March 26, 20XX
Kasumi is being taken by Hiraguchi to somewhere she hasn't been familiar with before.
"Hang in there!" Hiraguchi told her but to no avail.
With the blood loss and exhaustion from the previous fights, Kasumi blacks out and began to dream....
Two years ago... April 12, 20XX
Location: Shujin Academy - Earth XX
Time: 0724 hours
Kasumi walks down the halls with a depressive look on her face as students began to spit out rumors about her.
Is that her? The gymnast honor student?
She looks sad. Does she hate being a nerd?
I heard there were two of them though.
She must have killed her twin to avoid being outshined.
"SHUT UP." Kasumi already detested the rumors before she could be properly introduced to her new school. As she sat down by the courtyard, she is approached by a black-haired girl with a ponytail and a knee brace.
"Hi there! My name is Shiho Suzui, and I welcome you to Shujin Academy!"
Kasumi looked up and gave her a soft hello. Shiho notices her frown and tries to cheer her up.
"I bet you got hit with the usual Shujin rumor mill. Sadly, that's how the school is being supplied with. Kinda like a heart when the blood vessels distribute the blood to and fro."
Kasumi stared at her, wondering why she was this cheerful. She stood and asked for her classroom.
"1-A, eh? Never fear! Super Suzui is here!" Shiho posed a la Neo Featherman, which made Kasumi laugh.
"I cheered ya up now, right? Come on!" She pulls Kasumi towards her classroom when she bumps into one of the students.
"Oh, sorry! Didn't see you there, Kurusu-kun!"
"No worries, Suzui-san." The boy named Kurusu shrugged his elbows nonchalantly.
"I told you already, you can say my name without formalities."
"You're not gonna listen to me, are you?" She pouted as Kurusu laughed.
"I listened to you about the rumor mill, right?" He finds it amusing to see Shiho roll her eyes playfully.
"First Ann, now you. What will I ever do to- Oh, I almost forgot." She made a faux salute. "As president of the Welcoming Committee, I introduce to you...." She trailed off, knowing her mistake.
"Hold on a sec." She whispers to Kasumi. "What's your name?"
Shiho returned to her fake salute. "I introduce to you.... Kasumi!"
Shiho stomped her foot as Kasumi blinked confusingly. That's it? He isn't gonna go judge me or something? Weird.
"I worked hard on my scripts! Give me some cred, man."
Kurusu yanks off Kasumi's glasses (though she can see without them) and replaces hers with his own glasses.
"Yeesh, I can't even see Shiho's nose from here."
"For a kid who got framed for assault, you're really rude."
Kasumi caught her statement and whipped her head straight. "Framed? For assault?"
"Yeah," Shiho sighed sadly. "I have a good guess on who did it." She eyed Makoto as she passes by the hallway.
"Suzui-san." Her greeting felt robotic.
"Prez." Her greeting felt cold.
Kurusu then offered to bring Kasumi to class. "You want me to take her instead? I'm pretty sure the Welcoming Committee was supposed to hand out baked cookies."
"Crap! The cookies in the Home Economics room!" she jumped in panic as she rushes back to the other building. "1-A, and make sure she feels welcome!"
Kurusu shook his head and chuckled. "I guess Takamaki wasn't kidding about her being energetic."
"Shall we go?" Her expression went dark once again.
As the two arrived outside 1-A, Kasumi bowed and entered the classroom. She immediately ran out after she heard him fall off the stairs.
"Kurusu-senpai! Are you okay?"
He gave her a thumbs up and realized that he has her glasses.
"I believe these belong to you?"
Kasumi reached the out as she felt the lingering pain from witnessing Sumire's death weeks ago. Kurusu notices this and gets back up to hell her.
"Hey, you okay? You don't feel so good." She held onto her back and hand to keep her from falling off the stairs. Kasumi blushed big time when she stumbled onto him and embraced him to prevent him from falling again.
Is that the delinquent transfer student?
Trying to get it on with the gymnast now?
Kamoshida won't be happy when the punk is messing with the sports girls.
"Ah, fuck 'em." He warned her as he stared in her eyes. "Just promise me and Suzui that you'll live long enough to see better days for us to help you."
Kasumi looked around her surroundings before nodding her head. She was quite glad to be with friendly faces ever since the incident, so this is something she needed. Later on after school, Kasumi joined Shiho for a tour around the school as she gave her tips and trivia about the place.
"So this is the principal's office, as we all see, where it houses the biggest rotten egg in the world. Legend has it he never cleans himself up." Shiho poked fun at Kobayakawa.
Kasumi giggled at her joke. "I think it's more of an egg mutant not ready to be shown to the world."
Both girls laughed until a tall, broad-chinned man with a mophead hairstyle approaches them.
"Suzui! I didn't know you were gonna be touring the new gymnast transfer student today." The sound of his voice made an eerie tone only Kasumi could figure out.
"Oh, Kamoshida! You know I'm part of the Welcoming Committee of the school, so here I am." Shiho spoke nervously, making Kasumi catch that.
"Well, don't stress yourself now. Wouldn't want the Volley Bird to lose its flight, right?"
"Of course. I'll make it for practice tomorrow."
"Wonderful! I'll see you ladies around." Now he's just being fucking creepy.
Shiho sighed and leaned on a wall. "I forgot the tournament is close. Stupid me!"
"Hey, it's okay. It wasn't your fault." Kasumi held her hand and rubbed it.
"You sound like a guy trying to flirt with me by using comfort." Shiho snorted, making Kasumi wince.
"Was that how it sounded? I'm sorry..." She lets go of her hand and looked down again.
"I was kidding! Come on. Let's go somewhere fun!" Shiho began to drag her to Shibuya as the former plans to prank her best friend, Ann Takamaki, in the middle of shopping. Disappointment came on her face, however, when she didn't see her at her usual spot.
"Fuck. Seriously?" Shiho hung her head in defeat.
"I guess your friend isn't here then."
"Welp, my idea is ruined. Why not we grab some grub in Big Bang Burger?" Shiho proposed with Kasumi giving a thumbs up. As they arrived and went to order, they accidentally became the afternoon challengers of the Big Bang Burger challenge, which was a new promo the mega food corp gave out to all branches. Shiho and Kasumi were surprised to see their burger being as big as three schoolbooks. Kasumi naturally finished the challenge in one go while Shiho was close to finishing. After gaining the Second Mate Badge, Kasumi looked at Shiho and smiled.
"Feeling okay?" She asked.
"How... did... you..." Shiho was trying to breath from the mega-chompfest.
"I'm a gymnast, remember? When I-" She stopped talking, knowing that she might say something about Sumire. Shiho held her hand and gave her a nod. Kasumi then shared her experience as a gymnast alongside her twin, who died in front of her eyes.
