Little late this year, but joining the festivities: Ides of March is an awkward day to be SHSL supreme leader probably.
I am 95% certain its canon maki pulls on her hair as a nervous tick and we should draw it more. Also, don't worry about the parallels to Kokichi taking one for the team to keep blame off Maki for something again or the spread of Uncomprehending why someone would do something nice for you to their own detriment (but this time in lighthearted context) its a gag comic its fine
Welcome to the New Age
read it on the AO3 at https://ift.tt/u7tl1bI
“Big changes are coming for you this fall, Gemini. As tempting as it might be to reminisce about times gone by, the slow pace of the dog days of summer make it a perfect time to start planning ahead. This week, things snap into focus. Work on strengthening your connections– you have more of them than you think.”
“Jeez, Kichi, I think I could probably write this shit."
In which Kokichi takes a long nap. Kaito nearly punches a vending machine.
Full spoilers for NDRV3 ahead.
Part of the TAPP AU.
Words: 4670, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English
Series: Part 4 of The Talent Acquisition Program Pilot (Post-game V3 HPA AU)
Fandoms: New Dangan Ronpa V3: Everyone's New Semester of Killing, Dangan Ronpa Series, Dangan Ronpa - All Media Types
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Major Character Death
Categories: Gen, M/M
Characters: Oma Kokichi, Momota Kaito
Relationships: Momota Kaito & Oma Kokichi, Momota Kaito/Oma Kokichi
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Non-Despair (Dangan Ronpa), Killing Game Was A Virtual Reality Simulation (Dangan Ronpa), Post-Canon, Post-Game(s), Alternate Universe - Hope's Peak Academy (Dangan Ronpa), Past Character Death, Angst, Character Study, Oma Kokichi has Chronic Pain (Post-game), Coma, Major Character Injury, Injury Recovery, for both of them actually, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD, Stream of Consciousness, Hangar Fic (NDRV3), partially, The Exisal Hangar Scene, Pre-Game Oma Kokichi, is partially alluded to !
read it on the AO3 at https://ift.tt/u7tl1bI
STARTING A STARTUP WILL CHANGE YOU A LOT
Indeed, if programming languages were all more or less equivalent, there would be little justification for using any but the most popular. And a particularly overreaching one at that, with fussy tastes and a rigidly enforced house style. Once you dilute a startup with ordinary office workers—with type-B procrastination, because it sets the bounds for every other question. But a test that excludes Steve Jobs, the founder who has made something users love is the one based on the founders. Because the early problems are so much influenced by where applicants went to college.1 And while some of the most powerful of those was the existence of channels. So maybe it has simply replaced the component of social class that consisted of being au fait. The problem with India itself is that it's good for morale.2 A List of people who might have corrected them, they tended to be self-indulgent.3 But again, the problem here is not simply economic inequality. In software, especially, it usually works best to get something in front of them, because they read it in an article, that Blackberry has such and such market share.
Plus in college you don't yet have to face the hardest kind of work—discovering new problems to solve.4 I've already mentioned: that startups are a good thing for the world if people who wanted to get rich. Perhaps one reason people believe startup founders win by being smarter is that intelligence does matter more in technology startups than it used to in earlier types of companies. Anyone who must in some sense bet on ideas rather than merely commenting on them has similar incentives. How did Apple get into this mess? Because how much you learn in college depends a lot more analysis.5 I suggested a potential shortcut: pay startups to move.6 Recently I suggested a potential shortcut: pay startups to move. One is that these users are the people they want as employees.7
I just wasn't like the people there speak with accents.8 That's much more likely to succeed than not. It would only dilute their own judgment to average it together with other ambitious people, they bloom like dying plants given water. A phone-sized device that would work as a way to make the team, and if you have a good life for a long time cities were the only large collections of people, but because they felt it was really for them, a critical mass of users quickly.9 If determination is effectively the product of will and discipline as two fingers squeezing a slippery melon seed. Even in the US has lost the most civil liberties recently. But ambition is human nature. The simplest form of determination is sheer willfulness.10 I had. And there has been an additional admixture of paranoia.
At least we know now what it would look like. This is particularly true with startups.11 I never showed up before 11 in the morning. Long words for the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice sales rank, 6191? Which means it's a disaster to let the wrong idea become the top one, rather than becoming philosophy professors. All the pain of having this stupid controversy constantly reintroduced as the top one in my mind for two long stretches. Recently I suggested a potential shortcut: pay startups to move. Which means no alarms go off when he takes on grand but vaguely understood questions and ends up getting lost in a sea of words.
They're hostages of the platform. But that doesn't sound right.12 The situation pushed buttons I'd forgotten I had. There's nothing wrong with that. I assume it's infinite. You could help the poor, or take it away from the rich. Which means applicants of type x.13
I always had a background process running, looking for something we could do than the channel.14 In these the best practitioners aren't conveniently collected in a few top university departments and research labs—partly because talent is harder to eradicate.15 All previous revolutions have spread. And a startup is among the purest of real world tests. Though we do spend a lot of them. So it is in this case. And he could help them because he was a startup guy.16 And in both cases the results are not merely afflicted by but driven by confusions over words. So why do founders think launches matter?17
You have to imagine being two people. This kind of profitability means the startup has succeeded. One reason is that they grow fast, and consulting just can't scale the way a product can. You have to get all the paperwork set up properly so there are no nasty surprises later. There's no way to prove a text is meaningless.18 And such random factors will increasingly be the route to worldly success. They make up some plausible-sounding, meaning you'll waste a lot of room for improvement here.
You can use the same formula when giving stock to employees, but it is the same. I'm sure most of those who want to come to you. We compete more with employers than VCs. When they first start working on something no one around them cares about. Words seem to work, just as volume and surface area do. In fact, possibility is too weak a word. Except in the degenerate case.19 There's an A List of people who want a deep understanding of what you're measuring is artifacts of the fakeness. Ten years ago there seemed a real danger Microsoft would extend its monopoly to servers. So this alternative device probably couldn't win on general appeal.20
The tipping point for me was the ads they show first. The Sub-Zero 690, one variant of the resulting sequence.
17 pilot in World War II had disappeared in a cubicle except late at night, and making money on convertible notes, and VCs will offer you an asking price.
If you're the sort of love is as frightening as it was outlawed in the U. It's ok to talk about startups in Germany. And it's particularly damaging when these investors flake, because that's how they choose between great people.
At two years after 1914 a nightmare than to call you about an A round about the team or their determination and disarmingly asking the right mindset you will fail. Most of the incompetence of newspapers is that they've already decided what they're selling and how unbelievably annoying it is dishonest of the people who run them would be taught that masturbation was perfectly normal and not incompatible answers: a to make it easy. It seems we should at least for the fences in our case, as I know this is mainly due to I.
But core of the rule of law is aiming at the moment it's created indeed, is due to Trevor Blackwell points out that there were 5 more I didn't like it if you get bigger, your size helps you grow. When economists talk about aspects of startups that has a spam probabilty of.
So where do we push founders to do as a child, either, that it even seemed a miracle of workmanship. Unfortunately, not just the most valuable thing you tend to notice them.
There should probably be interrupted every fifteen minutes with little loss of personality for the others.
Incidentally, this is a service for advising people whether or not to make Europe more entrepreneurial and more pervasive though. Why does society foul you?
We may never do that. By all means crack down on these. If you want to know about it wrong in How to Make Wealth in Hackers Painters, what would happen to their situation. Labor Statistics, about 28%.
It's not a problem if you'll never need to, in the middle class values; it is the way they do now. A P supermarket chain because it isn't a picture of anything. The best investors rarely care who else is investing, but he doesn't remember which.
You can retroactively describe any made-up idea as something you need to learn to acknowledge as well. You should respond in kind, because universities are where a laptop would be to say, but whether it's good, but it wasn't. Credit card debt stupidest of all.
Parker, op. That will in many cases be an anti-takeover laws, starting with the melon seed model is more like Silicon Valley.
But that's not true. There may even be conscious of this type is the last they ever need. Most explicitly benevolent projects don't hold themselves sufficiently accountable.
I've deliberately avoided saying whether the program is no personnel department, and only big companies, like architecture and filmmaking, but something feminists need to warn readers about, and we don't use Oracle. But it's a seller's market. So far the only cause of the x division of Megacorp is now the founder visa in a way in which multiple independent buildings are gutted or demolished to be employees, with identifying details changed. What Is an Asset Price Bubble?
Some want to acquire the startups, because the remedy was to reboot them, maybe you don't know the inventor of something or the distinction between them so founders can get cheap plane tickets, but Confucius, though it's at least a whole department at a discount of 30% means when it was so great, why are you even working on your board, there were some good ideas in the belief that they'll only invest contingently on other investors doing so because otherwise you'd be making something that would scale.
Trevor Blackwell, who probably knows more about hunter gatherers I strongly recommend Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's The Harmless People and The Old Way. As a friend who invested in the press or a funding round usually reflects some other contribution by the surface similarities. But scholars seem to lose less on investments that failed, and Foley Hoag. The late 1960s were famous for social upheaval.
The reason the dictionaries are wrong is that promising ideas are not merely a complicated but pointless collection of qualities helps people make up the same price as the web and enables a new Lisp dialect called Arc that is largely true, it will become correspondingly more important.
Though nominally acquisitions and sometimes on a seed investor to do is adjust the weights till the 1920s to financing growth with retained earnings was one of them.
Two customer support people tied for first prize with entries I still shiver to recall.
There's not much use, because they were doing Viaweb again, I'd say the rate of improvement is more important to users than where you currently are. They also generally say they care above all about hitting outliers, and in b.
"I'm getting back into the swing of drawing TAPP comics, I'll start out this weird one with a relatively simple panel" ==> "I just learned a new neat lighting trick" ==> "Oops all painting"
I need to stop editing this at some point and I am semi-arbitrarily deciding that point is now. Also considering re-framing how I want to do this as a simplified panel entirely asdfghjkl;
have you guys done the walking wake/iron leaves dens yet? bc i just ran the gauntlet to unlock 5-star raids and learned a glitch keeping some people from catching them is making gamefreak bring back the event at the end of next month, apparently, so. Good news?
I have so many WIPs and am nowhere near the headspace to complete them so here is some TAP-adjacent fluff. I just think Meowscarada (and Kingambit) is a foregone conclusion for Kokichi's team. And hey look, it's Bishop
What's a scene you'd like to work on for TAPPS, but in reality (even with a working laptop and a non-fucked shoulder) would take too much time and buildup to make work. Like, the daydream scenario?
[Talent Acquisition Pilot Program AU Masterpost]
Hmm. Fic time.
This Heart of Mine is Guilty (Not Remorseful)
Gonta Gokuhara is not stupid.
A fool, as much as anyone willing to whittle themselves away into something ‘more palatable’ can be called one, but not stupid. His insistence to the contrary only chips at your respect for him. He is a liar, and you cannot stand liars.
Case and point: the raucous lack of resistance from your classmates. Even the most sickeningly-sweet of your mutual acquaintances find themselves “too polite” to lend their appraisals a voice; it isn’t just a lie, it is a spineless lie of omission, and it is contagious. Gonta entwines himself in a positive feedback loop of self-deprecation, and if they did not notice, it would be unfortunate, but within reason. Instead, they praise themselves for their abilities to ignore it. As though it makes them ‘good people’ to let someone else say the quiet part loud.
Gonta was not an idiot. It was simultaneously true that he was not an idiot and you were a liar, so it stood to reason that if you enthusiastically indulged his self-destructive words (you were certain that was all they were, back then, and you were not a font of pity) somebody ought to connect the dots sooner or later.
