room. There seemed to be glass panels on the walls, viewing some outside tropical island or something. There were cabinets and shelves with medicine and such, as well as a couch to the side.

“Heh, pretty flashy,” Keiji commented as he tapped a finger against a glass panel.

“It’s fake,” Sara informed us while getting up from the ground when observing the sand in the glass. “I guess it’s just to relax.”

You gazed at all the objects in the room and saw strange items and a weird looking machine. You decided it wasn’t worth your time and ignored it.

The group walked into a new room with an outdoor area viewed through a window. Alice sat, staring at the outside. Reko looked away.

“Ahh… I’m gonna look over there. Tell me when you wanna look somewhere else,” she told us as she walked away.

Sara and Keiji began to talk with Alice as you looked at where Reko left.

‘Shouldn’t they at least fix the rift between them? No, it’s not your place to tell them that, just forget it,’ you thought while patting Gin’s head.

“He really is a little scary, isn’t he…” Nao murmured as Mishima smiled.

“I prefer to get to know the person first,” the professor commented while spinning around his finger. “Then I can make a judgement on them.”

Nao gasped and nodded. “You’re right professor…!”

‘Mishima is a nice guy like Itsuki said,’ you thought while the weight on your head seemed to sink in. ‘Itsuki…’

Then the whole group moved on and went to a different room full of monitors. You began to count the amount of monitors in the room.

‘10 monitors…’ you thought while counting them. ‘That’s a lot. How rich is this organization? Well, no shit, they’ve got collars and everything.’

“Whoa… loads of monitors,” Keiji commented while observing the machine panel of buttons in front of him.

You glanced at the side of the room, seeing a familiar looking girl.

‘Kanna,’ you thought as the girl saw you and looked away. ‘...huh?’

“Almost like… some kinda security room, ain’t it?” Reko growled, looking irritated.

You looked around, healing a faint buzzing sound from one of the monitors. You began to approach one when one of the screens flashed to life.

“Huh? Who are you guys?” the woman on the screen asked.

‘That’s…’ you thought while looking to the side.

“Me?” “You?” Reko and Nao spoke at the same time while then looking at each other.

The computer Reko began to explain that she was an artificial intelligence, a replica of the real Reko with the same emotions, thoughts, and memories. Keiji informed the rest of the group that pictures identifying which AI whom the monitor belonged to were on the back. Immediately, you checked. Your heart thumped, beginning to beat fast as adrenaline surged within you and demanded you to search. Your hands and legs trembled as you moved to look.

‘Itsuki… or Haruka… hell, even Kai, ’ you thought as you scanned the backs of the monitors. ‘They’re… not here. Wait, that one’s blank?’

“Sister… why aren’t you here…?” Kanna asked timidly as she held her shoulders. “I… miss you too…”

“Joe doesn’t have one?” Sara murmured as she stared at the backs of the monitors.

‘That’s strange,’ you mused to yourself while stepping back from the monitors. ‘Why--’

A face with green hair and eyes and a strange hat popped up on a screen with a red background. They multiplied and spread throughout all the screens.

“Ah, ooh, ahh…!” the voice cried in distress. “Who was it?! Who went and started up the Reko AI…?!”

“W… what the?!” Reko shouted in alarm as she backed up from the monitors.

The voice gasped in shock. “I get it…! So then… Ranger…! It was you, wasn’t it…?!”

Another voice popped up at the back of the room as you turned around. “Hey, don’t get mad! Everybody seems pretty pleased, don’tcha think?” Another person with orange hair and eyes walked out of the shadows wearing a strange get-up: a weird dark orange-yellow hood, carrying weird little paper props and an ice cream toy, a vest, a pair of red gloves, a skirt with a jacket, and a familiar looking red apron. You blanched as you spotted the last item hanging on the person’s neck: Haruka's necklace.

“ɪᴛ’ꜱ ʏᴏᴜʀ ꜰᴀᴜʟᴛ.”

What was happening? Everything seemed to go around you. It seemed so surreal. She was dead. Kai was dead. They both died in your presence. Their deaths were brought from your hesitation. Your selfishness. 

‘Why… Why…?’ You searched the person head to toe, but didn’t find any clothes belonging to Itsuki. ‘...huh? Not there…?’

“Hey there! You bastards slept well?” the person asked while holding a prop in front of their mouth. “I’m the Dressup Doll, Rio Ranger!”

‘Those are belongings of the dead people,’ you thought while staring at Ranger’s outfit. A sick feeling of inner turmoil and queasiness bubbled in your chest.

Switching the props around, Ranger continued. “I’ll be supporting y’all on this floor. Best regaaaaards!”

Keiji looked around. “Err… what about Miley…?”

Ranger didn’t look fazed, but sounded annoyed. “Ehh? You prefer the ladies, do ya? Sheesh. Come over here, Safalin! For they so humbly requested a girl!”

The screens flashed. “Ahh, ohh, sniff... But I’m so angry at you right  now…”

“Yeesh, it’s creepy when they all talk at once,” Ranger commented while staring at the screens.

“C-creepy?! You’re so mean!”

“Just joshin’! You’re real cute, so move it already!”

Just when you thought Miley looked weird, you were met with this mess of green and white. A big hat with cream, a cherry, and a straw were sticking out on top. There seemed to be tears on the woman’s eyes.

‘Holy shit,’  you thought while you knew your eyes would bleed.

“D-do you meeean it?” the woman asked in an eager tone.

“NOW,” Ranger ordered, his voice shaking the room.

The faces on the screens disappeared as the woman introduced herself. “Good to meet you, everyoneee… I am the Vice Floor Master, the Crying doll, Tia Safalin.”

‘Are all their names like that?’ you thought as it randomly flew through your head.

“What a calamity!” Q-taro exclaimed as you had no idea how he got inside the room.

“Now this is perfect,” Ranger told us. “Let’s begin explaining the rules of Floor 3.”

‘We went up a floor?’ you thought while looking around. ‘Well… I did fall down a drop. So the more we progress, the closer to escape?’

“T-the rules of Floor 3…?” Nao asked, turning a magnificent shade of purple.

“Yep. You bastards are hyper on-edge after suspecting up a storm after the Main Game, right?” Ranger asked while looking around at the rest of us. “And so! We thought of some wonderful festivities for you to reconcile before the next Main Game!”

‘Another one? So soon?’

“𝐘/𝐍. 𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬.”

Reko jumped in shock as she looked at Ranger. “Wait! We’re doing one again?! A Main Game…?!”

“All depends on you asshooles!” Ranger cried while putting on a different prop with a masculine face. “Hahaha! Whazza matter? My face scare you? C’mon, Sara Chidouin!”

“Before your stupid explanation… take that off…!” the girl cried as she pointed at Kai’s apron. “Isn’t that Kai’s apron?!”

Ranger stayed silent and put up a new prop up over his eyes. He took it off and showed his eyes full of hysteria, mania, and despair. His voice filled up with laughter and some form of mockery.  “Sure enough… you recognized this apron?”

You took your hand out of Gin’s and placed him behind you.

You suddenly felt queasy, staring at the thing adorning Ranger’s waist. You had the urge to rip it off, but you could be reprimanded for breaking the rules. You felt a sick and twisted feeling burning in your chest as you looked uneasily at the apron. And especially that necklace. The one you had seen one on her neck for years. Just… you could’ve just ripped the apron off when you wanted.

‘Stop caring about the rules.’

“Yeah, it feels nice… it’s full of the dead’s regrets…” Ranger commented while smoothing out his shirt. He laughed.

“That skirt… it must be sister’s…” Kanna murmured while staring longingly.

Ranger just stared. “What. You bastards got any right to condemn me?” He swiveled towards you, eyes swirling, seeming to suck you in. “Huh? Y/N?”

“Nothing,” you replied, face stiff as Ranger just laughed tauntingly.

“Topic’s donezo! Everybody come meet me behind the monitors!” Ranger exclaimed as he walked off.

‘Damn,’ you thought while gripping your hand into a fist. The hopelessness and the dread you felt began to crush you. You wanted to fall to the ground and curl up within yourself. The tension was too much and you couldn’t take it anymore.

Something tugged at your hoodie. “𝐘/𝐍.”

You turned around to look below you and tried not to make a sound.

“𝐘/𝐍. 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐞.”

Moving along, you trudged to the next room as you saw a screen with pictures of all of the survivors. You swallowed to see a red number 50. There was a counter with a man standing there with a prominent mustache. You tried not to stare as you looked at the available items. Some plastic stars with a blue 30’s, video tapes with blue 20’s, and a ticket for a blue 10. You gazed at all the photos and looked at everyone in the room. Sara tapped your shoulder.

“Where’s Sou?” she asked as you shrugged limply.

“Should I… go look for him?” you whispered as you scanned the room.

Sara frowned and pondered in thought. “It’s fine… we’ll tell him later.”

You observed her face with a strange look. ‘Is she still bothered by the Main Game? Sou did hold some sort of animosity towards her. But why is he so bothered by it? Past experience?’

You put a finger to your chin.

“Hm, let’s make--!”

You blinked as a few words and a sharp pang ran through your head. Rubbing your head, you arched your brow in confusion.

‘...huh?’

“Whoa! Who is that?!” Reko asked, pointing at the man behind the counter.

Ranger popped up and began to explain. “That’s the Receptionist Doll. And this is the Prize Exchange! Safalin, hand those things out.”

“Okaaaay…” the woman said as she gave us a wallet. “Those are Me-Tokens. Everyone has been given 100.”

You shook the wallet, hearing something jingling inside. Zipping it open, you took out coins with your face on all of them.

Keiji put back his tokens in his wallet. “Huh… so let me guess, you can trade these tokens for the prizes on display here?”

“Correct! Just what I expected from you!” Ranger cheered, face still impassive. “The prizes are related to clearing Floor 3, and personal information files... and more!”

Keiji looked to the side. “You’re making personal information into prizes?”

“However…” Ranger said, prolonging what he wanted to say.

“You cannot trade for prizes with your own tokens,” the Crying Doll finished with a wobbly grin.

“You can only use tokens you get from others!” Ranger added while showcasing the pictures on the wall. “And if you get a lot from somebody, you can nab that person’s personal info. Those tokens signify trust. All y’all bastards are gonna be selling, buying, stealing, and surrendering those suckers! In short, it’s a game of buying and selling trust!”

‘“Buying and selling trust”…’ you repeated in your head with a frown.

“Buying and selling… trust…” Sara commented quietly as she looked at the coins in her hand. “How idiotic… surely there’s more to this.”

Q-taro raised a hand to gather all the attention. “I got an idea. If one of us gathers tokens and buys a prize, we can all share the info.”

“Ehh? Y’all are some friendly bastards,” the Dressup Doll commented to the side. “Well, too bad for you, that’s not all!”

“It’s personal info,” you spoke up while pocketing your wallet. “I’m sure… there’s people here that don’t want their info out.”

The baseball player let out a disgruntled grunt and stayed quiet. You looked away in discomfort.

“All of you will experience 11 attractions located around the Third Floor and earn the right to challenge the Main Game,” Safalin explained with a grin.

‘“Earn”?’ You thought while frowning. ‘Shit.’

“M… myow…?” Gin asked, flinching behind you.

“Whenever you clear an attraction, you’ll receive Clear Chips… and if you don’t collect 12 within the time limit, you’ll die before the Main Game starts!” Ranger concluded with a shout.

Nao turned pale as a ghost. “N… no…!”

Ranger put on his manly prop. “Ah, don’t worry, ya bastard! Unlike in the Main Game, if you do well, no one will die!”

“Most attractions require two,” Safalin informed us, her grin still present. “...However, one cannot do the same attraction twice.”

‘Huh,’ you thought while thinking in your head. ‘If I’m capable, I should be able to gather enough Clear Chips--’ you stopped and froze in place. ‘...huh?’

Keiji’s face turned ominous. “Tokens and Clear Chips… I’m starting to see what you’re getting at.”

Mishima raised a hand. “Question. What happens if we don’t trade tokens?”

Ranger shrugged. “Your loss! You lose valuable information!” He swapped props to a skull looking fragmented prop. “Now, get what you need to do? Clear attractions to collect 12 Clear Chips. Use the Me-Tokens you received however you want… though you can only trade with others’ tokens! By the way… the more tokens you get, the better. There’s a grand prize, too… A ticket to the surface! It’s a first-come first-serve, so if you snooze, you lose!”

‘Is it hidden?’ you thought as a million thoughts crashed into you all at once. ‘No, that’s not important--’

“Your time limit is 3 days! Relax! You’ve got plenty of food and clothes, and even time to rest, so sleep soundly!” Ranger explained with a cheery tone. “We won’t put any traps or other trickery in your rooms, so use ‘em freely! Now let the Sub-Game… The Trust Barter Game, begin!”

 

Day 1 | Morning

 

Ranger and Safalin turned around and retreated elsewhere. You snapped to attention and twitched.

“W-wait…!” you cried out as you saw that they were gone.

“What’s wrong?” Keiji asked, looking at you with a tilted head.

“Nothing,” you replied while shaking your head.

‘I could be wrong. I’ll go discuss with someone else first.’

“𝐃𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐧𝐨𝐰? 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐮𝐫𝐞.”

“...attractions… should we go look for them?” Keiji suggested, prompting an idea to our group.

You nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Let’s.”

Exiting the room, a cracked monitor caught your eye. One of the monitors had cracks originating from an area on the screen. Shards of glass were scattered on the ground. The culprit was nowhere in sight.

“H… Hey! Wasn’t this totally fine before?!” Reko asked while observing the monitor.

“...whose monitor is this?” Keiji asked simply as he looked behind the machine with Sara.

The latter’s eyes widened. “It’s… ripped off…!”

“Reko, did you see who destroyed the monitor?” the blonde asked, looking at the AI version of her.

“Oi, back up! Sorry. I didn’t,” Reko muttered while looking at our Reko. “Sorry… I don’t know, something just went awry. Shit…!”

‘Awry…?’ you thought while staring at the monitor incredulously. ‘And that monitor, I remember. It’s--’

“Come to think of it... “ Nao spoke up quietly, maroon eyes darting around the room. “...I haven’t seen Sou…”

Reko gnashed her teeth in anger as she had this look to storm towards the exit and ravage the whole floor for him. “Him again…?! Dammit, what the hell is he after?!”

“Hmm… look for attractions, or look for Sou…” Keiji mused aloud as he looked upwards. “What do you think, Sara?”

‘What’s his attachment towards always asking Sara things?’ you thought, suddenly on alert. ‘I brushed it off as a joke, but now… it doesn’t feel right.’

“I’ll… search for Sou,” Sara said determinedly, a steely look in her eyes. “I don’t know what he wants from me or why he holds this malice towards me… I feel like… we can’t let him roam free.”

Keiji lightly laughed while rubbing his neck with his huge arms. “...that’s true. Sheesh, I would love to throw some cuffs on him and lock him up.”

Kanna walked forward, trembling in her small frame. “E-err… could all of you focus on attractions… while I search for Sou...?”

“Kanna…!” Reko exclaimed, a droplet of sweat sliding down her face.

The girl turned to look at Sara. “It’s natural of you to hate Kanna… but… she’ll at least keep an eye on Sou… please believe her…”

Another sudden chill swept over you as you felt a voice hiss at you. The words seemed to stab into your chest, making it hard to breathe. You felt your throat constrict as your stomach began to swirl in a sickeningly repetitive motion.

“ꜱʜᴇ’ꜱ ʟʏɪɴɢ.”

“ᴛʜᴇʏ’ʀᴇ ʜɪᴅɪɴɢ ꜱᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ʏᴏᴜ.”

“ᴀꜰᴛᴇʀ ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴋᴀɪ ᴀɴᴅ ʜɪɴᴀᴋᴏ, ᴛʜᴇʏ ɴᴏ ʟᴏɴɢᴇʀ ᴡᴀɴᴛ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ꜰʀɪᴇɴᴅꜱ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʏᴏᴜ.”

A hand was outstretched towards you. “𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐈 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭. 𝐈 𝐝𝐮𝐦𝐛, 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐰. 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐦𝐞?”

“No way, Kanna!!” Reko exclaimed as she looked at the frail girl. “Don’t go near that guy on your own!!”

“It’s… my responsibility…” Kanna murmured as you swallowed and stepped forward.

“I… I’ll go,” you said, raising your hand. “I understand Sou. I’ll go look for him with Kanna.”

Keiji looked to the side and replied. “No, I recommend someone else.”

Sara moved forward and shook her head. “Keiji. I trust Y/N. What are you trying to say?”

You felt this feeling, a suffocating tension was rising. You couldn’t speak. It was like your voice was blocked. Your muscles went stiff and wouldn’t move.

“Normally, I wouldn’t mind,” Nao spoke up as she looked at you in desperation. “Sou isn’t a good person. Sou… has you right in his clutches, Y/N…! He’s going to use the two of you!” She kept looking on at you pleadingly. “You’ll get hurt again…!”

‘No, it wasn’t his fault. I took the Sacrifice card. I chose to save myself. Sou only tried to mess with the Main Game…!’

Kanna looked shocked. “You don’t… trust Kanna…?”

“Wait, hold on--” you started to say while holding your hands out. “This isn’t--”

“STOP THIS YOU GUYS!!” Alice shouted, his voice echoing across the room. The room went silent.  “All this tension is just what the kidnappers want! Are you dumb or what?! Looking at you… It’s like sisters quarreling… I hate it! Just reconcile! If only in appearance!! The feelings… can be appended after the fact!!”

You noticed Reko staring at Alice quietly as you slightly bowed towards Alice in thanks. You watched as Sara and Kanna apologized to each other as Kanna timidly looked at you. You stared at her and blinked.

“Wait, me?” you asked softly as you approached Kanna. “Kanna… I’m sorry for, uh, letting you down. I’m like… the most… terrible--”

“Y/N,” Kanna interrupted as she fiddled with her hands. “Kanna has to say sorry. Kanna and Sou… we tricked you. Sorry.”

“No, it’s fine,” you reassured her while taking her small hands. “I’ll be fine.”

“Well said, you two,” Reko told us in a proud tone. “And what pisses me off is Mr. Beanie. You guys just got used by him, right? Don’t feel too responsible, Kanna.”

“Uh…” you murmured as Kanna shook her head profusely.

“...that’s wrong,” she whispered, albeit a bit loudly. “Kanna and Y/N… tipped the scales…!”

“The scales…?” Keiji asked, eyeing us attentively.

“Kai said he had contact with the kidnappers,” Kanna explained, taking the steering wheel of the conversation. “But… he drew the Sage card and became the victim. I’m sure that means… he didn’t know all the details of the Main Game. But… Sou… Sou did know things about the game…!”

The policeman looked dangerously sick. You weren’t exactly sure what to discern of it. “What…?”

“Then... I found a glowing card behind the sliding door in the bar…” Kanna informed as she looked at you.

You rubbed your arm. “It’s true. Although this was a private conversation, it’s true. He did know things. I took the card with full knowledge that it was dangerous because he told me so. Sou gave Kanna the Commoner card while I took the Sacrifice. That’s all I know. I split up with them at the stairs and went with Sara.”

“He let me know about the Main Game that was going to happen…” Kanna told the group with a trembling voice. “I’m not sure why he didn’t inform Y/N, maybe he forgot. And… he devised a strategy to survive…! Everything was the way Sou explained it… that’s why… that’s why Kanna… Thought instead of Kai… Sou should be left alive…!”

That feeling again. A large pressure began to press in on you as your stomach tightened. You felt the urge to gag, a nauseous feeling welling up within you. You put a hand on your mouth and rubbed your stomach. Needles seemed to drive themselves under your skin. A chill seemed to pass by your ear as you felt nothing but the wanting to stay calm.

“𝐘/𝐍, 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐞. 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐞.”

“ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ꜱᴏᴍᴇ ɢɪʀʟ ᴡʜᴏ ᴋᴇᴇᴘꜱ ᴛʀᴀɪʟɪɴɢ ʙᴇʜɪɴᴅ.”

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴜꜱ.”

“Ouch!” Alice cried, clutching his ankle as he buckled over.

Reko looked over at him, tensing. “What’s wrong?”

“I, uh, hurt my… ankle! That’s it!” the inmate cried as his eyes went directly towards you. “You, Y/N! Come and help me!”

His sister stepped forward with a disapproving glare. “Hey, what are you trying to do?”

“I’ll help him,” you blurted out as you scuffled across the room to go help him. “We’ll go see if Sou is anywhere to be seen.”

The two of you walked out of the room as you eyed Alice’s leg. He caught you staring and smiled.

“And what are you looking at?” he asked as you stared pointedly at him.

“You’re not really hurt, are you?” you inquired as the man’s smile grew shrewd.

“Mwahaha… you caught me,” he told you as he took his weight off your form. “I couldn’t help but notice how you were trembling.”

You rolled your eyes, feeling a bit better for the first time on the Third Floor. “What? Did I look like a little sister figure or something?”

Alice didn’t reply as he looked to the side. “Is it wrong to worry?”

“Huh,” you breathed out loud as you looked at him strangely. “I don’t know, but… let’s search for Sou.”

The two of you wandered all the way to the room with a window viewing trees and plants. You noticed a small opening near the window.

“Hey, let’s go in there,” you told Alice, pointing towards the opening. “Maybe Sou got lost…?”

Alice shrugged while peering inside. “Are you sure? It’s a bit dark…”

“Scared?” you asked, trying to prod a reaction out of him.

“O-Of course not!” he cried in anger as he stormed inside first.

“Okay, I guess…” you said as you trailed in after him.

You looked at the rules on a wooden stand as Alice observed the area around the two of you.

 

Jungle Bungle- try to stay afloat on all the swinging vines and don’t get eaten by the monsters inhabiting the waters. Beware of the bats and birds that might shove you off. Try to get to the end of the jungle! Clear Chips: 3

 

“...should we turn back?” you asked, tapping the wooden post as you avoided a splinter of wood.

Alice shrugged as he looked inside. “What do you think, Y/N L/N?”

“No need to call me by my full name,” you told him as the two of you walked inside. “We’ll need to collect Clear Chips anyways, so let’s do this attraction.”

The moment you stepped in through the halls, the attraction started. Below was a pit full of swirling water, and there were trees with vines looming from above. 

“There’s something in the water…!” Alice informed you as there very much was something in the water.

“Let’s be careful,” you told him as he nodded uneasily.

