Needless to say, her dorm room was a mess. Fuzzy pink blankets and pillows in cartoon bunny pillowcases were thrown in a heap on the bed. Notebooks and textbooks littered the floor while a case of hot curlers, some cup noodles, an assortment of chocolates and stuffed animals were filed alphabetically in the bookcase. Clothes were simply everywhere; there was not an inch of the generous dorm space unoccupied by a piece of clothing.
Enoshima Junko couldn't even see the ground.
All that was clean was her desk, which sported a pink laptop and a beat up desk lamp in the opposite corner. Her desk chair was adorned with thigh high socks and panties dangling off the arms.
She lived in absolute devastation. Which, to be fair, could only be expected of the Super High School Level Despair (the brand names and lingerie were courtesy of her alternate title: Super High School Level Fashion Girl).
The semester was new and she had much work ahead of her. Orientation had been very informative. Use of the word "hope" at least twelve times during the headmaster's speech made her want to barf; each utterance was like a spear in her heart. She had enjoyed the despair. Above all, though, the opportunity to scope out her fellow classmates was a fabulous introduction to life at Hope's Peak.
A room full of such bright hope was fertile soil for the most crushing despair to bloom. There was nothing like the classical tragedy of a fall from grace.
Missing from the orientation of Hope's Peak Academy's Seventy-Eighth Class was a boy with the extraordinary luck to have fallen asleep at the bus stop.
He was Naegi Makoto, Super High School Level Luck. On the most important day of his life, the six AM bus through his hometown en route to Hope's Peak Academy zipped through the early morning streets while one Naegi Makoto napped silently in his hoodie. He dreamt of arriving at his new high school, confident and proud (and possibly a couple inches taller). He dreamt of being surrounded by friends, of walking to class with a pretty girl, of school dances and internships and fitting in with the unrivaled elite. He dreamt that he, Naegi Makoto, belonged at such a prestigious institution.
That dream was striking in contrast to the harsh reality of the empty street, the time on his cell phone seeming to indicate he was in another dimension than the one he remembered-this being the dimension where he was on time for the bus. Reality struck him hard.
He scrambled over to an information desk at the station and inquired after the next one. His heart sank.
The next bus left at three.
His orientation began at ten AM sharp, which was already rapidly approaching.
Without his own means of transport, he was stuck. There was nothing to do now but to wait, disheartened and alone, and worried for what issues might be caused by his absence.
Naegi was crestfallen, but he wouldn't panic yet.
It was six thirty PM by the time he arrived at Hope's Peak Academy and retrieved his eHandbook from the main office. He stood in front of the door to his room with his travel bag slumped over his shoulder. He was exhausted. The whole day had turned into one gigantic disappointment, not to mention a hassle and a half.
Classes start tomorrow, though. He thought. I'm sure I won't get into too much trouble for missing orientation... I'll just ask around and figure out what's up...
Naegi decided he would just put some of his things away, take a shower, and rest up. No harm, no foul. Tomorrow was a new day.
He was feeling a lot better until he discovered the bathroom door was stuck.
By mid day the next day, Naegi Makoto would have been lying if he said he wasn't panicking at least a little bit. He sat down on the steps in the courtyard after the first round of classes, his heart heavy. To describe him as discouraged would be an understatement.
What am I doing here...?
Despondent thoughts floated around like clouds of dust. Conflicted thoughts, too, as he tried to motivate himself to feel differently. He was so far failing, which was cause for particular distress when he counted optimism as his only redeeming quality.
This was all some kind of mistake... "Luck" isn't even a talent... some luck I have...
The shoe had been on the wrong foot from the get-go. Yesterday's disaster aside, he had trekked to the Registration Office first thing in the morning to pick up the class schedule his peers had received during orientation. The woman at the desk ignored him for at least five minutes before consenting to rifle through some paperwork. She answered several phone calls in between filing cabinets. After many assertions that he must have already gotten his schedule and misplaced it, she was able to look up his information and print him a new one.
This schedule was apparently new to all of his teachers, too, because each class he showed up in directed him to a different one. In one case it took him three tries before he found the room where his name was actually on the roster. The professors regarded him with disdain before appointing him a seat and marking him tardy on their attendance lists.
As if this spectacle of trying to properly locate himself wasn't humiliating enough, there then came the obligatory round of introductions.
In each class on the first day, the students of Hope's Peak were asked to introduce themselves to their classmates and to speak briefly about their aspirations at the Academy. In first period, Literary Traditions, Naegi felt awkward and embarrassed. Naturally of a pleasant and optimistic demeanor, he explained that he had never expected to come to Hope's Peak and that he hoped he would enjoy his experience and be inspired to figure out what he would like to do.