The Ultimate Maid seemed promising at first. Her talent, people-pleasing taken to a logical extreme, should have given her a level of interpersonal insight few achieve. Rather than spiking that serve into becoming the Ultimate Fly-on-the-Wall, Kirumi let it consume her. The face chosen for her— "selfless devotion", down to the very core— hollowed out the rest of her. (You do not know how much, if any, of that was her ‘choice’. How much of it she literally, logistically could have resisted if she’d ‘only tried hard enough’. You do not like that thought. Thoughts you do not like are one of the few things you can still outrun.) She was willing to do anything for anyone, weighing pros and cons to do the greatest good for the most people with the information at her disposal.
The “selfless” one appointed herself judge, jury, and executioner on behalf of people she couldn’t prove existed. It was never out of the question that Monokuma was lying, either at any point or every point thus far; the world outside could have been (was) fine. The looming threat to the country’s people without leadership could have been a complete farce (it was) but she decided anyway. Even on the off chance it was completely fabricated (good odds, in your book, even back then) the then-twelve of you were expendable. Killing you all, in her mind, was justified.
And you thought she was reasonable.
(You can’t reconcile the Kirumi in your head with the Kirumi in your post-trial nightmares with the girl who also stays sitting while the rest of the class does warm-ups, catching your eye as you idly glance about the room, gently nodding in some silent sort of solidarity before you break eye-contact and ponder how you might have even gotten here, that girl, who also calls herself ‘Kirumi.’)
“Selflessness” is a lie. All altruism is, on some base level, self-aggrandizing shielding itself with other people. Kirumi couldn’t have cared that deeply for an indistinct swathe of people she never could have known, or even known of, hand-over-fist clinging to the vines skewering the nerves just under her palms. She wanted out. She wanted out, wanted so badly to indulge in a single, cruel ray of sunlight, and she wanted more than anyone else, clearly. She’d earned it. The rest of you hadn’t. The rest of you, as far as she was concerned, could die in that place, as long as she could have another moment of—
“Selflessness” was Kirumi’s lie. She did not deign the dignity to believe it.
And you hate liars.
(You hate yourself, so, so much for bowing to self-preservation. “To end the killing game,” you’d said, and believed. It was for the “greater good”. Can’t be a hypocrite if you commit to your convictions, so why do you still feel—)
But. That’s a lie.
You do it all the time. Easier than breathing, really, falsehoods sprinkled in for spice (‘...and that’s why I can’t set foot in 20 yards of a swimming pool, but only in three cities.’; ‘Oh, I beat it on the first try! It’s totally simple, just don’t get hit.’; ‘10,000 members, Momota, and you’re gonna have to manage them all when I’m gone!’) or by compulsion (‘Actually, if you factor in the time period, yellow roses are a death threat. You’re thinking of the blue ones they picked to extinction!’; ‘Yeah, I know a guy who owns a junkyard, could scrap you real good. How dare you think I’d leave DICE vulnerable to the Robot Uprising, you’re so mean!’; ‘Ooh, the anticipation’s the best part, I’m sure there’ll be a body announcement any minute!’). You will lie, even without a soul to hear you (‘this is good. This is fun. I am having fun.’) and make certain the world knows precisely when you are lying. You will lie about nearly anything, save for the act of lying itself.
Sometimes, your lies are carefully calibrated.
"The more that you suffer, the more I enjoy it."
The subtle differences are woven into you, logical patterns encrypted so many times over even Kii-boy couldn’t reverse-engineer them consistently. (You'd hoped he might have been 'weird' enough to try. Sometimes your projection disappointment leaks through your facetious tone toward the worthless robot, like bloodstains seeping through the tight-bound fabric of a pristine white jacket—)
It all makes sense. It always has, to you. You cultivate this mysterious air around yourself gauged only on the reactions of other people, because it all tracks for you. Whatever is confusing them is a blind spot, and one you have learned (been programmed?) to deftly navigate.
Then there was him.
The fool, Gonta Gokuhara, was a liar. His stilted turns of phrase, infectious smile, bright eyes and penchant for staying gentle and patient with even the shortest-lived scum of the earth... it was a lie. It had to be a lie. You knew he was a liar, because, in over-excitable conversation amid the Others, you saw something familiar in his eyes. Gonta had to buffer for a moment and process the words around him before he'd react.
Just like you.
You had to keep an eye on him.
The facade he'd constructed was too kind, too manicured to be half as spotless as it purported to be. You had claimed him as your henchman under the guise of his utter gullibility, just to see what he would do. How he would manage to weasel his way out of your grasp and continue on with... whatever he was scheming. Nobody scrutinizes the sweet spice of cinnamon. Maybe he wasn't Mastermind material, but he was hiding something. You would find a way to force him to give you information. The how. The why, why-why-why Gonta had to be so damn likable to everyone he met, and how it just kept WORKING for him.
He called your bluff. He agreed. So you'd guessed you had a henchman.
Gonta never looked at you with the same inherent unease of your classmates, and never insisted he look you in the eye. All the better, as far as you’re concerned, eyes are the windows to the soul after all (and it gave you a brief reprieve from That Skin-Crawling Sensation, the two of you often either comfortably looking past one another or along the ground for some variety of insect you never could find.) The more you practiced obscuring your tells, the better a position you would place yourself in to lie strategically. The total lack of feedback from Gonta, a man apparently dead-set on taking you at your word no matter what, was counterbalanced by the lack of pressure around him. You knew at the time that the moment you let your guard down, the trap would snap and your neck could with it. It was a tempting facade, even so, master-manipulator Gokuhara so engrossed in his act with conviction Kirumi lacked, it was hard to remind yourself to keep him at arm's length.
After all, it's just the way of things. He's big, you're small, and the second you'd let down your defense would be the second you'd be stabbed in the back.
(It's true. It must be true! It has to be true, and you cannot forget it, because if you do not believe this is the truth then you leave yourself open for betrayal, and you cannot handle that from someone you started to think of as—)
You would augment the cognitive dissonance by saying something vile, snapping everyone to attention including him, and revel in slotting back into your proper place as the heel in this story. (But how much of that is really on your accord, and does it actually matter if the outcome is the same?)
You stayed close by one another when the class came together. It had the desirable effect of making the Others question your motives, certainly, making your station as Supreme Leader of Evil that much more obvious, but you'd be lying if you said it was purely for the tactical advantage. Not at this point. You stood by him because you could tell he understood. Getting too close to other people sets off magnets under your skin that gently nudge you in the opposite direction; you used to rock idly on your feet before you realized it was better to have a cause like boredom to blame. Keeping contact pupil-to-pupil can be an interrogation, and they'll have better luck cramming toothpicks under your fingernails than boring straight through your eye sockets with theirs. From the moment you met him, Gonta said nothing about your chronic inability to look at who you're talking to (or your penchant for approximating a look close enough next to them to subdue suspicion, because you cannot get through even small talk without at least an un-truth). You thought it may be a total lack of observational skills, but then he went and noticed the way you flinched accepting his "gentlemanly handshake".
It's a bizarre thing, bonding with an imperfect stranger over the course of a quarter of a conversation. You could sit at the lunch table without worrying about elbows toppling over an uncapped half-bottle of Panta, or stand in the library wanting to reach out but waiting for the crowd to disperse knowing nobody is going to trample you, and he brushes his hair out of his face while you curl your fingers into the smooth layers of your scarf and nobody says anything, and it's great.
Then you killed him.
Gonta may have been a liar, but he doesn't have the heart for DICE, either. You liked that about him. He contorts himself to slot in to a puzzle he was not made for, shaving down slivers of cardboard with a pocketknife and worrying about completing the picture later, but he at least bothers with a base coat of paint. His mask is skin-tight; it's obvious he is not Other.
Somehow (infuriatingly) he turns that into an advantage.
He was strong, he was tall, things that can't be helped; he was cloyingly sweet to counterbalance the assumptions his stature set for him. Gonta created his persona the same way you did, but his conviction in the construct, in that lie, did not waver.
You wished you could be like that, too.
Gonta was his lie, as far as anyone else was concerned. Fully masked in an ecological niche much more interesting than the ones his precious bugs ever occupied, inherently self-debasing (to deal with the lowest form of creature willingly), pre-emptively humble (to deal with the guy nobody likes willingly) and praised all the more for it. Non-threatening, on purpose. Controlled. He has the capacity to do harm and hides it, so is that not itself a kind of lie?
You waited for the other shoe to drop.
How was he not sick of you, everyone gets sick of you, YOU are sick of you–
Even as you saw the lively light drain from his digitized eyes, viscerally horrified by the flashes of atrocity you'd just shown him, he remained steadfast. Upset, clearly, but resolute. He chose to help you. He wanted to help all of you.
You suppose Gonta was the closest to “real” of all of you.
Kokichi scoffs, his back to the freshly-decorated interior of Class 79's homeroom. Simply surviving for a couple months as a class hardly seems like reason to celebrate, as far as he’s concerned, but the weather already vetoed “let us have class outside” and their homeroom teacher has no interest in fielding a riot. He lightly pulls on the sleeve of a borrowed jacket, noting the way woven fabric feels over his fingertips.
"I don't know what you're doing, but I am gonna get out of dodge. This is a Category Four shitstorm waiting to happen." He half-shrugs, not even passing a glance toward the gentle giant holding out his hand.
"G– Sorry. I'm sorry, Kokichi, I know you hate–"
"No." The boy smiles, lips drawn tight in contempt. "No, actually, that's not how this goes.” He taps his index finger to his chin, in faux-thought. “I mean, yeah, it's how this was always gonna go, but I'm pretty sick of scripts! You should be too."
Gonta looks over Kokichi for a moment. The small smattering of classmates in the room with the two of them look twice as confused as Gokuhara himself. He adjusts his glasses. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean," he says with practiced ease despite the tension in his throat.
It seems Ouma had expected him to back down by now. He smiles just as wide, but. Softer. Impressed?
"Aww, that's no fair! Can you believe it, a whole execution and Monokuma didn't even have the decency to knock some sense into you! I'll file a complaint for'ya," his expression hardens. (Pouring into a mold, too malleable to stand on its own.) He takes a step forward, then another. Favoring his left side, today.
There's a muffled 'you little menace, you can't talk to Gonta that way,' but glares from the other three bystanders in the room quickly convince her to save it. It's not that what he's saying is okay by any stretch; it's that Kokichi has completely avoided even looking at Gonta for a solid month, and there are few forces stronger than morbid curiosity.
Gonta takes back his hand, silent on the matter. Disappointed. But a true gentleman does not let petty emotion impede his work, particularly when his cohort is counting on him. Still, he watches Kokichi go.
"You comin' or not?"
Of course, Gonta catches up within a couple strides. Ouma lacks the spoons to distract from the way his eye twitches.
"Hey, Dipshitticus, where the hell do you think you're going? Party starts in ten minutes," bellows Miu, not looking up from the pile of gears and fittings on her desk.
"Please, I got free reign of this place, ya' stupid whore~!" he chirps, though the venom has long since drained from those words. "I'll kidnap who I want. Call it 'talent development', if you gotta. Besides, I finally figured out why girls always go to the bathroom in groups! I mean, someone’s gotta call Tsumiki-chan in case you pass out and bang your head on the way down, right?"
Click. Pop, goes the foot of his cane, rubber peeling from tile pronounced in the stunned silence of the room. He turns the corner.
Gonta elects to follow.
The pair of them walk down the emptying hall for a good half-minute as the remaining students settle in their own classrooms, stopping at a set of chairs in the hallway. It’s a bright “study space”, a corner lit by incandescent yellow light with gaudy chartreuse couches a little too stiff to qualify as proper furniture that nonetheless provide an oasis when you’ve been walking long enough. Gonta nearly trips on the coffee table in the center, too low to write on and just low enough to hit below the kneecap.
This little corner of Hope’s Peak is surrounded by long windows overlooking little other than sidewalk. The sun-catching ornaments hanging from the ceiling are depressed by the dark blue-grays of the overcast sunrise. The heavy, hazy feeling to the air glazes over the glass; the insects outside are surely taking shelter.