You let Alice go first as he grabbed onto a vine. You looked to the left and grabbed another and let yourself dangle from the vine. The two of you started to make your way across when you noticed something.

“The water level is rising,” you told yourself and then snapped your head to look at Alice. “The water level is rising!”

The man gasped as he looked down and began to move faster. “Quickly, quickly! We have to go!”

Almost right after he said that, you ducked when some object whizzed by your head. You looked to see several flying creatures threatening to knock both you and Alice off the vines and into the water.

“Quick!” you told him as you pointed towards a path full of vines. “Go that way and hang low. The creatures won’t go near the water!”

“Got it…!” the man shrieked as he shimmied lower and began to progress faster.

You began to swing back and forth, trying to reach for a vine in your sight. You were pretty athletic, so it might work. Releasing yourself from the vine you clung to, Alice shouted as you flew across and quickly grappled onto another vine. Your stomach was flipping around with your heart beating so fast. You tilted your head and swung around to dodge any flying animals.

“Don’t do that ever again!” Alice cried as he traveled to another vine. He kicked away another creature as he avoided one as well. “You’ll give me a heart attack!”

“Uh, but the water level is rising,” you told him as you prepared to swing again. You headbutt another creature.

Alice seemed to gesticulate to show you and look at the ending area pointedly. To make his point come across, he firmly slapped another flying animal. You shrugged and began to swing again. Looking at Alice, you noted that he was progressing fast enough, albeit distracted at the creatures that swarmed him. You kicked one of the animals and leaped off another vine to attach yourself to another.

‘Ah, fuck,’ you thought as another creature hit you in the face. You shook your head as you suddenly slid down. ‘Whoa…!’

Gripping the vine tight, you felt a searing pain in your hands. Your heart wanted to beat itself out of your chest as you sighed. Squirming back up, you began to progress forward again. Avoiding the flying bats and birds, you managed to detect their pattern with ease. Soon, you and Alice managed to get to the end.

“These animals,” Alice grumbled as you got onto the platform where the attraction ended. He batted at a creature and started to move onto the platform when one hit him on his hand on the vine.  He let out a yell as you darted forward to catch his hand. The burn on your hand stung from the pressure of Alice’s weight as the man screeched.

“The water lever, the water level!!” he told you as you could see that the water had risen to his ankle.

You tried to yank him onto the platform as hard as you could. A loud grunt escaped you as you managed to haul him upward. You let out a sigh and gasped at the sight of his wet ankle.

“You’re bleeding…!” you gasped as you saw the slice on the flesh above his foot. “I’m so sorry…!”

“Y/N L/N,” he said as you began to rip the fabric off of your pants near your ankle. His eyes twitched. “Hey!”

“Yeah…?” you asked as you wrapped the piece of cloth around the slice. “Sorry about the--”

“No, you--!” he started to say as he shook his head. “You don’t… have to apologize.”

You blinked as you finished bandaging his wound. “O-oh… we should get you to the medical room, huh?”

“We should,” he replied as he stood up.

You went to a table with the Clear Chips and handed two over to him. You placed the other one in your wallet as Alice chuckled to himself. A walk board suddenly extended itself out of the wall which let the two of you slowly make your way over to the other side. Alice looked at your hands and pointed.

“There’s a rope burn there, Y/N,” he told you as you flipped your hands to look at the raw red marks.

“It’s fine, I’ll get it treated,” you told the inmate as the two of you walked out.

 

[Alice: +10% | 60%]

 

As the two you exited the relaxation room, you and Alice entered the main room where you encountered Sara, Reko, and Q-taro.

“You two…!” Q-taro exclaimed as he pointed in the direction of the rooms. “Come this way! We found Sou in his bedroom!”

“Y/N, your pants?” Sara asked, staring at the torn fabric. “What happened to Alice’s--”

“We’re fine, Sara,” you reassured the girl. You turned to Q-taro and nodded. “Got it, we’re coming.”

You and Alice joined the other three and went to Sou’s room. You looked incredulously at the sight of Sou on the ground unconscious, beanie missing, a wooden plank on the bed, and pieces of wood with concerningly red specks splattered on them.

“I… It’s the same situation, meow…! As before…!” Gin cried as he stared at the unconscious man on the ground.

You knelt down on the ground as you could hear him breathing and sighed with relief.

‘He’s not dead.’

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴍᴀᴅ??”

“Sure is…” Keiji commented as he looked at you. “Don’t worry… he’s breathing.”

“I heard,” you replied as you looked at the sight before you.

“On his head…” the baseball player murmured as he felt his beard. “Those splinters?”

Keiji touched the top of Sou’s head. “Hm… he’s got splinters on his head… and a bump, too.”

“H...hey, what the hell’s this?” the female singer asked, blanching as she held up the wooden plank.

“Hmm, well…” Keiji mused as he took the wood. “Seems just the right size to carry and swing around.”

Kanna stared at the man concerned. “You don’t mean... Sou was…”

“Urgh…” came a groan from the body on the ground.

“S… Sou…!” the green haired girl exclaimed as she scrambled forward towards said man.

“Oooof…” Sou grunted as he held his head in pain. 

Kanna looked at him, hesitating to speak her words. “U… Um…”

“Oww, man… I feel awful…” the freelancer groaned while rubbing the bump on his head.

“What in the world happened?” the little girl asked, looking around the room.

“Eh…? T… That’s what I wanna know… ” Sou told us, making the room go suffocatingly quiet. He felt around his head for his beanie. “Where is this place… when did I get here…?”

‘Place? Room? Did Sou forget or was he not conscious?’ you thought while looking at the man.

“Cram it, you bastard...!” Reko exclaimed, lunging forward as Mishima and Nao held her back. “Like hell anybody’s gonna worry about you now…!” She broke out of Mishima and Nao’s hold and grabbed Sou by the scarf. “What are you plotting?! Tell me!”

The teal haired man panicked, flailing his arms about. “W… Waugh?! Hold on…!”

Keiji peacefully separated the two, just infuriating the woman even further. The man spoke. “Now, now. Violence isn’t the answer, Reko.”

“Tch…” Reko hissed as she retreated from Sou.

Sou looked confused, making your stomach lurch. “W… What is it…? You’re so mean suddenly…”

Thump. You felt ill. A sickening feeling began to well up and you had no idea why. You wanted everything to stop. You wanted to leave. You didn’t want to do this anymore. One word kept filling your head: Why? Why was this happening? Why did everyone have to suffer? Why couldn’t everyone just live like they wanted to?

“Sou… who attacked you?” Sara asked, looking at the man warily.

Sou grabbed his scarf, eyes darting around at the people in the room. “I… I don’t know… Was I attacked…?”

“Wha?! Why else would you be collapsed?!” Reko asked, flinging her hand out for you to then hold her back from breaking Sou’s neck in half.

The man at question ran a hand through his hair as his eyes looked down at the ground. “Uh… u-um… I think… I was investigating the laptop in the hidden room… And then, I……..?”

Reko seemed to loosen in your grip as she tensed. “Shut the hell up! The laptop crap all happened before the Main Game!!”

Sou’s eyes widened in realization. “The Main Game…! That’s right! Before the Main Game, I need to… I need to check the data on the laptop... ! But the password… um…”

“Y… You completely lost yer mind, man?!” Q-taro bellowed in shock as he stared at Sou.

‘No way…’ you thought while opening your mouth to speak.

“Sou… your memories,” you said as everyone looked at you. You took your arms off of Reko. “Did you get amnesia?”

“...the Main Game long since ended,” the policeman informed Sou as the latter flinched in shock.

“W...what do you mean Keiji…?!” the shorter male asked, paling from the information. “Over…? All of it…?!” His voice started to become lost. “W… Who died…?”

Your stomach lurched at the question as you stared at the ground. Your head swirled as you couldn’t seem to focus on the topic in the room. You began to look elsewhere besides Sou. You began to feel guilty. Sharp daggers seemed to dig into your skin, like stars penetrating you. Your hands curled in on themselves, sweaty and sharp. Your teeth began to grind together as you let out a slow and quiet breath. Your throat began to tighten as you felt the urge to gasp for air. The pressure in the air began to close in on you. You needed to hide. Hide hide hide. You’re stained. Selfish. Why?

“ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ɢᴜɪʟᴛʏ. ʏᴏᴜ ᴍᴜʀᴅᴇʀᴇʀ.”

‘Just die.’

“I… Is it Kai…?!” Sou asked as the name sank into your flesh. You gripped your arm and looked away. “Where is he…?! Or Joe?! No way… Miss Sara… what…” His eyes turned to you in shock. “Y/N! You look terrible! Have you not been taking care of yourself...? What would happen if you got hurt...?!”

“I’m fine,” you lied while shrugging. “We need to, uh… make sure Sou is okay.”

‘I can’t breathe.’

Before you knew it, the conversation ended. Everything ended. Suddenly, you were in the lobby, where you could hear the others talking. Kanna was going off to talk to Sou, while Keiji told the rest to trust her. You glanced at Sara, who was staring at her shoes as you tapped her shoulder.

“Hey, you alright?” you asked as she turned to look at you.

“Y-yeah, it’s just that… it’s nothing,” she said quietly, her voice becoming raw. “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.”

You sighed and flicked Sara in the head as she let out a shriek of pain. “Hey. Don’t fret about it. See? I’m fine. I worry about you, thinking you have to protect me. That’s my job.”

Sara giggled. “Thanks, Y/N… I… thank you.”

You nodded. “I need to go to the medical office, so bye.”

The two of you waved goodbye as you walked off. Heading towards the medical office, you passed by Alice, who told you Safalin would patch you up. Safalin carefully stared at you as she applied some cream to your hands and bandaged them up. She kept staring at you quietly, and then turned away. You frowned, walked out of the medical office, and sighed.

“𝐘/𝐍.”

‘Well, this just got really complicated,’ you thought while placing your hands onto your sides. ‘I need to discuss this with someone. There’s too many outliers. The math… it’s not adding up.’ A small hand tugged at you as you looked let out a half-choked sob.

 

Negotiation



What should you do?

 

 

A. Discuss with Keiji

B. Discuss with Sara

C. Discuss with Sou

 



Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 60%

Keiji-?

Kanna- 85%

Sou- ?

Alice- 60%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 95%

 

Guilt Meter- 20%

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0

Chapter Text

You slowly walked out of the medical office and into the main room where you saw others negotiating with each other. You spotted Sara chatting to Alice, the two conversing about something he looked awfully serious about. Leaving them to their business you trudged over to the halls where the rooms were. You moved towards Sou’s room and knocked on the door thrice. The door knob swiveled as Kanna poked herself out of the opening. She smiled brightly as Sou looked out from behind her.

“Y-Y/N…!” Kanna exclaimed with a little grin as it shrank as she gestured her body towards Sou. “Sou… really doesn’t remember…”

“I see,” you told her softly. You glanced towards the man in the room with tired eyes. “Kanna… I’m going to have a talk with Sou for a moment. Is that okay with you?”

The girl nodded, her fists small and clenched. “Kanna understands. I will leave you for a moment.”

Kanna stepped out of the room as you slipped in, waved at her, and closed the door. You sighed as you stared at Sou, looking at you with such innocence. But he had to be lying. There was that underlying feeling beneath your skin that was just telling you. Your hands curled up on your sides as you timidly glanced at the other.

“Y/N…?” Sou asked as he looked at you blankly. “What’s going on? You’re… you’re usually not like this.”

“Uh… some stuff happened... “ you vaguely responded as you slightly tilted side to side. “And… it’s not good.”

“A-are you okay…?” the teal haired man asked shyly as you gave him a bigger smile. How awkward. “I’m… I’ll be fine. It’s just that I discovered something after the l-last Main Game… I thought I should tell you.”

“But I don’t know anything about the Main Game…” Sou mumbled, fiddling with his scarf.

“I-I’ll tell you…” you stuttered with unease as you sat down on the bed next to him. You took a deep breath and began to speak. “You and I separated after the practice round where we almost died. Remember that pink room? Yeah well we split up searching after that. A few others found you knocked out in that hidden room where you found the laptop and we headed over to the bar. Well first we met Alice after some of the others woke you up and Kanna and I stayed beside you to make sure you were okay…And then we did this negotiation where we traded cards and I got… I got… the Sacrifice Card.” You hesitantly glanced at him for a moment and kept on talking. “We were then knocked out, put into these separate waiting rooms with food and entered the Main Game grounds. And the cards. I have to explain the cards. There was a Sacrifice so if you aren’t the most voted, you die. If you are, everyone else dies. Keymaster cannot be voted for or everyone dies. The Sage card lets the user gain the ability to discover who the Keymaster is. Lastly, Commoner cards do nothing. We were negotiating and you said you discovered emails from Kai who knocked you out… and you thought Sara was the traitor. Including Joe and I. You… I don’t know what went wrong but you went mad. You wanted to vote Sara off, but she was the Keymaster. Our vote… our vote was Kai. And I was the Sacrifice. I was selfish and… I saved myself.”

You stopped as silence filled the room. Sou put his hand on yours in reassurance. You shuddered.

“It’ll be okay, Y/N,” he told you as he pulled you into a hug. “Thanks.”

“Thank you Sou…” you told him as you pulled away. “Is that it?”

He nodded. “I--”

“Yeah, thanks…” you replied softly as you looked at him straight in the eye. “Now I know you’re lying about your memory loss.”

The moment those words left your mouth, everything felt ice cold. The air between you and him froze in a split second. The two of you sat still as Sou just stared at you in confusion. You just continued to wearily smile as you sighed.

“Look, Sou,” you told him as you shrugged limply. You rubbed at your tired eyes. “You don’t have to lie to me anymore. I won’t tell anyone. Just tell me if I'm right. You didn’t lose your memory, did you?”

He just continued to stare as he blinked. “I don’t know what you mean…? Y/N, you’re acting so strange.”

“Just filter through my words and you’ll find it,” you told him, lightly prodding him to do so.

A few moments of chilling silence flew by as you saw him slightly stir. Sighing, he lowered his gaze with the shadows of his bangs accentuating his eyes. The teal haired man curled into himself.

“Sou?” you asked as you limply held up your hand. The man didn’t respond as you decided to continue. “Sou… there’s some monitors in another room--”

His green eyes peered out of the depths of his scarf as a hand shot out and grabbed your wrist. He leaned forward, expression twisted and angry.

“I see what you did there, Y / N…” he growled, stretching your name as he said it. His grip tightened as you stared at him, unfazed. He began to hiss under his breath. “You tricked me by using Alice’s name. What. Did Miss Sara send you here or something? Very smart. You’re working for her, aren’t you…?!”

You shook your head, eyes looking to the side. “No. I wouldn’t do that…!I just had this feeling… did you do this so nobody would attack you for what you did at the Main Game?”

‘Why would you say that?’

‘Stop, you’re just thinking that because you’re tired. Of course he doesn’t trust us.’

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ’ᴛ ɢᴇᴛ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏᴛʜɪɴɢ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴀɴᴛ.”

He sighed and released your hand. “Well, the secret’s out now. To you, at least.” He stayed silent. “Get out.”

“...huh?” you asked as Sou stared at you, eyes wide and merciless.

“Didn’t you hear me? Fuck off…!” he spat, his eyes bugging with anger and some sort of emotion you weren’t sure to make of.

You nodded and got off the bed. Stumbling to the door, you glanced back, and left the room. You stepped out and began to walk away. 

 

[Sou: -10% | ?%]

 

Your head throbbed as you suddenly clutched it.

“You alright--?”

Your vision blurred and teetered to one side as black faded in and out. That same figure from before stood there like a shadow. Her head tilted to the side.

“𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐰 𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 𝐦𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐧𝐨 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐩𝐮𝐧𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐮𝐜𝐤 𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡?”

“Y/N…  Mom…” a voice called as you snapped back to attention to see Kanna looking at you worriedly. “Ah, sorry about that. Kanna doesn’t know whether or not… Y/N likes that--”

“It’s fine,” you told her as you placed a hand on her shoulder. “I don’t mind. You should go check on Sou. I don’t think he’s feeling well.”

Kanna nodded, her complexion suddenly brighter. “Thank you! Kanna… Kanna will go check on Sou immediately!”

She left. You continued to walk before stopping and looking down the halls. 

‘That was a bust,’ you thought while clenching your hand. 

You spotted Rio Ranger standing in front of one of the rooms. Confusion sprung out within you as you began to head over to where the doll was. Quickly, you walked up towards the doll and questioned him.

“What are you doing here?” you asked as Ranger turned around with a smiling mask.

“Nothing, ya nosy bastard!” he outstretched a hand and shook it around. “I wanted to see who the lucky person was going to be!”

You tilted your head silently. “...luck?”

The Dressup Doll nodded. “Aren’t you lucky? This will be set on your capable shoulders!”

“I don’t believe in luck,” you told the orange haired doll while looking at the door the two of you were standing in front of. “And my shoulders are anything but capable. I’m just--” 

“Where are you going?” he asked as he tilted his head. “Aren’t you gonna visit our patient?”

‘Joe’s in there?’

You tried to open the door but Ranger’s hand shot out, blocking you. You frowned. “Could you move aside because I need to get in--”

“This lucky thing I’m talking about is about Joe Tazuna,” Ranger said, his eyes mercilessly drilling into your soul. You stayed silent to hear what the doll had to say. “Since you’re the first one to visit our little patient after the announcement of the Sub-Game, you will be the one to carry not one, but two lives.”

Your eyes widened in shock, a chill ran down your spine causing your stomach to lurch. “You mean…”

Ranger pushed open Joe’s door for you to look at the brunette male laying on the bed, asleep. “Correct! Your Clear Chips are his Clear Chips. If you die, he dies! Collect 12 Clear Chips for both of you as a package. So, it’s nothing that special. Just a reminder for you.”

You swallowed back hard. Your teeth started to shake as you began to grind them onto each other. “So what you’re saying is that I have to collect 12 Clear Chips. If I don’t, both he and I will die?”

“Yep, that’s right on the dot,” Ranger replied nonchalantly as he popped the p. “Tazuna over here has no tokens, so you’ll be trading for the both of you two. So that also means if you trade tokens, he has to agree with you. Well, too bad you didn’t trade any earlier. You could’ve at least gotten some more tokens if you decide to collect anymore today.”

“It’s fine,” you told the Floormaster as you made your way inside the room. “I got your point, so you can leave now.”

Ranger just shrugged. “Just make sure you take care of his life… heh .”

You tensed up, swiftly closed the door and turned to look at Joe. You turned on the lights and began to walk towards the unconscious boy. Approaching the bed, you pat his head, threading your fingers through his soft brown hair. His soft breathing felt comforting to you; maybe because it was the fact he was still alive. You bit your lip at the sight of the bandages wrapped around his head and retracted your hand.

I did that… If only I hadn’t screwed up so he didn’t have to come to help me…’ you thought morosely and grit your teeth. ‘Fuck.’

“I’m sorry, Joe,” you told him while standing over his sleeping form. You took his hand, limp but still beating with a pulse. “I’m so sorry… I’ll take responsibility. I’ll make sure that we don’t die.”

 

Day 1 | Noon

 

After leaving Joe’s room, you began to walk down the hallways to any of the other attractions. You walked into the room with all the monitors to see Nao and Mishima chatting happily between the two of them. They seemed to be trying to catch up on whatever conversation they last had. You turned to leave, not wanting to interrupt their moment together.

“Y/N! Wait...!” Nao shouted, her voice making you turn around to face her.

You nodded in her direction, wary. “...yes?”

The girl walked up to you and bowed down towards you. Her bushy hair slightly slumped forward as she did so. “I would like to thank you.”

“...me?” you asked, staring at the girl before you. “But… why?”

“I-In the Practice Round in that pink room…” Nao informed you as you recalled that event. “You stalled and… found the list of rules on the door. If you hadn’t I… I would’ve voted for Professor Mishima and gotten him killed! It would be something I would regret until the day I die!”

“But I didn’t--” you began to say as the other girl took her hands into her own. “I didn’t do it… I… I killed--”

“Miss Y/N, I’m afraid you’re being a bit harsh on yourself,” Nao’s professor interrupted with his kind words. “You did what you could. It is no one’s fault besides the people orchestrating this disaster for what is happening. You don’t control the rules. There was nothing any of us could have done.”

‘But I could have,’ you thought, cursing towards yourself. ‘I could have I could have I could have, but…’

‘But I didn’t.’

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴍᴜʀᴅᴇʀᴇᴅ ʜɪᴍ ɪɴ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴏᴡɴ ɢʀᴇᴇᴅ. ɢᴜᴇꜱꜱ ᴡʜᴏ’ꜱ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀᴅ ɢᴜʏ ɴᴏᴡ?”

Mishima placed a hand on your shoulder, shaking you out of your thoughts. “Don’t dwell on it too much. Just make sure to go and do your best.”

You awkwardly nodded. “I will try…”

 

[Nao: +10% | 70%]

 

The two of them smiled at you as you watched them leave. You slightly stumbled and almost crashed into the control panel for the monitors. The headphones on your neck almost fell off until you grabbed them. You clutched your chest and grit your teeth as you felt your lungs contort painfully. Guilt began to creep up on you as you glanced around the room. Why were you even looking? What were you so paranoid about?

“Hey, you alright?”

You turned towards one of the monitors where you could see AI Reko looking at you worriedly. You weakly waved at her in reassurance.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” you told her with a small shrug. “It’s just chest cramps and all.”

“Take care of yourself,” Reko told you as you nodded and began to leave. “You… You did well, Y/N.”

You didn’t look back and just nodded. “Thanks, Reko.”

‘I guess I’ll… look for some attractions.’

You went towards the room facing the garden to see Keiji just standing there. Walking around him, you went to observe the other attractions.

“Y/N,” the policeman called out as you turned to look at him. “Want to do an attraction with me?”

How very unlike him.

“Sure…” you hesitantly agreed and followed the man as he chose one of the passages. You glanced over at him, knowing he was wanting something. You cut to the chase. “So. Did you want to ask me something?”

“Whoa there,” Keiji commented with a small grin. “I’m not used to straightforward-Y/N. But yeah, I did.”

“If this is about Sou, all I saw was that he was unwell,” you told the policeman who just frowned. “He’s paranoid and confused… like a baby of some sort.”

Keiji chuckled quietly. “I didn’t think you could say stuff like that about him.”

