So, as the last chapter hinted, the delve into the young girl who became Junko Enoshima begins! However, for the first time, I feel it's appropriate to put a viewer's discretion warning here. While integral to the story, this part contains some mature themes about not only violence—but very dark subjects revolving around death.

For that reason, I'm issuing a warning to those that have a hard aversion to themes like that. If you're a fan of the series, I doubt you're unfamiliar with such things. But just as a courtesy, I've put a warning here and ask you to please not force yourself to read parts that become too intense for you. I'm unsure if the next chapter will hit on these mature themes as heavy as this one, but I'll be sure to put a warning there as well if it does.

With that in mind, please enjoy this tale!


Chapter 51: Save the Dying of the Light

What does it mean to live?

One nine-year-old Junko Enoshima asked herself abstract questions like this every day. Kids her age worried about trivial things like catching their favorite cartoon in the morning or how to deal with annoying homework assignments. Junko found these mundane. Of course, she knew these kinds of thoughts weren't "normal" for people her age. From the first memories she had, the young redhead was aware of her unique line of thought.

But only abstract thoughts about life and death stimulated her mind anymore. She'd already had the prowess of an adult when it came to her studies, her social life bored her since she could easily charm anyone if she cared enough to, and things like growing up successful with a nice family until she got old bored her. The young girl could even get into Hope's Peak Academy and attain the coveted status as an Ultimate, but she didn't share the awe of that school like society did.

That left her to ponder the nature of human existence itself. She read many psychology books and studied various philosophers. Nothing she saw clicked with her, all sounding like drabble. Every day, she searched for something—anything that'd fill this empty void.

She couldn't share this burning misery with someone because who'd understand? Her parents never cared from day one, Mukuro couldn't begin to understand these things, and even her close friend Yasuke wouldn't either. Like all things, Junko just knew they wouldn't because she saw everything. Life for her had no thrill of the journey, just the destination instantly waiting for her on the other side.

Truly, Junko Enoshima felt alone.

It's as if she stood on a tower overlooking the entire world. Her empty eyes stared down at everyone in the world experiencing life, going through faith and hopelessness as they experienced the process of living.

Meanwhile, she stood still, feeling nothing but the desire to close her eyes.

Today was another boring day full of obvious outcomes. However, she decided to try something new once school concluded. After telling Mukuro of her plans, she approached the door of the school counselor. She wouldn't find any reprieve here but decided to share her thoughts anyway. Their counselor was renowned for her ability to comfort and remediate children. Junko had the perfect excuse to see her due to the "sandcastle incident" as it's become known around her small town.

"Ms. Kotone?" said Junko, entering the small office. The smiling face of the shorthaired, brunette greeted her immediately.

"Ah, Junko, please take a seat."

From what Junko knew, the counselor worked at this school for a year. Despite her acumen, she'd been relocated to this small school in her crappy town. She was unmarried and had little family, claiming that she focused her life on helping children instead. But that nonsense didn't fool Junko, who could see the depression in her brown eyes the moment she opened the door.

"I'm glad to finally meet you," she said Junko who sat in the chair across from her, the table in between full of treats and refreshments. Ms. Kotone opened the blinds in her office, allowing the evening sun to pour into the room, bouncing off the brown furniture. "I hear so much about you from others, I'd hoped to speak to you one day. How are you doing?"

Junko internally groaned, already bored of this as her counselor asked the most cliched question one could ask. Regardless, she hid her annoyance and decided to play along.

"Pretty crappy."

Kotone made a sympathetic grin. "That's certainly normal considering the incident. I hear you were distraught all day and no one found the culprit. A traumatic event like that would sadden anyone."

Junko didn't react, staring into space as she recalled that very incident. There it stood, her sandcastle she crafted. Even with the popularity it gardened, in the dark of night—Junko smashed it apart. Spending more time with Yasuke is why she started it, and in the end, its destruction helped secure more time with her friend. Even when she confessed to Yasuke she'd destroyed it, she kept her purposeful intention hidden.

She didn't know why—a rarity for her—but she grinned as she smashed the castle. Why did she smile that night? The young girl still hadn't figured it out.