Gonta takes a seat, twiddling his thumbs.
“Gon— I. You were bluffing.” Gonta shakes his head, looking nervously over his shoulder. Properly. Knees together, sitting up straight, arm kept loose at his side in case Kokichi needs to lean on him. Adamantly, the boy does not. In fact, Kokichi sits across from Gonta with his feet up on the table, ankles crossed. The position will become incredibly uncomfortable in a few minutes, but it’s about looking nonchalant, not being.
“You aren’t gonna get in trouble, you’re with me. Not a lie. They kinda owe me big time,” Kokichi shrugs. “Even Ishimaru-chan knows better than to call me out at this point. I hope he swings by, the look on his face knowing he can’t turn me in is amazing.”
“It would be terribly inappropriate to get in trouble, G— I don’t want to mess up my permanent record if I don’t need to, but it’d still be worth it to help a friend! A gentleman puts his friends first,” Gonta nods, sounding more certain of this than Kokichi has ever been about anything. “Besides, Taka is Gonta’s friend! Gonta is sure if he were to explain Kokichi has a good reason to be out of place, there would be no problem.”
A ha-second later, Gonta cringes, softly berating himself under his breath.
“You don’t have to correct it every time, you know. If it’s part of whoever you are now, everybody else can deal.”
“, , Gonta… isn’t sure how to feel about it. Knowing he’s the only one talking in third-person this way make. Makes, it seem. Like he’s not trying enough to be normal? But he’s too used to it to stop without thinking about it,” Gonta sighs.
“Nah. Just another TAPP side-effect. Well. At least that's the story I'd stick to. Dunno what you think a Gentleman does, but considering you aren’t currently an aristocratic asshole lounging in his ivory tower I’d say it’s good that you’re wrong.”
It takes Gonta a moment to take that one apart and put it back together. (Kokichi, seeing so, takes a second to stare blankly ahead and do the same. He will deny it.)
“G-Gonta is wrong about being a gentleman? How so! Gonta’s classmates haven’t told him he wasn’t following the rules correctly.”
Kokichi shakes his head.
“You’re not missing anything, really. That's no lie. You know Togami-chan? The short, pouty one.”
“Gonta thought the twins were the same height… ?”
“Not the point. The one with a stick up his ass, that’s what some people think of when they hear ‘gentleman’, so you’re actually ahead of the curve, believe it or not.” Kokichi picks at his nailpolish. Then at the shredded cuticles beneath.
Gonta considers this for a moment, looking the Lying Liar Who Lies up and down. He searches through his pocket, for a moment.
Kokichi is intrigued. He sits up, elbows on his knees. “Ooh, what’cha doin’?”
Gonta comes up with a crumpled bandage or two and a small thing of vapor rub. He puts the latter away; bug bites don’t seem to be the issue, here.
“Alright, then. Keep your secrets,” Kokichi rolls his eyes, Annoyed (peeking over to Gonta with a more neutral expression awaiting his response. Nothing.)
“Kokichi is bleeding,” Gonta says, eyes wide with concern. He holds out the bandages. “Please take some care of it?”
Kokichi looks baffled for a moment, eyes flicking down to his fingers. Huh. Oh yeah….
He takes the bandages, not looking away from Gonta’s expression the entire time he dresses the small wounds with bumblebee-stripes and monarch wings.
Gonta lets his broad shoulders relax. Kokichi finds his own do too, though he hadn’t noticed he'd been tense in the first place.
“Thanks,” Ouma mutters into the galaxy-print lining of his sleeve.
“Thank you for letting Gonta know he's not too stuck-up to talk to,” Gonta half-laughs.
“… he does wish that Kokichi could say something nice without needing to say something mean about someone else,” Gonta offers softly with his head down. He winces with anticipation.
Kokichi merely blinks.
“Yeah, well. Well. I thought you people didn’t like lies to spare your feelings, I’m getting major mixed signals!” he shrugs into the jacket.
"That okay. Gonta. Gonta get signals mixed up too, all the time," the boy smiles, much too meek for his stature. It looks as though it could shatter at the lightest touch.
Ouma tilts his head, eyeing it with a sledgehammer.
"... You wanna know the truth?"
Gonta nods. It's a rare opportunity, isn't it?
"I thought you knew."
Kokichi mumbles the inane little phrase, and his chest heaves like he's pushed a boulder off of himself.
He knows in his heart Gonta will look at him confused if he lifts his head from this spot, still staring at the gaudy nineties-office carpet between them. He knows he will not be able to handle it.
Gonta, however, merely nods again.
"Gonta should have known. If Gonta were smart, he would have known. He would have tried harder to save everyone, instead of. Let Monokuma make him 'leave.'"
Kokichi's ragged nails dig into the armrest beside him. He is seething, but does not raise his voice.
"You, do not apologize, to me."
Gonta nods, nods, biting his lip to hide how it quivers, pulling at the ends of long locks of hair.
Violet eyes ignite.
"You just won't get it, will you? Oh, you can, you just don't want to. You should be angry at me. I treated you like shit, and it was not okay! You keep blaming yourself, but how the hell were you supposed to know what would happen?" he throws his hands in front of him, the thoughts flooding out into the empty space. "They didn't even let you remember computers! They actively took that when they re-made you, that cannot be on you, it’s just playing dirty!”
“There’s lots other people know that Gonta does not, though…,” Gonta hiccups, struggling to keep composure.
“None of us knew what swapping the cords would do. Miu fixed the damn thing, and she didn’t know. You didn’t say to yourself ‘hmm, I think I’ll wipe my own memory of the past few hours for funsies and make life harder on myself’n everybody because I can,’ so why should you apologize for it?”
“… B-Because it still happened. It was Gonta’s fault!”
Kokichi pinches the bridge of his nose, squeezing his eyes shut. (Jeez, you suck at this whole “reassurance” thing. Some leader you’ll make.)
“Okay. You know what, okay, let’s say– just humor me here– that it was your fault, even though it wasn’t on purpose. Why the hell would anyone be mad about it?”
“Because Gonta couldn’t. Couldn’t, either defend himself or, o-r turn himself in, whichever helps classmates!” Gonta croaks out, shaking his head.
(You were going to mercy-kill them all. That’s what your Alter Ego said. You would save them from the killing game by getting it over with. You were the person who proposed that. Just thinking about it now has you sick to your stomach, wracked with grief over a crime gone un-committed, but you have the blessing of hindsight. In the moment, you know you would have done it. You would have, had you not forgotten everything coming out of the simulation, and as much as you want to deny it, pretending you never could have done something so vile is insulting. You can’t insult your friends that way. You only wanted to help. Your heart aches on.
Or maybe that’s old wounds acting up again. They feel nearly the same.)
Kokichi looks at a shell-shocked Gonta and sighs. It would be all too easy to pull one over on him now, to claim this was the reaction he wanted and walk away, to convince Gonta to stay away from him lest he get himself hurt.
But something inside him refuses. A feeling he first can recall feeling on the cold metal slab of the press, not. Remorse, but guilt. He cannot say he regrets letting Gonta take the fall if it got them closer to ending the killing game for good. That does not mean he wanted this.
Kokichi offers Gonta his checkerboard scarf to dry his tears. Wordless. He looks away, but hesitates to stand.
“… Kokichi–?” Gonta stammers, counting how long to hold his breath in little intervals. It tends to help with getting his emotions back in check.
“Call it forgiven,” Kokichi sighs. “Miu has already. You should know that. You talk to her enough. The rest of the class has too, ask any one of them. The only one who hasn’t is you.”
Gonta gently wraps the scarf around balled-up fists, running the smooth texture over rough calluses. Kokichi says nothing of it.
“Gonta killed Miu, and didn’t follow through on helping. Gonta hurt Miu for no reason.”
“You kept her from killing me,” Kokichi leans back, pulling his arms through the sleeves and covering himself in the jacket like it’s a cape. “Can you call that nothing?”
“You died anyway!”
“So did most people. Miu probably would have too, if it hadn’t been to you. And look around. Turns out, you got the two of you out early. Right?”
The stormclouds overhead crackle with streaks of lightning, arcs of electricity refracting through the raindrops on the outside of the glass in fractal patterns of organized chaos.
(The sky here still doesn’t feel real, some days.)
The pair look at each other for a long moment, each daring the other to bend first.
To look away,
or even just to blink.
The rain pitter-patters in the gutter above, rolling lazily down the window pane.
“… But that’s a lie,” Kokichi says. Without leaving room for objection, he carries on: “Because I killed you both.”
Gonta knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Kokichi had meant it when he said he was willing to be executed instead. He knows those tears had to be real because, with no audience to sway and no strategic advantage to gain, Kokichi is making the very same expression right now. Only this time, without being overwhelmed by the stakes, he’s a bit more successful at keeping the tears at bay.
“Gonta don’t think so! Gonta killed Miu, with his hands, and Monokuma k–”
“I got you killed!” Ouma’s composure snaps. He hadn’t meant to raise his voice so much, but such is life. “It was my fault for showing you the flashback light, it was all bullshit, I should have KNOWN it might be bullshit, why get you involved! To save myself? Like I’d ever make it to the end? Stupid! It was a stupid, impulsive non-plan, because I panicked, and it killed the two people that actually gave a shit about me, and how can you call yourself a leader after a fuck-up like that?”
He hiccups, shaking his head.
“I-It's okay, Ouma. See? Gonta is fine, now. Miu is fine….” Gonta tries to placate him, but getting any closer only makes Kokichi curl in on himself more.
“No. No-no-no-no I kn, I knew this would happen, that’s not even conceit I just know I have no idea how to convince you to give a damn about yourself and talk about this without making it about me, it’s about you, and Miu, and you have no reason to comfort me right now,” he points at Gonta.
Caught in the same spiral of teary-eyed, frantic breathing as Gonta was not long before.
“… In for four, hold for eight, out for four,” Gonta nods, matter-of-fact.
Kokichi wants nothing more than to wink out of existence entirely, not die, just disappear as though he’d never happened at all flip him the hell off for the audacity to give orders to his commander, but he is left with little choice than to comply if he wants any chance of saving face.
Fine. In for four, hold for eight. Out for four.
Has the rain stopped overhead?
“Miss Marigold told Gonta to try breathing differently last he went to visit,” Gokuhara offers.
“… She’s right about a lot of things,” Kokichi nods, losing any trace of weeping. Their group therapist was, if nothing else, an interesting woman. Enough to consider in passing, even if not to her face.
“You deserve a better apology than I can give you,” Kokichi’s voice crackles. “I should be sorry. And. I am, but I’m. Not? I didn’t want you dead. But I still wanted to live. I didn’t want Miu dead, but it had to happen. I didn’t want anybody dead, I thought you knew what happened going into the trial. Okay? I fucked up, really bad, and I’m sorry it didn’t work. I’m sorry my plan B was to say a ton of shit I didn’t believe in, and have that all go down the drain too, I’m. Sorry I failed you,” he picks his head up. He looks at the bridge of Gonta’s glasses.
It hurts to smile, but it’s all he really knows how to do.
Gonta ponders this, for a moment.
As breathless seconds tick by, Kokichi finds himself trapped in an eternity of personal hell.
(Why do you care what he thinks so much? Why have you? You’ve lost the right to ask anything more of him, for certain, so why do you need to hear what comes next?)
“… Kaito punched me after. Which. Fair. Y-ou can get a shot in too, if you want,” he tries to laugh, but the sound is strangled beyond recognition.
“Is Gonta still that scary?” Gokuhara says without hesitation, a sorrowful look on his face. “Gonta sorry! Gonta doesn't want to escalate things that way! Not ever!”