"That's... that's terrible." Shiho held back her tears as she hugged Kasumi. After letting her finish crying, Shiho took out her phone.
"How about we make new memories then? As a start." Shiho offered Kasumi a chance to have a picture with her as her new friend.
"Sure. Sorry you had to hear my rambling." She apologized sheepishly.
"Better than not being shared stories at all, honestly." Shiho admitted she gave Kasumi a tissue to wipe her eyes. She pulls the brunette close to her as she takes a selfie.
"Give me your brightest smile, Kasumi!"
Kasumi felt warm and gave out a sincere smile. Not the brightest, but a decently sincere one. Shiho shows her the photo and asks if she wants a copy. After giving her the photo, they call it a day and part ways. Kasumi felt happy that someone actually cared about her instead of just looking at her like a nobody. That would likely change as a few days later, she would lose her first friend to gain new ones....
"Shiho-senpai hasn't been answering my texts since last night. I wonder if something's happened to her." She muttered as she entered the school. The place was nearly empty so she can start her warmups. Catching up to her was Kurusu along with a blonde boy and a dorkish guy.
"Kasumi-chan!" He called her out.
"Oh, Kurusu-kun! Lovely to see you." she gave a small smile.
"Do you know where Shiho is?" His voice went serious as if he's chasing something.
"I don't know. She told me yesterday that Kamoshida called her out to his office after the performance she gave out in the rally." She showed them her recent text.
Damn Kamoshida called me up. I'm sorry we're gonna cancel today's library dozing session. I'll make it up to you tomorrow.
"Dude, you thinking what I'm thinking?" the blonde spoke as Kurusu nodded and dashed out to the courtyard. They stopped running when a call came to Kasumi. It was Shiho.
"Kasumi-chan, I'm so sorry for this...."
She can hear a metal door opening. "Shiho-senpai, where are you?"
"Somewhere where I can finally be free from this world."
She overhears the boys cursing as the practice building was still locked.
"I-I can't help but lose my endurance to the pain I've been suffering."
The sounds of a fence can be heard as Kasumi slowly looked around with anxiety.
"If you can, please save my friends. Kurusu-kun... and Ann. Tell them I'm sorry for going away too soon."
Kurusu's voice snapped her out as she follows where his eyes are focused on. She drops her phone and covers her mouth to see Shiho wrapping her neck with a noose and still talking to the phone, prompting Kasumi to pick it back up.
"Kasumi Yoshizawa.... thank you..."
Kurusu and the blonde ran back to the main building.
"For being my friend...."
The boys chased as Kasumi's heart was beating fast, hoping they can make it in time.
"When I needed one the most."
Shiho jumps off the ledge and begins twitching. Students began to scream and call for someone to help as they watched Shiho Suzui hang to death. Kasumi broke down to tears as she mourned her loss. Mishima, the dorkish boy, dropped to his knees and slammed his fist to the ground. As Kurusu and the blonde boy reached the rooftop and tried to retrieve her body, Kamoshida's ever-so-toxic voice called them out with a sinister smile to match that.
"MURDERERS! They have finally done it!"
The girl alongside Kamoshida was the most unhappy of them all.
She tried to run to the roof, but Kasumi stopped her by holding her arm. Ann tries to tug it but Kasumi's grip went tighter. She then began barking at Kamoshida.
"What did you do, Kamoshida?"
Kamoshida turned around to see Kasumi, both a mess of tears and anger, and started playing dumb. "What are you talking about?"
Is she seriously gonna try fighting Mr. Kamoshida?
For an honors student, she's being a dumbass.
She has no chance if she is gonna go head-to-head with him.
Kasumi didn't care anymore of the labels she will be thrown at. She lost her first friend in the sorry excuse of a school, and she will avenge her.
"You called Shiho to your office to talk about her performance yesterday. I don't think you talked to her at all."
"What kind of nonsense are you spitting at me now, Yoshizawa?"
"Tell the truth, you good-for-nothing bastard!"
Kamoshida smacks her to the ground, knocking her glasses off as he began bragging.
"You seem to have forgotten your place, Yoshizawa. Let me give you a quick reminder: this school is nothing without me, so you and that big mouth of yours can find another benefit for it." He lets out an evil grin. "I'm afraid I'll have to ask the principal to discontinue your stay here, especially when you murdered your sister weeks ago."
Everyone began to stare at Kasumi, and as what Shiho told her back then, rumors are what flow in Shujin. Kasumi stared at Ann, who runs off to the rooftop to meet with the boys.
"If you don't want that to happen, meet me tomorrow after practice so we can 'discuss' about it."
Kasumi never felt so scared in her life. Her knees trembled as he made an announcement.
"Anyone who dares mock me or the school shall be placed on the expulsion list! Starting with those boys up there... and you."
Kamoshida felt a jab straight to his face as Kurusu landed a clean hit onto him and helped up Kasumi.
"Head for Ryuji and Ann. Now."
She looked at him for a second and saw a different person. Someone who has fire in his eyes fueled by anger. The rest of the faculty arrive to stop the fight, with obvious favor of the teachers siding with Kamoshida. Kasumi felt disgusted and pulls Kurusu with her instead. Hours later, she avoided everyone to find her senpai as she sees them in the entrance.
"Huh? She knows me already?"
"Ryuji, you're the only person who hasn't met her yet." Kurusu turned to Kasumi and gave her glasses back. "Sorry if it doesn't look the same."
"It's fine. How can I help?"
The boys look at each other with uncertainty.
"We're gonna punish the King."
"Dude, you can't blurt something out like that!"
"Will it be torture or death for him?" Her grim question spooked Ryuji as Kurusu found amusement.
"Straight to the point, huh? If things go wrong, we might kill him as a last resort."
Kasumi nods her head, but gave them an extra idea. "Make him confess to everything. From the abuse to the leaks of our records.... to him possibly raping Suzui-senpai."
"Wait, why would y-"
"He's been acting creepy since I transferred here. I already had a feeling it would lead to this."
Ryuji didn't talk further. For once, a girl managed to figure out his point against the pervy teacher. As they were talking, a boy with blue eyes and a yellow hood arrives next to them.
"We ready to go?" He spots Kasumi next to Kurusu. "Uh, Akira."
"Why are you bringing girls to the Palace?"
Girls. That would mean...
"Whatever you guys are plotting, I'm gonna join in." Ann returned from the hospital with a cold stare. "I don't fucking care anymore if he dies. He killed Shiho, and we'll make him pay for that."
"She's right. I'm not gonna stand by and let this happen." Kasumi made her resolve, but the boy had another idea.
"How about this? Brunette girl here can go find anyone to help us in putting that bastard Kamoshida in his place."
"Why? What would it benefit, Morgana?"
"A chance for the cognitions to be less hostile to us when we enter. We don't want a repeat of the kitchen now, do we?"