"I'm over it now," said Junko, focusing back on the conversation. "What sucks is nothing gets me excited. The only interest I have is asking myself questions about life and death and what it means to live in this dull world. My mind always goes in circles with itself… On most days, I wonder what's the point of even living if there's nothing to look forward to…"

Kotone didn't respond at first, assessing the situation. She doubted the counselor knew too many kids her age express concern over such things. Junko already had it in her head how the therapist would respond.

"Well, those are very…mature thoughts to have at such a young age. A kid your age should be concerned with—"

"Yeah, I know," said Junko cutting her off since the usual speech about how she's young and shouldn't worry herself with adult topics yet—more predictable responses. "I know what I'm saying is weird, that a kid my age saying this is abnormal and probably a sign of some neurological problem. But I'm telling you that this is just how I am. I can't be happy about anything. I'm just a void, empty and bottomless…"

Finally, Kotone started to realize how bizarre Junko's case was. The redhead hoped that meant the counselor would change up their methods. But she doubted it.

After a minute of the counselor intertwining her fingers and humming to herself, she finally said, "You're a gifted person, Junko. The way you speak, mannerisms, and intelligence are far beyond your contemporaries. Perhaps you require something more challenging? Have you ever thought about skipping a grade?"

"That won't do any good. Maybe that'll keep me preoccupied for a time, but it won't be long until that bores me too. Memorization and equations are just trivial busywork that can always be found out. I need something…complex with infinite outcomes. Something I can never truly know the outcome of no matter how hard try."

Kotone giggled. "You might have an artist's mind then. Rather than reading and studying, your mind was made to ponder and create. Give me one moment."

The counselor dug through the drawers of her desk before pulling out a plain sketchpad. She happily handing it to Junko who took it, her face remaining stoic.

"Art doesn't interest me either," sighed Junko. Sure, there's an infinite number of things you can draw, but it more of a situation of skill."

"The reason I want you to have it is so you can express yourself. Right now, all those powerful thoughts running in your head need somewhere to drain. So, whenever you think about these things, write them down. Or better yet, draw a picture showing what you're thinking. You'd be surprised how materializing your thoughts on paper can give you a new perspective. Please, try it for a few weeks, and see what you think."

She never considered such a thing in the past, so she shrugged—deciding there wasn't harm in trying. Keeping journals never seemed interesting, and she never cared to work on her artistic skills beyond crude doddles.

Eh, why not, she thought, tucking the pad between her arm and side.

"It's getting a bit late," said Kotone, checking her watch. "Besides these thoughts you're having, was there anything on your mind?"

There were thousands of things in her mind at once. Junko's constantly thought about many things, but at the same time—she didn't care much to delve into them. It'd gotten to the point where even her internal thoughts started becoming white noise, like annoying background music. It's no exaggeration to say there are times Junko wanted to pry out her brain.

That aside, there is a question the tortured girl had.

"What of you, Ms. Kotone?" Junko said, her face always stoic and unexpressive. "You seem to be containing some grief too."

The counselor's eyes widened, clearly surprised by the assertion. But her face recovered into the same welcoming smile she upheld throughout the session. "Everyone faces hardship every day, Junko. I'm certainly no exception. The trick always enduring whatever anguish you might feel, meeting it head-on to reach a better tomorrow."

"… Seems a little redundant, though. Fooling yourself into believing that if you hold off unhappiness enough times, maybe it'll be better one day? Humans don't work that way." Junko narrowed her eyes, staring deep into Kotone's. "From the looks of it…you don't seem to believe that either…"

The two stared at each other a few moments, a strange silence permeating the office before a beeping sound interrupted.

"Oh!" said Kotone, checking her watch. She clapped her hands together, standing from her desk. "It seems we're out of time, Junko. Since this session was last minute, I could only give you a little under half an hour. But I'd like to talk to you again so how about we agree to meet at least twice a week? Does every Monday and Friday work for you?"

"Sure," said Junko rising from the chair, her new sketchpad in hand. Honestly, this short session wasn't too unbearable. And anything that didn't outright annoy the young girl must have something promising to it. Junko bowed before thanking the counselor, walking towards the exit.

"Remember, Junko," said Kotone, as Junko reached for the doorknob. "Just because you can't see your purpose yet, doesn't mean there's nothing to hope for. I can tell already…you're destined for extraordinary things."

Junko didn't respond before leaving the office, flicking her long hair aside before leaning her back against the door. She asked herself, did counseling make anything better? Nothing happened that caught her by surprise; however, the look in Kotone's eyes did interest her.