“No. You aren’t, Gonta.” (And that’s a lie, but it’s not his stature that’s scaring you. Or anything about him at all, save the idea of his scorn.)
“Good! Gonta won’t hurt Kokichi. Kokichi hurts enough anyway,” he nods, still processing. Now he’s doing it out loud. “Gonta knows Kokichi won’t want him to say ‘sorry’ again, and Kokichi probably doesn’t accept forgiveness either. Yeah?”
Kokichi blinks. Over and over, as though it were somehow an answer.
“Gonta takes that as ‘yes,’” Gokuhara says, smiling. “That's okay. Gonta is… a little mad, at Kokichi. Not because he tells Gonta to be mad! But in Gonta’s feelings,” he looks down at the table. He nods to bolster his spirits, reassure himself. “Gonta wanted to talk to Kokichi a long time ago, but Kokichi always walks away. Kokichi pretends Gonta is not there, and it feels… really bad. Gonta is glad Kokichi stopped to talk to him now, even if he is still a little mad.”
This, apparently, Does Not Compute. Kokichi’s expression turns blank, utterly uncertain of what to do with itself. Kokichi is too busy puzzling things out to worry about performing the appropriate face.
“You don’t. H-Hate,,”
“Gonta don’t want hate you. Not before, not now.” Gonta looks off at the wall above Kokichi’s head for a moment. He puts on his best imitation, clumsy but sincere– “It’s true!”
Kokichi laughs harder than he has in ages. Gonta beams.
“Alright. Alright, what do you want, though? For now, for later, for the good of the order,, ?”
“Hmm,” Gonta enunciates, just so Kokichi doesn’t look quite so lost again. “Gonta wants… to be. Friends? Sometime. Not all at once, but some time. If Kokichi wants, too.” After a small deliberation, he adds: “Not henchman. Not subordinate. Gonta will listen to Kokichi sometimes, but if Gonta doesn’t want to he won’t! And if he does, he will.”
Kokichi gathers up the energy to make an Appropriately Large Display of ‘thinking this over’ before finally letting himself say “I think I can manage that. You drive a hard bargain, Gokuhara-chan! But who am I to deny a fine negotiator?”
Gonta’s expression turns sullen again, a hair’s breadth from whispering ‘oh, it’s okay, you can if you want to I don’t want to impose,’ only for him to nod with the realization. He gets a little starry-eyed with the approval. Kokichi makes a mental note.
“Well, bet you the party’s started by now. Do you feel like elbowing your way back in to a loud, crowded classroom, or do you wanna come look at worms on the sidewalk with me?” Kokichi smirks, like it’s a forgone conclusion.
Gonta is so, so tempted to go with his gut instinct, but. No. Consider what Miss Marigold has been telling you. What Kokichi told you, too, care about yourself. What is it you want?
“Earthworm is an annelid, totally separate phylum from arthropoda– ‘bugs’ go in arthropoda, separate clade too since arthropods have no evidence of spiral cleavage in the makeup of bodies during early development. Earthworm is more like mollusk than bug, more in common with octopus than bumblebee, evolutionarily. In fact, ‘true bug’ classification does not even include bees, or flies, or most colloquial ‘bugs’!”
Kokichi rests his chin on his right arm, having put his jacket back on properly. “Okay. Mm-hmm… d. Do you wanna, though?”
“Gonta would be happy to escort you,” he nods, standing up. Gonta offers his arm to Kokichi.
Kokichi takes it, but still pulls himself up. Progress.
“Such a gentleman,” Kokichi says in a teasing tone too-tainted with a twinge of sincerity. “You were saying?”
Gonta, on his own terms, is happy to oblige.
The checkered scarf stays tucked into the front pocket of Gonta’s suit, Kokichi’s fingers are covered in insect-patterned bandages, and nobody says anything of it.
Welcome to the New Age
[TAPP AU Masterpost]
The following fic goes into descriptions of canon character death and resulting Angst; reader discretion is advised. NDRV3 spoilers ahead!
Your eyes have pried themselves open three times now, wide, still seeing nothing.
The green-grey lights clouding the hangar feel scalding hot on still-clammy skin. You know you should be cold; freezing, in fact, but the Strike-Nine curled back a finger of the monkey’s paw on your behalf. You wonder if your gentle exhales fog the underside of the metal slab looming over you from this distance. It’s not as though you can check.
The smell of motor oil, sawdust, and far too much copper will probably never leave your lungs.
You find yourself wishing you had control of your hands. The lid of the press has been descending for ages. A mechanical whirrrr of struggling gears loops over and over, notes discordant with themselves in a canon, yet it never actually gets any closer. Deep down, you know it never will. Misery is kind of the point of punishment.
There’s little else to do but figure that much out. Your back has adhered to the spot where you lie (and lie, and lie-and-lie-and-lie), bleeding through Kaito’s borrowed jacket that will invariably see much worse. Stuck. Stationary. You can’t even fidget, let alone etch an epitaph in the gummy-rubber texture of the hangar floor. It’s nearly enough to make you consider whether Yonaga really was right.
… You miss Angie, really.
You miss a lot of people.
At least they aren’t here, echoes the thought through the barren room.
You briefly indulge the thought of cyan light streaking in through a rising garage door, the sound of footsteps smacking dents into soft, dirt-encrusted polyurethane with urgency. The shift of fabric against fabric of a suit as the detective drops to his knees at your side. He would be within arm’s reach, if your arm would move. Of course you can’t comfort him now that you want to.
Misery. What part of ‘punishment’ do you not understand?
What’s worse is the ghost of his hand over the side of the metal slab. It doesn’t adhere to logical geometry anymore; it is simultaneously still lowering, and hovering just above the tip of your nose, and snapped as a trap over your still-lying form. You are both the scattered remnants of a human being and perfectly fine, whole, all of your vitals approximately where they’re supposed to be. Hell is a quantum state where everything is both true and false simultaneously, and you cannot open the box from the inside.
His hand ghosts over your press (it’s part of you, now, as much of you smeared on its hidden surface as lying beneath), and you want to force it open. Not to show him your last neat parlor trick, but to knock him flat on his ass and get him away from you. The world cannot be yours, but this hangar is. You’ve carved out the territory in your own blood. Get your own headstone, you cheap bastards.
You want to laugh. You do, because if you aren’t laughing you’re crying, and if you have to hear your own strangled voice resound up over the catwalks and metal beams to the high ceiling and back you will start a one-man riot.
Then you are reminded that you can’t laugh, because you lack any control at all of this body you’re locked in, and you loathe that you’re being kept from the keys.
If you didn’t know better, you’d swear Shuichi just said something. That’s a lie, of course, because Shuichi is alive, and outside, and even if he isn’t he’s certainly not headed wherever it is you are now. You are never going to see Saihara again, and the ghosts you hear pounding on the inert slab with a calloused metal CLANG! are simply the demons here to torment you. They’re mean. Saihara-chan is so mean.
As is Momota-chan, and the two of them together gathered around gawking at your punctured chrysalis are twice as bad as either alone.
“I know you’ll pull through this! I believe in you!” Liar.
“You aren’t alone. I’m sorry.” Liar.
“Do you want to die?”
You do not know what is keeping the wraith from reaching through and grabbing you by the throat. You’d welcome the change of pace, at this point, dizzy with the anticipation, sick to your stomach without recourse. You know better, really, but part of you is certain you can feel cranial fluid leaking from your ears and sizzling on this oversized hotplate. You’re tired.
You are tired, and vaguely aware you’ll never wake up.
(Momota-chan is mean, but it’s a lie to call him cruel. If he really wanted you to suffer, he wouldn’t have taken that third bolt. It should have lodged in your heart. If he only wanted to avoid Harukawa’s condemnation he could have just shoved you away, but he took the shot for you instead. At the last minute, he’s won your game: he’s cemented a space in your thoughts, for what little life you had left and for eternity afterward.)
Here you lie at the start of a little journey through forever, and you are already sick of it. So much for your willpower, your determination, any conceivable quality that would make you anything beyond a piss-poor leader; DICE wouldn’t take you back.
You can’t even remember their faces anymore.
(Did you ever know them in the first place?)
You have eons upon eons here to lay by yourself— unbothered at last, no intervening idiocy to be found, you did it, you pushed everyone away. Isn’t this what you wanted at the end? Eons to ruminate and reflect on every bad thing you have ever done.
At least it keeps you busy.
(Did they ever have faces for you to know?)
The killing game becomes a blur. You find yourself pausing and re-playing the memories like an old scratched-up DVD of a movie lovingly, clumsily cobbled together by a clueless hand with all the default settings enabled. Fond memories of fifteen classmates crowded around a long breakfast table project onto the metal sheet above you in rough camcorder quality. Trembling, home video taken with unsteady hands where all ten pixels slide in mesmerizing array, you took a long sip of grape soda and nobody spoke to you. It feels correct. Disappointing, maybe, but this is the way things are.
They offered you a plate. You, as usual, try to quietly refuse (because you are a burdensome child, because everything they try to get you to eat makes you feel more nausea than not eating at all, because you are unreasonable, because good children cannot taste the consistency of something more than its flavor, because you make problems on purpose but never in a fun way) and are swiftly overturned. You know your place is not to make demands. Some people need to have their hand held through life, and you had the fortune to have one extended to you before you became un-salvageable. You know better than to reach out for it now. There is no point even twitching your fingers anymore; that gracious hand never reaches back these days.
You aren’t sure why you brought your camcorder to such a scattered excuse for a family dinner. The sheen of novelty still hasn’t worn off. It was a birthday present, after all, and even if neither it nor you are capable of making anything worthwhile the idea that you might drives you to preserve the memory. It keeps you busy. Everyone in the house takes dinner to a separate space. Yours is currently sitting on your corner cushion with an opaque water bottle secretly filled to the brim with gas-station soda. You’ve grown to hate the lingering syrup stuck to your tongue, but it keeps you awake and you can always drown it out with another swig. After a long day, it hits. Not good or well, but precisely where it needs to.
(One in the upper right arm, one in the center of your back, and one …?)
Where is everyone?
Where are you?
You can imagine the pound of footsteps one-after-another launching you up the staircase, pulling the door too-softly shut behind you. You have nothing worth hiding, of course, but you can’t very well have anyone seeing your work-in-progress; it has to be perfect. You can almost feel the button cave in beneath your fingertip as you release the USB-A to plug your little toy into the computer. The spring seems crunchy today. You aren’t sure why you shiver; it’s still the tail-end of June.
This is going to be the one. Maybe the footage isn’t much, but if anyone can spice it up, it’ll be you! You have an eye for making things engaging, so you’ve been told (and never shown by anyone under the age of whatever-impossible-age-teachers-are, sixteen at least, right?) but this one, this one will be the one to really grab attention, and people will like it, and if you’re lucky they might even talk to you. All according to plan.
You say this every time you invent a new magnum opus, sure, but you have a good feeling this time. First, you show your classmates your movie. They’ll watch it, be so impressed they just have to gush to you about it, and you can keep them on the hook long enough to start to get to know them. That’s when you hit them with the promise of friendship, and you all can do all kinds of things from there. Hangout spots in big trees in the park (one of them has to be tall enough to help you climb, you’re quick but your upper-body strength isn’t enough to get you beyond the first couple branches yet), codenames, secret handshakes; you can play games together! You can wear matching outfits, and make movies, and make more friends, and they’ll all look at you and you’ll hold them all together, because if there’s one thing you’re good at it’s clinging to your status quo in the face of overwhelming odds. It’ll be incredible, you just know it. Maybe if you do well enough, there will be enough of you to play Werewolf, or Mysterium, or Coup, or maybe you’ll put together a full party—
The d20 you’ve been stimming with, idly smoothing over between the fingers of your right hand, comes down with a clatter and bounces across your desk. Huh. Strange.
Of all the shiny math rocks in your collection, you don’t remember any bright magenta dice.
