By Dixxy Mouri
Chapter Seventeen: No More "I Love You's"
"Ow, ow, OW!"
"Hold still, I'm not good at this!"
"Taka, that HURTS!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
Mukuro gritted her teeth, gripping the edges of the table she was sitting on while Taka tried to tend to her wounded leg. Currently they were hiding in the back corner of the teacher's office, with the prefect trying (and failing, albeit admirably) to see if there was a way to dress the injury. It had seemed like the best place at the time to hide – Mukuro needed someplace to recover and he didn't want to move her any further than he already had to. They would make their way back to the first floor to meet with the others later.
"Do you know what you're doing?" Mukuro asked, watching him work skeptically.
Taka sighed, giving up for the moment when he realized he was way outside of his league. "Not really. I took some first aid classes but they were a while ago and I don't have much to work with . . . and I don't think they had any study material for first aid after death so . . . I'm at a loss here," he said. He sat on the table next to her in defeat. "I'm sorry, Mukuro, I can't do anything else for you."
Mukuro frowned, staring at the middle of his chest - he thought maybe she was avoiding eye contact, but that didn't seem right. "No . . . I'm the one who should be apologizing," she said.
"Mukuro, you don't need to keep apologizing every five minutes," said Taka. "We know."
Mukuro shook her head. "No it's . . . it's not that." She looked at him with sad, defeated eyes for a moment before looking away. "I should have stayed with you when you ran into me outside of the physics lab. I should have made sure you got back to Mondo and the others instead of running away. If I did that, then maybe those things wouldn't have grabbed you."
Taka frowned. "Mukuro, you didn't know those things were lurking around . . .right?"
"No, I didn't, but . . . if you hadn't gone missing I don't think everything else would have gotten this screwed up. Sayaka and Chihiro wouldn't have broken off from Mondo, Leon, and Hifumi, so Sayaka wouldn't have gotten captured by those things, either. It's my fault that stuff happened to everyone. It's my fault Mondo, Leon, and Celes are all in the biolab and now Sakura's been hurt by those things, too."
"Mukuro you didn't know-"
"No, Taka, you don't understand-"
"Calm down, we know how hard you're trying to help and-"
"They think it's what you're supposed to use to get to the afterlife!"
Taka paused only for a moment to collect his thoughts, and the weight of her words hit him like a sucker punch to the stomach. Is that why Mom and Grandfather were . . . Taka was only half-listening to Mukuro's explanation as she relayed what Mondo had told her – he understood, but his brain kept replaying what he'd heard in his head before that creature had . . .
"Mom? Mom . . . is that you?"
Taka grabbed the center of his chest. "I . . . won't see my family again? Even in the afterlife?"
Taka! Taka, baby, hurry!
Mukuro couldn't even look at him.
Kiyotaka, hurry! You need to get out of there!
". . . Grandfather? I don't . . . I don't understand . . ."
Taka's eyes widened as he fought back tears. "I'm never . . . never . . . going to see them?"
Taka! Taka, please, do something!
Taka backed away from Mukuro and the table, hugging himself as everything came crashing down around him. It was bad enough that the world had ended. It was bad enough that even if he had survived the killing game he probably would have suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. It was bad enough he was dead, but THIS? Taka had never fathomed that the entire afterlife was going to be taken away from him, too. "No!" he said.
Mukuro covered her mouth with her hand. "Taka, I-"
"I . . . no! No, this isn't fair!" He shook his head as he watched Mukuro, who was looking at him strangely. "This isn't fair! I didn't do anything to deserve this! I was supposed to do something with my life! I didn't get to finish high school, I didn't get to go on to college or become Prime Minister and redeem my family name, I didn't get a chance to fix all the corruption in our government . . . I'm a teenager forever. I didn't even live to see adulthood. And with your sister taking our memories you may as well have killed me two years ago! Now I can't even rest in peace?! I have to stay like this trapped in the school forever?!"
"Taka . . . you need to calm down-"
Something in Taka snapped and he started shouting, temporarily forgetting their delicate situation and the possibility he might attract unwanted attention from the monsters. "Calm down? You want me to calm down?! I think I'm MORE THAN ENTITLED to be REALLY MAD right now! Your sister made us murder each other! Over half of our class is dead because of the two of you!"
"Taka that's not what I'm talking about, something is-"
The prefect held out his hand to silence her. "How is this not what you're talking about?! ALL OF US have blood on our hands – even I voted for Leon to die after he tried to defend himself from Sayaka! Damn it, I even voted for myself and everyone else to die after what happened to my two best friends! And because of what, Mukuro? Because Junko has some sort of sick and twisted fetish for despair?! How is that not-"
Taka was stunned into silence when Mukuro grabbed his shoulders, looking him over in horror. She was on her feet and stable for a few moments before her bad leg buckled beneath her. Instinctively Taka caught her, and he got another look at her face – the panic and fear in her eyes was entirely different. "Taka, Taka look at me! Look at me and pull yourself together!"