Kasumi then had an idea.
"You guys go on ahead with whatever you're doing. I got something else to do."
"Call me Kasumi. I prefer being called that." She runs off to find Makoto, who was in the middle of a discussion with Haru. The bob-cut brunette sees her approaching and directly reprimands her.
"You should have known better!"
"I could say the same to you." Kasumi fired back. "How long were you aware of the students being abused by Kamoshida?"
"What kind of an accusation is that, Yoshizawa-san?" Makoto furrowed her brows in anger.
"Let me rephrase my question:" she repeated it in a very cold tone, "how long have you been covering for Kamoshida in the students' abuse?"
"Are you accusing me of having a hand in Shiho Suzui's sudden death?!"
"You damn well know that the bastard did something, and you just stood by and did nothing."
"Look, I am trying my best to find ways to e-"
"Find ways? Take a look around you. Kamoshida thinks he is a god in this school." God is more of a better sense since he has that complex. "He is forcing expulsions on Kurusu and Sakamoto for just taking off Shiho-senpai's hanging corpse."
Makoto clenched her fist as Haru became more curious to Kasumi might say next.
"If you say something else one more time..."
"What would happen if she is the one who gets it next? Or her? Or HER? Or maybe.... You?"
Haru then intervened their argument.
"I'm afraid she's right, Mako-chan."
Haru began to validate Kasumi's words. "There are the rumors of Takamaki-chan, then Suzui-chan's death, and an apparent meeting with him for Yoshizawa-chan."
"Call me Kasumi."
"What if Kasumi is right? Who do you think he will go after next if Takamaki-chan is gone also?"
Makoto began to think of a solution when Kasumi turned around and insulted her one more time.
"It doesn't need a long time to think about it. You just need the heart for it, Miss Robot."
As she walked away, Haru jumped as Makoto slammed her fist to the wall, breaking it in the process.
Holy crap, I couldn't believe what I just did.... Kuru- I mean, Akira-senpai.... I won't let you all down.
Gaining Haru was the start of what would be a mini-women's rights movement in the school, which accidentally made things worse for the Phantom Thieves in the Metaverse due to cognition overwriting.
May 24, 20XX
Location: Shibuya Accessway
Time: 1730 hours
Weeks after Kamoshida confessed to his crimes and committed suicide by gun in front of the students, Shujin hires Takuto Maruki as the mandatory guidance counselor for the students who have been involved with Kamoshida. Although Kasumi is personally a client to Maruki's counselling sessions, she felt it necessary for him to be around Shujin to ease things up. Speaking of Maruki...
"Oh, Yoshizawa-san! I didn't expect you to be here." He startled her by accident.
"Doctor Maruki! I'm sorry you saw me fall." She felt embarrassed as he helps her up.
"Don't worry about it. I'm a bit clumsy, you know."
"Right...." she looked sad once again.
"Is something wrong?"
"You know what that is."
"Yoshizawa-san, as your personal counselor... I can't keep telling you advice you don't want to hear. I can tell from your face that you are mourning for another person aside from your sister." He watched her tense up. "But believe me when I tell you to find the best people who can listen to you as well. I'm a counselor, not a genie."
"What was that?"
"Akira-senpai is behind you."
As she thought, Akira approached the two and tried to humor her.
"Howdja know I was coming?"
"Reflection." She wasn't lying though.
"Alright then." Akira turned to Maruki. "Doc, great to see you here."
"Yeah. How was the clean-up?"
"A bit of a kiss-ass. Kasumi here stayed with me for a while. Felt sweet to have someone like her talk to me when everyone else wouldn't."
Kasumi felt a blush running onto her. How could he say that without feeling embarrassed?
"Oh, yeah. Speaking of which, I heard you ran a movement of 20 girls against Kamoshida days before he died. Why was that?"
"It was a way to 'punish the King with a god complex' in Shujin."
Akira smirked as he heard her emphasize what he said while adding extra words to the insult.
"Were you inspired by someone to do that?"
Kasumi remained quiet as she blushed more.
"I'll hold you on to that. How about we eat somewhere?"
"Your treat, Doc?"
"Yeah, let me just get my.... Uh-oh."
"Something wrong, Doctor Maruki?"
He gave out an awkward laugh. "I seem to have left it in school. You two go on ahead. The treat will come some other time. I promise!"
He runs off and takes the Aoyama train again. Akira starts laughing.
"What are you laughing about?" Kasumi inquired before she can go back to moping.
"I can tell how occupied Doc is to others' needs until he forgets his own."
"Like the money?"
"Yeah. But it's a bit fun to have someone like him around."
"I guess." Now she continued moping.
Akira notices this as he sees Yusuke coming his way.
"Ah, perfect timing."
Kasumi looks at her side to find Yusuke Kitagawa holding on to a painting.
"Sleeping. I doubt he'll wake up any sooner."
Carefully hearing their conversation, Kasumi once again heard the word 'Palace' and 'cognition' from their mouths. After they bade farewell, Akira turned his attention back to Kasumi.
"Still not feeling okay?"
Kasumi nods her head as she is suddenly carried by Akira and hoisted onto his shoulder.
"H-Hey! Put me down!" She squirmed around as felt the heat on her face.
"Nope." He smugly replied as many people began to stare at them.
"H-H-Hey! T-This is embarrassing, you know?!"
After a long (and awkward) walk, the two arrive in Big Bang Burger. Kasumi felt a sting in her heart as she remembered the first time in coming to BBB. Akira grabs her hand and leads her to the counter.
"Good evening, welc- Oh, Ma'am!" Akira felt confused and surprised at the waitress' recognition of her. "It's been a long while since your last visit!"
"Y-Yeah. I guess I just got too busy." Kasumi scratched her head as the waitress then offers the two the Big Bang Burger Challenge. Surprisingly...
"Wow, you two are currently at Second Mate. Tonight's challenge will reward you the First Mate Badge. Are you two ready?"
Both of them hummed as the waitress left to get the megaburger.
"So you've been here?"
"Yeah. Shiho-senpai brought me here after the tour last month."
"Oh. Okay." His tone sounded disappointed.
"Why the long face?" She noticed his expression.
"I just thought bringing you here would have been cool for me to show off my real hunger powers."
Kasumi chuckled at his reason. "You're cute when you least expect it, you know."
They broke into laughter as they went on to make more small talk until the burgers arrived.
"Holy shit, this burger is bigger than the last one." Akira was astonished as the waitress explained.
"Yes, sir! The higher the challenge, the bigger the burger!"
Kasumi inquired further. "And how many challenges are these, exactly?"
"Around seven, I think."
"SEVEN!?" Both spoke in unison, which made her laugh and wished them luck.
"Here we go."
"Time to get to work."
