Title: Humanity's Hope
Fandom: Super Dangan Ronpa 2
Summary: Canon-divergent AU, inspired by The Last of Us. Shortly after the first trial, the Hope's Peak kids are rescued. A few months later, a strange fungus starts turning people into mindless monsters. Maybe there's a chance for a cure; unfortunately, that chance means that Hinata is going to have to spend a lot of time with a certain Super High-school Level Good Luck.
Warnings: I'm afraid I'm not giving specific warnings for this, but it's essentially a zombie apocalypse fic, so be aware that it's probably going to get a bit dark. Full spoilers for the first chapter of Super Dangan Ronpa 2; mild spoilers for the (Ab)normal Days arc of the second chapter. No knowledge of The Last of Us required.
Notes: I'm reading along with the SA Let's Play and trying to avoid spoilers, so this was written without knowledge of anything beyond the second chapter's Abnormal Days arc. It is an AU, though, so I suppose that gives me a bit of freedom!
He can’t move his leg.
That’s bad news. It’s not like it’d have been good news if it had happened before this whole mess started, but right now it is seriously bad news.
There’s a lot of broken glass on the streets these days. It’s easy to forget about that until you actually have to crawl over it. It takes a while, but Hinata eventually manages to drag himself behind the half-burnt-out shell of a car by the side of the road.
He leans back against it, letting out a pained hiss through his teeth, and tries to evaluate his options.
Option one. Sit here and die.
Well, that’s not great. He was hoping to come up with more than that.
He’s still trying to figure out an option two when he drops into an uncomfortable sleep.
Hinata is woken by footsteps.
He tries not to breathe.
The footsteps are slow. No clicking that he can hear, so if it’s an infected it’s probably not at the seriously hard-to-kill stages, but it’s not as if he can easily bring anything down in this state. He’s got a length of pipe he grabbed from the wreckage of a building some way back, but he’s not sure how effectively he can wield it from ground level, and if he gets bitten...
Whoever it is, whoever’s coming down the road right now, they’re humming.
The infected don’t hum.
“Hey,” Hinata calls, quietly, cautiously. Normally he’d watch for a while before making contact – everyone’s a scavenger these days, and he’s heard rumours that some of them have started looking speculatively at other survivors as a source of fresh meat – but he doesn’t exactly have a choice here; he can’t move, which means that infected will find him eventually, and he’d rather go with the option that only might get him eaten. “Hey, can you hear me?”
The humming stops.
Hinata takes a deep breath. “I’m over here, okay? I’m not infected, but I need help. I’ve got food to trade.”
There’s a moment’s silence, and then footsteps begin to approach the car he’s behind. Hinata tries very hard not to freak out. It seems like it’s just one person; the murderers and the cannibals usually move in packs, don’t they? He’s probably not going to be dead in the next thirty seconds.
A figure appears around the side of the car, and Hinata’s heart almost simultaneously leaps when he realises it’s someone he recognises and plummets a thousand feet when he realises exactly who it is. Oh, goddammit, he might actually have preferred to meet a Clicker.
“Hinata-kun!” Komaeda exclaims, his face lighting up. “I hoped it was you when I heard your voice, but I couldn’t be sure. Who could have guessed we would run into each other again?”
He’s still wearing the same green coat, although of course it’s filthy now.
“Yeah, you’re bringing up all sorts of fond memories,” Hinata says. “Keep moving.”
Komaeda frowns. “But didn’t you say you needed help?”
“I don’t need anything from you.”
Komaeda helps him into a nearby building, his left arm around Hinata’s shoulders. Hinata tries to touch him as little as possible. As he has to lean heavily on Komaeda if he doesn’t want to collapse onto the ground, though, ‘as little as possible’ isn’t really as little as he’d like.
Why Komaeda? Of all the people in Japan – well, all the people who aren’t mindless monsters or dead, which might not be that many, these days – why did he have to run into Nagito Komaeda? If it had to be someone from that time, why not someone like Nanami? Or Nidai; he’d be good to have as an ally against the infected. But no, it’s Komaeda instead, and Hinata can’t even get away because he’s gone and screwed up his leg like a moron.
