Naegi was sitting up in the hospital bed, his eyes perusing a book without much interest. His injuries were healing, but it would still be a while before he would be allowed to leave.
It had been a week since they'd escaped from Hope's Peak Academy, and they were still dealing with the aftereffects of the ordeal. The day after they'd escaped, Kirigiri and Byakuya gave an in depth report to Chief of Police Akasaka about what had happened to them inside the school. He had wanted to get interviews with all of them, but didn't press the issue due to what the police had uncovered in the school.
They had found more than enough evidence inside the school to corroborate the six survivor's story. The room displaying all of the security camera footage had taken extensive records of what had happened, and while Enoshima had edited the footage down to just the events of interest, it was still enough to give a clear picture of what had taken place.
The police had also found the bodies of the deceased, as well as the trial room and the execution room, which only further cemented the accuracy of the six student's account.
Naegi was pleased that their story had been believed, but he was still feeling wary, as there were some details that the police seemed to be keeping to themselves. Still, at least none of them were in trouble.
Well, almost none of them. The footage inside the school had unfortunately led to the police discovering the truth about Genocider Syo, and as such Fukawa had been apprehended shortly thereafter. However, since she had not committed any murders inside the school, and since her personalities operated independently, they had been lenient. Rather than charging her, they had simply sent her to a mental institution, with the hope that the people there would be able to eliminate or at least inhibit the aggressive Genocider Syo personality. The police had also agreed to keep the identity of Genocider Syo a secret, so that Fukawa might be able to lead a normal life once she had her inner struggles under control.
Naegi felt slightly guilty about what had happened to Fukawa, but he knew that there really wasn't any other choice. It was really only lucky chance that Genocider Syo hadn't decided to kill anyone inside the school, and she would have undoubtedly resumed her favorite past time once back in normal society.
Though they had been reluctant to be separated at first, after seeing their families again, they had slowly accepted the fact that they would have to go their separate ways, at least for a while. Byakuya was the first to leave after Fukawa, and though he maintained his arrogant demeanor to the end, he spoke rather politely when the moment of departing came. Asahina and Hagakure had left a few days afterwards, though each had promised to stay in touch, and visit Naegi when they could.
Only Kirigiri still remained, for which Naegi was very grateful. It had been disconcerting when the group had begun to disperse, and it was nice that his closest friend was sticking around.
Not that he didn't have company of other kinds. His parents and his sister had stopped in several times, and knowing that his family was okay, and that the tape Monokuma had shown him had been a lie made him feel more at peace than ever. A sense of normalcy began to return to him, and his ordeal at Hope's Peak Academy began to seem like little more than a bad dream.
Naegi was shaken from his thoughts by the sound of the door to the room opening, and he smiled when he saw who it was.
Kirigiri returned the smile. "It's good to see you, Naegi. How are you feeling?"
Naegi leaned back into the bed, and set his book down on the stand beside the bed. "Better, though the doctors say I'll probably have to stay here for at least one more week, just to make sure there aren't any complications to my injuries."
Kirigiri nodded. "That's good." Her expression became more serious. "They finally let the media know."
She held up a newspaper. Naegi felt a slight jolt as he saw the cover picture. It was divided into two halves. On the left half was a picture of Enoshima Junko's face, and on the right was a picture of them all gathered in the hospital room, the six students who had survived the ordeal. Above the picture he could see the headline:
THE HORROR OF THE MUTUAL HIGH SCHOOL KILLINGS FINALLY REVEALED
Naegi grimaced. "Is that what they're calling it?"
Kirigiri closed her eyes. "Apparently. I just hope that the police kept their word."
Naegi looked at her in surprise. "Wait, you haven't read the article yet?"
Kirigiri shook her head. "No, I thought we should read it together."
Kirigiri walked to the front of the bed, and stood beside the bed frame. Feeling touched that she had wanted to read it with him, he held it out so that she could see it as well. Together, they began to read…
"The mysterious closure of Hope's Peak Academy has been the subject of much debate and speculation for several weeks, and when the doors to the school finally opened at last, everyone naturally wanted to know what had been going on inside. However, the police have been keeping a tight lid on everything, and prevented any journalists or reporters from entering the school or interviewing the rescued students. Until now, that is. The police have finished their preliminary investigation, and finally disclosed the details of the whole horrific affair."
Naegi skimmed through the article, some details jumping out at him while others seemed inconsequential.
Much of the information the article presented he already knew, but some things, such as the fact that Enoshima had been the leader of a terrorist organization known as Ultimate Despair, had caught him by surprise. He supposed that, given how the world hadn't actually ended, it would have been difficult for her to set up the killing game without any outside assistance.
"Enoshima recorded the entire affair, and intended to broadcast it to the world in order to spread despair. The police, for this reason, have refused to release any of the footage to the public, but have used it, along with the testimony of the surviving students, to piece together what happened in the bloodbath that followed. More sensitive readers may want to proceed with caution."
As Naegi read the article's take on what had happened to them, he had mixed feelings. It was very strange to see the affair being retold from an outside perspective, especially in a rather detached manner that simply laid out the facts. It didn't quite capture what going through the whole ordeal had actually felt like, and the toll it had taken on them.
But he supposed that was to be expected. Enoshima had wanted to broadcast the whole thing to the world once it was over, and giving the media all of the facts would have granted her wish. For this reason, the six of them had requested that the police only disclose the bare minimum to the public. The world deserved to know the truth, but nothing more.