“...Are you implying that you think we’re close?” I asked the blonde who just looked to the side. “He’s just a cashier I’ve seen before. We formally talked just yesterday… I mean when this whole thing took place.”

He chose a passage as you scanned the writing on the board.

 

Spirit Shutter- Get blue spirits, and when the ghosts appear, click the camera shutter to repel them. Gather enough souls, and you win. Clear Chips: 2

 

“Let’s go,” you told him as the two of you walked in.

The two of you approached the inside through the halls as you saw a net and a camera. As if it attracted you, you found yourself holding the machinery in your hands.

“I’ll… I’ll take the role to take pictures” you told Keiji quietly while observing the camera.

‘Why… What is…? This...’

“Ah, did you come here for the view as well?”

“Then I guess I’ll take this then,” Keiji told you while scooping up the net. “Keep me covered.”

You held up the camera and took a test picture. You frowned and changed the flash settings. Your fingers stopped as you wondered how you knew how to adjust a camera.

‘Itsuki bought me a camera back in middle school. And I think I… lost it?’

“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐥. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐥.”

‘I must have,’ you thought as you began to move deep into the darkness with Keiji. 

You turned, spotting ghosts drifting in from the left and quickly snapped a picture. The moment the flash shined upon them, they disappeared with a scream like nails gouging a chalkboard. Keiji from your right called your name as you swiveled around and quickly took a picture. The ghosts in front of him became exorcised as you began to run towards the blonde.

“Let’s stick together so I don’t have to run to find you,” you suggested as you stayed behind him.

“Sounds like a good idea,” Keiji agreed as he scooped two more blue spirits which dissolved in his net.

Peering through the night-vision mode of the lens in the camera, you repeatedly caused the ghosts to screech and disappear. Everytime you looked at Keiji, you knew he was also trying his best in catching as many blue spirits as he could in one fell swoop. The camera grew a little slippery in your grasp as you could feel yourself getting nervous in every passing second. The noises and screams bouncing all around the room were probably going to make you deaf too.

“𝐈 𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐨 𝐦𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐩𝐢𝐝 𝐚𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮.”

You turned and snapped another photo in front of Keiji. Glancing around the dark room, everything seemed to come to a standstill as no more ghosts appeared.

“There might be a jumpscare,” the tall male commented as he scanned the area, despite how dark the room was. “I don’t see the Clear Chips.”

You immediately turned around to see a ghost moving at full speed towards you. Your fingers quickly pressed the picture button as it flashed bright. Your eyes squeezed shut from the light as they opened soon after. Keiji put down both his arms: one in front of you and the other shielding his eyes.

“And there’s the Clear Chips,” Keiji said aloud as a pedestal with two Clear Chips sitting atop shined before the two of you. “Heh, what a cliche move.”

You didn’t reply and just handed one to Keiji first. You grabbed the last one and nodded.

“It was good working with you,” you told the policeman while placing the camera back on where it came from. Keiji did the same except with the net. He chuckled at your obvious distrust.

“Same here,” the blonde added as he slipped the Clear Chip into his wallet. “Hey. Cheer up.”

A forced and awkward smile pushed your cheeks apart. “Thanks. I’ll try.”

You began to walk away, you could feel his eyes bore into your back. Did he know you lied? You glanced back for a slight second and then pinched the bridge of your nose.

‘He’s suspecting me for sure,’ you thought as you continued to walk forward. ‘Shit. I forgot to discuss it with Keiji.’

“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐮𝐜𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐮𝐟𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐧. 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐨𝐭.”

“ᴅᴜᴍʙᴀꜱꜱ ᴅᴜᴍʙᴀꜱꜱ ᴅᴜᴍʙᴀꜱꜱ.”

 

Negotiation

 

You walked out of the meditation room and into the main hall where you could see Reko and Gin. Keiji walked past you and waved slightly.

‘He’s baiting me.’

“Reko,” you called towards the punk woman. “What are you negotiating?”

“Ah, Y/N,” Reko said as she turned to face you. She held up her hand in a friendly wave. “I’m up for trading. I’ll trade 20 of my Me-Tokens with you. What do you think?”

“I see,” you murmured while nodding to yourself. You looked up and met her gaze. “I’ll consider it.”

The woman nodded with a small smile. “No problem. Happy to help.”

You turned to see Gin eagerly waiting to talk to you, his eyes gleaming with delight. “Mom, woof! Hi!”

“Gin, hi,” you told the boy softly as you gently booped his nose. “What are you up to?”

The boy just put his cat mitts on the sides of your ears as your face pressed into his cat plush. “Mom you look tired, meow… So I wanted to play with you until you feel better woof! I’ll give you some tokens too meow!”

“Okay, so how many do you want to trade?” you asked as you removed your face from the plush and rubbed the top of his head. “10?”

“I’ll give you 20 for free woof!” the boy cheered, his body slightly jumping up and down.

“Gin, but…” you started to say as you felt a hand grip your shoulder. “Wha--”

“𝐀𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐥, 𝐘/𝐍. 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐢𝐦. 𝐄𝐱𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐲’𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲.”

You didn’t reply and just brushed off the imaginary hold on your shoulder. Turning to the boy, you smiled a little.

“Okay, Gin. I’ll think about it,” you told the boy while you pulled him into a tight hug. “...thank you.”

‘I truly feel better around you.’

The boy just cheered and took your hand as you turned to face the towering blonde before you.

“Hey, Y/N,” Keiji said with a smile you didn’t really like. “Can we talk? No trading. Just talk.”

“...Let me think for a bit,” you told him as you felt a tendril of doubt snake through your chest.

“Sure,” the male replied as he turned away to do his own business.

You sighed and gripped Gin’s hand.

 

Who will you negotiate with?

 

A. Reko

B. Gin-     trade     or     take

C. Keiji

 

Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 70%

Keiji-?

Kanna- 85%

Sou- ? [-10%]

Alice- 60%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 95%

 

Guilt Meter- 20%

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0



Chapter Text

“Sorry, you two,” you apologized to Reko and Gin as you pointed a tentative finger over at the blonde policeman standing over at the side. “I have something to discuss with Keiji.”

“Got it,” Reko replied, not wavering at your decision with a smile. Then her eyes creased with suspicion and doubt as she sharply gestured her head towards the policeman. “Still, be careful of him, Y/N. He seems really… unnerving.”

‘It’s probably because of the misleading comments he directs at Sara in order to throw us off,’ you thought absentmindedly as you forced out a laugh.

“If you aren’t going to play with me today, meow…” Gin whimpered as he tugged at the ends of his cat plushie, the fabric stretching and shrinking at each yank. “...then can we play later, woof?!”

You smiled and pat his head with the feeling of bubbling warmth tickling the edges of your chest. “Sure, Gin. I’ll try to remember. Promise.”

 

[Reminder: Promise made with Gin]

 

“Yay!” the boy cheered and he began to run off after being satisfied by your reply.  “Bye bye, Mom!”

You waved after him as you sharpened yourself to talk to Keiji. Turning around, you walked towards the taller man. You stood firm, trying to show him that you were going to stand your ground towards him. He seemed to take the hint you were attempting to exude, but just because he knew didn’t mean he would care.

“I was hoping we could talk,” the man said as he looked you directly in the eye. “There’s a lot of things we need to discuss.”

‘ᴀʀᴇɴ’ᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ꜱᴄᴀʀᴇᴅ?’

“I thought you were thinking about that,” you responded swiftly, trying to leave your words as vague but filling as possible. “What did you want to talk about?”

His voice dropped pitches deeper and colder, his gaze dissecting you apart for lies. “Did you find out anything about Sou?”

“𝐒𝐨𝐮 𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐣𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐩. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐊𝐞𝐢𝐣𝐢. 𝐇𝐞’𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥-𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭.”

Staring back Keiji, you didn’t waver and just blinked. “No, I didn’t. It seems he really lost his memory. But I’m surprised, Keiji. You aren’t worried about a potential threat, but rather a defenseless amnesiac with the strength equivalent to that of a third grader.”

“𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐥.”

“Who said I wasn’t thinking about potential threats?” the man asked with a slight teasing lilt in his voice.

You had to be on your toes around this man.

“No, I didn’t get anything from him though,” you sighed, pretending to think back to when you were with Sou in front of the larger man, secretly hoping that he would drop the subject.

‘Still… when I looked at the backs of those monitors… I swear that the one that was missing was Sou’s…’

“I have something to tell you though,” you told the blonde who leaned out of your face, making you realize how close in proximity you two were. Hah, he really was suspicious of you, huh? “It’s about the Clear Chips we have to gather. I don’t think… it’s mathematically possible for all of us to get 12 Clear Chips.”

“Huh?” a voice asked as your gaze turned to look towards Reko who stood there, her expression flabbergasted. Her eyes widened as she grew flustered the exact moment the two of you turned to look at her. “Sorry, Y/N…! It’s just that Keiji was leaning in too close, and… sorry, that was shitty of me to eavesdrop on the two of you.”

The girl looked incredibly ashamed at her actions, but you didn’t really mind; she meant well and her intentions were righteous. Well, that was the Reko you had known for the time spent here.

“It’s fine, I don’t really mind,” you reassured with a smile to show that there was no damage done. “But think about it, there really aren’t enough Clear Chips, right? With there being 11 attractions and 11 of us… since Joe is part of me now…”

“I see, I did think something was off about the math,” Keiji mused to himself as he quietly let his gaze slink on the grown like a silent viper. “For now, try not to tell the others too much. They’ll panic and it won’t be good for any of us. Besides…” At the sudden change of his tone, you just couldn’t not look over at the man. His eyes gleamed with curiosity and another emotion that you had a feeling you knew but didn’t want to describe. “...who says there isn’t a secret attraction on this floor?”

“A… secret attraction?” Reko croaked as her eyes darted around the room wildly as if someone were watching us. “Is that even possible with so many of us here not to be found yet?”

“But… Sou and I were the ones who found that secret room with the laptop,” you spoke, dragging their attention over to you. “It’s not difficult to imagine us not finding that room. So, let’s keep an eye out, shall we?”

“Hm, good idea,” Keiji agreed as he began to depart from our little group of three that shrunk to two. “Thanks for the chat, Y/N.”

‘No problem,’ you thought as your gaze narrowed at the man’s back.

“Thanks for letting me know about this, Y/N,” Reko thanked as she turned around to leave as well. She gave you a thumbs up and flashed a smile. “I’ll keep an eye out!”

“I’ll do so as well,” you said in response and you turned your attention elsewhere.

‘Now… shall I get going and get more Clear Chips?’ you thought while fixing the hat sitting atop your head. ‘Okay… let’s get going.’

You began to walk to the area with the computer monitors and peered inside to see Sara emerge from the Prize Exchange. The girl perked up at the sight of you and immediately quickened her pace to get closer to you.

“Y/N! Are you feeling better?” Sara asked earnestly as you couldn’t help but faintly smile at the girl’s words. Your hand began to move to touch her shoulder, but you then hesitated and let your hand fall.

“𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠?”

‘ᴡʜʏ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʏᴏᴜ ᴇᴠᴇɴ ᴛᴏᴜᴄʜ ʜᴇʀ?’

“...I’m fine,” you told her as you looked around at the monitors on the screens. “I’m just curious about that…”

Sara followed your gaze expertly and nodded. “I see what you mean. It’s put everyone else on edge too… especially Keiji.”

You silently perked up at the mention of the man’s name. “You seem to be observing him very closely.”

“Huh? No, it’s not like that,” Sara denied as you pulled a face at her in disgust.

“The fact that you thought I was talking about the two of you in that way makes it worse,” you told her, your mouth falling into a long arch. “Ugh.”

“You’re right about that…” Sara sighed as she ran a hand through her hair. Then the girl stuck her hand out towards you as you slowly took it. “How about we go around for a walk?”

She gently held your hand as the two of you began to walk around and to the room with the glass pane facing the fake garden. Sara stopped and stared at the faux greenery as you did as well. Her hand felt so gentle in yours as you held it as if it were a piece of glass.

‘ʏᴏᴜ’ʟʟ ᴄᴏɴᴛᴀᴍɪɴᴀᴛᴇ ʜᴇʀ. ᴀɴᴅ ꜱʜᴇ’ʟʟ ɢᴇᴛ ʜᴜʀᴛ. ʟɪᴋᴇ ʜᴇ ᴅɪᴅ ʙᴀᴄᴋ ᴛʜᴇɴ.’

You almost pulled your hand away, but then Sara spoke. “How’s… Joe?”

“Joe is…. He’s still asleep,” you told her as you took a hand and pressed it against the window pane. “I’m just… worried about him. He could get brain damage or worse…”

‘My fault. It’s all my fault. If only I hadn’t acted out of line…!’

“...Y/N?” Sara asked as she squeezed your hand gently, snapping you out of your murky thoughts.

You smiled at her softly. “Yeah? It’s nothing… for now, we should focus on gathering Clear Chips.”

Sara let out a breath of air from her nose. “You’re right. Let’s get going, shall we?”

 

Day 1 | Evening

 

You followed her out, your hand still enveloped by hers.

“𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝?”

You didn’t say anything and just felt like resting in that fragile moment.

“Do you want to do an attraction with me?” Sara asked you as you just smiled lightly at her.

“Sure,” you agreed as you went to go follow her.

Once the two of you arrived at an attraction, you read the description.

 

Egg Hunt- There will be eggs hidden among the grass which you will have to dig out. Please dig out a total of seven eggs and beware of the creatures lurking within the darkness. You can fight them off using the spray which stings them. Clear Chips: 2

 

“Seems a bit dangerous for just two Clear Chips…” Sara quietly remarked as she read the words on the sign. “Are you up for it, Y/N?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” you told her as you heard a faint snickering echoing in the back of your mind which you tried to brush away.

Sara picked up the small shovel while you took the spray instead. The two of you looked at each other as Sara grinned at you, immensely boosting your motivation and energy.

“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮? 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚 𝐟𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐞 𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞.”

You rubbed tiredly at your eyes and realized how exhausted you were even though you had woken up a few hours ago. Maybe you should ask Safalin for some tylenol for your headache. The two of you nodded towards one another, little words needed to be said as Sara said only a few words.

“Stay safe, Y/N,” she whispered in a low and gentle tone as her fingertips lightly grazed your forearm.

You looked at her, your eyes heavy and your cheeks almost warming due to her overwhelming care. “Okay.”

The moment Sara and you stepped into the dark and grassy hills, you were instantly reminded of the park nearby your house. Although it was pretty during both day and night, you were constantly unnerved every time you went there when the moon rose above to shine down. Here however were a few lights illuminating the area. You breathed out a heavy sigh as Sara nodded at you. Once Sara arrived at a dirt patch, she began to dig at the ground, the metal of the small shovel clinking and scratching against the dry and hard surface. You spun around, hearing a rustle from behind, your pulse began to race immediately. Okay, so maybe you were going to have a few problems with this attraction. You extended your hand to the side and sprayed, the liquid inside shooting out and hitting something right in the eyes. Letting out an inhumane screech that caused Sara and you to cover your ears, it scampered away into the darkness with little grunts and huffs.

“Oh, lucky…!” Sara exclaimed in breathless relief as she held up two gold eggs.

“Nice,” you told her as you leaned over to her side and sprayed another creature lurking in the grass causing it to shriek and retreat. The two of you began to trek into the grass deeper. Sara’s eyes were peeled to the ground, looking for any unnatural markings as you continued to kick away and spray those little monsters scampering about. Sara’s shovel scraped away another gold egg as you felt a small smile spread on your face. The two of you continued to walk around in the dimly lit plains--Sara scouring the area for eggs as you fended off the creatures. One soared through the air, its target being Sara’s shoulder. You spun around, hit the thing with the spray bottle, and sprayed it as it flew away.

You exhaled. “Hah… sorry about that, Sara.”

The girl shook her head, too kind for her own good. “No it happens. Keep doing your best.”

“...thank you.”

Eventually, the two of you finished, being a very effective team that could work together very well. Sara brushed the dirt away from her knuckles as you placed the spray bottle down onto the ground. She smiled and handed you a Clear Chip as you just sighed and sagged tiredly. Wordlessly, she touched your shoulder in concern as you shook your head to signal to her that it was fine.

You were going to be fine.

It was fine.

 

Negotiation

 

Sara separated from you, saying she was going to go to the Medical Office for some water while she told you to head off first; you agreed. You walked back into the main meeting room to see Mishima and Nao sitting at a table, having a friendly chat with each other. They seemed to be having a lot of fun. You quietly watched them and looked to see Alice sitting on the couch while fingering the chains wrapped around him between two fingers. His pink eyes flashed upwards towards you as he nodded. You were about to trudge over to him when a finger tapped your shoulder. You turned to see Nao who was hesitantly fidgeting her fingers together as Mishima was standing up from his seat telling her “stop”.

“Oh my, you’re really pale, Y/N…!” she gasped as you blinked and realized how tired you felt after conquering another attraction with Sara. “Um… I was wondering--”

“I just wanted to trade my Me-Tokens as a little test if you will,” Mishima said, sticking his head into the conversation. “And Miss Nao here said she would ask you. But you don’t have to.”

Your eyes darted towards Alice in the corner who was quietly staring at you as if he wanted to talk to you. You opened your mouth to speak when a spark of pain ran through your head, causing you to quietly grind your teeth.

‘Ow.’

“𝐍𝐨 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭. 𝐆𝐨 𝐧𝐞𝐠𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞.”

 

What should you do?

 

 

A. Talk to Alice

B. Trade tokens with Mishima

C. Go to the Medical Office

 

 

Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 70%

Keiji-?

Kanna- 85%

Sou- ? [-10%]

Alice- 60%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 95%

 

Guilt Meter- 20%

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0

 

Chapter Text

“Hey, Safalin…” you greeted as you entered the Medical Office. The woman perked up once you entered and went to welcome you.

“Y/N… I d-didn’t expect to see you here… do you need something?” Safalin asked as you went to go sit on a medical bed.

You just removed your headphones and hat and said. “Yeah, I just need to rest. I’m feeling… kind of tired. Is it okay to rest here? I need to wake up before evening. About twenty minutes?”

Safalin nodded. “That’s okay… J-just lay there…”

You nodded as well. “Thank you.”

“You’re… not worried about me doing anything…?” Safalin asked hesitantly while you placed your headphones carefully on a table.

You sucked in a breath. “...no. I think it’s fine. You’ll probably get in trouble if you touched me in any way without my permission anyway. You’d get in trouble or compensate like Miley did to Joe.”

Safalin stayed silent as you gently folded your hands across the hat in your arms and shut your eyes.

“ᴘᴀʜᴀʜᴀʜᴀʜᴀ…! ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ ꜱᴏ ꜱᴛᴜᴜᴜᴜᴜᴘɪᴅ!”

“𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐥.”

Sleep. You shouldn’t worry the others. Especially Sara. You could tell she was slowly getting tired and weary as well with everyone heavily relying on her and you weighing her down. Joe was incapacitated and Sou had it out for her. The mental stress was beginning to take its toll on her.

‘Sou… Sara… Joe…’ you thought as your eyebrows scrunched.

Sara and Joe were important to you and you had just barely interacted with Sou.

“𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐲 𝐒𝐨𝐮. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭.”

‘I can’t do that.’

He was trusting you. You were trusting everyone else as well. The Sub-Game… everything fit too well that it was annoying.

How annoying…


“How could you say that?!”

The boy with the pure white hair hadn’t ceased following you. Even though you agreed to be “friends” with him. Sure he was nicer than your other “friends”, but that didn’t mean you two would be close.

“I’m not annoying!” the boy pouted as you rolled your eyes.

“I already said I would be your friend so I’ll give your homework to you when you give it to me. You don’t have to keep following me,” you said as you stormed away from the white haired boy.

What was his name again? Nakamura?

“Hey! Wait!” the boy kept shouting as he caught up to you. You weren’t that athletic. “I want to be your friend.”

You blinked and looked at him, gaze hard. “I told you I would give you--”

“Hey, what did you think about when I said ‘friend’?” Nakamura asked, not letting you finish your sentence.

You huffed. “You just want me to do your homework like everyone else, right? Now just leave--”

“That’s not what friends are,” the boy interrupted again as he gripped your hand. “Friends are supposed to have fun and hang out with each other. Not give you homework. Homework sucks! Bleh!”

You stopped, thought to yourself for a moment, and then turned away. “Go away.”


“It’s not that bad!” Itsuki commented as he bit into the cheap egg roll you had packed for him as a result of a little side bet the two of you had made. “I’d give it a 9/10. But… since you’re my favorite you get a 10!”

You rolled your eyes and buried your head into your arms. “Whatever… you only say that because we’re friends you sly bastard.”

He laughed and blew a lock of silk white hair aside in front of his eyes. “You’re my best friend!”

A bubble of laughter bubbled in your chest but died down when you saw a girl peering from outside of the classroom straight at you. She had a funny hair style, a side ponytail and lopsided bangs. Her amethyst eyes shimmered whenever her eyes moved.

‘What was her name? Sara… Chidouin…?’

“That girl’s looking at you,” Itsuki murmured quietly as he gazed at the girl standing at the door.

“Ah, I ran into her last week,” you said aloud as a sneaky grin made its way onto your friend’s face. “What?”

“Nothing… maybe she was there at the English speaking competition you won a few days ago,” he commented offhandedly which caused a flush of embarrassment to spark on your face.

“No way…! I mean...  huh?” you asked as Itsuki laughed and ruffled your head.

“Go talk to her,” he encouraged as you looked at him, bewildered. He laughed at your expression. “This is the first time in a while I’ve seen you become so flustered,” he chuckled. He looked at the girl standing at the door. “Go.”


“Argh,” you muttered as you rubbed at the bug bite swelling up on your ankle.

“Here you go!” Ryoko chirped as she handed you a tube of hydrocortisone. “I’ve been getting them too.”

“Thanks,” you said as you applied the cream onto the red bump that had decided to grow on you. “I hate bugs…”

Ryoko giggled at your comment. “Hang in there. The hot season will pass soon.”

“Agh, I hate this…” you muttered while Ryoko rubbed your shoulder reassuredly.

“Do you have the right to complain?”

You ignored the comment and continued to talk to the girl beside you. “Dang it… I hate this.”

Ryoko playfully laughed at your demise and you smiled unbeknownst to yourself.

“Hey! Y/N! Help meeeee!” Joe screamed as you and Ryoko looked to see that he was being lifted up by Itsuki. The two of you laughed and scrambled up to be traitors or saviors.