Still, maybe it’s better than the infected finding him. Maybe.
Of course, because the universe hates Hajime Hinata, he’s only just thought that when he has a sharp, burning sense that something’s very wrong, and it’s half a second later that he realises...
He can hear clicking.
Oh, God, he can hear clicking around the corner of the corridor they’re in, and there’s no way they can move quietly like this.
Hinata taps Komaeda on the shoulder and puts his hand gently over Komaeda’s mouth. When Komaeda nods, Hinata takes his hand away.
They stay very still. Hinata is relieved to find that Komaeda has at least a shred of self-preservation instinct; if Komaeda had decided to go up to the Clicker and say hello, Hinata wouldn’t really have been surprised in the three seconds before he got his spine ripped out.
Should they retreat? If it hears them, though...
Hinata taps Komaeda again and points down at his own leg. Komaeda tilts his head in confusion. There’s no way Hinata’s going to risk whispering, so he just points down again, more insistently.
Slowly, Komaeda eases down into a half-crouch. Of course that means Hinata has to crouch as well, and of course that means his leg is in agony, and of course he can’t make a sound. He bites down on his tongue so hard he’ll be amazed if he can speak normally after this.
With his left hand – his right arm is still around Komaeda – Hinata twitches up the hem of his right leg, so Komaeda can see the knife hidden in his sock. Komaeda draws it out, carefully.
They stand up again, as slowly as they can, but Hinata can’t keep a cut-off, breathless gasp of pain from slipping out and the atmosphere becomes, impossibly, even tenser.
It might not have heard, though.
The clicking sounds more agitated. Maybe it’s just his imagination. He hopes it’s just his imagination.
The Clicker comes round the corner.
There is no way they can hide from something that uses echolocation in this narrow corridor.
Hinata doesn’t even scream when it charges, he’s been so trained not to make any noise when a Clicker’s around, but his heart feels like it’s been yanked up into his throat on a chain and exploded. He’s dizzy with terror, barely able to see – he can’t fight back, he doesn’t have a weapon, he’s—
Komaeda drives the blade into the Clicker’s throat.
It stumbles back a few paces, then gathers itself for another charge, and Komaeda leaps forward to stab it again. Hinata loses his balance with the loss of his support and collapses onto his bad leg, but that’s so far from the biggest problem he has right now that it barely registers. All he can do is curl into a ball and hope the Clicker doesn’t come for him if it finishes Komaeda off.
The Clicker gurgles and shrieks and... falls silent, and there’s the thump of something heavy hitting the floor.
Hinata takes a moment to prepare himself, and then he rolls onto his back, awkwardly, painfully, and raises his head.
The Clicker is dead. Komaeda is crouched beside it, wiping the blade of the knife on the ragged scraps of clothing it’s wearing.
It was once human, Hinata reminds himself, but it’s hard to really believe it. Its head is so thickly grown with fungus that there’s almost no face left.
“Th-thanks.” It feels weird to say it, but Komaeda did just save him.
“You’re welcome, Hinata-kun!” Komaeda says, beaming.
Hinata just lies there and breathes for a while, but by the time Komaeda helps him back onto his feet he feels just about capable of speaking again.
“Why couldn’t you have done more of that on the island?”
Komaeda frowns. “There weren’t any Clickers on the island.”
“You know what I mean. Why couldn’t you have been saving lives, instead of getting people killed?”
Komaeda looks genuinely confused. “But I tried to, Hinata-kun! I tried to save Hanamura-kun’s precious life at his trial!”
Hinata tenses up at that, but he can’t bring himself to argue about it now. “Never mind.”
They find a bedroom with a door that can be closed and, even better, locked. Komaeda helps Hinata onto the dusty bed; Hinata grits his teeth and tries not to give away how much pain he’s in.