The young girl flipped through her sketchpad, nothing but blank white pages. What do I even put in here?

"It's about time," said the sarcastic tone of a boy Junko always recognized. She didn't notice because of her train of thought, but her best friend Yasuke Matsuda leaned against the wall opposite of her. His school uniform was untidy and his hair unkempt. His face always looked disinterested, masking the tired and anguished feelings he held deep down.

"What, did she convince you to become an artist? Here I thought you hated art."

"She said written down my thoughts and drawing about what I'm thinking could help."

Yasuke chuckled. "I can only imagine the hellscape that's gonna be between those pages then."

"… You didn't have to wait for me. I know you have more…important places to be."

Yasuke looked away, knowing Junko referred to his bedridden mother. Junko barely got to see her friend anymore since his mom's condition grew worse, even developing mild dementia. The only time they got to talk was rare occasions like right now, and the boy's mind always lied elsewhere—obvious Yasuke was exhausted from the abuse he endured daily.

"She's my mom, Junko… What am I supposed to do, leave her behind to go crazy? I don't like blowing you off, but…I'm the only thing she has left. What kind of son would I be leaving her behind now…?"

"A smart one," replied Junko, which earned a glare from Yasuke.

And this is what annoyed Junko about this whole situation. Every conversation they had always ended up with Junko telling him his mother was a lost cause, and the boy getting angry at her. The only time this didn't happen was when her sandcastle was destroyed, and the boy hunted the culprit for days.

"Why do you always have to be like that?" asked Yasuke, his brow furrowed. "You have any idea how mean that makes you sound?"

"You know I'm always right about these things. Continuing to take care of that woman will make you more miserable. Her mind is already gone, so—"

"Shut up!" he exclaimed, pounding his fist on the wall. "I know to someone like you who can't understand people it's dumb, but being by my mom—even if she can't remember me—matters. Just because your parents are—" He stopped himself, realizing how cruel he sounded.

"You can say it," said Junko, slightly melancholic. "My family is garbage, and it was a mistake for me to be born. I figured that out a long time ago…" Turning away from him, Junko sped off down the hallway, intent on getting away before she felt Yasuke's hand. She didn't act surprised, knowing he'd do that.

"No, Junko…don't say things like that about yourself… Your parents might treat you badly, but they're still your parents. And don't forget you have a sister that likes you more than anything. You should treasure that bond…"

Turning around to meet his sincere face, Junko averted her eyes to the floor. "Sorry, if I can't see the beauty in this screwed-up family. Whether it's my parents or your mom…all I see is adults holding us back and keeping us apart…"

He was one of the people she "liked" which meant he was someone whose company she didn't mind. The young boy was sharp-tongued, but also intelligent for his age as well. He's the only one that could get her to a certain degree. Junko didn't know if this was some form of love since the concept of it didn't interest her much, but there's something between them that managed to hold her attention.

As such, having the person who didn't annoy her busy with a trivial thing like caring for a mother whose days were numbered angered her. She knew how cruel that sounded to a normal person, but to her—she didn't see the point.

"I think therapy is dumb, but I'm glad you went, Junko." Yasuke wiped his messy hair, hands on his hips. His face suggested he was unsure. "Look…I didn't want to say it, but there's another reason I haven't been around much. Junko…you've started acting strange lately. Like, stranger than ever before…"

The young girl didn't know what he meant. Since they'd met, she's always been open about how her mind worked with him. "Explain," she said.

"I mean… you go on about stuff I can't wrap my head around, you always seem like you're annoyed and disgusted with everything. Also, what you did to your sandcastle—"

"I told you that was an accident." Even someone without godly analytical abilities could tell Yasuke didn't fully believe that lie.

"… My point is, you're changing. You almost seem like—you hate being alive or something."

"Can you blame me…?" Junko had her fists balled; her expression was unchanging. Even in this heated talk with her best friend, she couldn't bring herself to emote. "My awful family, this awful town…this awful world—just what's fun about living?"

Yasuke rubbed the back of his head, a question like that clearly beyond the young boy. Most adults couldn't articulate their point of that.

"There you go again…" he murmured. He glanced up at the clock above them. "Look, I wanted to check up on you, but I need to head back home. Just, make sure to take it easy alright?"