E̷g̷g̶ ̴r̶o̴l̴l̶s̵ ̷l̸e̵f̶t̵ ̵a̵l̴o̸n̷e̷ ̵i̴n̶ ̸t̷h̵e̵ ̵p̶a̸n̵,̸ ̵g̸r̴o̴w̶i̷n̸g̷ ̴s̸o̸g̴g̵y̶ ̸a̶s̴ ̵t̴h̵e̴y̵ ̶s̷o̸a̸k̵ ̵i̶n̴ ̷c̴o̶l̸d̴ ̴o̷i̴l̷.̵ ̸C̷r̸u̷m̸p̵l̸e̷d̸ ̷p̵a̶p̶e̷r̵s̸ ̴w̸h̷i̶c̷h̶ ̴y̶o̶u̶ ̵d̸o̴n̵’̸t̶ ̶b̴o̷t̷h̵e̶r̵ ̵o̷p̸e̴n̶i̵n̴g̴ ̶a̷n̴d̸ ̴j̷u̶s̶t̵ ̵s̵w̶e̷e̵p̸ ̴i̷n̶t̴o̵ ̵t̷h̸e̶ ̴t̵r̴a̷s̵h̷.̴ ̷N̶i̴g̵h̷t̷s̸ ̷s̸p̵e̸n̵t̷ ̵a̸w̷a̸k̶e̴ ̷a̵n̵d̵ ̴j̷u̶s̵t̶ ̴b̴u̴r̴i̴e̵d̶ ̵h̸e̵a̴d̷ ̸d̵e̸e̸p̵ ̴i̸n̴ ̴b̴o̸o̴k̷s̴.̸ ̸T̸h̷e̵ ̷h̴e̷s̴i̷t̴a̶t̴i̶o̷n̸ ̷t̶o̶ ̷e̶n̴t̴e̴r̴ ̴i̷n̵t̶o̴ ̶t̶h̶e̸ ̸w̷o̸r̵l̶d̷ ̴o̷f̷ ̶c̸o̷l̴o̶r̶ ̴a̴s̷ ̵i̷t̷ ̷s̵l̶o̴w̴l̴y̵ ̸a̵t̶e̴ ̸a̵w̷a̵y̵ ̷a̵t̷ ̴y̴o̶u̶.̷ ̶P̵u̶l̶l̵i̸n̸g̸ ̷o̸n̵ ̷y̸o̵u̷r̵ ̸h̶o̶o̸d̴ ̶e̵v̷e̷n̵ ̴t̵i̸g̸h̶t̸e̵r̷ ̵a̴l̵l̵ ̷t̷h̶e̵ ̸t̷i̵m̵e̵.̴ ̷L̴a̵t̴e̵ ̵n̸i̷g̸h̸t̴ ̴w̷a̶l̶k̴s̴.̶ ̷N̸o̸t̷ ̴b̴e̸i̴n̷g̵ ̵a̷b̴l̶e̸ ̶t̶o̷ ̶b̴r̵e̴a̸t̷h̷e̶.̴ ̵D̶a̸y̶s̴ ̸w̶h̶e̵r̵e̴ ̴i̷t̵ ̸f̸e̶l̴t̴ ̵l̵i̵k̵e̶ ̴y̶o̵u̸ ̷w̸e̴r̵e̵n̵'̵t̶ ̶e̵v̷e̷n̶ ̷a̴w̷a̵k̴e̸.̴

“̵̢̨̧̰̱͉̩̣͕̥̞͎̋͂̊͋Ṫ̶͓̣̲͕̝̱͇̲̹̎͒́̌̇̓͗̈́̉̈́̆̇ẖ̸̡͕̼̱̉ẽ̷̢̡̮̬̳̱̰͖̺͈̝͈͍͓̌̄̓̋̒̅̓̑͆̀̕ ̴̺͎̼̗̞̭̟̓̎͋̓̓͂̓̑̾͌͠t̶̮͍̝͓̮̰̟̞͔͙̒̃͑̌̏̎̒̀̓̕ṛ̸̡͙͈͇̪̺͎̼͇͍̤̖̦͊͂́͆́̍̂̏͆͜ú̸͎͓̰̠͉̣͔̜͈̰̘̩̘͑̔̒̿t̶̹̩̞̝̏͗̃̌̄͝͝h̷̡̧̠̳̪͉̻͉̱͉̠̰́̓͋̋̔̒͋̄̍̆̓̀͜͠ͅ ̶̢̛̱̪̥̭̖͔̖̓̆͆͗͋̈̚͘i̵̛͚̯̐̆̔̊͌̏̐̄̑̃̕͝s̶͎̤̟̟̣̳͉̜̱̜̖͗͒̒ͅͅͅ ̶̨̡̫̪̥̻̜̘̟̂̑̎̓̓̓͑̽̈́͘͜ͅḮ̷̟̙̱͈͇̗̳͔̓̃̂͜ͅͅ’̷̨̩̝͓͑̓̈́͗̂͌̔̏͗͘͘m̷̨̛̖̖̼̬̤̫̲͚̪̯̗̅͒̿̆̈̍̓̓̊͑̈́͜͝͝-̴͓͉̠̭̤̠̞̟̱̣̜̐̄͒̂̽̈́̏̇͌̐-̸̨̛̦̯̠͈͇̠͂̈́̀͛͐͗̽̈͆͋͠͝”̵̬̱͈̳͓͖̤͌̂͊̉̄̃͂͒͑̔̌́͗̌͘͜

̵̳̻͑͊͆̉̂̎͗̄̑͑͑̓̕̕͠“̴̡̡͚̱͈̟͈̫͙͈͓͓̈́͒͋̿̐͌̈͒̓Ì̶̢̡̤̦̰͍̮̬̖̥̓͂̄̂͗̿̔͒͛͘͝ͅ ̷̛̜̦̜͕̖̏̑̍̉͗͂̓͘͜͜c̶͖̮͈̲͓̬͇̙̭̋͂͐̊̎̂́̊̄̿̕͜͝ͅą̶̢͎̤͍͚͓͍̪̻͈͕̞̎̈́́̀͛͊͌̂̚̕͝ņ̵̰̝͔̔̊͆͛̾̔̈̋̊͠͝͝’̶͉͂͊̒̋̾͐͗̈̈́͋̄͒̓͌̎ṫ̷̨̬͕͍͓͕͎̘̟͉̗̬͕ ̵̛͖̪̻̫͂͒̏̇͑̾͆̎͜͠t̴̨̞̘̘̔͘͘͝ͅe̵͍͕͓̟̎͛̿̈̽̀̌̃̌̓̇̕ļ̵̮̖̈́l̴̩̝̬͙͛̌̆͜ ̸̢̢͍͍̻͖͙̦̙̳̜̬̼̉̓͑̄͒͠ͅy̵̧̜̜̫̖̱̱̯͎̪̗͔̬̭͂͐̑̌͑̈́̓̉͐̽͛̚̚͠͝ȏ̵̡̤͖͇̰͓̪̝͖̥̫̟̩̟̥̓̀͊͌̒͊͑̓̎̃ͅü̶̡͓̘̓̆̄̍̒͘̚,̴̝͖͈̺͚̫͎͉͇͕͚̬̓͗ ̸̧̨͉͈̲̖͇̻̟̫͎̗̦̠̑́̌̓͗̊͛͂͛̎̕̕ͅI̷̦̮̝͔̘̫̰̼͚̎ ̴̢̳͕̻͚͖̬̞̩͓͖̳̓c̷̢͖͔͍̯̩͉͇͖̳̔̒͗̐̍̾͆̚̚͜͝͠͝ͅa̴̦̗̥͖̯̳͒̔̈̓̅̋͝͠ṋ̸̰͗̈́̓̋̓͗͛͛̓́̃͘’̷͎̝̲̩̅̊̓̍͑͐͒͂̊̈́t̸͉̫̏ ̷̧͕͓͙͖̰̃̏̑̄͋̊̄̓̔̚ţ̶̫̠͖̲̹̘̥̭̥̾̓͛̃̆͌̎e̸͎̮͆̋ḷ̵̨̧͎̬̳̪̱̣͕̼̜̟͍͉̥̿̈͐ļ̵̤̘̭̬̠̬̱͈͇̭̘̳̻̐̓̏̊͛̊̑͗̉̈́̊̍̍̄͜͝ ̴̹̥̰͉͙̝̱͕͙̈̇̉̄̊͆̈́̊̐̚͝͠ỵ̵̨̭̙̰̠̔̑͗́̍̃̌ͅo̴̢̧͚̻̻͉̤̓̏͛̄̀̑̇ṵ̵͚̘̮̼̥͉̻̺̳͚̺͍̬̰͇̌̂̂̔.̵̧̯̻̭͙̹̣̯͔̖̪͓͙̙̯̅͂̐̈́̉̊̀̋̕͜͠ ̵̧̰͚͚̞̞̳͆̓͐̂̽̎̇͐̓͑͂̇̏̈́̕͘Į̷̡̻͚̖͇̼̙͍̘̟͐͛͌͆̋̏̈́͂̏̓̈́̈́̿͝’̸͙̦̹̘̤̈́̌̅̀͆͝m̷̡̦̗̆̋ ̵̧̹̱̘̟͔̦̳̬̱̥̥̺̥̟̄͜s̸̡̛̛̳͇̳͇̬̞̬̼̝͊̍̎̆̒̏͋̕͘͜͝ç̶̢̜̩͎͈̹̹͈̼͎̱̠͇̤̽̊̎̌͌͊̈́̑͘å̸̡̢̛͎̟̽́̏̊̇̇̓̀͑̅̈͆r̵͈̎̌́͐̅͗̊͋͋̆̍͠͠e̷̜̺̮͕͌͆͌̄̿̀̓͑͂̓͘͝͝ḑ̵̧̜̜̲͔͇͙͔̖̟̠͖̓̏̐̈̈͌͂̇̄͝.̶̧̡̭̲̻̣͙͖̣̼̟̩̩̞͈̽͛͊̈̉̂͑͛̃̀̎̔̀͂̐̃”̴͔̥̳̯̦̪̯̣͚͆̐͑̂̿̚ͅ

̴̧̘͍̩͓̘̗̣̻̦̟̦̬͌͐̎͗̄̎̚͠ͅ“̴̩̘̰̮͖̳̀̂͐̍̒̓̋̀̔̈́͒̕̕̕F̷̛͙̥̈͂̉̎̑͆͌̊̓̚ī̷͉͎̘͇͓͎̖͎̜̮̽͐̒̇̿̋̔̈̚͜r̵̖̖͍̱͙͈͐̐̆̐͘͝͝͝s̷̹̘̼̉̾̀̓̅̑ṭ̸̢̢̛̦̫̗͓̗̗̗͎̱̼̻́͌̀͗̊̔̈́̋̈́͜͝ ̷̬̣̈́̈́͋̇̑̈́̄t̷͙̘͕̲͗̊i̵͕͋m̴̨̧̥̲̦̩͓̤̰̤̱̳̥͜͜͝ę̶̼̪͕͇̭̩̦̟̓̇̔̅̿̿̀͐̚ͅ ̴̝̪̣͔̎͛s̵͖̽n̷̢̰͙̬̮̝̓̆̌̐̚̕͜ȩ̵̡̛̞̳͖̪̲̠̖̥̯̫͖̅̾̍͗͋̿̄̓́̃͛͜a̷̱͝ḱ̴̢̨̬̬̜̩̭͉̖̹͚̘̼̽͆̏̈͐͐̐̍̚̕͝ĩ̷̦̽̊n̵̨̻̳̥̱͎̙̪͇͓͗̿͆̌̇̃͒͛̍̑̐͋͜g̸̛̙̠̙̺̙̩̙͚̤̳̭͙̳̔̊͂́̀̏̓͐̏̚͜͠ͅ ̶̬̥͕̙̯̻̆͗̅͊͒͌̃̚ō̷̢̡͙̯̱̗͕̫͛́̊ͅu̵̳̦̦̝͚̘̱͕t̸͙̖̜͓̞͉̭̦̾͗̅̉̈̊̃̂̈́̕͜?̴̧̛̛̮̩̲̭̌̎͗̂̆̿̓͌̍͋̌͒͗”̴̰̺̩̻͍̻̬̜̫͇̥̺̱̘̗̓̈̎̂̍̈͋͆̇

̵̫͇̖͖͚͖̠͈̾͌̑͋̈́̿̋̈́“̶͕̊̉̓̈́͋̌̊̇Y̵̛͚͗̋̋̚/̴̢̗͕̯̘̳̦̲̹̺̬̿͋̍͂̆͌̄͊͜͠͝N̴̟͐͛̈́̋́̉̌͠.̷̡̼͎̙̲̊̌̅̎͛̐͆̿̊̚”̷̧̼̰̮͍̹̜͙̐́̓́̃̂͋̎̆̇̚

̶̦̜̯̤̪̮̭̐͗̿̇̿̀̅̈́͛̓͒͌͜͜͝͝͝“̷̳̆Y̴̡̤͔̮̜̮̟̙̘̫͇̦͚͇̽͑͌̓̎̆̆̽͋͘̚͜͠͝/̸͇̈͂̋̈̿̿͊͋͒̾̕Ņ̸̧̭̙̣̠̬̬͔̯̘̞͙̘͛̽̈͜͝͝ͅ.̷̲̙̠̹̍͆͠”̵̨̥͉̞̞̈̐̂

̵̧̣̤͔͇̺̜̝̙̻̻͇̙̞̳̯̄

“Y/N”

 

“Y/N.”

Your eyes fluttered open at the sound of your name being called over and over again. You let out a sigh and sat up. You waved at the nurse who just timidly looked away from you. Faltering, you began to pick up your items.”

‘Where’s… my headphones ?’

You looked beneath the couch and behind the cushions. You got up, confused and frazzled. Approaching Safalin, you awkwardly looked around.

“Hey, Safalin… have you seen something of mine? These f/c headphones? I was wearing them when I came inside,” you explained while looking around the room.

“ꜱᴇʀᴠᴇꜱ ʏᴏᴜ ʀɪɢʜᴛ.”

“𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐝𝐢𝐨𝐭.”

She looked away. “I-I can’t say…”

You pressed your lips against one another. Did someone take them? “Who was it? Please, Safalin. Tell me.” You got on your knees. “Please.”

“What are you doing?”

The floor master awkwardly looked around at anything but you and muttered quietly. “I’m sorry. Just…. You have to be careful of them.”

She turned around and left you on the floor, knees kissing the floor.

When you had picked yourself up and stumbled out the door, you sighed and rubbed your head where Itsuki’s hat rested.

‘Fuck. Who could have taken it? Fuck!’

Your foot connected with the wall, a muffled thud echoing from the impact. You could hear the others talking in the lobby. Quiet, you had to be quiet. Your toes began to throb dully, but the fast beating of your heart masked all your senses from taking in anything else. Noises screamed into your ear as you clutched at your chest which painfully twisted from guilt.

‘I shouldn’t have slept in there. Had I just hung in there I would have been fine. Right? Right? Nothing would have happened. Come on, control yourself. Y/N… Listen…!’

 

[Guilt meter: +10% | 30%]

 

“𝐇𝐦. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐩𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐞.”

‘Shut up.’

“𝐖𝐡𝐲?”

‘Shut up shut up shut up.’

You slapped your cheeks and shakily stood up. You had a hunch on who had taken it, but you couldn’t worry about that at the moment. You pulled out your wallet which held your Me-Tokens. Having Joe be a part of you would mean you would have to confide with him and come to a compromise if he woke up. But that didn’t matter, since the two of you usually had the same opinions when it came to these sorts of things.

‘Fighting, Y/N,’ you told yourself as a pep-talk. ‘You can pull through. Come on…’

“ʜᴇʏ, ʏᴏᴜ ᴅᴏɪɴɢ ᴀʟʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ?” a voice asked as a chilling grasp gripped your shoulder once more. You tried to brush off the feeling, but the freezing touch wouldn’t move and just remained still, iron-tight. Your breathing began to grow erratic as you tried to wrench it off. “ʜᴇʏ… ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅᴏɪɴɢ?” Stumbling, you fell backwards and onto your behind. Your legs flailed uselessly and you couldn’t breathe. “ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʀʏɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴋɪʟʟ ᴍᴇ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ? ᴇᴠᴇɴ ᴀꜰᴛᴇʀ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛᴏᴏᴋ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏᴛʜɪɴɢ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴍᴇ?”

“I--”

“Mom, are you okay, woof?” a voice asked and you perked up to see Gin. The boy approached you and gave you a hug. You leaned into his touch and rubbed his back.

‘I can’t worry him. Not right now.’

“Gin… I’m feeling a little better, so how about we play for a bit?” you asked as you slowly got up. “Hm?”

The boy didn’t say anything and gave you a hug around the knees. “Okay, meow.”

You took his gloved hand and walked around with him. “So, what did you want to do?”

“𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐥. 𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞. 𝐇𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐩𝐢𝐝?”

“Could we… could we play hide and seek?” Gin asked as he jumped a little. You smiled softly at him.

“Sure, I’ll go count to 60. Go hide now,” you told him, the boy nodding excitedly and running off.

“1… 2… 3…” you began to count while putting your hands over your eyes. You kept counting and reached 60. “58… 59… 60. Ready or not, here I come!”

You began to check the lobby first, where Keiji sat on the couches eating something, Reko was talking to Sara in hushed whispers (at that you narrowed your eyes), and Nao and Mishima talking while standing to the side for their quiet little conversation. You doubted Gin would be anywhere here, so you went to go check the meditation room. You could see Alice sitting on the chairs, but it looked like he needed some time alone so you passed him. Gin wasn’t there. You checked the monitor rooms, behind the monitors, and even the reception area where a receptionist doll seemed to be staring at you intensely. You passed that area in a hurry and went to go check Gin’s room. Locked, you didn’t think he would hide in his room and lock the door. You had stood in the hallway to the medical office so you saw him run off, not behind you.

‘The corridor with the ruins,’ you concluded as you passed through the lobby again. In the corner of your eye, you could see Reko leading Sara to an area which you hadn’t seen before. In your head, you mentally noted that.

Walking into the ruined corridor, you began to check the crevices and different paths. This was definitely the biggest area to be in. 

‘Gin’s an explorer. No doubt he must have found a good spot to hide in,’ you thought as you ventured down the corridor, watching your step. You noticed a new passage which didn’t lead to any attractions. ‘There.’

You wandered down the halls and into a new area which you hadn’t seen before. Your heart began to beat a bit faster. Why were you getting nervous for no reason? There was a door with another room which you hadn’t seen before. Had no one gone into this area yet? 

‘Don’t go inside.’

You hesitated, your gut instinct screaming that the room was bad news. Your hands trembled a bit and you just stood there, staring at the door.

‘Here goes nothing.’

You twisted open the door and saw a room with two empty white beds which starkly contrasted gray walls. The room looked ordinary, but there was something about it that you disliked. Looking around, there was nothing of note until you spotted something under the bed.

‘A phone…? What is that doing here?’ you thought as you slid your hands under the bed and took the device. ‘This is…’

Your eyes scanned the message.

 

You abandoned me

You awful sister

I hate you

Go die

   Just die, Kanna

Murderer

 

I curse you from hell

 

‘A sister… and Kanna. This most definitely has to be Kanna’s sister,’ you thought as you held the phone in a shaky grasp. You began to recall meeting Kanna for the first time and her talking about her sister. ‘But leaving a phone like this I doubt the kidnappers would just leave it... I don’t think it’s genuine. And this message. I have to know Kanna’s connection towards her sister before doing anything. So I won’t touch the message for now.’

“𝐁𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐦𝐚𝐢𝐥. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐦𝐚𝐢𝐥. 𝐔𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐲.”

 

[Obtained Kanna’s Sister’s Phone(?)]

 

‘But at any rate, Gin isn’t here,’ you told yourself as you left the room and began to walk down the long passage, carefully stepping around any debris.

You journeyed back and squinted around the poorly lit area. You saw a small figure scampering away from some debris.

“Gin?” you asked as the figure turned. The small boy emerged from the shadows and ran towards you.

“You found me yay, woof!” the boy shouted as he leapt into your arms. “Good job, Mom!”

You laughed a bit, trying to forget about the phone in your pocket. “Well, I did my best. Do you want me to hide now?”

The boy pondered for a second. “I’m kind of hungry, meow…”

 

[Promise fulfilled with Gin]

[Gin: +5% | 100%]

 

You nodded and ruffled his head. “I think Keiji has something. Maybe you should go eat with him?”

“What about you, woof?” he asked as you took his hand to walk. “Are you going to eat?”

You shrugged. “Maybe later. I’m going to go look for something first.”

‘Yeah… my headphones…’ you thought as you and the boy walked into the lobby.

“I gotta go, bye Gin…!” you managed to say as you sent him off.

‘Okay, I’ll go visit the prize area,’ you thought while standing up.

 

Day 1 | Night

 

You walked over to the prize area and talked to the man eerily staring at you. “Excuse me… could I look at some of the personal possessions?”

“Of course,” the man said robotically as he turned and showed you a variety of items.

‘None of these are mine…’ you thought while frowning.

“Thank you… I won’t be buying anything,” you said while turning away to leave.

‘I don’t even have any coins to buy anything anyway,’ you thought, pursing your lips.

You entered the monitor room and stopped. You ran a frustrated hand through your hair. Where could it have gone? Where did it go? Did you lose it?

Did somebody take it?

“𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤? 𝐔𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞.”

“Y/N?” a voice asked and you looked up to see Nao, staring at you in worry. She approached you and looked at you carefully. “Are you alright?”

You nodded. “Yeah… I’ll be fine…”

The girl held out her arms and pulled you into an embrace. “It’ll be alright, Y/N. We can do this.”

You let out a shaky breath. “Okay. Okay. I got this.”

‘I think.’

“𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠.”

“Y/N… let’s… let’s go to an attraction together, okay?” Nao asked as she helped you up and began to take you to the meditation room with the garden. “This way… I’ll pick something I think you and I will be good at!”

You nodded and exhaled shakily so quietly so she wouldn’t notice. “Yeah. Thanks, Nao.”

She shook her head. “It’s no problem actually! You… you aren’t feeling well these days, r-right? I wouldn’t know what to do if I lost someone close to me like the professor…”

You didn’t say anything and just nodded. She took you to an entrance of another attraction.

