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Reprogramming Complete

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Toko wasn’t sure how she got here.

Sure, she had a pretty good idea why she was there, after all, she was fronting when the plan was first drafted, but she wasn’t sure how Syo had screwed up this bad.

And yet here she was, standing in the middle of the Warriors of Hope’s throne room, stuck in the middle of a mess of both active Monokuma’s and piles of scrap, as that awful laughter echoed throughout the room.

The plan was simple enough, Toko would lead a small group of Future Foundation men into Towa Hills as Byakuya and the others dealt with the major battle going on in the streets of the city as Toko and Syo knew the building best. Then, once located, the group would capture The Servant, the remaining Warriors of Hope, and Junko’s apparent successor. Should any threats appear, the author would zap herself and let Syo protect the FF men. To make sure she knew this, the serial killer was briefed as well. As far as Toko knew, she had agreed and the mission should have gone off without a hitch, even if one of them should sneeze.

Why, then, oh why was Toko all alone in this stupid throne room, with that green-haired demon loli staring her down with a saccharine smile, and her best friend sitting in that damn throne laughing like that fucking bear used too?

Perched on the throne, her face twisted into a wide smile, despair and intense joy swirling in her eyes, and laughing despair’s signature laugh was Komaru Naegi. She still wore that stupid schoolgirl uniform, but it was adorned with a kingly cape and two familiar bear pins, along with a crown that sat atop her head, covering the cowlick she had sported. She looked almost exactly the same and yet totally different, and it hurt Toko’s heart.

“W-what’s going on here? H-how’d I get here? And why are you laughing!” Toko exclaimed, unsure of what else to say.

Komaru simply laughed once more, “Puhuhuhu~! It’s so fun to see your confusion and heartbreak, Toki! I just had to let out a giggle~”

Toko shuddered, which did not go unnoticed by the newest member of despair, “What’s wrong? Do you not like me anymore?” she asked, pouting overdramatically.

“Of course I don’t! Th-this isn’t you! The Komaru I knew would never act like this, she would be annoyingly trying to keep herself together through her weird peppiness, not… delighting in despair”

“But Toki, this is who I am now!” Komaru exclaimed, leaning forward in her throne, “You just remember the outdated version of me, the 1.0, the first draft! Now, thanks to Little Sis Monaca, I’ve become better! I understand this world now, and how the only thing truly worth feeling is Despair, and here I was wishing for you to see the wonder in it too…”

Toko ignored her old friend, instead choosing to focus on the crowd of Monokumas that still surrounded her, teeth-gnashing and claws extended ready to rip into her flesh, yet made no move to do so. The most they were doing was preventing her from running, not that she would have right now, she needed answers.

“What’s with the demonic teddy bears? W-why aren’t they doing anything? I could be dead in seconds if you let them attack, and yet y-you just have them stand here, why?” Toko asked, holding a slight amount of hope that her only friend didn’t want her to die.

“Oh Toki, still hoping are you?” Komaru asked, hopping off her throne and walking through the Monokumas till she stood right in front of the author, “The reason is that I don’t want anyone to kill you but me”

“What?!”

“Puhuhu~, wouldn’t that be the most awful despair you can imagine? Junko herself said the purest Despair she ever felt was murdering the man she loved most by her own hand, beating his body into a bloody pulp. But this time, I’ll have her beat”

“Th-that’s horrible! W-what can be worse than killing the love of your life?” Toko asked, not wanting to know the answer yet at the same time so very curious.

“Simple, killing the love of your life while knowing she’ll never love you back, of course!” Komaru said, as cheerful as if she had told Toko she was getting her a kitten.

Toko’s mind was sent reeling, but she decided that could be dealt with later after she saved her best friend or died trying, “I-I’m the l-love of your l-life?”

“Puhuhu~, yep! It must be so Despairing to find out that someone actually cared about you like that right as you’re about to die,” Komaru said, suddenly pulling out a knife she had hidden away and holding it to Toko’s throat, “I bet it feels wonderful, Toki, I’m so jealous”

Komaru used the sharp edge to tilt Toko’s head up as she said, “But you don’t have to die now, ya know”

Toko’s eyes locked with Komaru’s in disbelief.

“You could join me, Toki. We could take over the world with Despair together, as best friends. Wouldn’t you like that, Toki?”

“I-I would never join the side of Despair, not when I only recently found something to hope in”

Komaru frowned ingenuinely as if she knew that answer was coming, “Oh well, I guess I have to kill ya. It’s a shame, I really hoped I would have you by my side, Toki,”

For a second, Toko could see the real Komaru shining through before her eyes glazed over with Despair again. At that moment, Toko never felt so motivated to save her best friend. Komaru had begun to press the knife slowly into her neck, so she probably had about five seconds before she cut something vital.

5…

4…

3…

2…

“HOW DID I GET HERE ANYWAY?” the author blurted out, desperately trying to stay alive. Komaru had stopped cutting into her neck, so she assumed it had worked.