"The only surviving students were Makoto Naegi, Kyoko Kirigiri, Byakuya Togami, Toko Fukawa, Aoi Asahina, and Yasuhiro Hagakure. All of them have been reunited with their families, but are still recovering from this tragic ordeal.
Makoto Naegi has been hospitalized for injuries he sustained during the final investigation, and Toko Fukawa has been sent to a mental institution for an extreme case of PTSD. Aoi Asahina and Yasuhiro Hagakure are holding up better, but declined to comment. For exclusive interviews with Kyoko Kirigiri and Byakuya Togami, see page 4. For an exclusive interview with chief of police Akasaka, see page 6. For speculation about the mysterious sixteenth student and other details the police have withheld, see page 7."
Naegi glanced up at Kirigiri. Seeing that he had finished reading, she returned his gaze.
They stared at each other for a moment, then glanced off to the side, each of them lost in thought.
"Well, at least the police appear to have kept their word." Kirigiri said quietly.
Naegi nodded. In addition to asking the police to only reveal the bare minimum to the media, there were several details that they had requested them to withhold, and he was grateful that the police seemed to have complied. These details included the fact that Sayaka had attempted to frame him; Chihiro's true gender, and Mondo's involvement with his brother's death; and of course, the truth about Genocider Syo.
"Honestly, I'm surprised the police have been as cooperative as they have been, all things considered." Kirigiri remarked.
Naegi set the article down on the stand. "Well, this is hardly a normal situation."
Kirigiri grimaced. "That's true. And given that they have video footage of the whole thing, it's hard to dispute about what happened."
Kirigiri sighed. "I just wish…I just wish this would be over. But it just seems to keep going."
Naegi looked slightly apologetic. "I'm sorry, I should've done the interviews too…"
Kirigiri shook her head. "No, Byakuya and I could handle it. And that's not the problem. For one, the media won't just let this drop. They've been trying to pester Asahina and Hagakure into an interview nonstop ever since they got home, and even though they've gotten ones from me and Byakuya, they're still trying to get us to tell them more. Even Byakuya, who enjoys being in the spotlight, is finding it draining."
Naegi looked at her with concern. "What about Fukawa? Are they bothering her?"
Kirigiri shook her head. "No, thankfully they don't know where she is, so they can't. But they'll probably start in on you once you're discharged."
Naegi grimaced. "Don't they realize that we don't really want all of this attention?"
"They probably don't care." Kirigiri said grimly. "But honestly, I don't think the media will be the hardest thing to deal with."
Naegi looked at her in surprise. "Why? What could be worse than a bunch of obnoxious reporters intruding on our lives?"
Kirigiri hesitated. "Well, I only found out about it today…there's going to be a memorial held for all those who died."
Naegi's eyes widened. "There is?"
"Yes." Kirigiri sighed. "And all of the family and friends of the deceased will be there. Talking to the media was hard, but…"
Naegi nodded slowly, understanding how she felt. Watching his fellow students being killed off one by one had been hard enough. Having to speak to those who had been closest to them would be painful, a fresh reminder of the wretchedly pointless deaths.
But he knew that it couldn't be avoided. Not going to the memorial would be extraordinarily rude, to say the least, and he knew, if he were in their position, he would want to speak to the surviving students.
Trying not to think about what he would say, Naegi asked. "When is the memorial?"
"About a month from now." Kirigiri responded. "So we have time to recover and prepare."
"That's good." Naegi said absently. After a pause, he added. "You know, Kirigiri, you don't have to keep staying at the hospital. I appreciate your company, I really do, but surely you'd like to see your mother again?"
Kirigiri's expression softened. "She'll be arriving in town tomorrow, and I've already spoken with her several times over the phone. I'd rather stay near you."
Naegi looked at her curiously. "Why is that? I'm not in any danger right now."
"True. But…you have a way of seeing a positive in every situation, and that kind of upbeat attitude is something I need right now. When I'm by myself, my mind tends to wander down gloomy paths, but when I'm with you…I feel at peace, at least a little."
Naegi looked at her, surprised and grateful for her honesty. He knew she didn't show her emotions freely, but he knew that their ordeal in Hope's Peak Academy had taken its toll on her just as it had on everyone else. He was happy that he could be a source of comfort for her as she tried to return to her normal life.
"Well, if I can help you, then I won't object to you staying." Naegi said. "And while the world hasn't ended like Enoshima said, we still need to hold onto hope. For the sake of all those who died, we need to continue living, and we must continue to resist despair."
Kirigiri eyes widened slightly, but then relaxed, and she let out a small smile. "You're right, Naegi. And, I think, with you here, that will be a little easier."
Kirigiri's cheeks flushed slightly, and Naegi could feel that his own face was also heating up a little.
Feeling happy but also confused, Naegi was wondering what he should say next when there was a knock at the door.
Akasaka poked his head inside. "Excuse me, Kirigiri, but there's someone here that would like a word with you."
Kirigiri stiffened slightly, and her expression immediately resumed its usual stoicism as she turned to face the police officer.
"All right, I'm coming." As she filed out, she gave a small wave to Naegi, for a second her expression softened again, and then she was gone.
Naegi sank back into his bed. He knew that there was still a lot of work to be done. The world wouldn't just let him forget the ordeal, and there was still the memorial they would have to go to. But, at the moment, with Kirigiri's face still fresh in his mind, he felt relatively at ease. They had each other, and for now, that was enough.
Author's Note: So yeah, if it wasn't already clear, this is an unofficial sequel to the story Aftermath, my story is merely picking up where it left off. If you haven't read Aftermath already, you should, as I take no credit for the original story. All credit goes to the original author, Julchen M. Liddell.