"You just told me I can't pass on! How am I supposed to pull myself together?!"
"No, you don't understand, Taka . . . something's wrong . . . something's wrong with your body!"
Sayaka, Hifumi, and Chihiro managed to get Sakura down to the first floor nurse's office. It had been difficult, but the trio had silently agreed it was probably the best place for her, even taking into consideration how far away they'd need to go. Hifumi and Chihiro exchanged nervous looks once they had her settled on one of the beds, clearly afraid of that kind of pain themselves, while Sayaka wordlessly held her hand, not even flinching when Sakura squeezed back. The singer didn't doubt that if they had been alive, her hand would have been crushed from the strength in her injured friend's hands.
It hurt, but it wasn't as bad as what Sakura was going through. Sayaka knew that too well.
Worse yet, Taka and Mukuro weren't back yet.
Sakura's grip on her hand began to loosen and Sayaka retracted her hand, moving it to her shoulder instead. At the very least it finally seemed like the pain was starting to subside, though she was still clearly in a lot of distress. Chihiro took a seat near the bed and Hifumi stood by the door, seemingly trying to keep an eye out for any sign of the others or one of the monsters.
"What now?" Chihiro asked quietly.
"I don't know," said Sayaka. "I suppose we need to wait for Taka and Mukuro to get back."
Chihiro didn't say anything in response and resorted to rubbing Sakura's head.
"And what then?" asked Hifumi. "Master Sayaka Maizono, we're still trapped in the school and there's only so long that running and hiding like this is going to work. They were even able to best Master Sakura Oogami and in combat."
Sayaka frowned. "I don't know."
Mukuro was at a complete loss for words as she took in what was happening to Taka.
Instinctively, they'd headed to the bathrooms to access a mirror so Taka could see for himself what was going on. But just that initial glimpse in the mirror wasn't enough, and they'd resorted to Taka removing his jacket and shirt to see just how bad this new condition was, and what they saw put a terrifying new spin on their situation.
All over Taka's body – his arms, his torso, even his face and his hands – were oddly shaped black and white splotches. The spots on the right half of his form were white, those on the left were black, and those that were in the middle had both colors, with a clear, solid line dividing the two halves of his body. It was just like Monokuma, or the wolf monster, or one of the creatures currently hunting them down.
"Mukuro . . . what's happening to me?" Taka asked. He wasn't looking at her, instead looking over his arms and torso. "How . . . how is this . . . what is this!?"
Mukuro honestly had no idea. As he spoke, however, she noticed that the black and white splotches were beginning to twist and grow, spreading like spilled ink across Taka's skin. The prefect noticed and started to shake.
"Yeargh! What's happening to me?!"
The splotches started to spread at an even faster rate. Mukuro watched in horror, but the display before her taught her just enough to piece together some of the puzzle. "It gets worse the more you panic!" she said.
Okay, okay, let's break this down into parts – Taka's panicking, he's turning black and white, and . . . I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. Okay, okay, that's basically two problems . . . I can't solve the patches on his skin problem, but maybe I can calm him down? Okay, yes, good plan, we're going to calm him down.
. . . what the hell calms Taka down?
That was a conundrum. Taka was usually pretty intense – she wasn't ever sure she'd actually seem him "calm" before. She knew that he liked studying and such but she had no idea how to calm him down that way. "Uh . . . what's two plus two!?" she asked.
"What the – how do you not know what two plus two is, that's elementary school math!"
Okay, no pop quizzes! Uh . . . uh . . . what would Junko do in this situation?
While Mukuro (possibly) came up with the right answer, she'd asked the wrong question.
Mukuro clenched her eyes shut as she ripped open her blouse. "LOOK AT THESE!"
This was a decision she immediately regretted. Not only had she just exposed herself to Taka in what was a very ill-fated attempt to calm him down, but she'd undoubtedly ruined her top, one of her male classmates was staring at her bra, and she was too embarrassed to move. …note to self, don't ever do what Junko would do in a given situation ever, ever again.
Taka balked at the sight of her bra and exposed abdomen. "M, M, Mukuro what are you doing!?"
"T, trying to calm you down!" she stuttered.
"T-That's not helping!" Takes was red in the face (or at least as red as he could get in his current state) from embarrassment, his eyes clenched shut. "Please just put your blouse back on!"
"I can't it's ripped! I panicked!"
Taka blindly fumbled for his shirt and tossed it to Mukuro, where it promptly landed in her face, a sight to which he was unaware as he covered his eyes with his arms. "Here take this!"
