"I'm glad you just let me ramble on for a while, Ishimaru-kun. I hope I wasn't boring you."
"Not at all, Matsuki-kun! Sometimes it's good to tell someone if you have worries about anything. And I am so glad that you allowed me to share my concerns with you, too!"
"Haha, at least it's a weight off both of our shoulders. That last trial just got to me a bit, I guess."
"I would be surprised if you said otherwise. It really is no trouble."
"Thanks for the tea, Chisato-chan. Didn't think I needed it until then, really."
"Oh, it's no trouble, Oowada-kun. I'm just glad we were able to talk together like this. You don't often say that much."
"Y-yeah, well...I can't really talk to girls, but it's like..."
"Like you can tell me anything? Don't worry, I feel the same. I'm just happy you felt comfortable enough to speak to me so freely. It's almost like we've known each other for such a long time, don't you think?"
"Heh, took the words right outta my mouth..."
That morning came to be one that Kiyotaka Ishimaru and Mondo Oowada would never forget. Chisato and Matsuki hadn't come to the cafeteria yet, and Ishimaru was already fidgeting. It wasn't like the girls to be late, especially not Chisato- the botanist was as punctual as the hall monitor and Matsuki usually showed up not long after, so what was going on?
"Maybe we should go and check on them?" He suggested.
Mondo just gave a casual shrug. "Give 'em the rest of the hour- they're probably still tired after yesterday's drama," He told his friend, but his worry showed itself in the form of him shifting almost constantly in his seat while the biker kept his eyes on the doors. And then the rest of the hour ticked by, and the girls still weren't there. By now, everyone had decided that it had been long enough and that, after Leon and Sayaka, it was best to check on Chisato and Matsuki. Asahina went with Naegi and Kyouko to see what was wrong, only for them to return in a hurry without their two missing classmates- the girls weren't in their rooms and their beds hadn't been slept in all night. A cold weight dropped in Ishimaru's gut as he quickly rose out of his seat and dashed out of the cafeteria with Mondo right behind him. He feared the worst, but he didn't want to believe it, didn't want to believe that there was a strong possibility that last night was the last time he would ever see Matsuki alive, but deny it as he did, the possibility was becoming very, very real. Mondo could almost sense his friend's distress and couldn't deny that he was just as scared. The possibility of finding Chisato dead was stirring up old memories of the day his brother had died, how Mondo had felt so powerless to stop it, and the thought that the same thing was happening all over again gripped his heart in a cold, vice-like grip, and it seemed like all the two young men had to grasp at were feeble prayers to whichever deity would listen that they would be found alive or at least in a state where they could be saved if they were injured. The others soon left the cafeteria and spread out around the school to find Chisato and Matsuki- They weren't in the library, or the bathhouse, or any of the classrooms, but as they all searched the second floor, it was Asahina's scream that confirmed their fears and filled the air with dread. Ishimaru and Mondo had been in the hallway near the library when they had heard Asahina screaming, and Ishimaru's face paled before he bolted towards the changing rooms for the swimming pool with his heart pounding in his chest and fear blinding him to all other thoughts except for please don't be Matsuki, please don't be Matsuki being chanted over and over in his head like a needle skipping on a broken record.
However, upon bursting into the girl's locker room, his fears were confirmed. Asahina only had to point inside the room with tears streaming down her face as she leaned on Sakura for support. "They're in there," She cried. "Matsuki-chan and Chisato-chan...they're...!" Ishimaru could see a pale hand just beyond the doorway lying cold and limp against the floor tiles (there was so much blood, too much blood) and rushed over to the doorway to see for himself...
...and the hall monitor was greeted with a most horrifying sight.
Shizuka Matsuki lay slumped against the lockers, her mouth still hanging open in the chilling remnant of a scream and her left eye gouged out, painting her face with blood, and the rest of her was much of the same, her chest and stomach riddled with wounds where she'd been stabbed seemingly hundreds of times that covered her in blood all the way down to her toes. Not far from her lay the body of Chisato Ueda, her neck slashed wide open, her glasses lying broken near Matsuki's feet, and her hands lying near her neck, as if she'd tried to stop the bleeding while trying to escape somehow. Their blood covered the floor, leaving a grisly mess, and it was more than Ishimaru could bear. Not even caring that his uniform would get dirtied, he hurried to Matsuki's side and fell to his knees as he gathered her up in his arms. Tears began to stream down his face as he screamed her name, begging her to please wake up and you can't be gone and can't you hear me Matsuki I love you PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME I NEED YOU COME BACK, but the painter was still silent, her lifeless eye staring vacantly back at him. Unable to hold back any longer, Ishimaru held her tightly in his arms and began to scream. His heart felt like it had been shattered like glass as he screamed and sobbed. Questions of who could have done this and why were almost lost between the spaces taken up by grief and heartache and the recurring realisation that this wasn't a dream and someone really had killed Matsuki and Chisato in such an awful way.