 

Fly Swatter- Your opponents summon enemies that swarm and attack. Strike them down and defeat three summoners to win. Clear Chips: 2

 

“I think I might be able to manage myself on this one, so… l-let’s do this, Y/N!” Nao cheered as she led you into the attraction.

“Thanks, Nao,” you murmured once more as you stepped through the dark tunnel with her. There were two swatters lying on a small counter and you took one. “Now let’s go… and do this…”

She nodded and the two of your ventured inside. Standing your ground, you glanced up and could see a floated cloak with outstretched hands, gliding in the air overhead. Around you, you could hear buzzing and your instincts went on high alert. Nao and you began to swat down bugs one by one, the insects disappearing on impact. A huge fly looking creature appeared and you and Nao took turns running around it, slapping it. Once you thought it was over, you glanced up. There was a loud screech that echoed across the room, causing Nao to cover her ears. The cloak disappeared and in its place came a wizard with a staff. The room darkened and glowing bugs scuttled across the ground like crabs. Nao shrieked and you did your best to hit the bugs.

“It’s alright, Nao!” you exclaimed as you pat her shoulder. “We’ll be alright.”

The girl shakily nodded. “You’re right! I have to… I have to do this!”

Your hands grew clammy with sweat as darkness shrouded the room. You tried to maintain your breathing and swat down another bug. A large sac appeared and seemed to zoom around the room. Nao almost tripped trying to hit it, so you tried to run after it to hit it. After managing to get in a few good hits, another animalistic scream blasted into your ears as the wizard faded away and what appeared next was some white wispy figure with a red face. Blue blobs with sharp teeth appeared and you and Nao worked together to get rid of them. After hitting so many that sweat was beginning to trickle down both of your heads, a large leaf looking creature with blood stained teeth appeared and charged after the two of you.

‘The first time one is aggressive…!’ you thought as you pushed Nao out of the way and the creature barreled past the two of you. ‘How do we…’

You glanced at your fly swatter and then charged. The creature ran at you as well and you held out your swatter. It slammed into your swatter and then you kicked it over and began to smack it.

“Nao!” you shouted and the girl immediately rushed to your aid and began to attack it as well. 

With one last loud inhumane howl, the attraction ended. A pedestal lifted from the ground containing two Clear Chips. Nao took one and you took the other.

“It was… great working with you, Nao,” you told the other, and her face brightened.

“I just hope I made your day a bit… brighter,” she said softly as she turned to leave.

‘Maybe you did,’ you thought as you watched her depart. ‘Maybe.’

The two of you split ways and you made your way to the lobby.

 

Negotiation

 

‘Last negotiation time of the day,’ you thought while rubbing your head. ‘What should I do now…?’

You looked around the room to see Alice still sitting there.

Damn , he’s persistent. What does he want to talk about?’

“𝐈𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐭𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐧𝐬, 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐚 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞.”

“Alice, do you need something?” you asked as you approached the convicted inmate. He began to gesture in the air as if trying to convey something.

“I… I need your help. I’ll give you 10 Me-Tokens,” he said gruffly as you raised a brow.

“I see…” you murmured, contemplating his offer.

“Y/N!” a voice shouted across the room as you turned to see Q-taro standing with a massive smile. You walked over to him to hear what he had to say. “Hey! Let’s trade tokens. 20 for 20. Howzit?”

You contemplated to yourself and then a hand tugged at your sleeve. You turned to see Kanna. Your stomach lurched, remembering the phone in your pocket. But after a chiding and a thorough thought process, you remembered that only you knew about it.

“Do you need something, Kanna?” you asked as you pat the girl’s head.

“Sou wants to talk to you…” the girl said. You almost froze. “He said it was because… he saw you last before getting hit…”

“I see,” you told her as you stopped patting her. “I’m…”

 

What should you do now?

A. See what Alice wants

B. Trade tokens with Q-taro

C. Follow Kanna to chat with Sou

 

Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 70%

Keiji-?

Kanna- 85%

Sou- ? [-10%]

Alice- 60%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 100%

 

Guilt Meter- 30%

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0

Chapter Text

“I’ll talk to Sou, Kanna,” you told the little girl as you had to shake your head at Q-taro’s offer and send a silent apology to Alice for this was the second time you rejected his offer.

Your eyebrows jumped when Alice sat up from his chair, got up and walked over to you. Placing a hand on your shoulder, he bent down to whisper in your ear.

“Talk to me later,” he whispered as he resumed his spot on the couch.

“𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐥. 𝐖𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐌𝐞-𝐓𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐬.”

‘I don’t need anything.’

“𝐖𝐞’𝐥𝐥 𝐬𝐞𝐞.”

You felt a slight twinge of guilt inside your gut watching Alice frustratedly sit back down on a chair, but you shook your head. You needed to talk to Sou. While he wasn’t a threat to you now, he was slowly piling problems onto Sara’s plate which was affecting her mental health. Soon enough, he would start to cause even more problems for everyone else.

‘What if she becomes like me?’ you thought as you stared at the shadowy smudge standing near the doorway and the red figure sitting at the couch next to Alice. ‘I can’t… I absolutely won’t let that happen.’

“𝐋𝐞𝐭’𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐟𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞.”

“Let’s go… Mom…!” Kanna whispered quietly and you couldn’t help but feel a spark of happiness that died as quickly as it appeared.

You gripped her hand and walked alongside her. “Hey… Kanna?”

“Yes?” she asked, holding your hand tighter.

“...is Sou angry with me?” you asked, your voice shrinking upon speaking. You placed your hand on your neck, trying to figure out what you wanted to say. “It’s just… despite everything that we’re going through: voting each other off and suffering day by day… I don’t want him to feel isolated like he’s alone. That’s just…”

“What’s it to you?” her voice snapped, causing you to step back and view your words. Were you in the wrong?

You put a hand to your head as a flicker of pain rang through to the point where it reached your ears. Saccharine sweet giggles began to echo in your head and you swore your vision shuttered red for a moment.

“...painful,” you finished as she and you stopped in front of Sou’s door.

Kanna stayed silent for a moment before knocking. “Kanna understands how that feels…”

 

[Kanna: +5% | 90%]

 

“Hm--?” you began to ask before you were interrupted.

“Th-thanks, Kanna… just let Y/N in,” Sou said from across the door.

Kanna lightly embraced you before she slowly let go and walked away. You watched her walk away and Sou opened his door. You avoided his gaze and stepped into the room. Immediately, it felt like the temperature dropped below zero.

“𝐓𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.”

‘Stop telling me what to do.’

“So… what did you need me for?” you began to ask cautiously as the male walked past you and stood by the lights, casting an ominous shadow over his face. Before, maybe you would have cracked a joke to lighten the mood, but… the fact that Kai’s life had been taken at the expense of your cowardly greed and how Q-taro stated you hadn’t contributed to the group at all broke you. But even if it was Sou, you had to keep strong.

‘He’s calm,’ you thought as you watched him finger the fabric of his scarf and its unique pattern. ‘Weird scarf.’

“Hey,” he said with a cheerful smile. “Didn’t think you’d actually show up.”

‘Weird weird weird,’ you thought, resisting the urge to tug at your hair. ‘Everything about Sou right now is weird. But… if the Sou right now is weird, he might be doing this on purpose then he’s probably trying to put up some face. Two can play at that game.’

You walked forward and casually sat on the chair. You noticed his gaze become even colder. Turning your head away, you paid no heed. Since when did your conversations with him become so rocky?

“Hey,” you told him as you eased backwards. “What did you want to talk about?”

He walked forward and stood in front of you. “I don’t think you should be getting so cocky, Y/N.”

“Hm? How so?” you asked, watching his expression grow more and more displeased by the second.

“Trying to show off and become the new leader, are we?” Sou suggested, his eyes going blank and you knew it was time to back off.

“I’m not trying to be,” you immediately told him, your facade breaking. You pressed your lines together when the both of you realized that.

He smiled. “Good. Now let’s have a chat, shall we?” Sou sat on his bed and stared straight into your soul. But you were calm. “Let’s make a bargain, Y/N.”

“...a bargain,” you repeated as he nodded, his smile gone.

“Good that you’re getting the point,” he joked with no hint of a smile whatsoever present on his face. “What I’m saying is that I want us to have a temporary alliance. A one time deal.”

Your eyebrows furrowed. The false friendly air was nowhere to be sensed. You tried to process millions of things in your head. His goals. His actions. Who he trusted. What the hell he was trying to do. Of all people why did he choose you?

You pointed towards yourself. “Why me?”

“I want to see how close your feelings lie towards Miss Sara,” Sou told you as he leaned forward with a smile. “Imagine how she felt if her most trusted friend was allying herself with someone like me?”

“Are you implying that you two are at odds?” you asked which made his mouth morph into a straight line. Nevertheless, you pressed on. “I can already tell the two of you have some sort of animosity towards each other, but that’s not going to help us progress through this floor at all--”

“I chose you because you’re closest to her, yet you’re not a mindless idiot like the rest,” Sou interrupted, his words metallic and bitter. His soulless teal eyes bored into your tired e/c ones. “It’s funny--you’re her closest friend yet you aren’t like the rest of the riffraff .”

‘That word again.’

There was something about the way he was acting that felt so familiar. It was unsettling and discomforting.

You tried to get through. “Sou… do you really think Sara is--”

“Sara is suspicious to me and that’s all there is to it,” the man cut in once more. “My reasons are justifiable.”

‘Enough to kill her?’ you thought, fighting off the need to shut your eyes. ‘Why…’

Fine. He had reasons and he had a right to not to explain to you.

“I’ll bite,” you told him as he grinned at your response. Huh. “What are you bargaining?”

“I won’t tell you,” he said easily as you blinked.

“Wh--”

“Although we can read each other extremely well, we’ll never know each other’s thoughts unless we spend more time observing the person,” Sou explained as he spread open his arms. You just pressed your lips together and kept your eyes downcast. “It’s funny, really. I feel like you’re more of a Miss Sara to me.”

‘What?’

“You know what they say: keep your friends close but your enemies closer,” Sou continued to say.

You shook your head. “This conversation is over. You scam.”

“Sorry. My bargaining item will have to be kept secret for now,” he replied casually as you just shook your head again. What the fuck?

“How can I guarantee you’re not lying to me?” you asked, slowly standing up. “This was… so…”

Sou immediately stood up and placed a strong grip on your shoulder. The two of you initiated another staredown. “You’ll hear me out. Or I could just… tell Miss Sara about our little conversation here.”

You twitched and looked straight at him. “You--”

Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but Sou here was slowly going to break Sara’s mental spirit. What was the endgame Sou was going for? Ah, you just didn’t know. Yeah, this one-sided conversation with verbal manipulation was definitely making you uncomfortable.

“Imagine if I told her. The look on her face. The betrayal. Her closest friend conspiring with someone who she hates so much,” Sou prattled on as he took off his hand and stepped back. You felt an oppressive air begin to cloud your head. His words were so loud and dug under your skin. It hurt. Stop. STOP

“I wouldn’t--”

“How would you know? You’re here right now, aren’t you? Do you even know what you’re doing? ...I’ll tell you what you look like to me right now, Y/N L/N. You’re a leech . Hey, hey don’t give me a look like that because we both know that it’s true. You don’t even know what you’re doing or saying. You’re a mess. Y/N L/N… I’ll explain what you’re like to me...Hops on from one to the other. Only doing things for her personal benefit.” It felt like glass shattered and the fragments were falling through the air like hail and sinking into your back. It hurt, his words. Your breath hitched in your throat. Suddenly you couldn’t see Sou’s face. It looked dark and clouded. You can’t see. “...Like you did with Kai. Haha, wonder what Joe would say when he woke up? Wait, wasn’t that also your--”

STOP. JUST STOP.

‘Was I really…? What am I…? Am I really?’

“𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐮𝐩 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.”

“...stop, Sou…” you whispered as you looked away to the side. “I’ll… I’ll hear what you have to say.” You bit your lips. You knew he was just trying to act like this to sway you. “You don’t have to… force yourself to say that… I’ll listen to what you have to say.”

He stopped and stooped down to where you knelt on the floor. Your stomach shrank in itself with a terrible feeling like glass had been mixed inside. When had you fallen to the floor? You held out your trembling hands and you just stared at them. Your hands closed on themselves.

 

[Sou: +5% | ?%]

[Guilt meter: +20% | 50%]

 

“So?” you asked feebly while trying to upright yourself. Your voice sounded like paper in the wind, flapping around uselessly and quietly as the wind roared. “What do you want?”

Sou didn’t reply for a moment, staying silent. “...I want you to make a way to put Kanna in my debt. Completely.”

“...are you trying to use her?” you asked hoarsely, looking at him.

He hesitated. “Of course.”

“Good to know,” you managed to grit out as you made your way for the door.

“Don’t forget our deal--” he said merrily as you got the last laugh.

“Good to know that we can read right through each other like you said,” you hissed under your breath so low you weren’t even sure he heard.

You felt yourself fall over as you closed the door. Pain throbbed in your knees as you tried to stand.

‘And I know.’

You rubbed the temples on your forehead.

“ʜᴇʏ.”

“Ah--” you gasped, almost stumbling backwards.

“ʜᴏᴡ ᴅᴏᴇꜱ ɪᴛ ꜰᴇᴇʟ? ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ꜱᴏ ᴜꜱᴇʟᴇꜱꜱ?” Hands wrapped around your neck again. Cold. Like death. The thoughts in your head weren’t coherent. “ꜱᴜꜰꜰᴇʀ. ꜱᴜꜰꜰᴇʀ.”

‘Leave me alone. I never did anything to you.’

“Are you sure about that? What about that time? Or that? There's so many things you did to me.”

‘I didn’t do--’

“ʏᴏᴜ ʀᴜɪɴᴇᴅ ᴍʏ ʜᴀᴘᴘɪɴᴇꜱꜱ. ᴡᴇ ꜱʜᴏᴜʟᴅ’ᴠᴇ ʙᴇᴇɴ ʜᴀᴘᴘʏ ᴛᴏɢᴇᴛʜᴇʀ, ʙᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜ… ʏᴏᴜ ʀᴜɪɴᴇᴅ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏᴛʜɪɴɢ.”

‘It wasn’t right…’

You realized you couldn’t breathe and slumped against the wall, falling down to the ground. Struggling to stand, you shifted most of your weight to the wall. Giggles bounced around the interior of your head and you couldn’t hear anything but the faint ringing in your left ear. You tried to stand but just stumbled back to the wall again. It hurt. Everything hurts for some reason.

You gagged, touching your neck carefully. You scanned the area, no sign of the shadow. Strange.

‘I have to… talk to Alice…’

You walked out to the main room to see Alice waiting on one of the chairs. The room was empty. As expected, it was late.

“Alice,” you said as you walked towards where he was with a wobble. “Did you… want to talk?”

“...no,” he told you, brushing you off. “Nevermind, it is late. I will be going to bed... Y/N.”

“Wait, what were you going to ask me though…?” you asked while trying to reach out to him.

“I was just… wanting to make amends, but our chat is over,” Alice replied as he walked away, his chains rattling against one another as he moved.

‘Fuck…’

 

[Alice : -5% | 55%]

 

“𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐬𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐧𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐬.”

There it was.

‘I never asked for your stupid opinion.’

“𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐯𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐛𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝.”

“Fuck… off…!” you hissed quietly while you kicked the chair that Alice had previously been sitting on.

A dull pain spread throughout your foot, but you hardly gave a damn. “Dammit…”

A red figure embraced your vision, blinding you. “ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ, ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ, ʏ/ɴ. ɪᴛ’ʟʟ ʙᴇ ꜰɪɴᴇ. ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ᴅɪᴇᴅ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ʜᴇʀᴇ… ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ʙᴇ ꜰɪɴᴇ.”

Chills ran down your spine as you stiffened in fear. God, you could smell her. No, she wasn’t real. There was no way this was her since… you saw her die. Haha… You backed up but her smirk still invaded your sight. Even when you squeezed your eyes shut, she was still there. 

“ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ’ꜱ ɴᴏ ᴡᴀʏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ꜰᴏʀɢᴇᴛ ᴍᴇ. ʏᴏᴜ ꜱᴀᴡ ᴍᴇ ᴅɪᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴅɪᴅ ɴᴏᴛʜɪɴɢ. ɪ ʙᴇᴛ… ʏᴏᴜ ꜰᴇʟᴛ ʀᴇᴀʟʟʏ ʜᴀᴘᴘʏ ᴛᴏᴏ, ʜᴜʜ?”

‘No, I didn’t!’

“ʜᴇʏ… ᴊᴜꜱᴛ… ᴄʜᴏᴋᴇ.”

“Get the fuck away from me!” you yelled at no one and just began to run to your room.

“𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐜,” you heard a voice comment accompanied by the howling laughter of another.

‘...Oh well,’ you burst into your room and closed the door. You felt like you were going to go crazy. ‘I’ll just… sleep…’

You sat on your bed, not bothering to change your clothes. Your talk with Sou drained you.

‘Too… tired…’

You began to slowly sink through your thoughts.

‘Was he trying to verbally manipulate me?’ You covered your face. ‘He was.’

Putting Kanna in his debt to use her… could you do it? But he… you couldn't breathe.

“Focus!” you screamed into your palms, muffling your voice. Holding out your frail hands you choked back a sob. Your throat and chest felt so constricted. Millions of thoughts ran through your head and you didn’t know what to do.

Don’t know don’t know don’t know. What to do????? You were so confused and distraught.

‘Can’t breathe…’

Your vision subsided and you felt yourself fall over.


“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

You hesitated before responding. “...of course. He’s… my friend.”

“What kind of friend would do that though? You’re here, aren’t you?”

“...you’re right,” you relented as you slouched forward. “I’m a terrible friend, aren’t I?”

“No you aren’t! It’s--”

You shook your head. “Maybe if I just--”

Hands taking in yours. The grip felt ice cold. “Trust me! You’re an amazing person, Y/N!”

“...if you say so…” you murmured, your strength leaving your fingertips. “So I’m not--”

“̷͍͖̃̆̑̇͊Ǫ̷̹͓͂̕ͅf̷̠̮̘͕͌̄̈́͝ ̵͇̟̺̗̃́́c̸̪̍͗̃ö̸̯́̚ȗ̶͙̝̠͔r̴̨̞̞̅̂ŝ̵̟́̈́e̸̡̞̒͛̋̆̎͜ ̴̡͈̾̂͒n̵̘̩̓̑͜o̸̮͉̹͚̔t̶̠̲̑̀̔͊.̶̢̫̥̹̃̆͂̏ ̸̩͒Į̴͗̌͐̄̕ͅt̷̳̯̮̮̥̀̈́̄͝’̷̤̘̣͗̓̇̔ḽ̸̝̃̏͘͝l̴̨̺̈̌͂̿̚ ̵̼͚̏̿̑̂̕ͅn̷͙͆̋̄̂ͅe̷̡̤̫̲͆̓̓v̸̨̬̣͛͜e̵̹̝̫͛̈́ř̷̪͎̤͖̽̌͜ ̵̳̀̃́̿͘b̶̙̗̻̼̀͑̓è̶̢͔̻̝̼̅ ̵̰̖̔y̴̟͓̬͉̙͒̎o̶͎̣̓̅̀̓ũ̸̞̓̋͌̓r̶̰̚ ̵͇͇͔͍͑f̶͇͇͛̔͌̌͜ä̶̲͍̦̟̍̿u̴̻̝͆̈̆͐̉l̷͕͈̩͉͚͊̒̉̑ẗ̸̡̥̱̯͒̎̓.̴̯̱̣̑͝ ̶̢͓̑͛͑J̶̼͛͒ͅü̴͙͔̾ș̴͖͆t̷̺̞̯̫̖͐͋̎͘ ̷̨̭͒̎ļ̷̭͐ė̸̗̆̕a̶̡̧̹̙̖̓̈́v̶̹̿e̶̠͉̦̬͆ ̸͕̝̪̇ḥ̸̗͍͓̀̐͝ȉ̴̗̜̌̿m̵̢̮̤͓͔̿̎̑͐͆ ̵̡͉͎̙͉̌͐̑͐h̴̳̖̍͌̇̈́a̷̧̼̲̍̇̃n̵̤̩͎͌͘͜g̴̛̭̠͊̋̚͠i̶̺̋̅͒̕n̸̛̮̭̔͐̆g̷̡̝̿̓͆̂͠ ̶͕̤͓̒̌̆͝l̴̨̩̅͗͆ĭ̵̗ͅk̵͇̦̒ê̵̛̖͆̓ ̶͕̏h̷̖͕̎ë̷̪̱̤̠̯́̂͂̓̂’̶̢̡̲̭́s̸̨̖̘̪̋̌͜ ̴̠͓̋̏͊̕͝ͅd̴̡̪̙͔͎̈̀͂͐͝ỏ̴̡͔͈̩̺́͛̉̚į̷̻͙͍̪̉̽̇̋n̴̨̹͓̻̰͋͊̽͐g̷̝̝͐ ̷̢̧͙̬̺͛͐̚t̸̢͕͂̀ȯ̵̫̬͂͠ ̵̜̆͜y̸̬͛ŏ̷͓̬̦̲͘͝ṷ̵͌̓ ̷̭̽̏̉͂̏r̶͖̞͔̤̈̄̍i̸̳͓̜̮̔g̶̬͙̮̼͌̈̿ͅh̵̪̙̬͖̣͐̆̃t̷̗́ ̵̨̼̰͍͋̂͜͠n̵͉͒̇̑̉ȍ̸̼̼͈͂͝ẃ̶̢̜̙.̵͎̖͓͍̪̿̃”̸̪̏

̶̫̺̤̈́̐̃̕Y̴̰̮̜̐̆͌̍̅o̴͚͇͈̔̾̎̒ų̷̹̯̫́͗ ̷͚͇̭͓̚͜g̵͎̐͝a̷̖̪͊͆v̶̬͕̆̂̓͝e̵͖̲͋ ̵̛̙̾̌́̒i̶̥̮̦̜͑n̷̞̙̦̬̓.̸͈͌̆̿͒ ̴̢̖͓̞̼́͝“̷̡̠̣̃̈́͝.̷̭̬̥̉́̇͒͘.̷̢̬̙̞͖̅͋̌.̵͈̭͙̣͒̆̆͋ǫ̵̪͖͑͊͜k̶̛̖̮̝̱̯̾̌̈́͌à̶̛̙̙̲̀̉͑ỹ̸̧̙̥̃̃.̶̮̝̏̔”̸̞̆̍͌͆

̷̢̡̰̳̍̚͜“̸̩̄̓̕G̶͈̙̙͖̈́̔̾ö̴̳̱̗̇̈o̵̧̦̤̅̎̄d̵͍̈́̂.̵̲̗̞͍̪͗”̷̠͍͖́̅͜͠


“Do you think you deserve to stand by his side?” she asked while wiggling her fingertips in your face, her fingernails almost grazing the skin of your nose. “Someone like you?”