“My bag,” Hinata says, when he’s sure the pain won’t creep into his voice. “There should be bandages in there.” He tries to move his leg and winces. “I mean, I don’t really know what’s wrong. A Runner knocked me down. Maybe it’s... I don’t know, sprained?” He hopes it’s not broken. He’s going to be seriously screwed if it’s broken. “But I guess we could bind it and...” He tries to think. What do you do with a bad leg? Put ice on it? It’s autumn, probably, and there’s no electricity; there’s not going to be any ice around. Why couldn’t it have been Tsumiki who found him? “...prop it up, or something?”
Komaeda nods and unzips Hinata’s backpack. Hinata tries very hard to trust him.
“Isn’t this wonderful, Hinata-kun?” Komaeda asks, as he’s binding Hinata’s leg. “I was disappointed when the challenge of Jabberwock Island was cut so short. The trial for Togami-kun’s murder was a magnificent spectacle, of course! But there was the potential for so much more to come.”
Of course Komaeda was disappointed when the Novoselic air force rescued them. Of course. Hinata hadn’t really paid attention to his reaction at the time; he’d just been so relieved to get out of that nightmare. Everyone had been so keen to get on the planes, in fact, that Koizumi had had to remind them not to leave Komaeda chained up in the lodge.
They’d finally been able to return to their lives. Of course, a few months later...
“But this is an even greater challenge for humanity’s finest to overcome! And now that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet one of those finest—”
“Wait,” Hinata interrupts him. “Are you talking about the apocalypse?”
Komaeda smiles dreamily and draws in a breath.
“You know what, just... don’t talk to me,” Hinata says. “There are painkillers in my bag. Just give me one of those and leave me alone.”
Hinata’s not sure how long it takes – two weeks? Three? He spends most of the time sleeping and the rest of it in a vague haze of pain and half-listening to Komaeda’s weird ramblings – but eventually he can just about walk on his own again. There’s a little spark of pain up his right side whenever he takes a step, but he guesses he’s just going to have to get used to that. It’s not the worst thing he’s got to deal with.
Komaeda is still here. If he’s honest with himself, that’s not the worst thing Hinata has to deal with, either. He’s been on his own since he lost his family; he’s made a couple of trades with people passing through, but that’s been the extent of Hinata’s human interaction for the past... God, he doesn’t even know how long it’s been. Months, at least. Having someone else around, even someone like Komaeda... well, he guesses it’s better than nothing. Most of the time.
They’re scouting for food and flashlight batteries when they run into a cloud of spores. Hinata almost blunders straight into them – he’s come to this abandoned store before, and there weren’t any spores then – and he has to freeze and take a moment to calm down when he realises.
“Spores,” he says to alert Komaeda, pulling his gas mask on. “Might be infected around. Stay quiet.”
When he’s sure the mask is secure, he creeps forward into the spore mass. He can’t believe he almost walked right into it without protection. He needs to be more aware; he can’t let himself get infected through such a stupid, stupid mistake.
Hinata stays crouched for a while, listening, but he can’t hear anything but Komaeda’s breathing next to him. He doesn’t think there are any infected here. It’s probably safe to start taking cans off the shelves.
He turns to tell Komaeda and is nearly sick with horror.
“Put your fucking gas mask on!” Hinata hisses. “What the fuck, Komaeda, do you want me to kill you?”
Komaeda looks startled, then speculative. Hinata, too freaked out to wait for a proper response, grabs him by the arm and drags him out of the spore cloud.
“Komaeda,” he snaps, only pulling off his gas mask when they’re back out in the sunlit street, “why did – do you even – do you even care—”
“Are you always this... how the hell have you stayed alive this long? We need to find one of those – one of those scanner things. I swear, Komaeda, if you’re infected, if I have to—”
“Oh,” Komaeda says, sounding vaguely surprised, “did I not tell you? I’ve been bitten three times already. I’m immune.”
Hinata stares at him.
“A shame,” Komaeda sighs, “that I’ve been blessed with such luck when so many worthier people... well.”
“Show me,” Hinata says, his voice shaking.
“Of course!” Komaeda says, shrugging off his coat.
Two bites on his right arm, one on his left shoulder. It’s real. He’s real.
Someone’s immune. Someone’s been bitten, multiple times, and he hasn’t turned. And that means – if they can get to someone who knows something about medicine, if they can figure out what’s keeping Komaeda safe, maybe, just maybe...