The others gathered in the doorway, some filing into the room to see what had happened, Mondo being one of them. The sight shook the biker to his core; he saw the blood before he saw the girls, and he had only seen Chisato's body before his eyes turned to Ishimaru holding Matsuki's body and sobbing like a helpless child. It seemed so surreal to discover such a sight, so strange, and yet somehow familiar, but it struck a chord in him and Mondo just hung his head with his hands balled into fists. He didn't need to even go over and check, the girls were stone-cold dead- Chisato looked like she'd been fighting to the end, but otherwise, it was like neither of them had seen it coming. But the thought that Mondo would never get to see her smile or hear her voice ever again? That was what got to him. Chisato had been innocent, kind and the voice of reason when no one else would be. She'd been opposed to this killing game and acting responsibly since day one and followed all the rules, so how could this have happened? It wasn't like he was going to get any answers, not until the trial.
DING DANG DING DONG!
"Two bodies this time!" Came Monokuma's voice over the monitor. "How exciting! Such delicious despair! Very well, then! After a brief investigation period, which you may use however you like, the Class Trial will begin!"
The monitor nearby shut off, but Ishimaru's cries hadn't stopped and everyone needed to get on with the investigation soon, so it meant having to remove Matsuki's body from the hall monitor's arms. However, no one felt like they could do it, so the responsibility fell to Mondo. He remembered how he'd cried and screamed as his brother went cold in his arms, and the sight of his best friend holding the painter's corpse in his arms just brought it all back as he strode over and, with the help of Kyouko and Naegi, pried Ishimaru away. His friend thrashed in his grip as the biker took him out of the room in silence- he knew that nothing he could say or do would make this okay and all he could do was stop Ishimaru from going back in there. Hopefully, they'd have their answers soon at the trial, but for now, it was best to just get the hall monitor out of the way. Mondo set Ishimaru down in the library and sat him down in the first chair he could find while he stood nearby in silence, still clenching his fists and hiding his face.
"I...I never got to tell her..." Ishimaru looked to his friend with tears still running down his face. "I never...I never got to say that...that I..." But he just held his head in his hands and gave sob after broken sob.
Mondo wanted to say 'neither did I', if only to somehow comfort his friend in this situation, but it wouldn't have come if he'd tried to say it. It wasn't really his strong suit, anyway, and even that was an understatement. The biker wanted to scream and break something, too, but knowing that it was fucking pointless just made him angrier. Usually getting mad and shouting about it was his first reaction and it was what helped him deal with the situation and made it a little more easy to deal with, but now? He just couldn't bring himself to make a sound.
The trial came not long after that, and it seemed like nothing was making sense and that no one had an alibi that could put them at fault. Ishimaru and Mondo tried their best to contribute, but what they had seen hadn't been of much use to anyone, either. The biker kept looking back over at Chisato's photograph that stood directly across from him, remembering how she'd been there to correct him during the last trial when he'd said something dumb or wasn't getting his facts straight and trying to think of what she'd say right now to get the discussion back on track, but nothing was coming to mind.
"Oh, this is pointless," Sighed Togami. "How do we know the girls didn't just get into a fight and kill each other?"
"I agree," Said Celes. "Chisato-san did not seem too bothered by the motive at all, while Matsuki-san looked terrified. Perhaps she wanted to tell Chisato-san her secret and things got ugly? After all, the murder weapon was found at the scene lying between the two girls. Who's to say one didn't start a fight?"
That threw them all for a twist. There was the possibility, since both girls' hands were covered in blood, that this was the case, but was it really that easy to just say the girls killed each other with the same knife? Kyouko and Naegi were both silent as the others discussed the idea, but it seemed unlikely that Matsuki and Chisato were capable of killing each other, and it was that inconsistency that prompted Naegi to object.
"There's just one problem with that theory!" He exclaimed. "Matsuki's stab wounds were made with a much smaller blade, and the knife found at the scene doesn't even match up properly!"
Togami raised an eyebrow at this. "I fail to see how that makes any difference," The heir scoffed nonchalantly. "But I suppose I can entertain you, for now. Very well, then- why don't you tell us why the two didn't just have a fight."
"Chisato-san did keep a small switchblade on her for self-defense, there's no doubting that," Naegi started to explain. "But Matsuki-san's wounds don't match the shape of the blade. Now, remember Chisato-san's hand? It had a cut on the back of it roughly the same as Matsuki's stab wounds, while as her throat was cut with a much thinner blade. By following this, we can tell that a piece of evidence was removed from the crime scene- a pair of scissors, roughly the same length as the switchblade!"