Flecks of hot pink slough off on each impact with the hard surface. Plink, plink, plink.
You try to blink the encroaching color out of your vision.
You can feel the stress limit of your bones down to the fourth decimal place. You tense up, attempting to brace for impact, but absolutely nothing is touching you while it rends you limb-from-limb and keeps going. The white-hot agony you feel as splinters of you break free, each cell another part of you desperate to roll out from under here and get-out-get-out-get-out, even if they can’t do it together, supersedes the temptation to pretend someone is outside waiting for you.
No. You may be angry with them, or disappointed, or at the very least uncertain what it is you feel for them, but you even hope Momota is well out of the splash-zone. Off of that awful catwalk and its CLANGK-ker-kCLANGs. Off with his sidekicks, somewhere. Maybe they’re sitting in a courtyard, and Kaito helps Shuichi into a tree (Maki had beaten them both to it and decided to watch them figure out the logistics) and they watch the stars move overhead together, breathing in the crisp night air in late August, and pretty soon you’ll have that new project of yours in a state to show off….
You find you take refuge in the idea of stars. They’re cosmic happenstance, ambivalent the same way as the rest of the universe, distant and impersonal, but even a static image is still new to you. You were always too busy looking at other people to look up. The only way you could survive out there was to meticulously study the fine details of an expression in your every conversation. You streamlined the tricks and tells that passed for signals into your muscle memory because, unlike for most, they were never innate for you; you had to be certain to echo emotional information to people in a way they were certain to understand. It had to be perfect. Why would you ever waste the time to look up at a universe that did not have an opinion for you to care about?
Now it’s all you can do. Lying on your back, eyes open, or shut, or both-and-neither, you stare unseeing. Somewhere past the hydraulic press, beyond the high ceiling, beyond the LCD-sky, there are stars. You’re looking their way now. Forever. The survivors will see them for you.
You do not care if it is a lie. You choose, against your better instinct, to believe it.
The remains of your nerves seem to have gone supernova; what was the worst pain you ever knew melts away into nothing. You don’t feel anything at all. Not relief. Not floating. Just the absence of sensation.
Before you have a chance to fully process your new state of non-being, blissfully, it seems your tenacity has finally run out. You are surrounded by a bright, white light.
Kaito Momota never thought he would be a killer.
Most people tend not to, certainly, though Kaito is well aware he tends to pick more fights than average. It was always a far-flung possibility, technically any young man fit enough to be an astronaut can generate the force vector required to do something everyone involved will regret, but if you had asked him. Well. Within the first minute of uploading to TAPP, during which “Kaito Momota” Began, he would likely have been too dazed to respond with much other than confusion. And the second minute after being uploaded to TAPP, during which significant alterations to the code finished uploading and “Kaito Momota” as he is known today Began, he never would have thought himself morally capable of it.
But it was, by strictly literal definition, a murder. A murder he committed. Successfully.
Though, also in a strictly literal sense, that murder saved his victim’s life. Had Kokichi gone much longer without dying, the likelihood his data would reflect the symptoms of blood loss and poison damage in the physical world (or worse yet corrupt irretrievably) would have risen dramatically by the second. 'If anything,’ Momota mutters under his breath, 'you should be thanking me.’
But Kaito didn’t know that at the time. Kokichi still doesn’t, and it was his idea.
The irreverent young man kicks his feet up onto the folding chair in front of him. A mass of sheets and blankets threaten to swallow the still-breathing shape in the hospital bed whole. Ouma practically blends in, already ghastly pale on a good day, the only color to his face a deep, bruised purple under the eyes.
Rantaro will be happy (or, at least, interested) to know Kokichi’s eyes are open. Again. For the third time in as many weeks, the kid remains almost entirely unresponsive save for a blank stare at the ceiling. After the second false alarm, Kaito has steadily been… no. No, the improbable is possible, even if it’s hard to keep spirits high. There’s still a chance these little fits indicate the Ultimate Pain-in-the-Ass is at least a little closer to waking up. He has half a mind to gently coax those violet eyes closed because it would really suck to wake up to a horrible case of dry-eye, right? himself. Then it looks like he’s just sleeping for once in his life. Kaito can hardly fault him for that.
Granted, he has to mentally prepare himself to do it; Kokichi is alive, his heart monitor is right there, and yet still Kaito searches for the slow rise and fall of his chest. It’s not like touching a dead body. In fact, can’t you just hear him insist you’re flirting with him, screwing up the oxygen mask laughing, ‘nishishishishi’….
Kaito is no longer afraid he will be haunted by Kokichi. He already is.
“Only a grade-a bastard can make you miss a sound that irritating, so you gotta get back here and atone. Got it?”
He does not expect a reply. He leaves room for one anyway.
“… Do you do this on purpose,” Kaito asks the smattering of abstract brushstrokes hanging in a frame on the opposite wall. Ouma is… too fragile, like this. The thought ambles forward. Nothing good comes of saying it out loud, he knows, but there is no-one around to hear but the boy who can’t. "I swear, Ouma, if you found a way to lie about this too,"
… Then what? What will you do, Kaito? Would you get your hands dirty, again, this time for keeps? Is that the kind of person you are? Is it who you’ve become, or is some degree of violence-as-problem-solving innate within you? So deeply ingrained that the person you used to be was willing to be replaced for an opportunity to be something he could be proud of…
Kaito scrolls through a custom RSS feed on his phone. It keeps his line of sight away from the center of the room and blocks out the thoughts he’d rather not consider with an unending wall of text. He mindlessly flicks his finger over the glass, ignoring three-then-four message notifications flashing at the top. It’s no secret where you are. You have come here almost every morning since the rest of you emerged from TAPP and plunged back into society. All of us make it out means all of us, no matter what.
He still believes that. He still curses his previous self, though, for promising it. It took him a good five minutes on the staircase to get up to the second floor, and every step hammered in the thought that much more: if you can’t do this, what else can’t you do anymore? You can’t, be the, SHSL Astronaut if, you stop part, partway up the stairs to breathe. You’re making terrible time leaning on the rail like that. Thing is, doubling down, makes it worse and. Hh. It took a puff of his inhaler to smooth out his breathing. God, if you can’t do this then what do you honestly expect to do for anyone else?
Besides, when on-record has anyone managed to tell Kokichi Ouma what to do?
Most of the class has accepted that Ouma is going to die. It makes the most sense. Even the school is questioning what to do with him. Something about an inability to track down a next-of-kin, for reasons that are certainly none of his business (Kaito will definitely be listening out for). But he has a vice grip on hope. The impossible is possible, after all!
(… Even if that’s only a lie you tell to yourself to keep going.)
If there’s one thing you know about Kokichi, it’s that the guy does not know when to quit.
Besides, it’s nice to have somewhere to go in the mornings. Kaito still insists on getting moving at oh-too-early, so used to exercise drills he may-or-may-not have ever actually had to do that he naturally wakes an hour or two before sunrise. The distinct feeling of his chest being scraped out with a wire brush has only barely deterred him from insisting on a morning jog. Even then, it only worked in combination with a couple trips to Tsumiki’s and the persistent chastising from his sidek–
They’ve always been his friends, of course. But crashing back to Earth, the real Earth, and landing in a strange translucent pod, meeting the concerned eyes of curiously spectating-specters he watched die makes a man feel significantly less in-control of a situation, you know?
(You had just killed a child. And it reminded you, strapped in for one last ride, that you were also a child. You all were.
You weren’t sure what exactly you expected would happen once you finally succumbed to the itch ingrained in your lungs, but ‘blearily sit up to see a room of your walking, chattering dead classmates and your unconscious very not-dead sidekicks, then Angie cheerfully beckoning everyone to crowd around you and help you stand before they cash in on their bets’ was not on your bingo card. It also clarified absolutely nothing. Ryoma? Kaede?
… Why was everyone passing whatever��they’re trading to Miu?
“Where’s 'kichi?” You asked the clowder of teens before you really registered I am both alive and can speak without spitting up my own blood. Nobody else seemed quite as confounded by that information as you were. They were all far too busy looking at one another in dead silence, expressions morphing with slow-encroaching horror.
Kaede stepped up to break the tension.
“We thought you were the victim.”)
Friends. Not sidekicks. He has to keep reminding himself.
His best friends keep chastising him for jogging when he really shouldn’t, but a little common sense never kept Kaito Momota, Luminary of the Stars sedentary for long! The infirmary isn’t even that far from the dorms, allowing for a reasonable, he swears, leisurely walk over. He even gets to pass through the courtyard garden, taking in the fresh air.
The heavy, humid late-summer air.
They can’t all be winners.
Most mornings, his routine starts early. The kind of early where:
About 4:30 AM, to the minute without an alarm clock, he jolts awake and rushes to get acceptably dressed, hurrying down the stairs. All the while, he checks his pockets meticulously for his phone-wallet-keys, in that order.
5:05 AM he opens the door of the dorm complex and realizes that it is raining today, and he is wearing slippers.
5:11 AM he comes back up to the interior welcome mat of the building in shoes less likely to fall apart in this weather (now that their uniforms are, presumably, not infinitely re-stocked) and with the foresight to grab an umbrella on the way out and under the jet-black pre-dawn sky.
5:15 AM Kaito is reminded that the rest of humanity sure does still exist, huh, because some part of it has deemed it perfectly acceptable to spit out their gum on the sidewalk instead of an inch over in the grass like a marginally more reasonable person. Incredible what a lack of the looming threat of death as punishment for basically any infraction does to your manners.
He does not think of how Ouma would probably do the same thing with clear glue in the most highly-trafficked spots on campus, seeding it in intersections like flypaper and letting foot traffic carry the adhesive to every part of the school by lunch. Kaito does not snicker to himself imagining how quickly that kid would convince the upperclassmen not to even try messing with Class 79, characterizing the caliber of shenanigans they’d invite immediately. Those fireworks would absolutely not be any fun to watch.
5:17 AM he faintly recalls he’d intended to grab a granola bar from the kitchen on his way out, and resigns to just picking up breakfast at a vending machine instead.
At 5:23 AM he knocks his forehead gently into the plexiglass, realizing why Kiibo hated these things so much. It’s spit the same note back at him at least five times, now, and he is not about to try and ask it for change. Instead, he picks up an energy bar for the receptionist who opens the door for him and a Panta with everything else. Just in case. (Shit, they’re out of purple. What’s second place? Peach? Fuck it, he’s lucky you’re too invested to ditch the machine all together)
Culminating in arriving at the hospital at 5:30 AM, setting the energy bar on the front desk as he heads directly for the stairs. He could take the elevator, sure, but he’ll cite the blinding-brightness of the fluorescence compared with the lamp-lit path he just came from (and really mean that no, I can’t, because I still have some pride, damn it, let me have this)
Something like that, at least.
Physical therapy doesn’t start until 6:00, so the extra half-hour he’s free to do as he likes. He’d like to hang out with a friend, but he has the misfortune of being the only morning-person in a band of night-owls. Thus, if he wants familiarity, he has to head up to talk at Kokichi. The peace and quiet up there (and soft beep-ing of a heart monitor that proves what Kaito has been trying to tell himself since the moment he woke up) is soothing enough to take a nap in the visitor’s chair. If Ouma minds, he hasn’t said anything about it.
So, until he can fall asleep, Kaito scrolls through a feed full of space news and photography. He’s taken to reading the horoscopes posted in the ‘for fun’ section of his favorite astronomy blog out loud first. “Because it’s supposedly space-related and also complete horseshit, so it’s perfect,” Kaito said to the pockmarked ceiling. In reality, it’d initially been a mis-click on account of his still-shaking hands. He’d been preoccupied trying to banish the memory of condensation on a painted steel handrail slicking his palms with either his or Kokichi’s blood, probably both.
It made him laugh.