After nearly 20 minutes of eating, they accomplished the challenge and obtained the ranks of First Mate. They began walking out of the restaurant and paid for the meal as they share their thoughts on the challenge.
"Damnit, we got five more challenges to do. At this rate, I'm gonna forget the taste of Sojiro's curry."
"I'm still in the mood to eat."
"Seriously? How about I treat you to curry tomorrow after school?"
Kasumi showed a bright smile that opposed her depression for a short while. "Sure!"
As the two drew close to the trains, Kasumi blurted out something before they split up for the day.
"I meant it."
"You really are cute when you least expect it." Kasumi blushed really hard.
Does she... like me? Akira thought before shrugging it off.
"I'll see you tomorrow!" Kasumi rushed to her train as Akira shook his head with a smile.
June 19, 20XX
Location: Yoshizawa residence
Time: 2100 hours
Depression strikes Kasumi once again as she has been experiencing nightmares about Sumire's death and her ghost haunting her.
You killed me inside out.
You never cared for me after all!
I'm nothing but your shadow cast into darkness when you stole the light.
You're a murderer, Kasumi!
She shook the words off as she finishes filling the tub. She slowly undresses and enters the tub, but submerges onto it entirely. She hopes to drown in her recent attempt to kill herself out of guilt. She counted until she couldn't count anymore. She was CLOSE to successfully killing herself when Shinichi enters the bathroom to brush his teeth.
"KASUMI!" He frantically pulls her out of the bath. Rushing to make sure she stays alive, he quickly dried her up and called an ambulance before giving her decent clothes on the trip to the hospital. Seeing her contacts, Shinichi calls the three recent people she has talked to: Doctor Maruki, Akira Kurusu, and Goro Akechi.
"What!? I'm on my way there now!" Maruki hustled up.
"Hang on, Mr. Yoshizawa! I'll be there in no time!" Akira scrambled off as he told Sojiro he won't be back for the rest of the night.
"Damnit, I'll be over shortly." Akechi curtly informed him.
As the three men arrived (with surprised looks towards each other), they meet up with Shinichi outside the ICU room.
"How is she?" Akira asked first.
"They're extracting some water trapped in her lungs and other organs." Shinichi sadly told them.
"Her mortality rate?" Akechi inquired next.
"It'd be a miracle if she survives this." Maruki lamented as the four men sit down and wait. Much to their relief, the doctors successfully revived her and are transferring her to a recovery room. They observe her breathing slowly, but her heartbeat is slower than that.
"It seems her depressive thoughts have gone through her head for too long." Maruki was the first to speak.
"It seems that even I couldn't save her enough." Shinichi spoke with doubt and guilt.
Akira and Akechi agreed to watch over her for the rest of the night with Shinichi's permission and authorization. In the early hours of the morning, Kasumi regains consciousness and sees Akira sleeping on the chair in front of her while Akechi snoozes by the table. Realizing what her actions meant, she cursed herself for being selfish and reaches out to Akira as she combs his hair. She is startled when he broke his act of sleeping.
"About time you woke up."
"S-Senpai! You startled me!"
"Not like you startled all of us." His tone was not the usual playful or kind one, but now more on authoritative. "What the hell were you thinking?!"
"Sorry isn't enough for all of us. You gave your parents a heart attack, had me and Akechi panic in the middle of our respective businesses, and prompted good ol' Doc to find more ways in counselling you again."
Kasumi looked down as Akira continued scolding her.
"You can't just keep clinging onto that day forever-"
"How would you know!? You weren't there as a bystander nor were you a direct witness to it!" She fired back, causing a heated argument that surprisingly does not wake Akechi up.
"I don't have to be in it to understand it, Kasumi."
"Like you've understood my level of pain!"
"I do! I lost my grandparents in an accident, lost my sister on her own birthday, lost my own freedom because of that damn accusation! Hell, if you wanna count Shiho on the death toll, then fine! How much more when I lose someone like you!?"
Kasumi was taken aback. Not only was she selfish to succumb to her own problems but she was also insensitive towards Akira, who is trying to help her by forcing her off her moral code of independence.
"Akechi told me once that you would prefer having people solve their own problems instead of relying on others." He grabbed a mirror and showed Kasumi her reflection. "Is this the face of someone who is capable of solving her own problem?"
She grabs the mirror and throws it accidentally towards Akechi, who is still asleep despite the hit.
"Look at you. Avoiding others' help. But you were very different back in April when you had Okumura and a few other girls to charge into Kamoshida's office. You helped them not because you are defending yourself, but you helped them because you know it is for the best."
Kasumi remained angry and quiet.
"Fine. If you won't talk to me, you can talk to Akechi here."
Akechi is suddenly awake at that moment and waves them off. "Not gonna happen."
"She's too stubborn for her own good. If she wouldn't listen to me, she certainly would do the same."
"Some friend you turned out to be." Kasumi hissed.
"Right back at you."
Akechi leaves the room to grab some pancakes, leaving Akira and Kasumi.
"Still can't convince you, huh?"
Akira stands up and places a box of sweets on her feet as he walks away. The box has a note on top that says Get well soon. Kasumi cries after being left alone.
July 17, 20XX
Location: Teikyu Building, Shibuya
Time: 1555 hours
Kasumi arrived two hours early for the fireworks festival and sat by the nearby chairs alone. She switched to her normal clothes after her parents encouraged her to wear a yukata against her will. After waiting until the clock turned 5 pm, she rose up and made her way to ground level to witness the fireworks up close and personal. As she looked around, she notices a peculiar group frantically calling someone.
"Damnit, where the hell is he?" Ryuji tapped his foot impatiently as Makoto groaned in disbelief.
"He told us to come here and then ditched us at the final hour. What to expect from Kurusu-kun?"
Ann shook her head and sighed. "At least Yusuke and Morgana challenging each other to a takoyaki-eating contest would be fun to watch."
"I don't see how Yusuke would win though. He's probably there to gaze at the food." Ryuji snorted.
Kasumi pinched her nose bridge as she had a feeling what it meant.
"Enjoying a time like this alone is not good, y'know."
Akira showed up next to her holding two packs of cotton candy. He offers her one, and she reluctantly accepts.
"What are you doing here instead of being with your friends?"
"Eh, they'll manage."
Kasumi studied him closely until his eyes look at hers.
"You should..." She removes his glasses as he removes hers.
"You're better without them, Senpai."
"I could say the same, Kasumi..."
Both felt their stomachs bursting with butterflies and their organs jumping up and down to the beat of the heart that is going crazy. The two lean to go for a passive (and probably first) kiss until Morgana interrupted the moment, saving the both of them for going too forward.
"Am I interrupting something?"
"Thanks for saving my life from this ruffian."
Morgana can laugh at their playful banter. "If you were gonna have a date with Kasumi here, you could've just said so."