Fukawa looked visibly uncomfortable. Togami, however, smirked. "I can think of only one explanation- a copycat, trying to emulate the work of the serial killer Genocider Syo."
However, when Syo revealed herself and proved him wrong, the discussion was getting stale again- Syo crucified her victims, who were all male, and left the words 'bloodstain fever' written in the victims' blood, but it was a pair of scissors and Chisato's switchblade that had been used in the murder. With no way to dust for fingerprints or even get an idea of which among the girls could have murdered the two whose photographs now stood silently among them, it sounded like the culprit was more than likely going to get away.
Then, suddenly, one among them spoke up.
"Enough! I can't take this anymore!"
All eyes went to Chihiro Fujisaki, whose fists struck the podium she stood at with eyes that were starting to fill with tears. Even Ishimaru, who'd been standing still and silent the whole time, snapped out of it enough to look at the programmer, actually seeming to be worried. "Fuji...saki-kun?" He asked, his voice shaking as much as he was at that moment.
Chihiro was silent a few moments more before she took a deep breath and looked up at them all as
her tears began to fall. "It was me," She said, her tone filled with the guilt to match her confession. "I killed Chisato-san and Matsuki-san." This took everyone by surprise. It seemed impossible for Chihiro to have killed two people, let alone any of them, but she reached into her pocket with a trembling hand and brought out a pair of scissors, which further shocked the gathered students. "I...I cleaned the blood off...and tried to hide them...I'm sorry."
"What a shocking discovery!" Cackled Monokuma, breaking the silence. "I know girls can get pretty fierce with each other, but woah, what a twist! I bet none of you bastards saw that coming!" The bear laughed and laughed to fill up the quiet of the courtroom as the students stood in shock at this revelation.
"Fujisaki-chan," Asahina said eventually, still staring at the programmer in disbelief. "It...it couldn't have been you, right?"
"Actually, if you really think about it," Said Naegi. "Then there's a strong possibility that it was Fujisaki-san." He went on to explain his reasoning- Maizono's missing e-handbook, the angle of the first stab wound in Matsuki's chest and the mark on Chisato's throat, and soon, it all became clear. All that was left was a motive, but at least there was enough evidence to prove it was Chihiro who had, indeed, killed the girls. The programmer made no objections and no denials- she looked as if she were coming to terms with the fact that she was about to die for killing two innocent people who had never done anything to hurt her in the first place.
Ishimaru couldn't believe what he was hearing, and the look on his face made it obvious that he didn't want to believe that this was how Matsuki and Chisato died, but the evidence was completely logical and reasonable, and Fujisaki had admitted to it herself. Mondo had gone deathly silent, hanging his head and gripping the podium to the point where it looked like the wood was about to splinter and break. He almost didn't want to believe it, it hurt too much to believe it, and he grit his teeth together to hold back a sob while his friend had started to cry again. The portraits of the painter and the botanist stared blankly at the accused programmer as the vote was called, and as much as they wanted to not believe it, the biker and hall monitor had no other choice. They pressed the button and pulled the lever, just like it had been at Leon's trial, and Chihiro's face came up on the screen.
"Looks like you brats got it right!" Monokuma stood up on his throne. "The one who murdered Shizuka Matsuki and Chisato Ueda was, indeed, Chihiro Fujisaki!" The bear began to cackle again, and Chihiro just burst into tears.
"I'm so sorry," She sobbed. "It's not fair...I'm so sorry..."
"But...Fujisaki-kun..." Ishimaru turned his tear-stained face to the programmer. "Why? What did they ever do to you?!"
But Chihiro just hid her face in her hands and cried.
"Well, then! Since Chihiro's taken the fifth, I suppose it falls to me to fill in the blanks!" Monokuma made a sound like he was clearing his throat. "The story behind this murder is one of three lonely little children..."
The bear went on to tell the tale of how Chisato and Matsuki's lives, how Chisato's mother had abandoned her on her grandfather's doorstep and then killed herself days afterwards and how Matsuki had lost hers in a car accident when she was a child, how the two had had to grow up in order to get on with their lives and had to become stronger to live with it, how they'd both risen to the top in their respective fields of botany and art and earned enough money to live stable and happy lives. Chisato had come to terms with the fact that her mother had never loved her and didn't let it bother her since she was loved by her friends and her grandfather, and Matsuki, though she was lonely, had come to accept that her mother was gone, but she wouldn't have wanted her to be sad.