“What’s wrong with me, then?” you asked, tilting your head and observing her. “You’re no better. Probably worse.”

Her hand shot forward and grabbed you by the uniform and tie, yanking you forward. Your gut hit the table edge, knocking the wind from your stomach. Her hard green eyes stared into your very own.

“Watch your mouth, L/N. You’re nothing,” she hissed, her breath scorching your skin.

“Watch your mouth,” you shot back, pushing her away. “Your breath smells terrible.”

“You think you’re so funny?” she asked, cupping the side of your face. Her fingernails dug into the soft skin of your cheek. “This just shows me how much of a fake you are. I bet your friends don’t even know you’re like this.”

You narrowed your eyes, slapping away her hand. “I’m only like this to people I dislike.”

The girl didn’t reply, pursed her lips and laughed. “You’re so funny, Y/N. Should I feel special?”

“Depends on how you should take it…” you said, looking at her straight in the eye. “... Haruka.”


You choked, a hard ball of air hitting the sides of your throat as you awoken from your slumber. You must’ve fallen asleep for about an hour because it still sounded quiet outside.

“ʜᴇʏ~”

‘Fuck,’ you thought as you immediately got off the bed. You calmed yourself down as you ignored the figure sitting on the chair in your room. ‘It’s hot.’  You began to strip out of the clothes you wore. ‘Ah…’ You stared at the same change of clothes hanging inside the closet on the side.

You settled for a shirt which looked like the one you were wearing. Thankfully your pants weren’t jeans or you would’ve had a hard time relaxing easily. You laid there on the bed, your stomach coiling in anxiety.

‘I wonder if Sara and the others feel the same,’ you thought as your mind raced over to Sou who was obviously lying his way out of the situation and Sara who was starting to look more tired as the house slowly trudged by. ‘What can I do? In fact, I don’t even feel tired.’

You sat up and saw that you felt strangely awake at the moment. It must have been that nap you took in the evening. Still, nighttime was the best time to investigate things you don’t want anyone knowing about. Pulling out the phone you had discovered, you felt a tug of guilt in your gut. Kanna wasn’t faring well and the message that lay there in the phone didn’t bode well with you. 

‘I could… use this to give to Sou, but… it’s too risky. I can’t. No I can’t. It rightfully belongs to Kanna, but the message… I guess for now…’

You clutched the phone and decided to just examine the contents for yourself. You couldn’t recklessly expend the battery, so you lowered the brightness and quickly skimmed through the inside.

‘As expected, all the apps are deleted besides the notes and there’s no WiFi…’ you thought as you kept skimming around. ‘ All the contacts have been wiped. The only good this phone is for is having a light source and a notepad. But I’m pretty sure paper is provided free of charge. So there’s not worth in this besides light and a message.’ You heard a click inside your head. ‘What if there’s more hidden items lying around?’

You stilled, holding your breath at the fact. It was true, the possibility of there being more items hidden on the floor was very possible--the phone you held in your hands was proof of that. Nothing at the Prize Exchange looked of value, just being random items, but things like the phone…

‘If there are more things worth value lying around, it’d be more useful to me to find them,’ you thought, the idea dawning on you as you fell out of your bed. You winced upon crashing onto the floor, but carefully held the phone in your hands so it didn’t crack. It was worth a shot.

You began to turn the knob and open the door and stepped out. You began to venture about and towards the different areas. 

‘I forgot the lights are still on…’

Quietly, you crept out and into the ruined corridor and began to venture deep inside again. Walking while placing your hand on the wall, you tried to scour the floor for any secret objects. Nothing. You spent a good amount of time there when you remembered something.

‘That one area Sara and Reko were lurking nearby.’

You began to walk around the lobby when you heard a loud crack which seemed to come from either the meditation room or the monitor room. Slowly and carefully making your way out of the corridor, you rushed over to the mediation room to see it was empty. Going to the monitor room, you saw Keiji observing the AI screens, one of them cracked in the center.

“Keiji… what…” you began to say as your words faltered upon seeing AI Reko’s screen, shattered to pieces. Shards of glass flecked with blood splatter were scattered all over the floor. “What happened?”

“I’m not exactly sure…” Keiji murmured as he rubbed his chin and gazed at the screen. “Well…”

“...Keiji. Are you lying--”

“What’s going on, woof?”

‘Were we that loud?’ you thought, turning around to see Gin slinking up from the rooms and wrapping his hands around your waist. You pat his head.

“Sorry, Gin… we just found something,” you told the boy as he peered out from behind you to see the second cracked screen.

“Huh?! Computer punk lady is dead, meow!” Gin shouted, his voice rippling across the room. “I’ll go get that jobless man, woof!”

“Wait--” you began to say, as Gin zipped off. “Ah…”

A few minutes later you saw Sou, Kanna, Sara, Nao and Mishima trail out from their rooms.

“Oh dear…” Mishima gasped as he fixed his glasses to look at the monitor.

“This is… Reko…” Nao murmured, gazing at where AI Reko once was.

Sou’s face paled. “W… What… is this…”

“Punk lady… She’s…” Gin trailed off, not finishing his sentence.

“Who would do something so cruel…?” Kanna asked meekly as she stared at the screen in horror.

“No good… seems the computer in front is just for booting it up,” Keiji informed us as he observed the controls while knocking against the panel. “The AI was stored on the monitor itself. Reko… can’t be booted up anymore.”

“But… what was the point in destroying the AI?” you asked, staring at the cracks that rippled across the screen where AI Reko once was.

Keiji didn’t reply and his face went pale. “...Sou. You did this, didn’t you?”

Sou’s mouth fell open in shock at the policeman’s words. “Wha…?! Y… you’re wrong! I would never… do such a thing…!”

“U...Um…” Kanna spoke up meekly, trembling on the spot. “...Kanna was with him the whole time. It wasn’t Sou.”

The blonde policeman scrutinized the small girl. “‘Always with him’...? This late into the night?”

“It was Kanna’s job to watch him, so… we slept in the same room...” Kanna said, blowing you away. Neither of them told you this. Well, it was to be expected.

“What…?”

Glancing over at Sara, it seemed that she wasn’t aware of this either.

“...I was worried ‘cause she wouldn’t let me leave,” Sou chimed in, his expression still twisted in worry and pain. Commendable acting. “Though it ended up giving me an alibi, huh…”

“...I’m beat. Never run into a case with an unclear motive behind the crime,” Keiji commented as you felt a trace of suspicion coming from his words.

‘What? But those aren’t uncommon… it might be just me.’

Sara looked dubious of Sou. “Who was the first to discover this?”

Keiji pointed at himself. “That’d be this policeman over here.”

“It’s true,” you spoke up, backing Keiji up. “I came second.”

“It was you, Keiji…?” Sara asked, observing the scene. “...what was the situation?”

The man smiled. “Ahh, well… Couldn’t get to sleep so I thought I’d have a chat with Reko. Thought it would be interesting. When I came in… well, it looked just like this.”

“Is that true?” you friend pressed on. You noted how everyone went silent.

Keiji averted his gaze. You narrowed yours. “...yep. It’s a shame. Really is.”

“Do you think… that there’s a point if we look for a culprit?” you asked, squatting down to poke at a piece of glass. You examined your finger that was stamped with a print of red. The blood was fresh.

“Hmm… no clues around that I can see,” Keiji told everyone as he looked around.

“Meow? No bits of wood on the ground like when the other monitor got broken, woof?” Gin asked as Keiji shook his head.

“Nope, nothing. This is one nonsensical incident. Would love to solve it right away but…”

Definitely suspicious.

“We need rest,” Keiji told us as I felt myself agree with him for once. “Let’s do a detailed investigation tomorrow. Asking Reko, Alice, and Q-taro can wait tomorrow. We’ll see if Joe has woken up either.

Gin squeezed Mew-chan. “Mr. Policeman… You gotta… find the culprit… meow.”

“...right,” Keiji responded as everyone evacuated back into your rooms.

“...ah,” you said to yourself as you watched Sou and Kanna walk to one room.

Sara put a hand on your shoulder and she hugged you from the side for a moment. You wrapped your arms around her and held her tight as well. The two of you stood like that for a quiet moment as everyone else went back to sleep. “We’ll be fine” is what the two of you silently told one another and Sara departed to go to bed. You exhaled and gazed around at the other rooms.

 

Where should you go for the night?

A. Go back to your room to sleep

B. Keep watch of Sou with Kanna

C. Pretend to go to bed but then continue exploring

 

Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 70%

Keiji-?

Kanna- 90%

Sou- ? [-5%]

Alice- 55%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 100%

 

Guilt Meter- 50%

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0

 

Chapter Text

‘I guess it’s time to sleep a bit,’ you thought to yourself as you began to head for your room.

“Ah, Y/N. Could you stay behind and help me clean up this glass for a moment?” Keiji asked, making you stop in your tracks. Halting, you turned to look back at the man who gave you a friendly smile. Everyone else was gone.

‘Hm.’

“𝐒𝐮𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬.”

“Sure,” you replied, trying to sound casual. You glanced upwards for just a second and caught sight of him drilling a stare into you. Calming and steeling yourself, you raised a brow. “Problem?”

He smiled and chuckled to himself, as if he made a very funny joke that only he could hear. “No, nothing. C’mon.”

Looking behind, you saw that everyone else had gone to bed. Walking forward, you joined Keiji and followed him to the monitor room where AI Reko used to be and the two of you began to pick up the glass.

“There’s a trash can in the corner, so you can toss it over there,” Keiji informed you, causing you to blink and nod.

“I see. Thanks,” you replied as you cupped a handful of shards in your hands and slid them carefully into the trash can. Before grabbing the trash can, you paused. The situation reminded you of when you had last seen Haruka and--

You grabbed the trash can and walked over to Keiji to carefully set it down.

“Hey,” he said which made you slide your gaze up at him in question. “You alright? That’s some face you got there.”

“You could tell?” you asked, touching your face to detect any creases in your features. “It’s nothing. Just… stuff.”

“First Trial?” he suggested which made you frown. Keiji exhaled through his nose, amused. “Hey, not accusing you. Just guessing since it’s the same for me.”

“I see,” you replied curtly which made him chuckle once more. “That’s nice to know.”

“Got anyone waiting for you?” Keiji continued to ask you, causing you to slowly place shards of glass into the can.

“𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐢𝐦.”

You dropped another piece of glass inside, the shard breaking in half as it landed inside. “Why do you ask?”

“Just curious,” he replied as he dropped a few fragments into the can.

You blinked and looked down at the floor. “Yeah. I do.”

“Family?” he asked and you almost stopped for a short moment.

You shook your head. “Mm. Friends.”

“I see,” he answered as he began to sweep up the tiny fragments to pour the glass dust into the trash can. “You got a dream job? Aspiration?”

You looked at him strangely. “Why the sudden question?”

You began to put away the trash can back at its rightful spot when he shrugged. “Eh. Just curious and bored. The police mind at work.”

Well, it wasn’t a question that he couldn’t be privy to. You had no problem telling him what you wanted to be.

“Well, it’s nothing private. I want to be a therapist,” you replied as you checked your hands for any scratches or nicks. “Or someone who can comfort people. I just want to be there for people. Not diagnose them and get them locked up or something. You know?”

“I see,” Keiji replied as you stared at his hands and he held them out for you to observe. “So, what were you doing out so late?”

“I--” you began to say and then carefully sorted out your words. Huh. “I couldn’t sleep. Took a nap earlier and decided to walk around to see if there was anything that could be a clue, but… I couldn’t find anything.”

“𝐈 𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐢𝐦.”

His empty eyes lingered on you for a moment as he cracked a smile that seemed a bit too friendly for your liking. “I see. I thought you were going to catch up with Kanna and Sou. Did you two… have an argument?”

You hummed nonchalantly as if he weren’t interrogating you. “No. Why?”

“Nothing.”

You wanted to glare at him, but you did not let your emotions blaze through. When the two of you had exchanged your goodbyes and headed off to your own rooms, you shut the door and threw yourself onto your bed.

‘You’re kidding. It was a trap.’

He was asking you casual questions that you had no problem knowing (how did he even know that?) to make you slip up and probe you. You noted down another mental thought of not to let your guard down around the policeman. Something about him was suspicious. Perhaps Sara knew something; you could ask.

‘Is that really alright, though?’

“𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭?”

You pursed your lips and didn’t acknowledge its words. Still, you needed Keiji to trust you. That’s why you even stayed and indulged him in his mini interrogation in the first place. If he trusted you, he would be able to tell you any information he received. But he still didn’t trust you. What did he even want? You flipped open the blankets and crawled into bed. You securely slipped the phone underneath your pillow and laid there for a moment. A wave of weariness washed over you when you tried to take in your whole situation. Trust and distrust. Everything hurt your head.

‘It’ll be fine. Tomorrow will be a new day and… I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.’

Your eyes fluttered shut.


“𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠?”

‘Sorry,’ you thought quietly as you sat back down in your seat and flipped open your textbook. ‘I got carried away. I just… got tired of eating just eggs and rice everyday. It feels… empty.’

“𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭.”

‘...yeah, you’re right. Sorry.’

“𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐨 𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭. 𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮.”

You exhaled. ‘Yeah, I know. I’ll listen. I’ll… keep myself more in check next time.’

“𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐭, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫.”

‘Oh, that’s smart.’

“𝐎𝐟 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞.”Taking your hand, you heard a whisper in your ear. “𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐞. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐞. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐧𝐨 𝐬𝐮𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞.”

That would be nice.

‘Yeah, you’re right.’

Yeah, that’s right.

Right…

I’m always right.


“It’s all your fault!”

You shuddered at the harsh impact at her words as they echoed throughout the empty classroom. Steeling yourself, you looked up at Haruka whose face seemed to be crinkling even further by the minute. The warm sunlight which steadily flooded into the room seemed to make the atmosphere seem even more suffocating with an invisible heat that wrapped around your lungs. Steadying your gaze, you tried to get a better view of the girl before you.

“What is?” you asked, your legs fidgeting at yet another encounter with the girl. “Can you stop calling me over like this? I have work and my club to get to.”

She rolled her eyes of emerald with a grimace. “Does it look like I care? I heard you told Itsuki to stay away from me. Why’s that?”

“I didn’t say that. I only asked him to hang out with me again. We haven’t--” you began to say and the girl flung out her arm and pointed a finger at your face.

“That. That’s what it is,” she told you, marching towards you and backing you into a wall. You moved away from her, face unchanging. “You’re not his keeper. You can’t tell him what to do!”

You kept composure and pushed aside her outstretched finger. “That’s why I asked him. I didn’t order him to do anything. Stop accusing me of things I didn’t do.”

“You only asked him that because he’s spending time with someone he loves,” she said, her voice then slowing down to something calm, unnerving you at her attitude change. “What we do is none of your business. What we have is something you can never comprehend.”

“I never--”

“ᴛʜᴀᴛ’ꜱ ᴡʜʏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɪʟʟᴇᴅ ᴍᴇ.”

You froze, your blood suddenly freezing in your veins as all your limbs halted. Flicking your gaze upwards, you saw her eyes bulge and streams of blood running down her cheeks, dripping to the floor. Her skin burned red and purple and spit bubbled past her lips. Her hands twitched erratically and she suddenly grabbed you by your shoulders and began to slam you against the wall.

“ᴡʜʏ. ᴅɪᴅ. ʏᴏᴜ. ᴋɪʟʟ. ᴍᴇ?” she asked repeatedly whilst hitting you against the wall like you were a rag doll.

Fragments of light began to shine behind your eyelids as you shut them in pain. You hissed when your back and head hit the wall over and over again.

‘I can’t move.’

This was the worst.

“ᴡʜʏ? ᴡʜʏ?!” she asked again and again and again. She kept drilling those words into your head and you felt like your brain would melt to mush and your skull would split into pieces. The sun suddenly hid behind the clouds as the sky dyed crimson and red spread throughout your vision. Blood began to seep through the folds in the walls and dribble down to touch the floor. Everything was moving too fast. Everything hurt. Everything was red. It was when your legs brushed up against the wall as Haruka kept hurling you against it was when you felt liquid. Blood was trailing down from your back and seeping into your uniform. The flood of blood then rushed upward and you couldn’t breathe. It was dark and you couldn’t see.

‘Where…’ you thought as you felt your arms twitch to life. You slowly shifted around. ‘Breathe… I need… air.’

Can’t breathe. You needed air. A cold vice-tight grip wrapped around your throat and squeezed. The air in your throat was forced out with a loud wheeze and it felt like something in your pipes clogged. You gagged and felt something press up against your stomach. Everything went blurry and your eyes went teary with pain. A dribble of drool started pooling in your mouth and leaking out to the left. You weakly kicked around and squirmed, but hit nothing. Suddenly, you flew into panic at a sudden realization--you were going to die. Your arms tried to grab at the entity, but hit nothing. You touched your neck to feel nothing, but something was still squeezing it. You shut your eyes tight in pain.  It hurt. Í̴͍̫̣̻̭͈͓̥͙̒̅̓̓̕t̶̯̼̲̽h̶̡̠̮̪̼ư̴̪͇͎̙̒̈́̽̀̿̍͆͋̆ŗ̵̱͖̯̞̾̆͗ͅt̷̲͝ś̷͉̤̩̯̙̟̈́̎͌͂̕̕į̸̧̧̛̛͇̰̝́͛̀̂͑̽̈̄͑t̷̨̧̛̲̙̉̋͛̇͑̎̾͒̊̇̆h̴͇̖̍̒̉̇̐̈̆̕͘͠u̶̘͇̦̲͚͓̍̈́̄͗̏̄̓̒̔̋͂̚ŗ̶̪̞̜̼͙͇̩́̅̆̅̿̈́̾̅t̶̢̺͎̖͖͖̟̰̲̝̳̫̆̉̈́̒̉̄͒ş̵̭͕͐̑̎̋̏͠i̷̥̤̱̠̖͙̗̬̖̐̒͊̑̄t̶̛̟̞̺̫̲̻̥͋̉̾̓͘͝ḩ̵̲̱̯͔̮̻̂̈́̽͐ǔ̸̩̗̊͛̓̀̆̎̑̎̕͘͝ȓ̵̡̡͖͍̰̗̭͚̟͔̯͔̄̒͒̓͝͠ț̷̣͚̲̅̾̊̄͠s̵͇̼̍̓̅ḭ̷̙̽͂͝t̸̡̧̮̺̮̼͓̹̩̯̔̈́̓̂̔̈́͂͘͝ḥ̴̳͈̮̘͕̦͖͓̞̩͎̎ű̴̙̙̻̫͙̱̳̄͗̃̉͌̆͐̾͋̕͝r̶̯̻̖̦̓͆̇̈͑̒t̵͚̲̞̼͙̲̙̑͂̊̌̈s̶̨̛͙̙͈̿͗̊͗̓͑̽̚͘͠i̸̱̟̞͑͂͋̚t̴͇̖̭̩̪̥̘͖̽̅̕͜ḥ̵̿̔ư̷͈̼̹̦͚̩̮̫̑͒̇͆͋͐̒͘͘͠r̸̮̥̠͙͌̏̒̈̍̅̄͐̿̿͒̑t̸̡͍͔͔̊̈͝s̵͍̠̚i̷̛̗͒͊͊͆͝ţ̴̻͔̮̥̽͘͜h̶̢̛̖̟̯͇̻̰̳͛͂̿̉̐̏͛̚ǘ̶̪̼̰̮̰̍̄r̷̪̼̟͍͕̤͉̩͉̟͐͗̿̊̔͛͘͝ͅt̵̢͔̪̰̦̗̫̞͓̭̮͗͊̄̐̏̊̎͘̚͜s̸̖̳̝͙̺͂̊͋i̷̬͈͖̭̻̽̅͛͝t̸̨̰̘͎̞͓̺͙̿̉̑͑̃̿̎̒͝h̷̜̻͔̯̠̘͖̽̎͆͂̉̄̋͛͗͂͝͝ů̸̧̙̯̬̱̩̜͙͖̦̈̌̿͜ṟ̴̝̬̟̹̜̠̭̮͇͑̅̌̏̍͋͑̃̍̒̄t̵̢͚̥͚̻̮͍̤̬͔͊̅̉̉̊̐̂̂̽̚͝͠ͅs̸͈͖̭̞̞͙̮̣͕̺̻͐͛͐̒͌̚͠͝ḯ̸̛̱͊͑̚͝t̷͔̊̈́̏͌̔͝h̶̡͎̝͖̫͊͊̿͒̕͜ů̸̧͚͓̙͓̜͚̙̯͈̗̽̆͒͂̋̅̄̊r̶̨̖̜͎̱̳̓̕ͅẗ̷̩́̅́̓͑̈́̊͆̕͠͝s̵̨̛̤͚͕̰̗̯͉̥̐̈́i̴͖̲̗̝͚̇̆̏͒̾̕̚t̵̡̥̒͌̓̓͐͐͝h̸̟͚͈͌͝u̴̡̬̙͔̦̱͝r̷̖͕͍̝͒̓͜͝t̸͙̟͙͈̼͂͌̎̌̇s̶̢̹̭͔̦̺͎̈́͆̈́̔͋͜í̸̛̤͔͔̩̮̀͌̐̿̒t̴̖̟͈͇͋̿̋͆̂̾̔̿h̴̛̹̟̠̝̝̘͍̩͂̃̊̊̆̈́͝u̴̞͂̇̇͗̆͆͆̇̕̚͜͝͝ṛ̷̡̭͕̻̟̞̹̌t̶̖̩̤̻̂̈͊̍͑̃̆͝͠s̴̞̗̊̿̐͌͆̒̕̕͠͝͝-̷͓̩̼̗͇̙͎̖͋̍̈̌̒̄̐̈́̚-̶̢̭̺͋̀̃̉̊̅̃͛̈̈́̚

“Hey! Are you alright?”