Oh, fuck. Oh, fuck.
A vaccine. Maybe even a cure. For the first time in a long time, Hinata thinks – maybe it won’t always be like this. Maybe there’s a chance for a world with more in it than hiding and running and desperately trying to stay alive.
But that chance lies with Nagito Komaeda.
Nagito Komaeda is literally the hope for humanity.
They need to find a hospital, Hinata supposes. He doesn’t even know whether any hospitals are still functioning, but they need someone with medical knowledge, and a hospital is the only place he can think of to look.
The problem is that he doesn’t really know this area. This town is just where he happened to be when he gave up trying to find a way out of the country, however long ago that was, and he hasn’t really left it since. There’s a small hospital nearby, where he sent Komaeda for extra medical supplies while his leg was healing, but he knows for a fact that it’s abandoned.
“I saw a town when I was coming here, to the west,” Komaeda offers. There's a hint of breathiness in his voice; it's been there since he realised how much hope was riding on him. Hinata tries to pretend he can't hear it. “It’s about a day’s walk away.”
It’s the only idea they have. Hinata resigns himself to being stuck with Komaeda for the foreseeable future; he can’t exactly let the guy out of his sight, now that he knows what might be at stake. “Okay.”
“You came here looking for supplies, didn’t you?” Hinata asks, when they’ve been on the road for a couple of hours. It’s the only reason anyone moves around these days, after all.
“I suppose so,” Komaeda says.
“So why didn’t you go into that town you saw?” Hinata asks. It’s generally not a good idea to engage Komaeda in conversation, he knows, but he really needs something to distract him from the increasing pain of his not-quite-healed leg injury. “Why come all the way out here?”
Komaeda blinks, then smiles. “I didn’t really think about it. It must have been my luck! After all, I met you, didn’t I?”
Hinata still isn’t sure whether Super High-school Level Good Luck can really be a thing, but he’s starting to think... well, maybe. The guy’s immune.
“Ultimately, I suppose even our rescue from the island worked out in my favour! After all, it would have been dreadful if we’d missed this trial. Hope can only burn strongest—”
“Okay,” Hinata says. Maybe leg pain isn’t so bad. “We’re going to shut up now, because if there are infected on this road we’re going to need to hear them.”
Komaeda, rather to his surprise, obligingly shuts up.
By the time they reach the town, Hinata’s exhausted; he wasn’t exactly going to trust Komaeda to keep watch at night when they were in open countryside, so he’s been awake for thirty hours straight. The sight of the buildings brightens him up a bit, though. It feels good to have a goal for once, something more complex than ‘don’t die’.
There’s a checkpoint set up partway down the main road into the town, with a bored-looking man and woman standing by it, both dressed in black jackets. The man is holding an assault rifle.
“Infection patrol,” Hinata says, quietly. “Hate going through these things.”
“There might be a hospital here, though,” Komaeda says. “You’ll never know unless you look!”
Hinata sighs. “Guess you’re right.”
They walk slowly towards the checkpoint. As soon as the patrol notice them, the woman pulls a handgun from her hip and approaches, barking instructions. Hinata barely needs to listen to them by now: down on your knees, hands behind your head, don’t try anything clever.
He considers asking whether there’s an operational hospital in this town – if there isn’t, they can just turn around and leave – but that’s probably not a good move. Ask for a hospital, her mind might leap to ‘infected’, and that doesn’t end well for them.
“I’m going to scan you,” the woman says, tucking her handgun into its holster – she doesn’t need it now that her partner has caught up – and pulling out the infection scanner. “If you’re not infected, you can pass through.”
She doesn’t specify what happens if they are infected. Not that she needs to.
She scans Hinata first; he tries not to react too sharply when he feels the cold metal of the device against the back of his neck. The man is standing uncomfortably close, aiming his gun directly at Hinata’s head. Hinata knows they’re clean, of course, but he doesn’t think he’ll ever get used to being forced to his knees and scanned, someone waiting nearby to put a bullet through his skull if the reading’s not right.