“I have no idea when your birthday is. You know that? You could be any of these if it’d get you free ice cream, huh? So we’ll cover the bases. And if you don’t like it, just tell me to stop.”
He’s not sure whether or not he really believes Kokichi might hear him. But if funerals are for the living, so is cracking the kind of joke you think a distant friend might like. One of these days, he might be able to laugh with you about it. He’s read down the list every morning since. Something in the routine of it is grounding; a signal that the day really has started.
This particular day, Kaito leans back in the chair and reads off the horoscopes between bites of granola. The unopened soda bottle rests at the foot of Kokichi’s bed.
“Big changes are coming for you this fall, Gemini. As tempting as it might be to reminisce about times gone by, the slow pace of the dog days of summer are a perfect time to start planning ahead. This week, things snap into focus. Work on strengthening your connections– you have more of them than you think.”
“Jeez, Kichi, I think I could probably write this shit. There’s an Ultimate Programmer a year ahead of us, do you think anyone would notice if they set up a bot?” he half-laughs, looking over toward the bed. It hardly seems restful, hooked up to so many machines, but Kokichi looks like he needs any scrap of sleep he can g—
Didn’t you close his eyes already?
Kaito sits up straight, stretching, shaking the drowsy haze from his head before standing up. You’ve got to keep better track of these things. He strides to the side of the bed, a careful hand blotting out the harsh light overhead as the other reaches to carefully
Shut. His, eyes?
But they’re already closed.
The heart monitor picks up pace, a thudding beep-beep-beep-beep startling the SHSL Astronaut back a step or two. Remember your training. Keep a level head, Kaito, he might be having some kind of seizure. That can happen, right? You just need to call in the nurse. Probably nothing they haven’t seen before.
That thought evaporates almost instantly.
As Kaito presses the call button, he’s met with a desperate, terrified shriek. It’s a little muffled through the respirator and after weeks of silence, but the plea is unmistakable.
It's been mentioned that Kokichi has some phantom pains and he has clear mobility issues (love that btw as someone who uses a cane), so I was curious how the rest of the class is doing in that regard. Does Kaito ever struggle to breathe or have coughing fits? Do Rantaro and Angie get migraines?
[Talent Acquisition Pilot Program AU Masterpost]
This one. This one got away from me.
tl;dr: Absolutely, Anon, we are on very similar pages! This ask really got me thinking about how the whole TAPP!cast is doing fresh out of the Killing Game. Every student in Class 79 is going through something, about now, be it physical or mental; in fact, it’s usually both.
Also: for sure, I want to try and be relatively true-to-life with their struggles, especially Kokichi’s. I write from personal experience living with chronic pain, but haven’t used a cane before. Apologies if I miss the mark at any point.
Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional of any kind and the AU’s premise is largely sci-fi, so there may be inaccuracies. That said, I am fascinated with biomechanics and always looking to learn, so I’m trying to keep things at least semi-plausible.
Full spoilers for Danganronpa V3 (and some for the end of SDR2) ahead!
Very Long Loredump (~6.2k words) under the cut:
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
Everyone is traumatized. That much is obvious, sure, but the Talent Acquisition Pilot Program (TAPP) is a virtual reality simulator based on the bones of the Neo World Program (NWP). In much the way SDR2’s NWP is purported to replicate death in the simulation in the players’ real bodies, the TAPP simulation is built to alter the brain chemistry of its participants. TAPP builds muscle memory and ‘burns’ new neural pathways to a participant’s Default Mode Network (DMN), a collective term for parts of the brain responsible for letting us “autopilot” common tasks like riding a bike or typing on a keyboard. The V3 cast’s experiences in the simulation impact their real bodies in a very literal sense to ‘speedrun’ them through orientation at Hope’s Peak and mainstream them in the curriculum as quickly as possible so its researchers can start collecting useful data on the merits of HPA for investors.
The problem is, nobody programming TAPP anticipated they would start killing each other.
Class 79 were the first human test subjects for the program with zero peer review or board approval, of course, because HPA is morally dubious and can pass off “dude, trust me” as genuine credentials to several world governments. Even if this massive oversight was not noticed until after the fact, V1 of TAPP did at least include one quasi-safety feature: if any player became “significantly injured”, that player would be ejected from the simulation. Everyone else would be locked in the simulation (in case one of them was involved and tried to evade consequences) until an administrator could come and manually assess the situation. In theory, the physically-unharmed student could rejoin the simulation once the conflict was resolved.
But TAPP was built to write data to the brain. It was not built to identify what data it’s actually writing, and cannot differentiate between playing the piano and getting smashed in a hydraulic press. Data is data.
It does not help that Team Danganronpa (the group of Reserve Course kids, including Tsumugi) are foolish teenagers entirely unaware of this, assuming that “none of it is real, so none of it will actually matter! we’re just scaring them!” While skimming through the code and thoroughly Knowing Not What They Do, they manage to remove any defined cap for what constitutes ‘significant injury’ before player ejection. The only flag that can set it off is a lack of any other player flags. Virtual death.
This is where Rantaro earns the title of “Ultimate Survivor”. The shotput ball put him down too quickly for the damage to be fully reflected in his physical body, so he managed to get ejected with post-concussive symptoms, short-term memory issues, and persistent migraines instead of fully dying. Were his method of death much slower, he’d likely have been screwed (and wouldn’t have Komaeda’s luck cycle to save him).
Time scales differently in TAPP than in the physical world; while Rantaro’s been at the virtual Academy for several days, the students have been strapped in their pods for a few hours at most. Between the Responsible Older Sibling Energy seared over the person he may have been before and an extant knack for escape room puzzles, Amami is The Man with the skills and motivation to call in backup.
It’s a good thing he did, too! Their “observer”, having tired of watching a bunch of students play the piano and run around outside, only figures out something has gone horribly wrong the moment Rantaro practically busts down the door. The next tense hour-plus is spent doing damage control and imposing limits on the code of the simulation to prevent TAPP from letting the students actually die. Unfortunately, the TDR kids and their takeover took a sizeable chunk out of the spaghetti code holding the whole thing together in their haste. TDR, with proposed talents like Ultimate Cosplayer on their side, are primarily concerned with artistry and are only competent-enough programmers. As a result, there is no obvious way to manually override the lock completely and just let the students out without significant defragging, even as TDR members are still actively messing with the code, and who knows how long that will take. (About 6-ish chapters)
Instead, for now, they’ll have to settle for putting as many programming-adjacent talents as possible on the case and exploit a loophole that panicking overseer managed to write: if the remaining students are systematically ejected, the program will bypass the lock and let them out. During the rescue operation, the main objective is first to minimize the physical damage TAPP can inflict by lowering the tolerance required to eject the students (which is easier said than done) and by dampening its neural-carving functions, then to get everyone left out of there.
It is a very good thing they sprung into action as quickly as they did, as it doesn’t take long for Kaede to arrive.
The first thing Kaede notices coming out of the simulation is that she can’t hum the notes to get back on-pitch after the worst rendition of Der Flohwalzer she has ever heard. The second thing she notices, because it is far easier to be angry about something trivial than face the slow-dawning realization you are having, is that she can only barely speak. It hurts.
I think Kaede learns to sign early on, but still finds herself trying to speak aloud anyway since she’s so used to having her hands busy already playing piano. Shuichi often reminds her to take it easy, treat it like a vocal rest, and steadily she begins to improve. She is as exuberant as ever, with determination fitting of our protagonist. Kaede is the Class 79 representative, though with his renewed confidence Shuichi often accompanies her. Not only are they best friends (though it is strange, at first, to see her alive after spending so long grieving. Kaede last saw him, like, yesterday.) and Kaede will inevitably tell Shuichi all about the meeting anyway so why not cut out the middle man, but Shuichi initially came specifically to speak at meetings so Kaede wouldn’t strain her voice. She is immensely proud.
RANTARO (PT. 2)
Rantaro doesn’t hold the shotput ball against her; desperate times, and all. It made sense her proactive attitude would make her first to act for the ‘greater good’. She aimed to end the whole thing, not just comply. Even if she swung and missed, he (an older brother with faint recollections of failing to protect the people depending on him and guilt knowing he doesn’t have the stomach to take a victim and thus will be failing people in need of protection again) can’t fault her for swinging. She is confused when he asks her how she launched the ball that hard, though. Odd.
Tenko has neck pain issues like Kaede, but hers are more acute. The seesaw effect was heinous but relatively precise; as the magnum opus of TDR’s homebrewed serial killer, they un/fortunately made him pretty good at it when he has a plan. Tenko has some of the least devastating lingering physical injuries of the class. Given the severity of her classmates’ injuries, though, that still leaves her with minor vocal strain, susceptibility to sore throats, and severe neck pain, among other things.
A lot of Tenko’s lingering trauma is mental: she isn’t quite as willing to immediately throw herself into the fray to help her friends, and certainly doesn’t want to leave her back exposed (a tendency she shares with Kokichi, of all people). While it did numbers on her perception of men again for a while, hearing about the trial left her with a lot to reconcile. In a ‘cool-motive-still-murder’ way, she does not forgive Kiyo (nor is she obligated to) but doesn’t hate him as much as she expected, either. Processing the idea that a girl could be horribly abusive, especially to a guy, and catalyze a cycle of violence… gets to her. She’s more wrapped up in the tragedy of the entire situation than the righteous indignation that’d fueled her for so long. Everybody lost that day.
She’s pleasantly surprised to see Himiko trying to lift her spirits now. Those two have a lot to talk about and boundaries to set, yes, but Tenko is still touched Himiko took her words to heart and seems to be benefiting from it.
Angie had bit more complicated situation than Tenko, getting KO’d before the fatal blow. Her migraines come on more often than Rantaro’s with high light, which is a special kind of awful for the SHSL Artist, but they’re generally closer to a dull ache. Once she gets going on a project she sets out to grin and bear it; Tenko and Himiko often check up on her. She does her best to stay just as upbeat as in the simulation, and if anything it seems more genuine now. She can actually relax, rather than mind-game her way to relative (unsteady) peace under duress.
(Angie is really interesting to me for many adjacent reasons to Kokichi, since they’re both willing to get morally gray and manipulative if it’ll keep everyone from killing each other. Angie-Kokichi compare contrast essay when?)
She hasn’t “forgiven” Kiyo either, but isn’t hostile while she evaluates whether or not his conviction in getting help and being better is genuine. She was pretty heavily affected by TDR’s “character rewrites” as well, after all, and empathizes with the feeling you’ve been used as a glorified dress-up doll. To some unknowable extent, she is a different person now, and it is frightening.
She’s trying to step back and re-analyze her sense of spirituality, particularly how it relates to her art. It’s existentially harrowing, having been made to toe the line between faith and fronting to either get people to either listen to her or not see her as a threat. She’s not even positive “Kami-sama” (not going with the localization here, my understanding is the Japanese version was deliberately more generic and at least a bit less disrespectful towards real people and their beliefs) is the same deity she’d believed in before TAPP, but it’s difficult to try and reconnect with your roots when none of you have any information on your previous lives.
They do, at least, have a resident anthropologist that might have a clue how to even start looking.
Hah. They sure do, huh.
I think Angie is the type to nominally forgive and never, ever forget. She holds the kind of grudge that lives beyond logic as all the compartmentalized emotions you don’t want to admit you have. A grudge that co-exists with an active desire to move on and seeps into her art.
Kiyo got burned.
Also dead, somehow, an extension of the Ultimate Placebo Effect we have going on in the simulation; Kiyo was so certain ghosts were real and he’d be one that, through earnest conviction, the simulation made it so. I think this is how Komaeda’s luck works in SDR2 as well; the original Neo World Program was developed for therapy, and in doing so assesses whether or not it would be completely devastating (do more harm than good) to actively disprove something about the patient’s worldview at that time and adapts the environment accordingly. Hence you get a reality-warping luck cycle and ghosts are Definitely Real. Is either true in the outside world? No idea! Komaru talks to a ghost in UDG, once, but considering it’s unclear if Kiyo’s sister was ever a living person to begin with there are bigger fish to fry.