You blinked and looked to your right to see someone grabbing at your arm. Although their voice sounded easy going and concerned, their eyes…

“A-Ah…” you stuttered, your breath becoming fog in the cold night sky. “I just dozed off a bit. Sorry.”

They smiled. “It’s no worry. I’m just glad to have someone to talk to. Don’t you feel the same?”

You crossed your arms and looked at them warily. “Can I really say that?”

They tilted their head. “Are we not somewhat acquaintances?”

Your brows creased. “It’s not that… it’s just that I…”

“I…”

I…

W̸̠̘͓͇͗̔̔̕ẖ̸͈̂̽͂͗ő̷̟̩̫̭̻͂…̴̛͇̠̺͔̯̖̈̈́̀̓?

Ÿ̸̨̛̩̝̝̪́͑̋̃̂̕o̸̧͇̳͎̩̪̼͎̮̬̐͌͜͜͝͝ͅͅự̶͇͈̟͕̘͊̿̾̉̎̈́̈́̕͝a̷̻̲͖͎̲͎̟̺̼̦̟̱̪̩̐̉ͅr̶̛̲̗̗͎͆̉̂͗̓̽͗͗͌̂̓̌̈́̊̔̓ȩ̵͖̗͍̘̮̰̼̙̲̣̝̙͎͔̺̤̭̏͐̇̈̓ÿ̵̲́̌̎͛͆̈͗͒̊͆̋͆̄͛́̊o̶̥̻̭̣̲̮͂̎̏͐̑̕͠ư̷̙͉̄̃́̐ạ̸̳̮͋͒̇͗̄̑̉͗̈ͅr̷͖̞̱͙͍̩̮̜̱̯̳̩̺̪̐̂̈́̈́̏̿̉͗̎̆̐̆͛̎̍̚͠ͅé̷̠̼͎̻̬͍̗̅͂̾̋ỳ̴͖̩̫͓́͂̃ợ̵̡̪̞̲͓̞̫̳̣̭̠͖̌̄͠ǔ̴̖̮̥̤͔̘̱̺̗̜̗̪̲͎̞̣͎̌̾̉͌̇̅̋̌̾̌̈́̾̚͜ą̶̗̼͔̹͔͈̘͋̉̐̈́͊͑̈̆͌̊̌̕̕͝͝͝ȑ̵͉̻̮̥͙̒̇̀́͒̈́̐̊̋͠ͅę̶͚̺̞̗͍̩͇̯̫̞̘̄̐̋͂͗̓͐̈̑̔̄̋͝ͅy̸͇͒̎̚o̷͎̫̻̝̖̺͚̝̗̥̅̿͋̿̐̊̽̽̈́̕͝ŭ̸̡̻͍͖̖̹̖̯̯̞̘̝̜̪̈́a̵̦̣̺͔̝̳̤͂͠ȓ̵̛͍̥͒̈́̓̐̃̅̽̿̉͠͝e̴̢̨̧̢̹̥͖̫̮̰̹̪̝͓̰̍̂̏̒͊͊̉̏̐̃̀͜͠y̷̫̲̩̑̉̂̓̈̿̉̾͌͗̊̎̄͒̚̚͠o̷̡̨̡̘̟͓̔͗ͅu̴̧͎̗͓͇̩̬͔͙͕͇̫͔̩̯̾͆̇â̸̬̌͋̏͒̅͝r̴͙͔̺̎͒̏͐̑̏̊̃̉̓̊͗͒͘͠ę̴̭͕̞͇̝̰̲̼̯̜̮̪̘̓̌ͅy̸̢̧̰͕̙̭̼̰̔͑̈̃̐ơ̵̼͉̠͍̫̮̪̻͕̹͊͒͌̈̿̓̃̅͐̂̃̀̃̆́̚ͅǔ̸̳̜̜͖͊͋̈̔̋̎̌̐͛̆̐͒̎̕̚͝ą̷̡͈̳̲̙̮̱͓͇̠̰̫̥̓͛͊͊̓͊̀̚̚ŗ̶͕̣͝ͅę̷̡̛̝͚̦̞͍̳͈͔̯́̇̓̆̔y̸̱̮͙̆̃͂̋͊̂͐̇͗̆̓̕̕̚ͅo̷̬͚͛̀̏͌̎̏͊͊̊̒͐͘ų̸̨̦̻̣̝̜̙̱͍͙̙͈̠̯̔̂̃̂̔̉̏̃͂a̷̘͔̦̦̐̍̐̆̎̃̑͂̒͋̓̄̊̈́̇́͠͠r̶̛̛̲̭̰̓̏̇̓̌̓͘ě̵̢̧̨͓̺̺̦͙͔̬̯̹̲̥̫̭̇͊̽́̾̽͑͋͠y̴̘̣̼̰̰̤̹͍̻̟̫̘̾̓͛̍̆̍̍̕͠͠o̵̧̭̦̘̝̙̥̬̼̰̟͑̄̿̈́͘ͅŭ̸̢̧̨̞̮̻͓̲̟͇̹̳̟̺͕̦̞̇͋̋́̈́̏a̵̭͑̾̈̆͐́̍̆r̶̡̭̮͙̝̣̱͔͎͕̜̮̝̤̝̠̦̪͊̃̏̈́͗̓͋͘͝ȅ̶̛̹̲̟̣̗̲̝̠̘͇̰̖̹̜̜̘̈́̆̏͑̆̎̓̽͂̔͌͜͠͝ͅy̵̧̼̳͇͇̻̲̰̦̝̥͇̏̇͆͊̆̿͐͗̓̏͛̄̑̕̚͝͠ȏ̶̧̘͖̜̹̩̿̚̚ư̴̧̼̣̐̇̅̀̌́̓̕͠͠ͅa̶̛̞̹̲͉̖̩̗͙̤̹̟̖̝̙̳̓̽͆̅͝ŗ̸̺͖͉̎̒̆̍̽̎̍̈́͘̕͝ę̴̢̼̯̗͇̤̻̰͇̦̂͊̕͠ͅỳ̷̧͘͘͠o̴̟̘̍͂͐̓͆̆͊̅̈̿͂̑̍͊̕ú̴̧̗̮͈̭̹̜̏͛͆̍͑̊̄͘͘͝͝͠ą̸̫͕͕͕͕̪͍̗̉̔̽̀̈́̌̈͝ŗ̷̡̡̺͕͎͖̫͎̊̀̉͜e̶̡̧̧̛͇̠͍͚͖̳̳̎́̾͗̈́̉̾͊͑̿̑͒͠y̸̱̒̾̾͐̒͘͝͠ơ̷̥̜̳̮̰͕̫̘̈́͋̍̓͂͑̈́̏̕͝ͅṷ̷̢̲͕̠̞͉̗̫̹͇͕͈̙̮̂̓̈́͐͗̾͒̆̋͒̾̓̕͠a̵̡̠̙̝͙̦̺̣̘͍͓̭̳͖̖̋͆̿̃ṟ̸̪̫͙̰̦͕̈́e̴̢̡̡̩̥̯̫̺͉͙̼̭̼̲̗̯̥̾͛͠ͅỹ̵̢͉̤̭͚̺̞̬͈͔̖̯͚͈̣̗͋͑̿̐̊͝ȏ̴̢͙͈͈̺̗͛͆̈͑͝ụ̸̝̖̥̟̫͎̼̠̲̦̰̦̥̲͊̈́̾̔͂̐w̸̡̡̢̡̨̟̠̞̹͈̗͕̝̙̪̖̺̲̏h̷̢̨̼̖̣̫̻̘̟̲̼̬̳͂̓̾̊̎̄͐͂̄͝o̵̫͖̾̐̒͆͌̿̌͑̈́̕̚̕͝a̴͖͊͒̈̌̃̂͗̏̈́̕ṙ̷̻͇̗̣̗̻̝̇͊̽̂̾̐̋e̴̯͂̈́̑̿̿͂̈́̈́̒͝͝t̸̨͚͎̺͙̙̗̩̘̖̱̗͈͉̩̖̻̔͐̈̋̊͛̐h̷̨̧̡̰̦̭̙͖̤̦̓͑͗͑͊ö̸̢̡͔̟̫̞̫͎̗͙͌̊̈́̿͆̅̇͒͐͊̀̈́̿͜ư̵̬̻͔͕͔̽̃̆̏̈́͊̀̇ĭ̷̜̗̜͖̺͖̰̘̠̑͐͊͊̊͂͗̉̾̈̽̇̚͠͝d̴͍̗̣̫͉͇̓͑͗͛̓̃͊͑̈́̌͝͝͝ô̶͉̼̹͍̺̣̜͕͊̑̃͑͌̈̅̂̚͜ñ̸̨̢̢̡̨̛̛̛̘̗̥̠͕͕͎̮̩̰̥̔̀̒̊͛͠ͅẗ̶̢̢̧̢̛̬͍͓̥͓̐͗̕k̴̡̤̱̤̈́͌̿̿̇͗͊̽͑̿̀̓̚̚͠ņ̸̭͕̼̗͓̜͎̞̞͙̿̔͊̄̄͂̅̚̚͝o̸̧̮͍̮̟̱͖͙̕w̴͚͚͓̲͗̒͗̽͗̐̅?̸̢̨̛̖̪̹͉̖̫̦̫̖̬̗̖͖̙̒̑̑͊̓̀̋͒̌͋͑́͆̑̉͐̚w̵͍͈̲͔̘̭͓̲̰̲̻̆͜ḧ̵͖̻́̉ȧ̷͙̤̪̬̠͛̈̆̊̉͌̚͠t̵̻̲͚̤̼̱̘͎̩̱͈̖̘͙̺̻͉̊̽͊͂̽͑̋̍̑̕ͅh̵̼̮̥̫̩͉̣͒̋̈́̉̽̅̐͂̄̈́̎̃̄̋͜ͅų̷̹̟̗̱̠͖̞̤͚͈̹̮̮̯͖̔̿͛̅̏̂̀̌͊̑̈́̒̎̚h̷̡̛̳̜̫͔̬̙̭̄̍͗̇̊̿̏̄͝?̴̨̨͙̻̖̙̳̤͔̱̙̙̙̘͇͇͔͗̃͊̐̏̎̈̅̍̇̿̚̚̚͠w̷̨̧̛͉̘͈̳̠̙̥̺͍̽̉̏ͅh̷̛̬̺̤̗͇̣̯͖̣͔͗̿̋̒̈́o̷̝͐͛͒̋̇̽̄̎̽̾̌̃̚̚̚͠-̷̛͚͙̰͍͔͈̬̬̫̝̺̙͈̜̓̏̈̽͋̑̒́̇͊͆̽̚͝͝ͅ-̷̧̠͖͙͇̹̠̺̳̥͈͓̺͍̫̪͆̍͋͒͛̑͘͜


You exhaled sharply as you sat up from your bed. Your head pounded in pain as you held it, slightly shifting side to side without knowing. What strange dreams. This place was definitely… not good.

“It’s not good if you keep dwelling in the past,” Itsuki once told you when the two of you sat on the rooftop for lunch. He looked up somberly into the sky as you decided not to prod at the statement.

You already knew that. Brushing away the memory, you tried to take in what exactly you were going to do.

‘I feel terrible.’

“𝐖𝐡𝐨 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝’𝐯𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐢𝐝𝐧’𝐭 𝐬𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐩, 𝐡𝐦? 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐩𝐬?”

‘Go away. Nothing would’ve happened.’

Your mind traveled to the memory of Sara and Reko entering an area which you had never seen. Maybe you should check that area out today. You waited for a quick second, expecting to hear that sickly sweet voice of hers, but to your relief it was nowhere to be heard. Exhaling, you began to pound your tightening chest and wiped at your eyes, wiping a trace of a tear and some eye crust. Walking towards the bathroom, you turned on the faucet with a squeak and filled your cupped hands with cold water. Pouring that onto your face, you blinked and realized that you didn’t brush your teeth the night before. You looked down at the sink to only see a large bottle of mouthwash present. Sighing, you decided to at least make use of what you had. Then you realized that you hadn’t taken a shower, but not like there was a shower in the first place. The thought of deodorant popped into your head. You would need that to at least smell decent. It was always hygiene.

‘Figures. I’ll ask Safalin for some stuff later.’

After freshening yourself, you stepped out and changed out into a new clean change of clothes and put the rest of the dirty clothes in a neat, folded pile in the corner.

For a moment, you almost felt even worse than yesterday, but the weariness you felt weighing on your shoulders seemed to dismiss all guilt and negativity. Taking deep breaths, you tried to calm yourself. It had only been two days, you couldn’t be going insane now. You would be alright. If you could just hang in there for a bit longer, you would be fine.

You slid off the bed and pat down your hair, fixing it so strands didn’t keep popping out. Smoothing your clothes, you grabbed the phone from under the pillow, and made your way to the door. Your neck felt painfully bare and you bit your lips at the sensation of your headphones being absent. The phone felt heavy and you thought about Sou.

“𝐇𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐯𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭. 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐬.”

‘Didn’t ask for your opinion.’

‘Sou… just what are his intentions? He’s not a bad person, but… can I really trust my judgement? Can I trust him? He said it was a bargain, so he must have something I need. What should I…’ you thought as you bit your nail. ‘What should I do…?’

 

Where to go?

 

A. Visit Sou

B. Go to the lobby

 

 

Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 70%

Keiji-?

Kanna- 90%

Sou- ? [-5%]

Alice- 55%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 100%

 

Guilt Meter- 50%

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0

 

Chapter Text

[Selections have concluded in a draw]

[Input insufficient]

[Recalculating…]

Visit Joe

 

C. Day 2 | Morning

 

‘I think I’ve woken up late. Staying up may or may not have been a mistake,’ you thought drily. ‘Partly due to my confrontation with Sou, though. And Keiji. Fucking Keiji needs to stay out of my business. He frustrates me even more than Sou, who I can get a better read on. Keiji seems to constantly be wary of me… how can I gain his trust without giving too much of my privacy…?’

“𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐥𝐨𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐨𝐟𝐟.”

‘No, my strongest point is my connections with others. I need to tread carefully.’

You walked past Sou’s room, eyeing the door warily and heading for Joe’s room. Pausing for a moment, you stared at the door which belonged to the teal haired male. His manner and actions didn’t make sense to you. Your memory flashed to the time when Itsuki and you had decided to pay for a bar of ice cream for him, you being a little reluctant to spend. Sou was… kind to you. Sure he was a bit timid, but at the time you could sense he carried good intentions. So why…?

“𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐡 𝐝𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫.”

You lightly tapped your knuckles against the door, almost laughing at yourself since there was no one who could even open the door for you.

“Ah, Miss-- Y/N,” Safalin startled from where she stood at the front of the hall.

Your eyebrows scrunched in confusion. What was she doing here? Wasn’t she supposed to be in the medical office?”

“Safalin,” you said, bowing your head slightly to her, causing her to jump a bit. “What are you doing here?”

The vice-Floormaster walked up to you and pulled out a pair of keys to unlock Joe’s door. “I have to check on Joe. We can’t have him d-dying after all…”

“𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐯𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞.”

You nodded like you understood, but kept your eye on her. “I understand.”

The two of you walked inside and your eyes flitted to Joe who was sound asleep on his bed. Safalin walked forward and removed the bandages on his head. She lifted his bangs to observe a scar that traced itself from the uppermost part of his forehead to the behinds of his hair. Placing her fingers on his throat and then moving her hand to his chest, she considered his breathing rate and counted his heartbeat. Then Safalin stuck a thermometer into his mouth, removing it and observing the results.

“Good news, Y/N,” the green haired doll told you with a trembly smile. “Joe might recover and wake s-soon.”

“𝐋𝐞𝐭’𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞 𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐚 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐮𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬.”

“Really? That’s great,” you replied with a small smile while tracing Joe’s knuckles. “I... “ You stopped yourself and then pulled away as if you would create damage if you kept touching him. “Yeah. Thank you, Safalin.”

The two of you removed yourselves from the room and the Safalin bid you farewell and retreated back to the medical office. Walking out to the lobby, you could see Sara standing over Alice who held the remains of some instrument in his hands like they were sand grains slipping out of his grasp. His eyes were wide, resembling holes that you thought you could fall through forever and ever.

“Sara, Alice,” you called out quietly while walking up to said duo. “What happened?”

Alice scoffed, blowing a few locks of hair out of his face. “It is nothing. What. Will you laugh at my pitiful demise?”

“Alice…!” Sara whispered quietly as she looked over at you in concern.

You shook your head. “No. I just wanted to know what happened.” You observed the damage. Bongos?

“My precious bongos, my phone, my wig… It’s all gone!”

‘Is this what Alice wanted to talk to me about yesterday…?’

“Is this Reko’s?” you asked while watching Alice’s hands clutching the remains of the bongos a little bit tighter. “What happened?”

“Reko, she-- she broke it,” Sara told you, hesitating while she kept glancing over at Alice. “I’m not sure why.”

“It’s obvious,” Alice replied with a bitter smile. “She won’t give me her forgiveness. Ever.”

“Do you really think he’ll forgive you after all that?” Her sneer carved itself even wider on her face.

“Don’t say that,” you told him as you touched a string strewn on the ground. “We can fix it.”

“𝐈𝐭 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬 𝐮𝐧𝐟𝐢𝐱𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞.”

“We can?” the other two asked as you shrugged, unsure.

You held up a splintered piece. “It won’t hurt to try. Glue, some new string and… thread?”

Sara smiled. “You’re right. Alice. I can keep it with me for now.”

The male paused, then entrusted the bongos to the girl. You smiled and looked around to see if anyone else was in the room. Hm, they must’ve gone to the attractions already.

“That said, where’s your headphones, Y/N?” Sara asked, making you freeze.

Ah .

Ice coated your entire being and you thought you were plunged hundreds of feet under frigid waters. You couldn’t speak, nor breathe. Steeling yourself, you inhaled and exhaled steadily. Clutching at your hoodie which contained Kanna’s phone in the pocket, it suddenly felt as if it weighed a few stones. Heavy, too heavy. Your vision went blurry at the sides and red tinged your vision a bit. Everything appeared a bit stark. It hurt. You couldn’t breathe. A feeling of dread emerged from your lungs and tendrils of guilt crawled along the sides of your lungs as the surroundings constricted and grew smaller. Searing pains of hot, white shame exploded in your stomach which caused it to cave in. Your head clouded over and suddenly you felt dizzy. Can’t breathe--

“I… may have lost it?” you told her, your hand picking at one of your fingers.

The girl flinched. “Lost it?”

“Ah… I’m in trouble, that was a gift to me, huh…” you laughed, trying to ease the mood. Your leg shook and you internally hit yourself. Stop moving. It’s fine. “I took a nap and the next thing I knew was that it was gone! Haha… ha… that was really stupid of me.”

Fuck. Maybe this was fate enacting revenge on you or something. Stupid. Stupid!

If you hadn’t taken a nap, it would’ve been fine. You should’ve just kept on going. Everything grew foggy and your lungs tightened once more. Head pounding and hands shaking, you grabbed one of your wrists to cover up your weaknesses.

“It’s not your fault,” Sara told you as she gripped your hands, staring at you determinedly. “Y/N. You’re not at fault. We’ll look for it. Maybe Ranger has it. We’ll look for it. I… Even I wouldn’t know how to feel if I lost the gifts everyone gave me.”

“But this… it was from--” you began to say and the girl pulled you into a hug.

Sara squeezed you tight. “It’s okay. He wouldn’t be angry. It’s okay, Y/N.”

You face-planted into her shoulder and the feeling of being so useless further sunk into your bones. Your hands curled into themselves to form tight fists. Shit, shit! Your teeth ground against one another and your eyes squeezed shut. Sara’s hand comfortingly pat your back and you let out a long shudder.

“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐥.”

“It’s okay.”

You hugged her back. “Okay.”

Sara went to the rubble-filled corridor (probably to pursue Reko) and you decided to go to the monitor room since you assumed you had woken up later than the others. You noticed a certain individual trailing right after you.

“Why are you following me?” you asked Alice, who was silently trailing behind you as you walked into the monitor room. “Do you want to do another attraction together or something?”

Alice opened his mouth to reply when his gaze landed on the newly shattered monitor. “What… what happened to AI Reko?!”

“Ah, last night,” you began to tell him, your gaze landing on his clenched fists. “Someone broke AI Reko and we have no idea why. Keiji discovered it first. I happened to be walking around since I couldn’t sleep. Then everyone else came in afterward. You, Reko and Q-taro were still sleeping.”

“How cruel…” Alice commented, a hint of anger still present in the undertones of his words. “Why would…?”

You shrugged. “I have no clue. But Keiji is putting off the investigation for now since we have to focus on attractions.”

“So we’re not lining anyone up? This is frustrating,” Alice murmured under his breath as he placed his hand on the wall space underneath where AI Reko once was. “The culprit behind the first one still hasn’t been uncovered yet either.”

“Our survival comes first I guess,” you said, leaving the rest of your thoughts unsaid.

‘And Keiji seems to be hiding something. If he doesn’t trust me, it’s nearly impossible for me to trust him either since he always seems to be on the defensive and offensive with me all the time.’

“There is one other thing I wanted to tell you,” Alice spoke, causing you to slightly raise a brow. “You look very pale these days. Are you not getting any sleep?”

“I am,” you said, truthfully. It’s just that you were having nightmares which caused you unrest. “There’s just... A lot of things that are going on right now. You understand, right?”

The man didn’t say anything for a moment and then looked you straight in the eye. “Do you believe Sou is a trustworthy fellow?”

“𝐍𝐨.”

You bit your lips and considered this. Sou. Obviously Alice was asking you since you were probably the only one here besides the kidnappers who knew Sou the longest. That argument-- no, that one sided exchange was something new you had gotten from him yesterday. Perhaps it was because you were Sara’s friend?

“I… Maybe to you he is,” you said, considering Alice’s position with Sara and Sou.

‘Alice and I were the only ones who seemed to gauge the amount of trust that Sara and Sou both had, making Sou wary of Sara. He’s probably trying to “bring me over” to his side since I’m Sara’s friend. Alice is also not so close to either of them…’

“My point is,” you continued as you held up your hands at him. “I think some of the things he tells you will benefit you.”

‘Not me though.’

“I see…” the male said, pondering to himself for a moment. Then he turned his head away, but his eyes were still looking at you. “Would you… like to do another attraction together?”

“Together?” you parroted which made the man flustered.

“Do I have to repeat myself…?!” he exclaimed, clutching the fabric of his shirt. “No need to make things awkward!”