In any normal school, this would have been a perfectly acceptable answer, short and sweet. At Hope's Peak, his response was regarded with confusion and disdain. Even teachers paused and in one case a disgruntled professor even blurted out, "Excuse me?" All of his peers had made remarkable statements... a lifelong dream to be a world renowned surgeon... the youngest in a line of formidable businessmen, destined to carry on their legacy, already attending business meetings at his father's side... an Olympic swimmer... receptions of scholarships for outstanding performance in theater and art, even from students with humble origins such as himself, but with promising futures... They all looked at him with bewilderment and even shock. What was this clueless, run-of-the-mill bum doing here?
By his fourth class of the day, Naegi was so embarrassed he considered doing something he never did: lying. Even though there were some students present whom he had already been in class with, throughout the role call he convinced himself of a hopelessly pitiful speech about how he intended to study international relations and receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe his cheerful personality could sell them on it, even though in his own head it seemed childish and ridiculous (though admittedly, other students had already touted aspirations of something similar). But even to Naegi Makoto, the notion of himself doing such a thing was bogus.
Either way, when the teacher read off his name in the one class he was relieved to have made it to on time for, he fumbled over his words and told the truth. He had never been good at lying. And after introducing himself this time, he sank back into his chair completely red-faced with his head down, locking his eyes on his feet under his desk. He couldn't bear to see the reception of the class.
After a ten second period of silence that stung like knives, the professor moved on to a girl behind him. His thoughts were such a jumbled mess he didn't even hear who she was, but as the class progressed he was vaguely aware that she seemed to be studying him intently. Or maybe she was just lost in thought, using the back of his head as a random point to zone out while looking like she was paying attention to the teacher. Either way, this notion only heightened his shame. He assumed everyone was probably looking at him in this way. It felt despairingly pathetic.
Sitting outside now, he could breathe a little bit. He inhaled the fresh air, his eternal optimism coming home to roost. It was only his first day. First days were usually awful, right? It would get better. If anything, it definitely couldn't get any worse.
He checked his phone and realized he had only a half hour left of his break between classes. His stomach rumbled; he should get something to eat.
Then came the terrible realization that he had forgotten his wallet. He panicked for a moment that it was lost, but his doubt was satisfied by the distinct mental image of it resting on the dresser in his dorm. He had been so anxious for class that he had looked over his room half a dozen times to make sure he didn't forget anything.
Yet here he was starving, the wallet still stranded in that mental thought bubble burned in his brain.
He sighed, completely defeated. There was absolutely no way he could go and get it and still have enough time to eat.
He kicked a rock down the steps and pouted.
"Hey'a, little dude!"
Naegi turned around to see a tall boy with messy hair and a half unbuttoned dress shirt. His tie was loose, the knot improperly done to begin with, and he wore baggy pants that slouched in an obvious size too big. The boy's jacket was slung over his shoulder and his armful of beaded bracelets jingled as he walked. A necklace of woven hemp and chunks of rock rested on his chest.
"Uhh... me?" Naegi, dumbfounded.
"Yeah you, nugget!" The boy sauntered over and sunk down onto the step beside Naegi with such careless grace it seemed he did the same thing every day.
"Uhh... nugget? I'm sorry, I don't think we've met..."
"You really are a misfit here, huh?"
The stranger leaned back against the upper step, arms outstretched.
"I was in one of your classes today. Maybe even more than one, they all seem the same, I don't remember." He scratched the bushy mane of dreads that were so dirty they seemed to be sculpted onto his head.
"But yeah, there was some strange, y'know... speed bump... in the whole stereotypical student interview stuff we all gotta go through, to be like, all impressive and junk... and I remember looking up and being like, why's everybody so upset about this dude?"
He gave a massive shrug and that seemed to be all he had to offer as he shook his head and gazed off into the distance.
Naegi was at a loss for words.
"Um, yeah... er, dude." He didn't know how to continue this conversation.
A misfit? Naegi honestly agreed he didn't really belong at Hope's Peak, especially after today, but it was still odd coming from this one who looked like he hadn't showered in two days. Or do his laundry. Still, Naegi did his best to be cordial.
"My name's Naegi Makoto. What's yours?"
"Bond. James Bond." The boy laughed and shuffled around in his pockets for a cigarette and a lighter. At least, Naegi thought it was a cigarette.
"Just kidding, pal. I'm way better looking than James Bond. Hagakure Yasuhiro. Smoke?" He lit the joint carelessly and inhaled before offering it up to Naegi.