The scanner beeps. “He’s okay,” the woman says, nodding towards the gunman, who shifts his aim to Komaeda. Hinata stays on his knees – he’s learnt the hard way, and almost the very hard way, that infection patrols don’t like it if you move before everyone in the party has been checked – and waits.
Komaeda is kneeling there, smiling placidly, while the woman presses the scanner to the back of his neck and the gunman adjusts his weapon strap, and it suddenly hits Hinata... are they clean?
Komaeda’s immune, but he’s still been bitten. Did the fungus never take root in his brain? Or is it still there, just... not affecting him?
But Komaeda’s still smiling. He wouldn’t be so calm if he knew he was about to get shot, would he?
Or maybe he would. Who the fuck knows what goes on inside that guy’s head, fungus or no fungus?
This scan seems to be taking longer than usual.
The woman is starting to frown.
And then there’s a beep from the scanner, and she looks sharply over at the gunman, and—
Hinata doesn’t realise he’s going to move before he’s kicked the gunman’s feet out from underneath him. Someone must have tried this before, but the gunman was probably distracted by the delay this time; it’s the only explanation Hinata can think of for why he and Komaeda aren’t both incredibly dead by now.
Hinata grabs for the gun, praying that he can make himself look like someone who knows how to use it, and then he remembers that it’s around the guy’s shoulders on a strap and he can’t exactly get it away from him and fuck, why couldn’t he just have let them shoot Komaeda?
For an instant, he and the downed gunman just stare into each other’s eyes, both holding onto the same gun.
And then there’s a bang, and oh shit, the woman, he’d forgotten—
—and another two shots ring out as Hinata and the gunman look sharply over at the other two, and it takes Hinata a moment to realise—
Komaeda is breathing heavily, holding a handgun, his arm and half his face covered in blood. The gun isn’t his. The blood isn’t his. The woman is dead at his feet.
The gunman, when Hinata snaps back to look at him, is dead as well.
Hinata scrambles away.
“You – you – what the fuck, Komaeda—”
Komaeda beams at him. “You saved me, Hinata-kun! And, well...” He gives a little, self-effacing laugh. “I suppose I saved you as well! But I could only get this” – he waves the gun in an alarmingly careless way – “because you distracted her, and I’m sure you would have been able to escape yourself if I hadn’t been here, so really it’s nothing.”
Hinata stares at the dead man.
There was probably no other way out, he thinks, trying to calm his breathing down. If Komaeda was always going to show up as infected, it was either the patrol or them.
But then why the fuck didn’t Komaeda say something before they came down here?
The scanner is lying just by the woman’s outstretched hand. Hinata crawls over to pick it up, trying not to look too hard at its owner. For a horrible moment he thinks... what if it doesn’t say Komaeda is infected? What if he just assumed? What if he attacked the gunman and got these guys killed for no reason?
It’s a strange relief to see the word INFECTED blazing green across the display.
Hinata gets to his feet, bracing himself for a conversation he probably isn’t going to enjoy.
“Did you know this was going to happen?” he asks, waving the scanner at Komaeda.
“Of course I did,” Komaeda says.
Of course he did.
“Were you planning to do anything to save yourself?” Hinata asks. “What, you were just going to stay there and get shot? Do you not get how important you are?”
“Ah,” Komaeda says, “but I wasn’t shot, was I?”
“Only because I did something! You could’ve died! I could’ve died! And now the patrol guys are dead because of us!” Hinata has to keep his voice down, because you never know what might hear you and come looking, but it’s a hell of an effort. “You couldn’t even have let me know what would happen? We didn’t have to go this way! If I’d known the scan would be a problem—”
“I know I should have said something,” Komaeda says, “but I couldn’t miss it.”
Hinata has a feeling he’ll regret asking. He’s going to ask anyway. “Couldn’t miss what?”
“That experience!” Komaeda says, dreamily. “Feeling the scanner against my skin, seeing the gun out of the corner of my eye, knowing you were there! Knowing that at any moment I could be killed, hoping that I would be saved...”
Yeah. He regrets asking.
“To die at your side would be an honour, of course,” Komaeda says, “but is there any hope more powerful than the hope that a friend will step in to save your life?”