And then came Chihiro's story, with the shocking revelation that he was really a 'she', a boy who was pretending to be a girl because of his weak, sensitive nature that he'd been teased about for all his life. He was going to tell Matsuki his secret because she was such a kind and friendly person, but apparently his nervousness got the better of him and drove him crazy, and knowing that Matsuki was almost completely okay with her secret led to jealousy, which led to him killing the painter. He'd used Maizono's e-handbook to get into the girls' locker room with Matsuki and had spoken to her there when things had gotten out of hand. Chisato had come in not long after when she heard Matsuki's scream and tried to reason with Chihiro, but after a struggle, Chihiro took the botanist's switchblade and cut her throat wide open.
"But Chisato-san had a few more moments before she died," Kyouko added. "And it didn't look like she was trying to write a message in blood. Fujisaki-san, what did she say to you?"
"She said...'It's okay'," The programmer recited, his voice choked by tears. "'Not your fault'. Those were her only words to me."
Ishimaru couldn't even look at Chihiro anymore and fell to his knees, a few strangled sobs spilling out, and Mondo didn't even seem to be moving anymore, his hands still gripping the podium in a death-grip, though some would swear that they saw a few stray tears fall.
"I think that's quite enough of that!" Monokuma pointed at Chihiro. "I've prepared a very special punishment for Chihiro Fujisaki, Super High School Level Programmer! Let's give it everything we've got! It's punishment time!"
Chihiro looked up at Mondo and Ishimaru, his face flooded with tears. "Ishimaru-kun, Oowada-kun...please forgive me!"
But before either of the boys could answer, a chain shot out of nowhere and a metal collar clamped itself around Chihiro's neck, dragging him away to his end.
Chihiro Fujisaki has been found guilty. The punishment will now commence.
Everyone watched as Chihiro was strapped into a chair by his neck, wrists and ankles, with a sort of helmet that you'd usually see in the science fiction movies with needles and wires hooked up to it, along with a visor that blocked his eyes from everyone else. A heart monitor was hooked up nearby that beeped in time with his heartbeat. He was trembling and still crying as a screen came on behind him that looked like a 2-D platforming game, where a sprite of the programmer had started to run, jumping over Monokuma sprites as he went, but it seemed that, while there were only a small handful the first few stages, the number of Monokumas increased as time went on, until there were just too many. Chihiro began to scream and thrash as his sprite tried to avoid them, his wrists and ankles becoming bloody, but soon, the bears caught up with him and the sprite disappeared Mario-style from the screen. Chihiro's body then went limp, the heart monitor flatlining. Those gathered stared at the lifeless form of the programmer, each shocked enough in their own way- even though they'd seen this happen before with Leon at the last trial, it didn't make it any less terrifying that Monokuma would so happily kill the guilty party in such outrageous and unnecessary ways.
"Wow! That went on longer this time!" Monokuma began to laugh, breaking the silence again. "Fujisaki really hung in there, didn't he? I knew this motive would rake in results- I can't wait to tell you all the next one!!" No one really knew what to say, and as they all piled back in the elevator to return to their rooms for the night, tensions ran high. No one even dared to look at Oowada the wrong way or even try to comfort Ishimaru when he was in this state.
Once Mondo had returned to his room, he slammed his fist into the wall, leaving a dent around the same size as it, but he didn't stop there. His room was soon completely totaled, but after he had toppled his desk and was about to reach for his lamp to throw it into the adjacent wall, he noticed the kokeshi doll that Chisato had given him only days before her death, and his whole body began to shake in fear. He remembered her telling him that her grandfather had made it for her, and it was like the doll was supposed to be the dead botanist, watching him taking out his anger on his room with what was more a sad look from where it lay on the floor, its head slightly cracked from where it had fallen off his desk. This quieted Mondo's rage as he slowly crouched down and picked up the doll, running his finger over the crack as he held it in his trembling hands. Tears soon blurred his vision and he carefully cradled the doll to his chest as his shoulders shook. Reality hit him square in the face again- Chisato was gone and he'd never had a chance to even ask her out on a date or tell her how he felt. He should have been there. He should have been smart and protected her so he wouldn't have to lose someone else he cared about, but now she was gone, and getting angry or breaking stuff wasn't going to bring her back.
Ishimaru was a screaming, crying mess again as soon as he was back in his room. He fell to his knees at his bedside and cried into the first pillow he could grab, letting his tears fall freely as the hall monitor's heart felt like it was being torn to shreds with the recurring realisation that Matsuki was dead and gone and that she wasn't going to be there tomorrow morning to greet him with that sweet smile and her usual cheerful good-morning. He wished this was all a dream so he could just wake up and she'd be there when he did and he'd never have to worry about losing her ever again- maybe he'd wake up at the real Hope's Peak Academy, too, and he'd have more friends and fellow classmates to greet in the morning!- but try as he might, that just wasn't the case.
He never even got to tell Matsuki that he loved her.