"We're n-" Before Kasumi can say somthing else, Akira pulls her for a quick kiss to the cheek.
"Now, now. Let's not be hasty here, darling."
Kasumi felt everything around her going in circles. What did he just do?!
"Alright, Joker. No need to rub it in my face. I'll tell the others that you got stranded in the middle of the tunnel."
"Thanks, bud." The two then perform a special handshake, which made Kasumi turn her frown upside down.
"You're even cuter than I thought...." And then she went mad. "What the hell was that kiss for?"
"To ward him off. I prefer spending the fireworks festival with you tonight coz of something."
As the fireworks began launching and exploding, Akira and Kasumi began to watch it together. They unconsciously hold each other's hands as Kasumi began speaking.
"I just want you to know that.... after what you said in the hospital...." Akira can tell that she is struggling to find the right words. "You've been straightforward yet kind to me. You made me realize that I've been only caring about myself, and that was the mistake I made with my twin."
"What do you wanna do know?"
The two look at each other and get their first kiss. They made their 30 seconds worth it as, unaware to the two of them, Yusuke managed to take a photo and decided to leave them alone. The two part their lips and share blushes that match the big red fireworks.
Holy guacamole, he's blushing!
"I'm always here for you, okay?"
She nods as she scoots closer to him. She then wondered...
"Was that kiss..."
"It was real."
They proceed to watch the fireworks explode after taking one quick selfie.
September 10, 20XX
"Finally! Some good rest."
Kasumi, regaining her composure and confidence for the gymnastics training, drops down to her bed after Hiraguchi grilled her to perform under the sun. After meeting Akira in one of the souvenir stores, she was lucky to find a Gala charm in the shape of a musical note with wings. She texts Akira as she hopes that he is free later and, to her joy, he replies with a yes. Quickly up on her feet, she changes from her gym clothes to a purple bikini with white tie straps and rushes down with her gift to meet up with him.
"You're late." Akira smirked.
"Was busy trying to look good, you know?" She winked at him as she extended her hand. "Shall we?"
The two began strolling along the beach as they explored the wonderful view of Hawaii. As they stop by a shrimp kiosk, one of the vendors noticed them.
"You two from Japan?"
They both nodded.
"Well, I hope you know what those Phantom Thieves did. All those change of hearts and stuff, but it feels sad that those people resort to just offing themselves."
Akira replied with very fluent English. "Yes, although we can't rely on them to do what the police should be doing.... it is what it is for everyone to judge."
"I agree, kid. I'm not entirely against them, after all. So if ya ever come in contact with one of them, tell 'em Dave Patson of Hawaii says hi with a huge bowl of seafood." He chuckled as he gave the couple a special seafood bowl.
"You're obviously eating all of this."
"Come on, Akira-senpai. Let's just share the food."
After paying the vendor named Dave, Akira and Kasumi sat on a nearby table and watched the surf moving back and forth to the sands.
"Don't you just love this place?" Kasumi gleefully crunched on a lobster. Akira made a mental note about it.
"Yeah. I love this place when I'm with you." He tried flirting.
"Aw, but you should love this place as much as you l-" She stopped talking as she was this close to saying the three magic words.
"What was that?" Akira grinned as he leaned closer.
The two then notice Ryuji and Mishima looking for girls and end up failing. Kasumi shakes her head in amusement as she grabs another squid ring. Instead, she grabs Akira's finger and brings it to her mouth for biting.
"Oh, my gosh, I'm sorry Senpai!"
"Be gentle with me."
Kasumi felt flushed for the rest of the afternoon.
As the sun began to set, the lovely would-be couple sat on a bench and watched it go down together.
"Today felt wonderful, Senpai." Kasumi remarked as she dusted off the sand stuck between her feet and her sandals,
"It sure was. Though I'm not certain if I can return here on my own accord."
"We will. I just know it."
Akira noticed the 'we' in her words. "We?"
"Yeah. Actually, there has been something I wanted to confess."
"A love confession, right?"
"What the- Unfair, Senpai! You reading my mind?"
Akira chuckled as Kasumi pouted.
"I already made my confession back in the fireworks festival. I just wanted to see if you felt the same now."
Akira pulled her closer for her skin to touch his skin. Kasumi looked at how physically fit he is until he caught her peeping.
"Shut up, Senpai."
Before Kasumi knew it, she felt something being attached to her neck. It was a golden necklace with a blossom motif in the center.
"Oh, my goodness! How did you get the time to buy this?"
"I have my connections."
She pulls out her phone to see herself with it. "It looks amazing."
Akira grabs her phone and opens the camera. "Come on then."
The two grab a nice selfie together as Akira hoped Futaba didn't bug Kasumi's phone. Kasumi, in return asked for another selfie after she gave the Gala charm to Akira.
"Letting the beat of our own music lead us to the highest skies."
"Wow, you have such philosophy." Kasumi was amazed by how her new boyfriend (of only 5 minutes so far) was that intelligent.
"Yeah, but I only have one goal for it."
Kasumi didn't need to ask as they kiss intimately for a few seconds.
"I love you, Akira."
"I love you too, Kasumi."
"THERE YOU ARE!"
The two new lovers turn around to see an enraged Ryuji dragging Mishima again.
"I've been looking for ya everywhere! Do you know how hard it is to look for chicks until now?!"
Kasumi cleared her throat and made her presence known. "Ryuji-senpai, Akira and I are in the middle of a date?"
Ryuji then whipped his head left and right until he pieced it together.
"You traitor." he cried as he hung his head in defeat. "Let's go, Mishima."
"Huh? Already done? Finally!"
Akira sighed in relief. "Now I won't be bugged by him."
"But of course, you'll be bugged by me." She leaned forward and kissed him again.
October 14, 20XX
Location: Odaiba (unknown Palace)
Time: 1821 hours
Kasumi wakes up after crashing down one of the catwalks and finds herself cornered by a trio of Black Riders. She crawls backwards to keep her distance.
"Senpai! Morgana! Help!"
"Don't worry! We'll find a way down!"
"Please hurry!" Kasumi's cries of help and pain made Akira rush. As the Shadows draw close to her, a voice echoes in her head as she curls herself.
"Why are you worrying? Is it because of what impossibility trouble faces at you? Or is it simply because you have not yet decided to rise up on your own? The bells struck at the time of our old pain, so let us not have the chimes worry us anymore."
She opens one eye to look at the monsters backing up away from her.
"Put on that glass slipper, and see how it fits to you and you only. I am thou, thou art I..."
Her eyes turned yellow as the monsters went forward again.
"... no longer will I fall behind nor make fault in the dance to glory. Shall we begin the waltz of the lifetime?"
"Certainly......." She chuckles as blue flames shower all over her, revealing a red violet leotard under a lavish gray coat. Red gloves made its way to a spear swinging by the belt.