"Uh, n-no, no thanks." Naegi gave a nervous chuckle and waved his hands in front of him. "I don't smoke."
Hagakure looked flabbergasted.
"It's not a cigarette, dude! That's gross." He was repulsed. "Cigarettes smell bad, man! And they're totally bad for your health! This is good stuff! I grow my own, you know!"
The situation suddenly became clear to Naegi and his jaw dropped.
"You're smoking weed!?"
"You say it like I'm doing drugs!"
"He is, and he should probably be less obvious about it."
The speaker seemed to appear out of nowhere, stepping down from behind them and casting a wildly disapproving glance at Hagakure's misshapen state. This boy was striking juxtaposed against Hagakure. He was dressed sharply with clothes that were in all likelihood tailor made for him. He sported a sharp black jacket, black slacks and a crisp white dress shirt topped off with a plaid bowtie. He wore cleanly cut glasses that suited his face shape, which was also framed by his carefully styled blonde hair. The two couldn't be more opposite.
These two are friends?
"Togami! Just the man I wanted to see!" Hagakure grinned, announcing his friend's entrance loudly, eliciting a few curious glances from groups of students lounging around the courtyard.
Hagakure patted the step next to him.
"Come share this joint with me, O, Mighty One!"
Right, Togami Byakuya. Naegi remembered him as the young entrepreneur who had introduced himself as the sole heir to the Togami Conglomerate. Watching this boy react in a quasi-normal high school setting made Naegi disoriented.
"Idiot. You are causing a scene. This is not the time and place for this."
"Seriously, dude? Come on, what's the big deal..." he went to take another drag and in an instant Togami snatched up the joint and put it out against a railing before tossing it into a patch of well-groomed shrubbery.
"WHAT THE HECK, MAN!?" Hagakure scrambled to his feet, eyes wide. "That was perfectly good weed!"
It looked as though he was going to jump into the bushes after it.
Togami was completely unfazed.
Hagakure clenched his fists and glared at him.
"You better pay me for that, dude! My prices aren't cheap!"
"Is that even necessary?"
It was clear to Naegi that Togami was referring to the ludicrous notion he would not reimburse Hagakure for the confiscated drugs. Or perhaps criticizing Hagakure for protesting at all.
Either way, Naegi couldn't fault him for calling out Hagakure's unruly behavior, even if he was being rude.
"What a huge waste! See how this guy treats me, nugget!?" Hagakure exclaimed, glancing back at Naegi while pointing an accusatory finger at Togami.
"Best, best-super best!-friends. And he casts my hard work aside without a single thought."
He turned back to the boy who was his complete opposite.
"You wound me."
Togami ignored him.
"What are you doing here?" Togami finally addressed Naegi.
"I-I was just uh, hanging out?" Naegi panicked. "Just, uh, taking in the scenery."
"There is no scene here. You may go."
"No! I-I didn't mean it like that, that you were causing a scene. I meant, I was sitting here, looking at the garden-"
Togami stared at Naegi with complete disinterest. It wasn't difficult for Naegi to realize that his explanation had been entirely irrelevant.
"I don't remember saying that I care. Just go."
Naegi blushed, rising and floundering with his schoolbag when Hagakure pulled him back.
"Yo, don't let this cocky bastard here bully you, nugget! You have a right to chill here just as anybody else does."
Naegi was stunned and tried to muster up a response when Togami turned his back.
"We're leaving, Hagakure."
"Yeah, yeah, I know..." He released Naegi's arm and shuffled off after Togami. "See ya, new friend."
They walked away, Togami leading with a sophisticated stride, Hagakure shuffling after.
This is a strange, strange school... But, I guess I made a friend?
He wasn't so sure about that, but it was a day for counting his blessings.
Girls were relaxing in the sun with their books. Guys were kicking a football, or standing around checking the girls out. Groups of friends were laughing. Perhaps this was normal?
Realizing that it must be time for class now, Naegi gathered up his things and made his way into the appropriate school building, his stomach whining like a begging dog. He lamented the forgotten wallet.
When he pushed open the double doors into the hallway, he became aware of a curious smell. He made a disgruntled face, trying to discern the source of the scent.
His jacket smelled like pot.
He took it off, disgusted, and sighed up at the ceiling.
What a terrible day.
Tumbling from hope into despair was romantic. It was the kind of misfortune poems were written about before rowing out to sea in a storm.
Living her whole life as nothing but a lackluster disappointment, Ikusaba Mukuro did not fall into despair.
She was born into it.