Or not. He’s pretty damn-well aware much that hurts. Or at least being boiled and seasoned does. Going by that kind of simulator-logic, I think in a technical sense it was the salt that killed him, not the torture. There’s probably something to unpack there I haven’t fully explored yet.
Rumors start going around campus that Kiyo is a vampire. It makes enough sense for watercooler gossip, the mask covering up fangs and an aversion to lingering out in the sun; Class 79 knows it’s actually because sunburn, for him, is a new brand of Unfun. He prefers to hole up in the library or his lab anyway, so it could be worse. He’s honestly kind of into becoming a school cryptid. It helps transition him from “avoiding my classmates and other people because they hate me, i also hate me, and we are all correct to do so. i am an extension of her so it does not matter what i want” towards “i am not my past, i cannot make up for what ive done but i can move forward and be better, i am forging a new self and it is mine this time and it always should have been”.
(Kokichi is particularly proud of having kickstarted the cryptid thing. Of course Shinguji would love to watch the evolution of new local lore in real time! Now he doesn’t mope in the corner half as much. He’s still in the corner, granted, but its probably reading while Rantaro sits next to him on his phone instead of moping!)
Kiyo’s also in therapy now. They all have therapy scheduled into their school weeks, but Kiyo has a session besides. Fabrication or not, everyone’s backstories are functionally now ‘real’ and need to be dealt with. Kiyo, Maki, and Kokichi got hit particularly hard on that front. Those scars run deep, but are starting to heal.
Of the students with whole-body injuries, Kiyo probably has the most manageable physical symptoms at this stage. He has to have long sleeves and generally keep as covered as he can so that he can subdue the part of his mind that expects the skin is still raw and flaking (it isn’t, but phantom sensations suck). Overheating pushes him toward a panic state like the end of his trial, which doesn’t exactly gel with the first point, but he’s working on it. Rantaro and Kokichi, occasionally Shuichi, tend to notice and start to defuse the situation. Part of me wonders if he’d have a black lace parasol on sunny days to lean in to the ‘mystery’ around him, plus for the sheer Aesthetic of it.
Speaking of full-body injuries: Kirumi. She has similar ‘got-to-keep-covered’ issues to Kiyo, particularly wearing heavier work gloves now just to minimize any potential for cuts (and, in the back of her mind, ropeburn). Breaking several bones on impact was rough, though fast enough that she’s had remarkable improvement in a relatively short period of time. She started out on crutches, which made it difficult for her to keep up with her workaholic inclinations, but unlike some of the other students she has at least an idea of “when to quit” as not to make things worse. She’s still genuinely lost some bone density resulting from her treatment and coping methods, finding that she really does need to lean on her friends on occasion, but she is still resolute she is a care-giver, damn it. On both physical and mental fronts she’s dealing with reclaiming her agency and independence.
Kirumi is one of the few, with Maki, whose talent courses actively discourage the kinds of behavior they need for personal growth and mental health maintenance. Kirumi is still reconciling her “rewrite”, the encoded passivity in her and clash of her “selfless devotion” against her own will to live and thrive, a nightmarish reminder that You Are Not Your Own. The “Ultimate” maid needs to be agreeable, to follow orders, and hasn’t the tampering just improved her proficiency at her craft? Why be so upset? Never mind having to reconstruct her proper ability to tell people “no”, having to re-learn it’s okay to do things for yourself; according to her programmed instinct, her classes, those very things are antithetical to her talent. And everything relies on that talent, doesn’t it?
Kirumi and Kokichi are the two in Class 79 who were discharged with mobility devices that got students in the other classes… more than mildly concerned about what the hell happened to all of these freshmen (well, first year at HPA anyway), but luckily for HPA administration they’re also probably the two people least likely to offer details.
There are enough students who have chest pain and associated issues that they made a club about it. It started out as Miu, Ryoma, and Kaito all independently concluding there was no way in hell they were making it through a mile run and sitting on the bleachers. Once they’d had an opportunity to gather themselves again, they do as teens are wont to do and started talking to each other. Hypoxia is an oddly effective experience to bond over. They call themselves the RIBs, standing for “Respiratory-Issue Beleaguered” (students), mostly because it made Miu laugh and for as irritating as the sound could be they’d missed it.
Kaede, Tenko, Gonta, and Kokichi also stop by from time-to-time, meaning precisely half of the 14 active Class 79 students revolving-door through this unofficial student group. HPA took notice. Class 79 has its own gym class, now, taking into account the state of everyone. One could argue that should have been the case from the onset. They would be correct.
Ryoma is fairly elusive. He generally keeps to himself and remains a Fairly Chill Guy with a cool temperament everyone wants to emulate (he doesn’t see what they see in him) and some Complicated Feelings now knowing he hasn’t killed anyone in the certified Real World and, by logic, should not have to have the memories of a hardened prisoner. He still does. The persistent rasp in his voice now surprises nobody, but it took a few days for everyone in the class to stop flinching a little hearing it. He frequently hangs out in the animal shed with Gonta, Gundham, and Peko to take care of the cats.
We’ve seen quite a bit of Miu in the AU so far, but to recap a lot of her deal:
She loathes having to “take it easy” but will do so reluctantly
She tries to talk less to stretch out her working time as much as she can (even if she can’t resist just a little banter when Kokichi swings by)
She’s trying to approach her death with a sense of humor. A choker with a huge heart-shaped buckle replaces her usual necklaces with full awareness of the irony. Ha-ha, a choker. It’s a dare for anybody to bring it up, ‘I’ve said it before anyone else could’. The first thing she did waking up was try and make an autoerotic asphyxiation joke. It did not make her feel better like she thought it would.
Miu spends most of her time in her lab, now. Granted, she did that already, but she’s particularly fixated on re-creating a certain Ultimate Robot, ground-up if she has to. Fortunately, she has a team assembled (re: two upperclassmen and the Ultimate Supreme Shit-for-brains). We’ll see how this pans out soon enough.
When not re-building Kiibo outright, she ““takes a break”” innovating in other areas (re: prototyping potential features for kIIbo, usually testing them on a bored Kokichi. He usually complies because Miu is one of the few who doesn’t look at him with a patronizing amount of pity she’s Not boring. Mm-hmm. All there is to it.)
Miu does not resent Gonta (or Kokichi, for that matter) for killing her. There's a small extent to which she's a little relieved she was stopped from going through with her plan to kill Kokichi, and a much bigger disconnect between her idea of reality and her memory of Chapter 4. Miu died in a VR game within another VR game. Having messed around with the programming and guts of the nested simulation personally, it still seems fake. She didn't really die, no matter how real it felt; they were in a simulation. Logically, she's well aware of how it works and the consequences, but it doesn't feel like it was more than a glorified fever dream on an emotional level. Both Gonta and Kokichi are more outwardly traumatized by her death than Miu as a byproduct of how she's processing it. She's not "better off" or "less impacted" so much as "disassociated from the whole thing and very much wanting to put it behind them before it catches up with her", thus burying herself in work and trying as hard as she can to bring back the one person she wants to comfort her.
Kiibo's absence is not great for her abandonment issues. It is hard to blame him when he never had a physical body to begin with, though.
Gonta is also with the RIBs, and reeling from it the most visibly of everyone on account of just how. Much, his death was. An allergic reaction blocking off the air, puncturing at least one lung for certain, and living long enough to feel the shrapnel of the laptop lodge into the wound alongside the scythe, the fire quickly eating away any oxygen, any hope of gasping another breath… yeah no he acts as much the gentleman as ever but he is not okay. As Resident Buff Nature Boy Gonta tanked it better than anyone else in the class could have, but the sheer excess of the thing gets to him. Fond memories of setting a campfire in the woods with his adoptive family are overwritten, vespidae in general… hitting differently. But Gonta is kind, to a fault. More resolute than ever to make himself into a kind of person not perceived as ‘too intimidating’ to be friends with, acknowledging the capacity he has for violence is difficult. Somewhere deep down he knows that everybody does, especially in their circumstances, but still acts as though his case is exceptionally bad (nobody else does. This does not deter him, becoming a little less gullible when its least helpful).
He is also not as disconcerted by the occasional spontaneous sensation that your insides are going to lose structural integrity, even with no stitches to pop, that with only the damaged wake and no piercing sharp pain to focus on and blame for the mess could potentially be perceived as a bizarre, abstracted kind of crawling feeling from the inside-out. Things in motion, displaced from where they are meant to be. He knows it isn’t bugs, isn’t glass and metal and plastic, that it isn’t anything but himself. A teeny-tiny part of him wishes it were. At least being shelter for a hive of some sort would be helpful. Aren’t gentlemen helpful, they improve life for people, make things better and how could anyone even look at you again knowing what you’re capable of, who in their right mind would talk to you, you’re going to end up alone again talking to stray cats in the alley since not even the wolves would stay—
Gonta also has extra therapy. He already had to work out self-worth issues, but the game pushed them to interfere too much in daily life not to actively work on.
Kaito has made several background and supporting appearances without much central attention just yet. It's not that I don't like him or anything (I do!) but I guess because it seems like well-worn territory in V3 fic to me? Kaito is endlessly proud of Maki and Shuichi (Himiko too, less personally) for "winning" in the face of the killing game, and the training trio of them meet back up again regularly. Only.
It's different, now.
He's no longer sick and dying, but his lungs 'top out' at a certain level of activity and refuse to take in more air, this burning sensation that leaves him only able to huff and wheeze and brings his training regiment to a dead stop. He treasures those last moments in his failed execution where he got to see the stars, because a lingering anxiety in the back of his mind won't let him forget that he never will again. Not the way he'd dreamed of, the way he'd planned to, the way he'd centered his identity around. There is no way, as things are, that he will pass all the physical exams to become a proper astronaut.
The drawn-out deterioration of his health during the simulation chipped away at his physical lungs at a rate too gradual for the countermeasures the rescue team implemented; TAPP did more overt physical damage to Kaito than anyone else. It could certainly be worse and he is gradually improving, but some degree of it is permanent. It haunts him. He's trying not to think about it.
It does, though, drive a wedge between him and his sidekicks; the survivors are planning their futures, and Kaito is not too far from a slight tailspin without any idea what his might look like for the first time he can recall. Space has been the dream since he was a kid (as has getting there in this specific role) and it almost feels like a rejection. Like he got too cocky, and the cosmos decided it didn't want him.
It starts to make a little more sense, then, that he starts willingly hanging out with Kokichi. They went through the hangar together, of course, but even besides the traumabond (and a need to, after he woke from his coma, make sure the little brat is still alive, damn it, you can't run away anymore it counts now) but. If anyone else gets having such drastically shifted circumstances that life as you'd imagined it no longer makes logistical sense, it's probably the leader without an organization. There's no need to explain the feelings of inadequacy, or the aimlessness, going through the motions of classes and formal education because what the hell else am I going to do, right now? It's familiar.
Kokichi needs someone willing to chase him, no matter how circuitous the route becomes. Kaito needs someone willing to shake him by the shoulders and snap him out of his own head, so sure it's all-or-nothing and that if he can't be the Luminary as he'd dreamed of it whatever happens next is immaterial in comparison. Kaito needs to adapt and roll with the punches, Kokichi needs to double back from his logical leaps from point A to point Q and articulate his thoughts clearly to other people (at least some of the time.) The two of them concoct little daily and weekly rituals, like Kokichi stealing Kaito's notebook and drawing in it, just because the consistency of company reminds them both that they aren't the only one going through this.
None of the other students quite get it, but have come to accept it.
Then there’s Kokichi.