“What is she talking about, Big Sis? Monaca is confused,” the little demon said, alerting Toko to her presence again.

“Her alters don’t share a memory, Moni, so she has no idea of what happened since Syo tapped in,” Komaru informed without breaking eye contact, suddenly deathly serious.

“Y-yeah, that’s r-right! Don’t I d-deserve to at least know h-how I got here?” Toko asked, desperately vying for extra time.

Komaru looked towards Monaca, “How did she get here, anyhow? Wasn’t she accompanied by a bunch of Future Foundation guys? I’ve been focused on the battle outside, you’re the one who knows what was happening in here.”

“Is Big Sis sure she wants Monaca to tell her beloved what happened?”

Komaru withdrew the knife from Toko’s neck, the ladder wincing when she saw the gleam of blood along the edge of it, and began walking back to her throne, dismissively waving a hand, “Yeah, yeah, it’s fine. Besides, it’s not like she can run or anything, she’s surrounded by Monokumas. If she tries anything, they stop her and turn her to mincemeat, so go ahead and exposition her ass” she said, plopping back down on her throne, her face a mask of boredom while her eyes - still glazed over - held a dull spark of curiosity.

Monaca screwed up her mouth, mawkishly pretending to try and remember what happened as if it wasn’t ten minutes ago. Toko rolled her eyes, concluding that anyone who tried to be like Junko ended up being an overdramatic ass.

“Well, while going through poor Jataro’s old room, Toko sneezed due to old clay dust or somethin’ and Syo came out. Not much changed, though it seemed like she was antsy about something, muttering under her breath about ‘saving Dekomaru herself’. So, Monaca used that to lead Syo away to the throne room, so Big Sis Komaru could kill Toko herself! It took a lot of Monokuma’s to get her to change back, ya know! And the whole fight, she was yelling at Big Sis Ko, trying to get her back to her old, hope-filled self. But it was a fruitless venture because Big Sis Ko has been perfectly reprogrammed by me!”, Monaca spun around as she held out that last word, the childish expression betraying the horrifying thing she had just said.

“W-what do you mean, ‘Reprogrammed’?” the author asked, though she was almost certain what was meant.

The green-haired child just laughed, “Isn’t it obvious? I was the one who made Big Sis Komaru the way she is now! After the first act of destroying the controller, it was easy to manipulate her brain to adhere more to Despair! It’s an old trick that Big Sis Junko taught me, though I must admit it was quite simple to twist her personality since it was so bland~ After all, she was so completely normal it was like a blank slate, ready to be drawn on! Honestly, it was hard to believe someone so boring was chosen by Big Sis Junko to be her successor, but it proved to be worth it in the end! Honestly, the girl was just so-”

“That’s bullshit”

“Excuse me?”

“I said, THAT’S BULLSHIT!”, Toko yelled, her eyes glinting with anger.

“What do you mean, weren’t you the one who constantly told Big Sis how normal she was?”

“W-well yeah, but that’s because I’m supposed to be a jerk like that, it’s my thing! I never meant it! Komaru did seem like a completely normal pretty girl at first, but she’s more than just some blank slate with which to do as you please!”

“Oh really?” Monaca asked, her to adorning a much more serious expression and tone, “Name one thing about the old her that wasn’t completely normal”

Toko wracked her brain in thought, “Favorite songs? No, that was the Top 40… Favorite saying? No that was ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’... And I know she said she could run a 100-meter in around 18 seconds. Damn it, I know she has more to her, why can’t I think of anything?! Wait… this sounds familiar… that’s it!”

Toko smirked as she said, “Her favorite foods are Swallow’s nests, Tuna Eyeballs, and Kangaroo Meat”

The green-haired demon gagged, “I-I’m sorry? Th-that can’t be true, right?”

“Oh no, it is. It horrified me to learn at the time, but it became useful!”

“Well, that’s just one thing, she’s completely normal otherwise!”

“I suppose you’re right, th-though she did get possessed by a ghost once”

“You cannot be serious”

“In fact, it was the ghost of your d-dead father!”

“Toko, you said that you didn’t believe me, why are you changing your mind now?” Komaru asked, voice full of confusion and hurt.

“W-well, would you believe that your best friend just got possessed in front of your own eyes? But I looked back on it, and y-you said things you really shouldn’t have known, so I think you somehow got possessed!

“Y-you believe me now, Toki?” Komaru said, her mind and body clearly trying to keep up the Despair facade while her voice cracked, “You actually believe her now when that girl is gone? That normal, boring, plain piece of paper you called a ‘friend’ is gone and now you believe her?”

“Yes! Yes, I do! I know it’s a little late, but I believe you now! A-and you’re not boring! You were the most excitement I had ever had in my life! You’re kind, a-and stubborn! You get weirdly passionate about the awful manga you like-”

“It’s not awf-” Komaru interjected before cutting herself off.

“It’s working, she cracking, just a little more and she’s back I’m sure of it!”