His small hand touched her shoulder before leaving, his eyes sympathetic. Junko watched as he departed, once again leaving her behind. Junko figured her attitude pushed the boy away. She tried a long time to keep this side of her bottled up for that reason. But as each day passed, her desire to keep her true self hidden grew difficult. Junko sighed before turning to leave the other way; she had a desire to visit a certain spot she frequented often.

VVV

This countryside town was insignificant in many ways. With the new roads built over the years to cut down on driving time, if you didn't live in this town—there's no reason to come here. This resulted in the town having old roads, ancient buildings made decades ago, and a small number of people. The town contained nothing but a school, some small locally owned shops, and few areas of residence. As such, this place had an extremely low cost of living which meant nothing put poor bumkins lived here. How fitting that the girl who found everything meaningless lived in the most meaningless town in the country.

The only interesting part of town is the infamous old bridge. Since no one came here from out of town and there are more efficient ways to leave this town, the bridge didn't see much use. At least, not its intended use. This bridge did see somewhat frequent use from people making it a notorious spot in the country.

The final black mark on this town is its most well-known bridge, famous for the suicides that haunted the rusted structure.

All the horror that happened at this bridge resulted in the usual conspiracy nonsense. Some speculated the bridge hosted vengeful spirits that corrupted the minds of those who came near, beckoning them to their death. Others thought government brainwashing experiments happened here. She'd even heard talks about secret radioactive activity in the area eroding people's brains, making them lose better judgment.

These, of course, were all stupid.

It's obvious why so many jumped to their ends here. This town, in the middle of nowhere, hosted nothing but lowlifes, outcasts, and failures who couldn't secure a good career. She'd liken it to purgatory, and the bridge was the portal to hell for those who'd finally given up on this wretched planet. In the end, this bridge is the final pit stop for those born without talent or purpose.

The evening sun stung Junko's eyes as she stared at all the signs hung around the bridge. She'd been here so many times, all the empty platitudes telling anyone who might jump to treasure their life disgusted her. What could be more worthless than some stranger writing a cute message, making themselves feel better because their stupid sign might've saved someone from themselves? Such hubris could only be possible with human beings.

Humans were the best at spouting empty virtues without putting in the hard work to prove them. How else could such a place like this exist?

Junko lifted herself on the edge, her fingers gripping the cold and rusted bars that adorned the sides. She could hear them creak as she gripped them, her brown school uniform flowing in the wind. On most days, the murky water below smelled of sewage. Today didn't seem so bad since Junko's nose didn't cringe at the stench of whatever lies below her.

The sunset sat across from her on the boundless horizon, its rays bouncing off the sea. Every other day, Junko visited here, curious to see if she'd finally jumped. She couldn't think of any other reprieve from her mind. She barely could sleep giving her intense insomnia, the drugs her parents pumped her full of never worked, and promises of a better future didn't affect her. Mukuro never caught on because she'd fake being asleep, but Junko would go days would sleeping.

What other reprieve could be left…other than death.

And so, Junko looked down, sensing it could finally be the day.

After a moment…she sighed before getting off the ledge, safely on the sidewalk. "I get to live another day," she said to herself, disappointed.

Completely unfazed she nearly ended her life, Junko walked home—a place she loathed more than anything.

The evening turned to night as Junko reluctantly came home. The old floorboards of the house would creak, the scent of rotting wood in the air. As always, her clingy sister greeted her after she walked through the door. The freckled girl embraced her in a hug, Junko keeping her arms to her side while rolling her eyes.

"At least take a shower before hugging me like that," replied Junko.

Mukuro blushed, smelling herself. "But…I did take a shower…"

Many kids assumed Junko hated her sister after hearing the discourse between the twins. That couldn't be further from the truth. Minus Yasuke, Junko was bothered less by Mukuro than anything. Her older sister always supported her unconditionally, putting all her needs first. Mukuro was the most positive force in her awful life by far. If she didn't have her sister there, she'd probably have jumped already. The stoic girl even forced a fake smile whenever Mukuro was sad, a rarity Junko cared about someone's feelings.

She wouldn't even see her sister was unremarkable. Her natural cuteness didn't compare to her own, but Mukuro had her strengths. Anybody that managed to get past her awkward outer layer quickly befriended her, Mukuro spouting off all her nerdy facts about guns or the military. Her sister also had quite the natural athleticism despite her size, always performing well in physical activities.

