Hajime leaned forward against the railing of the ship as it sailed on the ocean. The sight of the sunset was rather beautiful, even if it was like any other. The ship's motion also was a nice rhythm to focus on, even if it was a little dull.
"Nice view, isn't it?" Komaeda said, making Hajime jump a little, and he turned to see the Ultimate Lucky Student smiling at him.
"It gets a little repetitive after a while, but yeah, I guess it is." Hajime turned back in the direction of the setting sun, as Komaeda moved over to stand next to him.
"Souda-san finished the arm, and Tsumugi-san helped with the attachment," Komaeda said in his usual casual tone, raising the robotic arm and flexing his fingers. "It fits very comfortably, as to be expected of two Ultimates.
"Glad you like it," Hajime replied.
Komaeda got a strange look on his face, and Hajime suddenly knew where this was going. He continued, "While he was working on it, he also told me how you shut down the simulation. I have to say, Hinata-san, I never realized you had such true hope within you!"
And there it was.
"I-it was nothing, really, I just...trusted in the future. And it was mostly Nanami-chan."
"Ohhh, don't be so modest! If I had known you would have done and said all of that, I would have stuck around! It was my fault really, I should have had more hope in you all-!"
Komaeda-or Nagito-reeled a little, blinking a bit at Hajime.
"Hinata..." Nagito spoke carefully. "Do you consider us...friends?"
Hajime looked away and tried to keep his voice from shaking. "Well, despite how you try to put yourself below us, you're an Ultimate too. If anyone doesn't belong here, it's me. A Reserve Course Student that became a talented person because of a few surgeries. But here, right now, you and I are equals. I may have talents that you don't but we are standing here.
"We were both attendees of Hope's Peak, no matter the circumstances, and we were both manipulated by Junko Enoshima to do her bidding as Ultimate Despair. We both involved ourselves in Towa City, we both went into the Neo World Program, and we both helped to stop it.
"We worked together in the Program, even after you realized our true identities, and you helped us start to realize the truth of the world. So yes, Nagito Komaeda, we are friends."
There was silence between them for a long moment.
Eventually Nagito cracked a weak smile and said, "Wow, is that what you think of me Hajime? You make me sound like some kind of hero!"
Hajime let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "I wouldn't call what you did in Towa City heroism," he joked, and Nagito laughed.
"I don't recall you being in Towa City. Did you poke around in my head before getting me out of the program?"
The remarks and jokes they were making so lightly didn't seem like they would be good in a normal environment, but then again, none of this was normal.
"I spent some time watching, didn't really do anything other than that. I regret it sometimes but...it's in the past. And no, I can promise nobody rifled through your mind before we got you out, even if Souda wanted to." He said the last part with a smile and Nagito matched it with a more genuine one than his previous, weaker smile.
"Good, I would hate to have to explain what I lived in the Program. Did you make that Alter Ego? The World Destroyer, he called himself?"
Hajime went back to looking at Nagito directly. "Yeah, I did. It seemed like he did a good job of freeing you, even from the deepest layer of the Program."
"Well, he was certainly similar to Izuru Kamukura, he had a very straightforward and violent approach to getting me out."
"Huh, I don't actually know what he did to get everyone out. But I guess it's none of my business."
The silence between them was less tense than before, more companionable.
Nagito's face eventually grew serious, and he asked the question Hajime was sure everyone had wanted to ask him.
"Are you sure about this?"
Hajime took a deep breath and Nagito quickly backpedaled, almost instinctively.
"I know you've probably thought about all of the possibilities already, and I know that you've explained all of the reasons we should do this multiple times but I-"
Hajime held up a hand. "Nagito, it's alright. Really."
Another easy smile formed on Nagito's face. "No, I understand, I understand. Forget I said anything."
"No, Nagito. You're allowed to have concerns. I understand that not everybody can predict all outcomes of a situation." A wry smile crept onto his face as he spoke. "All I can ask you to do is trust me. Based on the information Naegi gave us, the Future Foundation is expecting the return of the 78th class members and will likely arrest at the very least Naegi-kun and hold trial. There is also a high likelihood that the Foundation has been infiltrated and that Mitarai-kun's despair video is the cause. Chisa Yukisome was a victim of the video, so she may have shown it to other members of the Foundation. I'm certain that whoever has seen the video in the Foundation has likely set up another killing game of sorts with the use of Mitarai-kun's video to push him over the edge and convince him to utilize a video he created to cultivate hope in the same way the previous one was used to cultivate despair and we have to stop him from spreading it to the world, because as his classmates we are the only ones who can talk him down."
A beat of silence. Nagito was staring at him, eyes wide.
Hajime suddenly looked sheepish and the spell was broken. "Or at least, that's what I think."
"Well," Nagito said, "I guess that makes some sort of sense. I'll trust you on that. Although," there was a sparkle in his eye, "if it doesn't, you owe me 20 Monocoins."
Both boys turned to see Tsumiki, who was bowing and she pointed toward the area of the inner ship she had just come from.
"Um, Souda-kun wants you to know that, uh, we'll be there soon!"
Hajime bit back a remark about how he had already figured out when they would arrive and just smiled. "Thank you for the notice."
Tsumiki smiled and waved before moving back in. Hajime and Nagito waited for a moment before the inevitable crash and cry sounded from within and it really didn't take a talent for analysis to realize what had happened.
Their previous conversation forgotten, Hajime put his hands down on the railing and Nagito smiled at him.
"Well, even if it's like before, I should go make sure that Tsumiki is okay."
"Yeah," Hajime replied, staring out at the water again, suddenly unable to look at Nagito.
He heard Nagito start to walk away. Then he stopped, and added a thought that Hajime never could've predicted, and that made him blush and grip the rail of the boat harder.
"You look good in a suit, by the way."
And then he was gone.