"Shall we dance?" She taunted the Riders as she summons her Persona. "Cendrillon!"
The blue fairy tale Persona fires rays of light onto them as Kasumi uses the spear to yank one of the Shadows towards her for a kick.
"Boo-yah!" She pumped her fist as more enemies show up. She unleashes a Makouga Spell on the enemies and kills them all before Akira and Morgana arrived to back her up.
"K-Kasumi?" Morgana carefully walked close to her.
"Yeah. It seems I'm one of you now." Kasumi shrugged as Akira looked at her.
"Holy crap...." Akira looked at her all over. "Angel."
"Nope. Final decision."
Kasumi lets out a small chuckle after Morgana gave up convincing Akira to not let her join. She parroted her new codename. "Angel..."
Two weeks later, October 28, 20XX
Location: Shujin Academy
Time: 1921 hours
After Akechi revealed blackmail material and forced Akira and the Thieves (except Kasumi) to make a deal with him, everything has been unsettling. As the school festival was about to end, a dance intermission was held as anyone can join.
"Oh, come on Senpai! Let's go bust a few moves out there!" Kasumi eager said as she pulls Akira's arm.
"Alright, alright. Give me a few minutes...." As he left his focus from her, Kasumi pulls out her crimson ribbon.
"Just this once....." She murmured as she took off her glasses and tied her hair as she stepped onto the dance floor. Obviously, rumors went up again as she started dancing.
Hey, it's Yoshizawa-san!
Damn, she looks prettier with that ponytail.
She's good, but she lacks the grace.
Is that why she's planning to quit gymnastics?
"Heh, just you wait." Kasumi bragged as she showed more dance moves to impress everyone, especially her boyfriend that's somewhere in the crowd. When she finally turns to his direction and sees him in a different attire, she felt a pink tint as she offers her hand to Akira as the two danced together.
The delinquent can dance!?
Oh, wow. He's good though.
Damn, now I wish I was his partner.
Shut up! These are troublemakers you're looking at.
Akira paid no mind to the words of his fellow student body as he and Kasumi continued to dance until the intermission was finished.
"W-Wow. Never knew you had it in ya." She panted as her eyes were dead set on his.
"I still got a few tricks up my sleeve." The two kissed in front of the crowd, gaining multiple reactions including that of Ryuji's.
November 22, 20XX
Time: 1800 hours
"Is Akira-senpai here?"
Kasumi rushed to LeBlanc a day after the 'supposed suicide' of the leader of the Phantom Thieves. Betrayed by her closest friend since Sumire's death, Kasumi felt a grudge forming between her and Akechi. But on Akira's personal order, she can't turn her back on him.
"Right here, milady."
Akira stepped down from the attic with an arm cast. Kasumi carefully hugged him and cried her heart out.
"You moron, I thought I lost you....." Her tears flowed as Sojiro watched.
"You won't lose me. I'll promise you that."
After Sojiro volunteered to explain to her the new plan to expose the head honcho of the mental shutdowns, Kasumi slammed her fist to the table.
"Whoever the fuck is responsible for this, he must pay with either his mouth or his blood!"
"Calm down, kid." Sojiro softly instructed her. "This is going to be one dangerous fight for all of you. Even Niijima-san said it herself."
"I know. But we can't keep risking our lives on this." She turns to Akira. "By the end of the year, it better be the last job for the Phantom Thieves."
"I can't afford to lose any of you. Please promise me that."
Kasumi never gave him a chance to speak. "Promise me that you won't be putting yourself in harm's way after all this!"
Akira thought carefully. This is his girlfriend he's talking to. Someone who isn't ready to lose another soul. Someone who still has that depressive state inside her, and he knows she's hiding it well.
"Alright. Just join us in this one, party member or recon. You can keep an eye out on me this time."
Kasumi nodded, and just when things were going well....
December 13, 20XX
Location: Engine Room, Ruler of Pride's Palace
Time: 1643 hours
"...You killed Dad! He trusted you!"
Akira and the others hear a heated argument after they just took down the cleaner. Running up ahead, they witness Akechi and Kasumi pointing their guns at each other.
"Long time no see, Akira. Seems like you've cheated death once again."
"Dude, why is Yoshizawa here? And in those clothes? With that gun?"
"Oh, you're still brainless as ever, Sakamoto. SHE IS A PHANTOM THIEF HERSELF."
Akira and Kasumi continued their staredown with Akechi as he explains his true nature and his role as the culprit of the mental shutdowns. His recent murder was more personal, as he had killed Shinichi and Hanaki Yoshizawa in their home to push further his agenda in framing Shido.
"You motherfucker! They had nothing to do this!" Akira growled as Kasumi placed her finger on the trigger.
"To think we were friends for a long time, Akechi."
"I'm sorry, Yoshizawa, but I honestly see you as a pawn rather than a friend."
As the argument went on, Akechi summons two Shadows to fend the other Phantom Thieves off while he, Akira, and Kasumi engage in a close quarter combat. Knowing his chances are nigh impossible to win, he reveals his true form as the Black Mask and amps up the fight by summoning more Shadows to keep the others at bay.
"Don't you feel remorse on the day Sumire died?!"
"She had it coming, and you're the one to fully blame for this!"
"You think I didn't realize that after all this time!?"
Kasumi and Akechi traded blows as Akira was still fazed by the Laeveteinn spell Akechi smacked on him.
"You tried to kill my boyfriend and murdered my remaining family.... you're unforgivable!"
Kasumi summoned Cendrillon and unleashed multiple spells of Vorpal Blade onto him. Akechi saw an opening and thrusted his blade onto Kasumi's abdomen.
Akira awakens and witness her getting impaled, but is shocked to see her still standing and pulling the sword out.
"What... What the hell!?" Akechi was speechless to even try to talk to Kasumi.
"I'm done being made to look like I'm fragile. I've broken again and again and again."
Her wound remained as she began to twitch.
"You wouldn't understand how personal you have made things. Your single loss is nothing compared to losing everyone around you....."
Her fists clenched as she lets out a matching psychotic laugh, scaring everyone including Akira.
Her Persona appears in front of Akechi, and bashes him to a wall.
"My fight is with Akira, not you!"
"You made it MY fight, too."
She proceeds to beat the living hell out of Akechi, who can only endure her hits rather than fight back.
"MURDERING.... BACKSTABBING.... VENOMOUS.... BASTARD!"
"Akira, I recommend you do something!" Akechi wasn't holding on for too long as a fist landed on his face.
Kasumi stopped moving and turned to Akira, who marched directly to her.
"He's right. The last thing I need is you suddenly killing him. And we don't that to happen anymore to anyone we consider as a threat."
"Pay attention to him, Yoshizawa. You seem to li-" Akechi gets shot in the abdomen by Akira.