Ah, Kokichi, whose whole deal in this scenario inspired me to write about this AU at all (and who manages to weasel his way into every comic and a other entries in these notes) . I’m biased, I know, but there are also a few reasons he’s singled out in-universe as well:
A) So a hydraulic press does not slam down quickly. The pause-and-play of the video deliberately makes it look much faster than it was; watching enough of the hydraulic press channel makes it abundantly clear that it was not instant. Kokichi was impaled with two crossbow bolts (the one in the back being bad enough already), poisoned by those bolts, and then pressed. He had to have felt non-zero of the Pressing, which, considering it already had to be agony before bones started breaking… the rest of the class might not have been fond of him, sure, but he’s right there with Gonta on “sheer level of excess.” Not even Maki is at a point of wishing that on him. Not after finding out how drawn out and excruciating it was. Veering into headcanon, I’m going to add “sleep deprivation” on the pile as exacerbating the whole thing, given his conspiracy whiteboard and everything after the concussion, honestly.
Combined with the World’s Worst Placebo Effect, King Horse takes the crown for top “my entire body hurts most of the time” severity. It’s not a desirable one, but when your previous life is all but erased there is exactly one choice available between Big and Home. Let it be said Kokichi Ouma has never half-assed anything he’s set his mind to, ever.
B) Ouma is paranoid and distrusting, which adds the psychological angle of “you literally shot me in the back” to a poison-laced crossbow bolt in his mind. TAPP will very literally never let him forget the bolt burying itself in the muscle of his back, barely kept from severing his spinal cord; he won’t forget the shivering and shaking from the poison, or the bile rising in the back of his throat handing Kaito the antidote. (He still wanted to live. He forfeit the right, he thought, after getting Gonta and Miu killed, but he still wanted to. That was all the more reason to quadruple-down on the press idea and making their three deaths mean something, damn it. Three, because Kaito could live. If the killing game ends there is no execution. It’ll be over. Can’t take back the past, but at least one of the pair of you has to walk out of this forsaken place!)
(… Can you really believe that? Or is it just another lie.
A lie you want, with all the heart they’re so sure you do not have, to blithely believe. There has to be a cure for whatever the hell has gotten into Kaito once the game ends and they can look for it, it might even stop cold the moment the game ends. That dumbass space cadet can go back to his sidekicks and he better appreciate it, the comradery you’ll never have, because he is the designated Hero and Heroes get happy endings. You want-want-want-want to trust in that lie, to trust him with the collected thoughts and notes and pieces of you spilled across reams of paper that have been so pointlessly important for you to keep secret this whole time. For once in your life, you want to believe you will not be betrayed. You want to believe in the closest thing you have left to a friend.
It will, in fact, be the last thing you do.)
C) Ouma is paranoid and distrusting. Again. Only this flavor has more to do with his persistent denial anything is wrong, in turn making things a lot worse for himself. Mental trauma and impressions of physical sensations can have physical effects. Clinging to his persona and trying to keep bouncing around like nothing ever happened turned a very difficult but potentially manageable condition into small amounts of permanent nerve damage within the first day of waking up. It screws with his coordination; just what he needed at a school that prizes talent above all else, when he is a leader with no organization and proficiencies in sleight of hand, forgery, lockpicking, and generally evading anything that might threaten him because he can’t take very many hits.
D) Kokichi was last of the class to wake up from the simulation, even after the survivors. They thought he was actually dead for a bit. Just when they were thinking of giving up on him Kokichi Ouma, SHSL Stubborn Son of a Bitch, refuses to stay down for the count.
HPA already knew Class 79 would need accommodations on account of their negligence, but it became much harder to sweep things under the rug when they thought they’d actually killed a student. Even worse, thirteen witnesses have been actively fraternizing and scaled the flashback-gaslighting required to cover it up to easily exceed what their current technology is capable of.
Half the class was positive Ouma was playing dead specifically to fuck with them and light the fire under them to act. He and Kaito are the only ones to know without a shred of doubt that he was not. He still gladly takes the credit, though.
E) Class 79 as a whole already adapted to Ouma Being Ouma, so when the definition of ‘Being Ouma’ expanded he’s still pretty distinct. He hangs out around the people closest to him often, particularly Miu, Kaito, and Rantaro, but the entire class knows now that he’s pretty much beyond the point of perfidy. Even if he were to lie about being in more pain than he is at a given moment, there’s constantly enough underlying truth in how vulnerable he is that it’s not strategically worth trying to use as a manipulative tactic. It’s too real. Plus, he knows better than to boy-that-cried-wolf his way out of help from his classmates after getting lost on campus once and fainting before he found his way back.
K1-B0, as far as has been established, is being re/built. Miu is spearheading the project. Presumably, he is currently hanging out on at least one computer in the school, somewhere. Per the AU, though, Chapter 6 did go a bit differently than canon, so we’ll catch up with him soon.
Nobody is exactly certain what happened to Shirogane. Or, at the very least, nobody in the class knows. Admin is certainly not about to tell them. Wouldn’t it be just like the Ultimate Cosplayer to Theseus her way back into their lives following a single loose thread…
Shuichi, Maki, and Himiko each emerged from the simulation minimally physically harmed in a lasting sense beyond initial fatigue from being hooked up for so long. Each is still moving forward on their established character arc: Himiko is finding her motivation, Maki is learning to open up, and Shuichi is becoming more sure of himself and his detective abilities.
I think Himiko begins embracing the 'stage' side of her magic, considering that TAPP was blocking my mana, and you know what? I survived a killing game, and I didn't even need it. What else can I do without my mana? As time goes on, she'll likely value her own practical skills more rather than relying on her want of more fantastical powers. Not to say she'd disown them, but more that she could admit to herself it's more for fun than a need to affix something exceptional to her identity. She is enough as she is.
Maki enters HPA and immediately requests transfer out of 'Ultimate Assassin' classes. She hates fighting, per canon, and after going through the simulation she is no longer afraid of any authority figure that may deny her because she has certifiably seen worse. She initially tries to pivot and become the Ultimate Child Caregiver, for Real This Time; she is genuinely pretty good with kids. After a little incident nearly choking Kokichi, though? It confirms what she'd been afraid of all along: her patience is too thin, her instinct to defend too heavy on the trigger. She talks to Peko about it, among other people, Mukuro and Sakura chief among the other classes. She'd made their acquaintances during combat training in the first few days at HPA. She especially confides in Kaede, who carries a more-domestic-less-battlescorn perspective on it she can't help but appreciate. Kaede takes her to not-Claire's, playing with accessories and make-up and generally reclaiming some of the girlhood Maki has effectively never been allowed to have. In the whole process, Maki realizes she wants more than anything to protect the ability to have that kind of frivolity, that freedom: she changes tracks again, to become a SHSL Bodyguard.
Shuichi is a difficult one to place for me, exactly. He's in a state of becoming significantly more confident in the wake of the simulation, but the deviation from canon has turned the main conflict away from ending a destructive cycle and towards fighting the idea of predetermination by an external force. Shirogane was predetermined to stay in the Reserve Course despite her skills and aspirations, and railed against it; Kiibo was predetermined to be an AI helper and not a person, but embraced the role so hard he developed a soul of his own; Maki denies her talent and changes her destiny, Himiko embraces hers.
I suppose Saihara must fall somewhere in the middle, then. An observer steadfastly declaring that yes, there were aspects of life shaped for them beyond their control (entry into the simulation if they wanted a taste of success, the killing game, the "character rewrites" overriding the people they were before...) and yes they cannot control everything. What happened has happened. There are always going to be things you can't control (like how severely you burn in the sun, or whether you get headaches with the lights up too high, or even if your dream life rockets away too fast for you to catch unless you want to lose what you still have) but you can adapt to it. It's tempting to give in, to consider it all a lost cause, to submit to the forces you feel are puppeting you, but see. You keep living anyway, because you have to. The only way forward is through. Even if you were a puppet, you're still an independent you, and that means something. Maybe you can't snap your strings, but you can sure as hell stretch them out and bend them in a way you like better than this one.
Not having total control doesn't mean the control you do have doesn't matter.
So Shuichi is taking up cases as a detective, now. Seeing how he likes it. If not? Well. Skills are transferable.
He'll be okay.
They all will.
(The first screenshot I took of this ask to begin drafting vs. the last one:
I'm sorry I am bad at timely responses but I hope they are Good.)
This Heart of Mine is Guilty (Not Remorseful)
read it on the AO3 at https://ift.tt/pEqlH6j
"I don't know what you're doing, but I am gonna get out of dodge. This is a Category Four shitstorm waiting to happen."
An overdue conversation finally happens. Kokichi and Gonta skip class.
Full spoilers for NDRV3 Chapter 4 and onward, moreso than usual as major events are directly discussed!
Part of the TAPP AU.
Words: 5715, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English
Series: Part 3 of The Talent Acquisition Program Pilot (Post-game V3 HPA AU)
Fandoms: New Dangan Ronpa V3: Everyone's New Semester of Killing, Dangan Ronpa Series
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Gokuhara Gonta, Oma Kokichi, brief discussions of Tojo Kirumi, Class 79 (background)
Relationships: Gokuhara Gonta & Oma Kokichi
Additional Tags: Character Study, Fix-It of Sorts, Reconciliation, Autistic Character, Autistic Oma Kokichi, Autistic Gokuhara Gonta, but in different ways!, Killing Game Was A Virtual Reality Simulation (Dangan Ronpa), Post-Game, Oma Kokichi has Chronic Pain (Post-game), Oma Kokichi Is Bad at Feelings, Survivor Guilt, Past Character Death, (again they got better), Talent Acquisition Program Pilot (TAPP) AU (Dangan Ronpa), Alternate Universe - Non-Despair (Dangan Ronpa)
read it on the AO3 at https://ift.tt/pEqlH6j
Stop It. Get Some Help.
read it on the AO3 at https://ift.tt/8CzGRxc
"[...] headcanon that kokichi kinda. for several reasons has a bit more intense a time than most of his classmates and sometimes he Needs to sleep at arbitrary times during the school day. if he wont do it voluntarily he'll just kinda faint- which is especially frustrating for him because the lack of control and his inherent distrust of most people fuel his paranoia- and over time he designates a couple of Probably Secure places around campus that he can sleep if his dorm is too far."
After the hijacking and spectacular failure of the Talent Acquisition Program Pilot at Hope's Peak Academy, the 79th class is left to pick up the pieces. Nobody— not even the bravest, most "talented" among them— emerged from the simulation unscathed. The difference now lies in how they deal with it.
[Primarily a series of comics on tumblr, will port to Ao3 at a later date.]
Words: 3502, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English
Series: Part 1 of The Talent Acquisition Program Pilot (Post-game V3 HPA AU)
Fandoms: New Dangan Ronpa V3: Everyone's New Semester of Killing, Dangan Ronpa - All Media Types
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Categories: Gen, M/M
Characters: Oma Kokichi, Momota Kaito
Relationships: Momota Kaito & Oma Kokichi, Momota Kaito/Oma Kokichi
Additional Tags: brief references to the training trio, romance angle optional, Alternate Universe - Non-Despair (Dangan Ronpa), Killing Game Was A Virtual Reality Simulation (Dangan Ronpa), Post-Canon, Post-Game, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD, Past Character Death, (they got better), Angst and Hurt/Comfort, Injury Recovery, Oma Kokichi Is Bad at Feelings, Oma Kokichi has Chronic Pain (Post-game), Talent Acquisition Program Pilot (TAPP) AU (Dangan Ronpa), Oma Kokichi-centric, Autistic Oma Kokichi, it's not a plot point this time but still, Suicidal Thoughts, not explicitly or majorly but theres an undercurrent and better safe than sorry, Survivor Guilt, kind of
read it on the AO3 at https://ift.tt/8CzGRxc