Mukuro sighed, removed the damaged clothing, and put on Taka's shirt. It was a bit big for her, with sleeves too long for her arms and the rest practically billowing out around her. "Okay it should be fine now . . ."
Taka cautiously moved an arm to get a better look at her before lowering his guard. "Thank you," he said.
"I thought guys liked boobs," said Mukuro. She tilted her head to the side. "Unless . . . Taka are you gay?"
"N, No I like women just fine I've just . . . um . . . never been that close to them before. I'm sorry, I panicked . . ."
The two sat in awkward silence before bursting out into laughter.
"I can't believe you flashed me!"
"I can't believe you threw your shirt in my face!"
As they laughed, Mukuro looked over at Taka and couldn't help but smile as some of the splotching started to recede like the low tide returning to the ocean. It was still worse than it was before Taka had started to panic, but for now the spread has stopped and wasn't as bad as it had just gotten.
"It looks like keeping a level head stops it from spreading," Mukuro said, lifting one of his hands. "See?"
Taka looked at his hand sadly, but forced a smile when he realized Mukuro was right. "Well… at least we know something about it," he said.
"Yeah," she said. She frowned. "But we still need to figure out what it is."
Taka nodded glumly as he put his gakutan on, covering much of the discoloration. "Let's find the others," he said.
Mukuro nodded as the two walked out of the bathroom. She crossed he arms and pouted. Maybe this wasn't the time to ask, but part of her had to know. "I, um…I need to ask," she said quietly.
"Was I that repulsive?"
Taka wasn't following Mukuro's train of thought. "What are you talking about?"
"I know I'm the ugly twin so was it that-"
"What?! No, no-no-no! You're not ugly! Why would I think you're ugly?!" Taka shook his head and waved his hands in front of him. "Honest I don't think you're ugly at all! I really was just surprised by what you did that's all!"
Mukuro pouted. "You don't have to be nice about it – I'm not as busty as Junko and I've got thicker hips and thighs," she said. "Of course I wasn't the twin you wanted to see like that."
"Nonsense! I think you're very pretty!" Taka said before realizing what he'd done. Mukuro looked at him in shock as Taka tried (and failed) to recover. "I-I mean you're not ugly! And you shouldn't compare yourself to your sister! Looks aren't everything and she's evil! Not that you're not pretty! And we know you're trying to put your breast foot – I MEAN BEST, I MEANT BEST – foot forward."
Mukuro snorted into a chuckle. Taka felt lightheaded. "I appreciate the effort, Taka." She patted his shoulder, and for a moment the two shared a brief smile. As the soldier turned towards the stairs, Taka could barely contain a wistful sigh.
Truth be told, it was kind of like seeing a few seconds of heaven after all.
DING DANG DING DONG! Author's Announcements!
First things first: Yes, I know it's been a long time since I updated. This chapter was hard to write and then One Piece decided to leave Namek I MEAN Soul Society I MEAN the Naruto filler arcs I MEAN Dressrosa and since Sanji is my favorite character well, there you go. (And now Persona 5 is out…) But I finally managed to muscle through this and here we go – next chapter.
Next! Since the last chapter posted, the DR3 anime came out and changed the canon a bit. I probably just need to run with the current established "canon" I have for this story and we'll go from there.
Next! It has been asked if I'm going to do something with the SDR2 cast. The answer is "I'm not sure", largely in the wake of the DR3 anime. I have some ideas but they will have to be changed to accommodate the new canon if I do anything with them, and no, it would not be a re-hash of haunted where the ghosts wander around the island because, well, there are no ghosts, there is no island, there is no spoon, etc.
LASTLY, I've been working on a fan voice acting project! Hunterofcomedy (aka the guy who writes "Never Say Never") is leading up a project to make an audiobook/video of Danganronpa:IF. I'm the assistant director and the voice of Hina. Due to unforeseen circumstances we will need to do some recasting and we are currently seeking the following roles:
We ask that all auditions be sent as . 3 format to hunterofcomedy at . Please use a "decent" mic for your recording, no cell phone recordings. Please mention which character you are auditioning for in the subject line of the email. Experience preferred but we will cast the right actor or actress.
Song choice is "No More 'I Love You's'" by Annie Lennox. No notes this time.
Thanks guys :D
*Since I think I brought this up on Tumblr I wanted to mention this here – yes I was originally cast as Celeste and that is one of the roles we're auditioning for. The reason we're auditioning for that role again is because I also ended up recording Hina, but the performances are similar and hunter thinks we might be better off with a different actress to better differentiate the roles. Hunter thinks he's being thrown under the bus. He's now telling me not to edit this and complaining I don't listen to him.