You put your hands out to reassure him. “I’ll go, I’ll go. Want to do that hide and seek attraction?”

You pushed on and began to walk into a pathway with Alice following behind. You stopped to read the rules.

 

Hide and Seek- While hiding from wicked dolls, pull 3 levers until they reach max energy to win. Clear Chips: 2

 

Alice turned pale and you raised a brow at him. He squawked as you stared at him.

“I’m not scared!” he exclaimed, turning slightly purple to which you just shrugged and walked forward.

Alice grabbed you by the shoulder, causing you to spin around. “Wait, wait! Your recklessness will get us killed, Y/N L/N. Do you have a strategy of some kind??”

“Hm… according to the rules we have to pull the levers and hide out of sight from any monsters,” you told him, eyebrows scrunching in concentration. “You keep an eye out and tell me whenever something looks at me.”

“𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐥, 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐡𝐢𝐦.”

“Wouldn’t it be much more wiser for us two to pull the levers at the same time?” Alice asked as you considered this.

“It would be, but the problem is taking caution,” you replied as you fiddled with your fingers rigidly. “I mean… I could be wrong. Your solution sounds like an extremely efficient one--”

He nodded eagerly before you could continue to ramble off on a tangent. “Sounds like a good idea to me.”

You nodded. “Okay. Let’s go.”

Upon stepping in, the two of you immediately ducked behind a few rocks as you heard the steps of a towering being walking by. Peeking out from where you were, you noticed the masked figure was turned so you scurried and began to pull from the lever closest to you. When you held it, you could see a small bar being filled with color. The figure tensed and you dove back to where you hid, making eye contact with Alice, who was laying flat on the floor for you were occupying the space with the big rock, as you hit the floor. From where you watched, the figure turned its head and looked away. Leaping back out, you pulled the lever again and repeated this process from the same lever until it was completed. Then you moved onto another lever a bit further away from you and began to pull.

Suddenly, chills ran up your spine. Tensed and alert, you saw the masked man was still looking elsewhere.

“Y/N! Y/N! Look out..!” Alice hissed as you turned to see a floating white face in the darkness.

‘Ah--’

You began to dive back under the rock as its eyes and mouth opened to reveal the color red as it gashed your shoulder. Biting your lip, you waved off Alice to tell him that it was fine.

‘Okay, I got this,’ you told yourself as you dashed out to pull the same lever again. This time, you managed to evade the face and the figure roaming around the room.

As you moved onto the third lever, telling Alice it was okay, you barely heard him cry out as something had hit your calf. You quickly limped back behind the rock to inspect the injury. Something had shot through the flesh of your leg. Burning white pain slowly spread throughout your leg as you grit your teeth. Cradling your leg, Alice inched over to check the injury as you removed your hoodie and wrapped it around the injury. You then clutched your shoulder as you felt the injury tear a bit more, wincing.

“𝐈𝐝𝐢𝐨𝐭.”

“I’ve got this,” Alice told you as you nodded and left the rest of the job to him.

You watched him utilize his sharp instincts to avoid all the obstacles. It was strange seeing him willingly help out, but you were grateful. Once the two of you finished, a podium rose up revealing two Clear Chips.

“Here,” the male told you as he handed over a Clear Chip.

“...you’re being strangely helpful today,” you replied as the man’s face donned a shrewd grin.

“Mwahaha… giving me the cold shoulder just like my sister, are you?” he asked, slipping his Clear Chip into his wallet.

You shook you head. “Sorry, I’m just--”

“I merely jest,” Alice interrupted as his gaze softened. “I’ve just decided to become more observant.”

“Observant?” you parrotted, clutching the Clear Chip he just handed you.

“Yes,” Alice replied as he looked towards the lobby room. “Because I didn’t notice how Reko was so displeased with me and I was caught up with my own affairs of wanting to obtain forgiveness from her. Because of that, she lashed out at me like she did back then.”

You wanted to say something, but you couldn’t. It wasn’t your place to investigate or poke your nose into Alice’s business.

“So… don’t force yourself to do anything too rash,” Alice told you, waving his hand around. “That’s a foolish thing to do: bottling it all up to yourself.”

Your eyes seared for a moment and you blinked them away.

“𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮.”

 

[Guilt Meter | -10%]

[Alice: +5% | 60%]

 

“It’ll be okay,” you said aimlessly, but the words were directed towards you and him. Then the two of you strode out in silence.

Alice decided to depart to his room and you walked to the medical office. Safalin appeared not to be present, so you took the liberty to use some of the materials to fix up your wounds. How strange. You then strolled into the lobby to negotiate. 

 

Negotiation

 

You watched Q-taro, Keiji and Sara emerge from the rubble-filled corridor and you waved.

“Hey,” you told them while trying to give an easygoing expression. “What were you guys up to?”

Sara opened her mouth to speak, but Keiji cut in smoothly. “We were discussing a Me-Token trade and wanted to speak in private.”

“Yep! Zat’s right!” Q-taro chimed in, his eyebrows twitching.

‘Lying.’

“𝐃𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦. 𝐋𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟.”

You didn’t look at her, but noted that Sara didn’t reply so you nodded. “I see. Well I’m open to negotiation right now.”

“We can trade 20 Me-Tokens each!” Q-taro told you and you nodded.

Keiji raised his hands. “We can talk.”

Sara looked at you, alert. “Actually I have something I really need to tell you right now. It’s extremely imperative I tell you!”

“𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐟𝐮𝐥.”

‘I…’ you thought.

 

 

A. Trade with Q-taro

B. Talk with Keiji

C. Talk with Sara

 

.

.

.

.

.

 

“Ah, Miss Y-Y/N, you’re finally here,” a voice called out and Sara’s eyes widened.

You turned and your chest tightened, exuding emotion.

Oh …”

Your eyes widened as you saw Joe standing there, scratching his head. Your breath hastened and you began to run. Tears pricked at the edge of your eyes and your heart beat faster and faster. The red ebbing your vision seemed to seep away and a wobbly smile spread on your face.

“Joe…!” you exclaimed, your voice almost cracking as you extended your arms.

The boy yelped as you embraced him and squeezed. You panted, your heart continuing to beat faster and faster.

You whispered. “Thank goodness… Thank goodness you’re okay--”

“Uh…” the brunette said as he began to push you away. Everything felt cold. The ground cracked and the sky began to cave in. Heavy rocks fell to the pit of your stomach as confusion plastered itself onto the boy’s face. 

“ᴀʜᴀʜᴀʜᴀ…!”

 

“Who are you?”

 

[Guilt Meter…]

 

 

 

Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 70%

Keiji-?

Kanna- 90%

Sou- ? [-5%]

Alice- 60%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 100%

 

Guilt Meter- ???

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0

 

Chapter Text

Something pitch black and cold coiled in the depths of your stomach, permeating throughout the rest of your body in dreadful shivers. Something about Joe’s touch suddenly felt so heavy, so foregin, and you wanted to remove yourself from everything. 

But you couldn’t move.

In the corner of your eye, you could see Safalin. She was speaking, but the ringing noise in your head blocked out anything she was saying. The noise subsided and you could hear the nurse explaining to you and Sara.

“--it seems that due to b-blunt force trauma that Joe here s-suffered from memory loss…”

“W...what…?” you asked, your knees feeling weak and numb. 

‘What do I do?’

Something scalding cold clawed your shoulder and you felt like you were about to cry. Giggles that only you seemed to hear poured into your ears like a song, squeezing your heart and constricting your lungs to the point where you almost teared. Your throat enclosing, you choked on a gasp, fingers slowly coming to life as they twitched in panic. 

‘This is my fault.’

You needed confirmation. “Joe, you--”

“Y/N, there you are,” a voice said, piercing through your muddled thoughts and causing your gaze to snap up at the voice. 

Your chest grew more jumbled as you saw it was Sou, and yesterday’s events and his words spilled from your memory banks and hit you like rocks. Confusing gnawed away at you and you felt as if you began to unravel. Your vision grew fuzzy and Joe’s embrace felt stone-like. You couldn’t move. The air in your lungs tightened and you went frozen.

‘What… what do I do? Oh shit. Help. Help me. I don’t know--’

Sou timidly grabbed your wrist, pulling you out of Joe’s embrace. Joe stumbled forward, looking confused as Sara gasped and raced forward.

“Sou, what are you--?!”

“I’m so sorry, Miss Sara but I wanted to know if Y/N was willing to do an attraction with me and… I’m so sorry--” Sou began to apologize in a long spiel, cowering before the other girl.

“You shouldn’t touch her like that…!” Sara exclaimed as she stepped forward and put a hand on your shoulder. “Y/N--”

“It’s fine, Sara,” you reassured as you felt your feet walking towards where Sou wanted to go. “I just… need to go. I’ll… see you later.” You turned to look at Joe who was watching you, bewildered. “Joe, I… I’ll explain everything later…!”

You didn’t hear what they said because you began to walk away as fast as you could.

 

[Guilt Meter +5%]

 

Day 2 | Afternoon

 

Like that, you were the one walking, dragging Sou in tow, towards the monitor room where the two of you hid inside a tunnel leading towards an attraction. You coughed wheezily, clutching at your chest that twisted in pain. Breaths came up in short spurts, squeezing your chest in pain with each shaky exhale. You stumbled back, ripping your hand out of Sou’s, your back colliding harshly with the wall with a dull thud as you slid down the surface. Rubbing away the tears that stung your eyes, you let out another long sigh. Slowly opening your eyes, your gaze slid to meet Sou’s timid stare.

“Drop the act,” you sighed as you rubbed at your eyes once more. Snap out of it. “What do you want?”

Sou glanced to the side and turned to meet your eyes head on. “Of course I wanted to help you? You don’t look so good if I do say so myself, Y/N.”

You narrowed your eyes. “Don’t take this as an opportunity to hold it over me, Sou. But for now, I owe you my thanks.”

‘Had he not stepped in… even I don’t even know what might’ve happened.’

“So? You have more to say, I presume?” you asked, holding out your hand as a gesture for him to speak. “What do you want?”

Sou closed his eyes, yet continued to smile in that carefree manner that you didn’t know how to approach. Something about his demeanor unnerved you. Unconsciously, deep within. Something viciously gripped at you in a vice-like manner. Like a lurking memory.

He chuckled. “Well, I was wondering if you followed up on our little… barter?”

“I don’t have anything to give you,” you told him, your eyebrows creasing. “You’re still hung up about that?”

There was a phone in your pocket.

“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐡𝐢𝐦.”

Spreading his arms, he smiled. “Well, even with this amnesiac act, I have nothing. I’ll grasp at straws if I need to. I will never reach out to someone who everyone follows so blindly. There’s no logic behind that, now is there?”

‘....who? Following? Sara? No, that’s not important right now.’

“For now, we should do an attraction as per your suggestion,” you told him, looking at the surrounding attractions. “Are we in agreement?”

Sou laughed after pausing for a moment of thought, his voice causing you to scrutinize the male. “Sure, why not? Then, how about the Runaway Minecart?”

“Sounds good to me,” you told him as you walked with him into a passage.

 

Runaway Minecart- Get past obstacles that get in the way of the minecart and reach the goal within the time limit. Clear Chips: 2

 

‘There’s also some things I want to discuss with him,’ you thought, as you finished reading the rules and walking after Sou who had gone up ahead.

“Is there a reason why you picked me in particular for this trade?” you asked him, examining the tools laid before you and him. “Why not anyone else like Alice?”

“Hm, it could’ve been Alice… he did notice what was going on, however…” Sou took a screw and rotated it in his hand. “You were the only one who listened to other people’s thoughts.”

You deadpanned. “‘Other people’ being you?”

The man chuckled. “Perhaps. If you hate me so much, why do you still talk to me?”

“I don’t hate you,” you replied, narrowing your eyes at him mouthing “sureee”. You sighed. “I really don’t. We've known each other a bit beforehand, haven’t we?”

Perhaps that was why he decided to interact with you. A potential, convenient ally. One you had known beforehand by coincidence. But in the end, the two of you were strangers, no?

Sou didn’t reply, just staring at you. He turned first. “Let’s go.”

Before climbing into the minecart, the two of you grabbed a hammer and screw each and boarded the vehicle.

“No brakes,” you commented as you observed the lantern and the interior of the cart. “Guess it’ll stop on its own.”

“They weren’t lying when they said ‘attractions’,” Sou commented, knocking his knuckles against the metal walls of the cart. “Hope this wasn’t the type of ride you were expecting, Y/N.”

You shrugged. “A good enough experience as any. This is my first time on a ride anyway.”

Sou raised his eyebrows. “Really?”

You frowned. ‘ This is Sou. He’s lied to me and gaslit me to hell. But as I’ve said we’ve known each other before…’

“So would you like that bagged or…?”

‘But he’s still…’

“Please have a nice day, miss.”

“𝐅𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐈 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫? 𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐯𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐥𝐲 𝐬𝐨𝐟𝐭.”

“ꜰᴏᴏʟ, ᴀ ꜱᴛᴜᴘɪᴅ ꜰᴏᴏʟ.”

‘We’re strangers, but… Sou is… just Sou. That same convenience store clerk that I know. So, it’ll be okay. I need to learn… how to trust my judgement.’ You looked ahead. ‘I just need to know the timing and words when talking to him. If I can get that right, then--’

‘But why should I?’

I don’t know.

‘...Put up your guard.’

Oh well, it was a useless scrap of information anyway, nothing to stress over.

You hummed as you felt the minecart start up. “Well, I come from some place in Japan and… I didn’t have a lot of money growing up.”

The minecart started to wheel on faster, air rushing past your skin and whipping your hair behind your face. Squinting against the wind, you yelled over the screeches of the wheels and noise that seemed to noisily blur by.

“Get ready!”

Sou raised a thumbs-up in response as you saw wooden planks held up by flimsy and lazily impaled nails. The two of you began to work together to tear down the planks by bashing your hammers through the thin wood.

“Phew, that was stiff!” Sou exclaimed over the screeching wheels.

You flinched as you grabbed the man by the arm and ducked under a group of bats and swooped in from the front.

“I think that’s just because of difference in muscle!” you exclaimed, slightly hoping he didn’t hear you. (But going by the slump in his form, he did).

Up ahead was a metal wall held together by screws, but the two of you worked synchronously to dismantle the barrier. You raised a brow when an arrow passed by, but heard a shriek from both you and Sou as the cart begian to speed up at a dangerous pace.

“Are we sure we won’t be able to fall off?!” Sou shouted, his voice barely audible as the two of you ducked under a flock of shrieking bats.

You stood up and immediately smashed your hammer through more boards of wood. “Where are the seatbelts?!”

Sou opened his mouth to speak, but then the two of you were suddenly preoccupied by more bats and unscrewing the metal walls again. The minecart kept rushing ahead as Sou turned to look at you and said something, his expression solemn.

“What?!” you asked, shouting over the noise.

“I said--!” Sou began to shout, not even being able to finish his sentence as the minecart sped past another arrow and picked up the pace again, the cart tilting a bit.

You had to grab a dazed Sou to duck under another group of bats. The two of you slowly stood back up, looked at each other, and silently unscrewed another metal wall. The silence and loud shrieking wheels slowly shifted to silence as the two of you smashed through another wooden wall.

“Hey!” Sou exclaimed over the roaring wheels, eyes straight ahead. “You’re smarter than this, aren’t you?!”

You furrowed your eyebrows. “What are you talking about?!”

“If you’re Miss Sara’s friend, then you would be able to tell, wouldn’t you?!” the teal haired man shouted as he slammed his hammer through another wall of wood. Splinters flew as you squeezed your eyes shut. When you opened them, you could see Sou was looking directly at you. You got chills, dreadful shivers. Something in the back of your mind tugged at you.

“Why are you smiling?”

“I’ve just discovered something extremely… f̷̬͇̈à̷̢̢͙̀s̴̺̙̃̑̚c̵̖̜̔̔̃i̴̦̽͝n̶̢̯̣̓ā̴̙t̵͎͔͒͝i̶̺̫̖͛͑͒ň̴̺ğ̶͇̲͙͊̌.”

You twitched, another sharp pang echoing through your head. Your hand reached to rub your head and you were reminded of the heavy absence of your headphones.

“I…!” you began to say when the cart sped past another arrow, picking up the pace. You scrambled to clutch the sides of the minecart. Then the cart sped by another arrow. The back of the car suddenly lifted from the sudden pick up in speed and the two of you screamed, dropping the items you two held into the cart. The two of you held the edges of the cart as it squealed and hit a stop, jolting the passengers. You hit the edge of the cart hard, probably bruising your waist, as you winced and slid down the cart’s side while mumbling an incoherent slur of curses. Sou wheezed weakly, probably hitting his stomach as well, as he feebly held the edge of the cart while slumping onto the ground. The two of you sat there for a while, clutching your wounds, and then simultaneously stood up.

“Ugh… that was awful…” Sou commented with a grimace as you nodded and walked towards the podium where two Clear Chips laid. Handing him one, you rubbed your waist again.

‘It still hurts… we should get checked.’

You beckoned the male. “Should we go to the Medical Office?”

Sou paused and shook his head. “You go on ahead. There’s no need--”

You sighed and grabbed his wrist. “Let’s go, you stubborn ass. No need to be so shady about it.”

He didn’t reply as you dragged him to the Medical Office and opened the door. Safalin turned and startled, looking between the two of you.

“Miss Y/N…!” Safalin exclaimed, looking between you and Sou. She then went silent and then gasped. “Are you perhaps here to see Joe?”

You twitched. You had almost forgotten what you had done. How could you forget, you--

“We did an attraction and got hurt,” you found yourself saying, looking at the floor while gesturing between yourself and Sou. “We need to get checked out.”

Safalin nodded. “I see. Joe is with Miss S-Sara at the moment, so you may want to talk to him, M-Miss Y/N…”

Your lips pursed at her words. “I see. Thank you, Safalin. I’ll go see him after this. Have you found my headphones?”

The Floor Master paused, then shook her head. “N-No, I’m afraid not… now let me see where you got hurt…”

After being treated, you sat aside as per Safalin’s recommendation. Brewing in thought, you gnawed at your thumb.

‘Everything’s going wrong… my headphones, Kai, Joe… if it was me who died there then… would everything have gone better? I don’t know. I know I shouldn’t be dwelling on these mistakes but I can’t help but wonder what I could have done to do better. During the last Main Game… Q-taro was right. I did nothing but goof around during our investigation. Everything he said was true.’

‘I hate myself for that.’

“ʜᴀᴛᴇ. ʜᴀᴛᴇ. ʜᴀᴛᴇ. ɪ ʜᴀᴛᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛᴏᴏ, ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɴᴏᴡ?” A red hand with cracks with black seeping through grabbed your hands and parted them from where you buried your face. You stared into a black void as her whispers continued to taunt you. Cold air brushed past your skin and you couldn’t breathe. “ᴡʜʏ? ᴡʜʏ ᴅɪᴅ ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɪʟʟ ᴍᴇ? ᴡʜʏ? ᴡʜʏ? ʏ/ɴ! ᴡʜʏ?!”

“Apple juice?” Sou asked, thrusting a juice box in front of you, breaking you from your thoughts.

You blinked, taking the beverage with both hands. “Thanks. How’d you know--?”

“You order it every time,” the man replied, alluding to the multiple times I had shopped at the convenience store where he worked.

You drank it silently as the male sat. He looked at you. “Can you answer my question now?”

“What?” you asked, and he laughed. You raised a brow as his expression turned serious again.

“Why do you act oblivious to what Miss Sara does?” Sou asked, his eyes growing cold and blank. “You, as one of her closest friends, have the ability to change--”

“Stop,” you said, putting a hand out to his face. “I’m not changing anyone. I have an inkling of what you’re talking about and here’s my answer: she hasn’t done anything. Yes, I can see that you’re scared of the potential of the dangers of her charisma. But Sara is my friend. I will stop my friends if they turn the wrong way. I know--”

“Nevermind, I understand,” Sou said with a smile as he stood and walked away. “You’re a doormat. Aren’t you?”

Something ripped through your chest as his words as a feeling of shame overwhelmed you. Your mouth gaped as you stood, trying to say something back to him, but he walked away. His words stung. Because he was right. You gritted your teeth and threw the unfinished juice box into the trash can.

“...Shit…”

“That’s why it’s so easy to walk all over you. You doormat.” She patted your cheek in a condescending manner. “And I prefer you stay that way.”

Your lips curled.

‘...it’s getting really hard to read him.’

“...”

 

[Sou +10% | ???]

 

Negotiation

 

You walked out from the Medical Office and into the lobby where you could see Mishima and Sara chatting together. Reko was standing to the side, away from the center of attention. How uncharacteristic of her, usually she would be trying to trade tokens, wouldn’t she?

“...your name’s Y/N, right?” a familiar voice asked as you turned to see Joe scratching his head with a timid smile. He grinned and stretched out a hand towards you. “Nice to meet you. Uh, my name’s Joe, apparently! They told me that you’re my partner since I was out cold the first day?”

You wavered. It was your fault that Joe had been reduced to an amnesiac. Did you really have the right to welcome him back?

“ɪ ꜱɪɴᴄᴇʀᴇʟʏ ʜᴏᴘᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʜᴇ ʜᴀᴛᴇꜱ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛᴏᴏ--ɪꜰ ʜᴇ ᴡᴇʀᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴅɪꜱᴄᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴡʜᴀᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅɪᴅ.”

“𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐮𝐬. 𝐋𝐞𝐭’𝐬 𝐠𝐨.”

Your fists curled. ‘No.’ This was your decision to make. If you did make a mistake, then it was up to you to fix it. It had to be you.  

You smiled, shaking Joe’s hand. “Hi, Joe. My name’s L/N, Y/N. Just call me Y/N. I trust that you were told what the rules were?”

Personal feelings didn’t matter. You were already determined on your goal: you would ensure Joe’s survival.

 

Who to negotiate with?

 

 

A. Talk/Trade with Sara

B. Talk/Trade with Mishima

C. Talk/Trade with Reko

 



Stats:

Sara- 100%

Joe- ?

Reko- 65%

Nao- 70%

Keiji- ?

Kanna- 90%

Sou- ? [+5%]

Alice- 60%

Q-taro- 70%

Mishima- 75%

Gin- 100%

 

Guilt Meter- 55%

 

Me-Tokens- 100

Other Tokens- 0