So, why did Junko always put her sister down?

Junko faced another rare occasion she couldn't answer the question. She and Mukuro's relationship always went like this. The introspective redhead could probably figure out if she thought on it, but she never cared to.

"How did your talk with the school counselor go?" asked Mukuro.

"Meh," Junko said, breaking from her sister's embrace before taking off her shoes and walking towards the kitchen, the smell of rice in the air while the wooden floorboards under her feet creaked. "Wow, our darling parents cooked tonight?"

"Yeah…" murmured Mukuro, eyes downcast. "They're not happy about how late you've been staying out on some days… I know you don't want to tell me, but where are you—"

"It's none of your business, eyesore."

Junko entered the small kitchen, her father with his nose in a newspaper while her mother prepared the table for dinner. Her father and mother both had jet-black hair like Mukuro, a contrast to Junko. Her mom and Mukuro looked just alike, save for the eyes Mukuro inherited from their father. Her father looked unimpressive and miserable like most businessmen, while her mom looked like a typical Japanese housewife, without gracefulness or tact.

People often assumed the redhead was adopted because of her different features, but her mom said once that a distant aunt of her's had red hair. To Junko, it's just more proof she was born in the wrong place.

Once she walked in, her partners meet her eyes. Junko could sense the disgust. Her parent never liked her, especially compared to Mukuro. Hell, even her rotten parents liked Mukuro who did whatever she was told. She could easily play the role of the beloved daughter, but she didn't want to give her rotten parents satisfaction. They were awful people who'd led a life of degeneracy, and she loathed them for giving birth to her.

Instead, she remained silent, defiant, and sharp-tongued—letting them know that even at the age of nine, they were beneath her.

"You're late again, Junko," said the mother, her hair short. "I told you not to stay out too late anymore."

"I hung out with Yasuke after counseling. I finally got to see him after a week."

"He's probably busy taking care of his mother. You shouldn't be a bother to him when he's going through such a difficult time. Try to think of others."

Junko's eye twitched, her mom's condescending tone angering her. "Well, mother, you and father would know a lot about staying places longer than you're supposed to—"

"Junko!" yelled her father, slamming his hand on the table. Her mom and Mukuro jumped; Junko didn't so much as flinch. "Not another word."

After his scornful eyes switched back to the newspaper, Junko sat down opposite of him. He and her mom made some small talk with Mukuro afterward, pretending Junko didn't exist like they always did.

What Junko alluded to earlier had to do with the periods of absence their parents took from each other. Sometimes their dad would claim he worked for days or their mom informed them she'd be staying with some distant relatives for a while. Mukuro was ignorant, but Junko knew better. The young redhead knew exactly the unfaithfulness her parents practiced whenever they could. If Mukuro hadn't been born, Junko would be in an orphanage right now while her parents separated.

Junko nibbled at her food as dinner went on, the awful quality upsetting her stomach. Her parents made boring small talk about work and politics while Mukuro chimed in with school stories. All the while, Junko ignored them; this is how family dinners usually went. Junko would force down whatever they had that night, letting them do all the talking before she left for her room. Any desire to pretend this was a happy family withered away.

"Junko," said her father, his face stern with a cup of sake in hand. His face grew red; the sisters knew that their parent's temper was especially unstable on nights they drank. "I've always allowed you to stay silent, but it's time you be a good daughter and speak when spoken to at the dinner table."

Junko didn't look up from her plate, resting her head on her hand. "I don't feel like playing house tonight. You wouldn't understand anything I had to say anyway, and I'd rather not have you get some doctor to pump me full of drugs again because I'm a special child."

"Enough of that, young lady," said her mother. "Your father and I realize we aren't the perfect family, but why can't you make the most of it like your sister? Instead, you act entitled as if you've graduated from Hope's Peak Academy. Like I said earlier, you need to stop acting selfishly; think of how this makes us look."

Now Junko's temper started to rise. Whenever it'd get like this, she'd had the tolerance to hold back her words since she knew the short fuse that her father had. But like most things of late, she stopped caring.

"You seriously think I'm the one disgracing this family? What, you don't think this awful town, this crappy house, or your awful marriage tipped anyone off? At this point, I think Mukuro is smarter than you two."