"Let's make a deal, Akechi. If I win, Angel here brings you back to the real world where you will arrest yourself for the crimes you have committed."
"And if I win?"
"Good luck fighting her in her rage." Akira smirked against his own warning.
Akechi accepted the challenge, and lost to Akira. Kasumi grabs his arm and twists it as she prepares to accompany them to the exit when Kasumi is shot by Shido's cognition of Akechi, who then revealed that Akechi is meant to die after the election. Akechi fires a bullet onto the bulkhead lock, separating him and Kasumi from the others.
"But we'll be dead in a few minutes! Yoshizawa's bullets won't last."
Gunfire is heard on the other side as Akira bangs his fist to the bulkhead.
"Angel, get Crow outta there!"
"It'll take a while, Senpai. But we'll make it out."
Akechi observed how determined Kasumi is in getting them out alive.
"I'm currently looking for an alternative route outta here. Just get out of here!"
She can hear Akira's voice becoming desperate.
"I'm not leaving until I get the two of you out of here!"
"Have faith in your own girl, Kurusu!"
Kasumi sees Akechi smiling at her as he fired his gun onto the incoming Shadows.
"Shall we dance?"
Gunfire echoed the entire area until they faded. Futaba announced their signals as gone, making Akira grieve over the loss of two people he cared. Unbeknownst to them, Kasumi actually dropped Akechi into the deeper part of the engine room and chucked him into a life boat.
"We made a deal, right?"
"Yes. I guess I will turn myself in and cause my revenge against that man to go down in another way."
Days later, she reappears in the Palace and keeps her distance to the team as Akira and the team fight Masayoshi Shido. After defeating him in battle, she gave a victorious grin as she observed Shido promising to make amends.
"That's for everything with your dirty hands, you good for nothing bastard."
Suddenly, Shido's Shadow dusts itself as the Thieves feel the boat shaking. She makes a run for it to catch up with the others as they witness the ship sinking. A lifeboat was spotted by Ryuji as he runs to it against his aching leg. In a dramatic moment, Ryuji gets the boat to go down and is caught in the explosion, sending him to the water unconscious.
"Ryuji!" Ann teared as she was hoping he didn't die.
"Ryuji! Where are you!" Makoto frantically looked for him.
Kasumi spots movement in the water and spears the pillar to dive into the water and scoop him up. Morgana noticed the spear landing and informs Akira.
"Joker! That spear..."
"It can't be..."
Kasumi projected her movement well and scoops Ryuji outta the water and drops to the lifeboat. Everyone hugged her in relief while Akira gave her a long kiss.
"Don't fucking scare me like that ever again, Kasumi...."
"Sorry to keep you waiting..."
"Come on! No flirting in front of the single ones, bro."
Everyone was more relieved that Ryuji lived.
December 24, 20XX
Location: LeBlanc cafe
Time: 2100 hours
Kasumi and Akira arrive in LeBlanc after getting upset of the lack of available establishments for their date.
"No matter where we go, it's always full of people. Even the bars are stacked." Kasumi relented.
"Hey, it's not bad. Although Shido still winning is bad."
"I know, Senpai. But he is only given two years to rule and atone for his crimes, so he's technically not a Prime Minister."
"Depends. All that matters right now is I still have you, and you still have me."
The two share a deep kiss that went a little overboard. Kasumi pulls back and blushes.
"I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have..."
Akira lifts her chin. "If you wanna do... well... it, then we-"
"No. Only if you're okay with it, Senpai."
"I am." He kissed her in the lips. "Let's head upstairs then."
In a span of 2 hours, the two have made love for the first time and slept on the same bed. Kasumi, covered in a blanket, skims over the photos they had earlier.
"I wish my family were still alive for this...." She felt sad as Akira cuddled her close.
"If it makes you feel better, we're your new family."
"I know that. It's just.... the moment I return home, it's gonna be very lonely there. No laughter, no joy, no nothing."
"If you want, I can ask Morgana to move there while you move here with me."
"Isn't it the other way around though?"
Both laughed as they made the last few minutes of Christmas Eve feel romantic.
"I love you, always and forever."
"I love you too, Kasumi. Forever and always."
They give one long kiss as the clock struck 12 midnight. Akira can sense Kasumi's Persona transform into a stronger one, Guinivere. What would happen as the year went by becomes a series of events that made their relationship strain entirely.
One year later....
Kasumi wakes up in the Underground Walkway after Big Bang Burger got bombed. The man who saved her was...
"Glad to see you're awake."
"Wait a minute," she surveyed her surroundings, "Where's Akira-senpai?"
"He...." Akechi was unsure whether to tell her the truth or spit out a lie.
"Akechi-san?" Her tone went hostile.
"He told me to save myself during our battle with Maruki."
"Maruki? Like, Doctor Maruki?"
"Yes, that four-eyed son of a bitch."
Before she could ask further, the two spot Ann running up to them with worry.
"Guys, has anyone seen Shiho?"
Kasumi then remembered something: Shiho Suzui, the girl who became her friend. The girl who died to fuel the Phantom Thieves. The girl who never got the chance for a bright future.
"Shiho-senpai's been dead for nearly two years, Ann-senpai."
Ann began shaking her head rapidly.
"No, no, no, no! She's not dead! I just walked with her to Station Square earlier this evening!"
"Yoshizawa is correct, Takamaki. Suzui has been dead for a long time now." Akechi interjected, but Ann wouldn't accept it.
"NO! She is not dead."
"I guess Maruki got you right in the head."
"Shut up, asshole! Don't you dare call me crazy!"
Ann runs away crying as Kasumi and Akechi rushed to Yongen-Jaya.
"Why are we running here?"
"We need to make sure we've finished the mission successfully. All we need to do is-AGH!"
Akechi grips his head in pain as Kasumi tried to comfort him. He waves her off and tells her to go ahead. As she burst through LeBlanc, she sprints upstairs to find Maruki putting Akira's head on a pillow.
"Yoshizawa-san." He coldly spoke.
"What did you do to him?" She spoke angrily.
"A house call. He was feeling down that nobody wanted to hang out with him anymore and stuff, so he called me to visit him."
Kasumi notices that both Maruki and Akira have bruises on their faces.
"Bullshit, Doctor. Tell me the truth."
Maruki sighed as he walked past her. He pats her shoulder and talked more. "Just let him rest. He has done his part now."
She turned around to see no one behind her now. She slowly walked towards Akira and held his hand as his breathing went slow.
"H-Hi, Akira-senpai. M-Merry Christmas? I don't know if you can hear me, but I'm very sorry for not being with you lately. It seems that I have returned to being selfish in my reasons. I know you want to make us feel happy, but it's better if we knew the meaning of it rather than take it to face value."
She watches his breathing get slower as Akechi arrives.