“You have no idea how much I’m hoping you’ll shut up right now,” Hinata says.
There are a handful of survivors here, in the town. Hinata supposes that makes sense; no point guarding a place if there’s nothing there to guard.
It bodes well for the hospital thing, but he can’t make himself go up to anyone and ask about it. Nobody’s looking twice at the blood on Komaeda or at Hinata’s assault rifle right now, but if the bodies of the patrol are found – they dragged them into one of the nearby houses to hide them, but someone’s going to at least notice they’re missing sooner or later – that’ll change. They can’t make themselves memorable. All Hinata can do is try to look like a guy who didn’t just have a hand in murdering this town’s protectors.
Maybe they were right to come here, though, because they’re only looking around for half an hour or so before they find the clue they need.
Asahina, someone has scrawled in large black characters across the front of a house. Follow the road west to the coast. There is a hospital. Meet us there. It becomes a little harder to read at the end – it looks like whoever was writing ran out of paint and had to use a charred stick instead – but Hinata’s pretty sure that’s what it says.
“There’s a hospital,” he says, quietly. The message doesn’t look that old to him. “Maybe it’s still running.”
“Yes, that’s right,” Komaeda says, smiling. “Hold on to that hope, Hinata-kun.”
“We’re not just gonna stand around hoping,” Hinata says. If there was a checkpoint where they came in there’s probably one on the west road as well, but they can go back the way they came and loop around. “C’mon.”
The hospital is a long, low building by the ocean, surrounded by towering cliffs; must have been a nice view for the patients, Hinata guesses, back when people cared about that kind of thing. It’s dusk by the time they reach it; there’s no electric lighting, unsurprisingly, but he can see soft, flickering firelight through a couple of the windows. Maybe it really is still running.
The front door’s been barricaded from the inside, which is another good sign. Hinata knocks on it; there’s a pause, then a few minutes of scraping, and then the door creaks open.
“H-hello! I’m afraid there aren’t many of us, but we’ll try to – aah! Hinata-san? Komaeda-san?”
“Tsumiki?” Hinata asks, incredulous.
Despite the lack of electric lighting, it turns out that the hospital does have backup generators; they just try to avoid using them for non-essential purposes, as resources are so limited. It’s a relief to hear; Hinata wasn’t sure how much good they’d be able to do here without electricity.
It’s a couple of days of scanning and testing before they hear anything. Although Hinata’s not a patient, there are rooms available – he doesn’t want to think about what that means; how many people are left? – and so he has a place to sleep. Eventually he starts to get bored, and he clings onto that feeling; it’s a feeling he hasn’t had in a while. You can’t be bored when you’re hiding from mindless killers and desperately searching for food. Being bored is, as far as he’s concerned, a definite improvement.
Eventually, Tsumiki calls him into Komaeda’s room. The fungus is there in Komaeda’s head, she explains, but it’s mutated in a way that means it isn’t spreading or affecting his mind. More importantly, she thinks that might be something they can replicate.
“I think we can develop a vaccine,” Tsumiki says, clasping her hands together in front of her. “I mean, I’m sure we can. He was bitten more than once, so we think the fungus from the first bite mutated and that stopped the dangerous fungus from taking root later. It’s – it’s like he’s tested out the vaccine for us already, really!”
Is Hinata dreaming? He’s going to be so pissed off if this is a dream.
“It may take a few tries, so I’m afraid you may have to stay here for a while, and we’ll need to extract more material to work with, but with Komaeda-san’s strange mutation... I believe we can do it!” She flushes. “Ah, I – when I said ‘strange mutation’, I didn’t mean—”
“It’s fine, Tsumiki-san!” Komaeda says, with a laugh. “So you really think you can develop a vaccine? That’s amazing! As to be expected of a Super High-school Level, of course.”
It really is amazing, Hinata thinks. And he’s sure Tsumiki would only say that if she were really, really certain; she’d never forgive herself if she gave them false hope over something this important. Maybe it’ll take a while, but they’re going to develop a vaccine. They’re going to save the world.
He smiles over at Komaeda. He figures the guy’s earned at least a smile.