"Quiet!" her father yelled, glaring daggers at his youngest daughter. "I've allowed you to act and speak as you've please, but no more! The way you talk to your parents and your older sister is unbecoming! We've taken you to doctors and psychiatrists to figure out what wrong with you, but my patience with your ungratefulness has reached its end! Now, from this day forth, you're going to show me and this family respect or I'll send you to a mental institution, got it!"

Junko felt Mukuro grab her hand, tears in her eyes as she silently pleading with her to stop. But then the redhead stared into her father's eyes, unfazed by his threats. She knew what was coming if she pushed more, but at this point—she welcomed the thrill of seeing what would happen.

"… You and mother are deserving of respect? You're both failures as human beings and parents. By all metrics, society has deemed your lives a failure, and you trying to punish me for speaking the obvious truth? You should be giving me respect…because I've gone this long living under you pieces of shit without offing myself yet!"

Mukuro and her mother acted shocked because they'd never guess what their father would do. However, Junko knew it was coming—in fact, she could've easily avoided it but choose not to. Instead, she let her father rise from his position before firming striking her in the face with his palm, Junko wincing as her head flew back hard enough for her form to hit the floor. The redhead laid on her hand on knees—staring at the floor wide-eyed.

"Junko!" yelled Mukuro, checking on her.

Then she heard her mother crying. Naturally, a mother would cry when upon her child being struck like that, but Junko wasn't that ignorant.

"Where did it go wrong with you?" she asked nobody, weeping into her hand. "Why did you have to be born this way…?"

Junko cupped her face, her eyes twitching as she felt a fire burning in her gut. The rest of her family was deaf to her, the rage that'd built since the day she had awareness coming to a tipping point. Then in the anger, she found a bit of relief.

Finally, the will to go through with it had come.

She dashed from the kitchen before putting on her shoes and running out of the house. She heard Mukuro call after her, but Junko took a route through the neighborhood to lose her in the night. After her bloodhound sister lost her scent, Junko ran to her usual spot, prepared to do what needed doing. She searched for the resolve to go through with it; now the time had come. Her panting and footsteps echoed in the quiet night, the spot where her dad hit still stinging.

Finally, the bridge laid before her—the last stop. Junko didn't waste a beat as she stepped onto the ledge, the dark depths under her feet. The streetlamp above shined down on her red hair, concealing her face in a shadow. Even now, she still hesitated. Why am I still hesitating? she wondered. What's left to look forward to…?

Her foot inched a little off the ledge.

Stop hesitating damn it!

Junko's eyes were wide, unblinking as she gazed down.

There's nothing in this awful world for you!

Junko's whole left leg was in the air; a slight twitch would send her falling.

Finally, the pain and loneliness can disappear forever…!

In the young girl's long and illustrious life, she thought back to this moment often. She was certain…this is the moment she would've jumped. Her body and mind were fully synchronized to her self-destruction and end to the miserable existence. If nothing else happened at this moment…Junko would've jumped.

But something did occur.

"I-I can't do this…" murmured a whimpering man.

Junko turned her head, noticing a whimpering man in a business suit crying while standing on the ledge directly across from her. The redhead had been so busy thinking of her death, she hadn't noticed someone had the same idea in mind. The scrawny man mumbled to himself, struggling whether to go through with it. Junko continued to glance at him, her eyes remained wide. She stood still; her mind went blank for the first time in a long time as her leg still hung off the edge.

Then, she jumped back to the ground before walking a few feet behind the man who hadn't noticed her.

"You gonna do it?" asked Junko, the shadows eerily spread on her face because of the lamps.

The man shrieked in fright, nearly losing his balance before glancing behind him. His expression changed to one of confusion as he saw the young girl behind him. "Where did you…?"

"You wanted to jump, right? Why?"

The man continued to stare at her. No doubt, a young girl standing on this notorious bridge in the middle of the night was strange for even this town. Still, the man sighed before turning his puffy eyes back to the dark horizon. Perhaps he just wanted someone to confide in because he started rambling.

"M-My life is over… I recently lost my job in the company after I worked so hard. Then my wife goes ahead and leaves…Can you believe that? I worked tirelessly every day, breaking my back, and then she just takes off not a day afterward. And to top it off, she…she even took the kids…!"

The man cried into his hand for a minute, Junko's expression unchanging.

"My career is dead…the kids are gone. I-I have nothing! I studied hard in my youth, and all I got was a rejection from the very society I wanted to succeed in! What is there left…? My future…destroyed in just a day after thirty years. Why is the world like this…!"