“It is awful! But you’d defend it to the grave because it means so much to you! A-and you get so oddly competitive when it comes to puzzles even when they were given to us by little kids! And how many ‘normal girls’ do you know who can say they personally fought off a known s-serial killer, huh? And how many of them can say they forgave the serial killer for trying to k-kill them? Only you’ve done that, Komaru! Only you are that insanely compassionate! And it’s that reason that I-”

Oh.

Oh no.

Oh fuck.

“The reason you what, Toki~? Come on, the suspense is killin’ me!”

“You know what, Fukawa? Fuck it, all or nothin let’s go”

“The reason I fell in love with you, Komaru!” Toko shouted, admitting it to the open air. The room was silent for an entire second before Komaru started guffawing.

“AHAHAHAH, I-ha-’m sorry for bustin’ a gut here Toki, AHAHAHAHA, it’s just that you are the mo-host straight person I-hi have ever me-het! Di-hid you really think tha-hat would work? You’re not a very good liar, you know?” Komaru chuckled, clutching her stomach.

“It’s not a lie, Omaru! I-I love you! I think I was resisting the idea because of the v-very thing you just said! B-but as I kept saying all those things about you, it caught up with my train of thought and I figured, well I don’t have anything to lose, might as well go big or go home, right?” Toko said, climbing up the stairs to Komaru’s throne.

“Well, I don’t think I can believe something like that without proof! What proof can you show me that could convince me you’re in love with me?”

Toko inhaled deeply, and shot a quick thought to whoever was upstairs, “Please let this be the most cliche thing I do in my life”

“Fine, I’ll prove it”

And Toko rushed to kiss Komaru.

While it was the most cliche thing in the history of cliche, the moment itself wasn’t very smooth. The kiss was rushed and rough, their teeth clacked together and Komaru barely responded, but at the same time, it was one of the best moments of Toko’s life. The author stayed as long as she dared and a bit longer, savoring every moment of what might’ve been both her first and last kiss. At some point she noticed Komaru drop the knife she had still been holding with a clatter, reminding her of the danger this very action held. She took her time to withdraw, scared of the death that could easily be following this moment.

Komaru’s crown had fallen to the ground during the kiss, and Komaru’s weird yet adorable antenna stood proud for all to see once again. Her eyes felt more alive, shining with emotion. She almost looked like the real Komaru again, if it weren’t for the damn cape. Toko wanted to rip the godforsaken thing off herself, but she couldn’t. Until she knew Komaru was back, she couldn’t risk any more potentially lethal movements.

The author heard a small sniffle and turned to face the source. The zucchini-headed nymph had her hands help up in fists next to her eyes, making it look as though she were crying, “How touching, the little author thought she could be my Big Sis Komaru’s knight in shining armor,” she stopped her fake crying and place her fists on her hips, “Well, guess what? There’s no magic spell here to be broken by true love’s kiss! So take your old trope with you as you get clawed to death by Monokumas! Give the order, Big Sis!”

Komaru slowly lifted herself out of the throne, her eyes pointedly looking at the floor. There was a slight nod of her head, and Toko braced herself to die. In her many catastrophizing sessions she’d had about her death, this had surprisingly never crossed her mind. She’d had firing squads, electric chairs, getting beaten to death, murder by a classmate, but she never thought death by Monokuma mob as ordered by her best friend would ultimately be her fate.

“Monokumas,” Toko tensed, “please hold Monaca Towa in place”

What?!” Toko and Towa exclaimed at the same time.

The mass of Monokuma’s swarmed towards Monaca, quickly grabbing her and holding her in place. Satisfied that Monaca was secure, though squirming all the while, Komaru pointed at another Monokuma and ordered, “You there, send the signal to stop the attack. The battle is over.” The Monokuma saluted before waddling off to who knows where.

Once the Monokuma had left, Komaru fell to her knees, breaking into sobs. It seemed that her emotions had caught up to her, as she took in the magnitude of her situation. Toko quickly went to her side, taking the moment to rip off the cape and pins, and kneeled down in front of her.

“Komaru, are you going to be okay?”

“Oh, Toki!”, the girl sobbed as she latched on to Toko, clinging to her as if she let go, the world would fall apart, “Toki, what have I done? I’ve done terrible things! I-I ordered attacks on you guys in the Future Foundation, I could have gotten my brother killed, or gotten you killed! And I was fine with that? What was wrong with me?! And… oh god, I killed Haiji with my own two hands! He didn’t deserve to die!” Toko begged to differ, “I am a horrible person!” Komaru wailed, burrowing her head into the author’s shoulder

Toko wasn’t sure what to do. On the one hand, contact made her very uncomfortable, and yet… when it was Komaru it wasn’t as bad. And besides, Komaru needed the physical anchor. And so, Toko stayed crouched on the floor, holding her best friend, awkwardly trying to comfort her as two months of actions came rushing back to her consciousness. When Byakuya and the others came to the room to arrest Monaca, no one dared touch Komaru and Toko. For almost two hours, Komaru and Toko were in a bubble. A bubble of trust and love and bittersweet tears.