Hinata can’t sleep that night. Most of it is excitement – a vaccine, a first step towards rebuilding the world at last – but there’s something else as well, a weird dark void in his stomach. Something doesn’t feel right.
A gentle rain starts around two in the morning, and Hinata is just starting to drift off when the door to his room bursts open. He rolls off the bed instantly, grabbing his flashlight from the table beside it.
When he switches the flashlight on he sees it’s Tsumiki, her eyes wide and frightened, and somehow Hinata knows what she’s about to say before she says it.
“Komaeda-san has disappeared!”
He finds Komaeda at the top of one of the nearby cliffs.
He finds Komaeda at the edge of one of the nearby cliffs.
The rain is getting heavier, the grass slick beneath Hinata’s shoes. Komaeda could slip, easily, and if he falls...
“Komaeda!” Hinata yells. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Don’t worry, Hinata-kun!” Komaeda says, cheerfully, and Hinata’s stomach lurches and drops, if possible, even further. Komaeda is wild and ecstatic, his eyes gleaming in the ray of Hinata’s flashlight. It’s a look Hinata’s seen before.
“You’re not...” Hinata has to pause and take a breath to steady himself. “Tell me you’re not...”
“Doesn’t my immunity give you the hope that others might be immune as well? Isn’t that possibility far more valuable than the reality of a vaccine? If the danger went away, after all, what would you have left to hope for?”
He’d thought – he’d thought maybe Komaeda could change, maybe they could work together; he’d thought—
“Komaeda,” Hinata says, holding out his hand and trying to keep his voice as steady as he can, which isn’t actually very steady at all because he is terrified, “just – come away from the edge.”
“Or maybe I’ll survive the fall! You never know – with my luck—”
“We don’t have to get them to make the vaccine,” Hinata lies. Maybe he can knock Komaeda out somehow and drag him back to the hospital. “We can just keep travelling together, okay? Just... please, don’t—”
Komaeda looks at him in a way that feels achingly fond, and he closes his eyes, and—
“No!” Hinata shouts, leaping forward—
Nagito Komaeda, hope of humanity, falls backwards off the cliff with a blissful smile on his face.
It’s been a pain of a day, struggling along cliffsides in the mist and pouring rain, but at least they should be able to get some rest soon. It’s stopped raining at last, too; the sky is beginning to clear, the sun shining weakly through rifts in the clouds, lighting up the ocean far beneath them.
“The hospital’s not much further. We can stop there for the night.”
Nanami takes a moment to answer, but Koizumi’s used to that by now. “That’s a good idea. Hospitals are usually good for supplies.” She pauses. “Although they’re also often dangerous places. Nurses seem particularly susceptible to becoming monsters, for some reason.”
“This isn’t Silent Hill,” Koizumi says, although from what Nanami’s told her about Silent Hill she supposes it might not be that different, “and the nurse monsters are just because the men who make these games want something in a skirt that won’t talk back to them.” She hesitates. “Still, we should probably be careful. You’ve got your gun, right?”
Nanami checks her makeshift holster and nods.
They make a good team, Koizumi thinks. Nanami has perfect aim – makes sense, really – and a knack for working out the best route to get past infected; Koizumi would never have survived this long without her. Koizumi, meanwhile, takes care of shelter and food and the other basic, essential things that Nanami frequently seems to forget about, somehow.
“Ah,” Nanami says, looking up. Koizumi turns to see what she’s spotted.
There’s a marker near the edge of the cliff they’re standing on: a broken table-leg or something, buried in the still-damp soil. Koizumi averts her eyes. She doesn’t have to get closer to know someone died here.
Nanami gets closer anyway, of course.
“We don’t need to look,” Koizumi calls. “Don’t get too close to the edge; it’s dangerous.”
“It’s best to examine everything carefully before moving on,” Nanami says, peering closely at the marker. “You should see this as well, I think.”
Koizumi sighs, but she walks up beside Nanami anyway, slowly, making sure her footing is steady on the wet grass.
Carved roughly into the marker are the words: I fucking hate you, Nagito Komaeda. Come back.