Junko had long gotten a good read on this man. He kept going on and on about how life screwed him over, but Junko stopped listening. In her mind, something unprecedented took place. Usually, the way her mind worked is there's always one true path to follow and it never turned out wrong. The only time it did is when she meant it that way. But now, something changed… She saw two paths.

She could help reassure this man there are still success options. The economy wasn't so bad that getting another job was impossible, the man seemed intelligent enough to qualify for something else, and a few legal ways existed for him to see his kids if he tried at it. Junko already knew what to say to get this man off the ledge. She'd be a hero and save a life in the process.

And then, the other path.

This path was much more sensational and unpredictable. She'd do something she never considered, but she didn't know what it'd to her. If she followed this path, she'd lose part of herself forever. However, she'd also gain something. What that "something" was, she couldn't picture yet. That one bit of uncertainty intrigued her.

Deep down she knew…there's no turning back after this.

"You're a fool," said Junko, her voice soft but firm in conviction. "You'd be better off jumping…"

"What…?" mumbled the man.

"Let me guess…as a kid, you were born with many other siblings. You were always the underachiever never living up to them. Your parent let you know this many times, too. All your life, you've struggled to keep up with them—but you're too inferior. So, you crawled in the mud and scrambled to make a life for yourself any way you could."

"H-hold on a minute…!" The man had fear in his eyes, staring at Junko like the devil as she spiritually undressed and mocked him.

"Alas, you found some hope at the end of the tunnel with some desperate woman and a decent job to hold afloat. You're still an embarrassment, but at least now you can make a name for yourself. But no matter what costume a failure puts on to disguise himself, the failure always lies beneath. The truth is…you were born a loser."

"Please…stop…" He grabbed his head, shaking. He tried with all his might to not let Junko's words tunnel into his psyche, but she kept going.

"You think there's a chance after this? It's over. Your wife and kids already found a more successful guy, the cooperate world doesn't want some flunky that couldn't hack it, and society has rejected you. You're left to a life of loneliness and mediocrity, drinking yourself stupid as your remaining friends abandon you. Still… you know there one easy way for someone like you can be remembered, even just a little…"

"No!" he yelled an insane look in his eye.

"And that's the mourning your family has to do after your body is discovered!"

And then it happened.

The man backed away. Whether it was fear of Junko or him wanting demise, she couldn't tell. Either way…he fell off the edge, his screams becoming quieter as he fell. This continued for a second and then…silence. The man had done the unthinkable.

She hadn't realized it, but Junko's arm was outstretched as if she meant to catch him. Her eyes were wide, tears welling in them as her stomach churned uncomfortably. The man that pleaded for a second chance in front of her just seconds ago now laid lifeless below, dead and crushed by the force of gravity.

The girl fell to her knees, her body shaking uncontrollably as sobs slipped out. Her stomach churned enough to make her want to vomit. Her eyes lost their ability to blink as she spoke to herself in panic.

"He jumped… Did he think about not jumping? Is this my fault? But all I did is tell him what would happen… How could my words have caused such…"

Junko rose slowly, her long hair hanging from her head as she realized something. Her mind flowed, experienced such an influx of emotions that her heart raced. Every hair on her body stood; all the trauma she experienced earlier disappeared, replaced by a persistent sensation spreading through her body. Never had she been affected by so many inner phenomena at once.

In other words, she was feeling something.

"I threw everything out of whack by following the path opposite of hope… I…I couldn't see that was going to happen…"

Junko hated humanity, but she never desired to take life. In most regards, she'd convinced another human being to forsake their life. Previous events in that man's life led to this, but Junko performed the cope de grace with her own words. It's as if her talent gave her the blueprint to take his life. This should've mortified her…but she sensed something else growing.

"What is this power...? It's so ugly, yet exhilarating! Could this be…"

She gazed out into the dark horizon, then her shaking and tears halting. Instead, for the first time in her life, her face twisted and contorted until a smile appeared. Why did such an expression appear currently? Junko realized why. The answer both scared and excited her. The redhead smiled through her tear-stained face inhumanly, the light from above bathing her in luminescence—finally realizing the truth. The truth of why she smiled that night she destroyed her castle, why she smiled now.

On that night, Junko Enoshima found her answer at last.

"This power is…despair."