"I kept thinking about our times together... The pain we suffered together... If it weren't for you, I'd already fail what my family wanted me to be.... I'd fail what Sumire wanted me to be."
His breathing went slower.
"I just want to say that..."
"... I may have forgotten a lot of things and made you feel betrayed, but..."
"... I have never ever forgotten about you and your love to me."
"I love you, Akira Kurusu. You can rest easy now."
The breathing finally stopped. Kasumi couldn't hold it in anymore and cried as Akechi punctured the Phantom Thieves banner with his fist.
"We succeeded.... but at what cost?"
Kasumi never stopped crying until she fell asleep. Akechi pulled her body up and lets her lay down on the couch. It was his turn now for the eulogy.
"Akira.... When we first met, I knew you were one of the most interesting people I've ever met. Even during my days as Shido's attack dog, I was already contemplating whether I should kill you or not. A part of me said that you're the closest I've had to family... And turns out, it wasn't wrong."
He places his dagger next to him.
"This blade symbolizes your sharp sense of justice in the most unorthodox form. Even if your goals weren't for the best intentions back then, I had hope that you would one day save us all from the damned cruelty of society."
He pats his dead friend's shoulder, head hanging in guilt and sadness.
"Goodbye, old friend. Until we meet again." He sits on front of the couch and looks at Kasumi, whose face still showed sadness in the heartbreak she had indirectly caused.
Months later, more events occurred as the Phantom Thieves of Earth XX began remembering things: Tojou Niijima and Wakaba Ishiiki dies during an operation while putting Sojiro into a coma, thus letting Makoto and Futaba remember the pain of losing their loved ones; Ann has been told to see a psychiatrist as people began calling her a schizophrenic person, causing her to finally remember that Shiho died because she avoided Kamoshida the day before she died; Ryuji is suddenly stripped of the scholarship offer after one of the sponsors happened to recognize and insult his mother, making him remember why he's doing the Phantom Thief business. As everyone set out to find out why, Ann goes into regression and depression as she begins to put the bullet in the gun that would begin the events of now.....
Present day, March 26, 20XX
Location: Coach Hiraguchi's house, Jinbocho - Earth X
Time: 1045 hours
Kasumi wakes up to find herself in someone else's bed and her torso wrapped around with medical gauze. Sitting up, she sees multiple medals hanging on a wall as she tries to get off of bed without alerting anyone. She makes her way to the living room to escape on for a small creak to give herself away.
"I see you're awake now, Kasumi."
Coach Hiraguchi, although still surprised since she found her, turns around and offers her food. Kasumi approached the table with a limp, realizing that she must have sprained her knee again.
"After two years, you suddenly came back from the dead. I can't even believe it." She wipes her face with a small towel. "If it has got to do with those monsters attacking your twin and your father two days ago, then I could be in for a treat."
"Nice to see you too, Coach." Kasumi sarcastically greeted her.
"Well, let's just go straight to the point. Your twin has won championships to honor you and found a boyfriend to be inspired by, and here you are covered in blood and bullets. Which contradicts the manner on how you died."
Before Kasumi could respond, there was knocking on the door. As Hiraguchi opened it, she sees Ren and Sumire gasping for breath.
"Don't tell me the two of you ran your way here."
She shook her head and guided them to the dining room where Kasumi just finished her meal.
"Kasumi, meet your sister and her-"
"Boyfriend. We already met."
Coach Hiraguchi now showed a confused look.
"I'll explain, if it's alright with you."
Kasumi and Ren nodded as they allowed Sumire to tell Hiraguchi the whole truth, even if it meant compromising themselves. After hearing everything, she only had a few things to say.
"That explains why you've missed nearly two weeks of practice and survived your exams."
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"As for your Phantom Thief business... how long have you been with them?"
Ren answered her question to save Sumire from getting tongue-tied. "Well, she's an on-and-off member. You know... gymnastics and all."
"I see. So this Kasumi I'm looking at... is the surviving Yoshizawa twin in her world?"
She looks at Kasumi. "I take it you failed to save your sister on time?"
Kasumi looked down. "Yes...."
"So what's this all about then? Coz Sumire is already saved thanks to you."
"I'm just here to prevent a similar phenomenon from happening here in this world after it destroyed mine."
"And you're unsure whether you could accomplish it or not?"
Kasumi nodded, showing a downcast expression.
Hiraguchi placed her hand on Kasumi's (pained) shoulder. "Look, I've experienced Sumire feeling the same way as you are right now. I mean, she pretended to be you for nearly a year. But I'm not here to talk to you as your Coach, but as your closest friend. Whatever it is you're doing, I'm not gonna stop you. But if things are too much, don't hesitate to rest, alright? If you keep pushing yourself to finishing this mission without regarding your health, then you might not be well enough to see it come into fruition."
Sumire and Ren stayed quiet as Kasumi looked at her.
"And what if I fail, despite how well I am?"
"No more what ifs. You need to be confident in yourself at this point." She pats her shoulder, to which she apologizes after Kasumi winced in pain.
Coach heads upstairs to find a shirt for Kasumi to wear, giving the time to Ren and Sumire as they took their turn in talking.
"I never knew Coach here was so caring." Kasumi commented.
"She wasn't in your world?" Sumire inquired.
"No, she acted like a drill sergeant in a military camp."
"I wonder if you stayed under her training back in your world." Ren scratched his head as he gave Sumire a glass of water.
"Nope. I quit a week before we stormed into Niijima's Palace."
"We're just glad you're okay, Kasumi." Sumire carefully hugged her as Ren then went to the big question.
"Where were you when we, uh, you know..."
Kasumi's concerned look became a teasing one as she realized they went dodgy.
"Oh, so you finally did it, huh?"
"You know, the little rind-and-grind?"
"Kasumi!" Sumire began blushing hard as her faux twin laughed.
"Alright, alright. Your team kinda had my ass handed after Manahashi screwed me and Morgana during battle."
Ren winced as she gave more details. Sumire notices Coach return with the clothes.
"You know I can hear your little chat down here." She turned to Ren and Sumire as Kasumi changed. "Seemed like you had fun on your birthday, Sumire."
"W-W-Wait, C-Coach! I c-c-can explain about t-t-that!" Redder and redder did Sumire blush while Ren turned red as he whistled his way out of awkwardness.
"Relax. I'm not the type who wants gossip like Kasumi here. (Hey!) Just be careful, okay? Especially you, Sumire, since you owe me two weeks of training."
Ren thanked her sincerely while Sumire hung her head in shame for the payback she will be doing.
The trio bade Coach Hiraguchi farewell as they reunite with Shiho, Akechi, Morgana, and Maruki. After inquiring about Koromaru, Ren leaves a text for Narukami to pick up the wounded dog as they decide to take a break.