Once again, I woke up early. Without even waiting for the morning announcement I headed to the dining hall. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so), Missa and Asami were already there. I sat down with them. Asami looked up when she heard me, but Missa didn't react.
"Is Missa okay?" I asked. Asami shook her head.
"Ren and I told her what happened and she's been in a daze since."
"Ren?" I asked, looking around. The three of us were the only ones in the room. Asami gestured to the kitchen.
"He's in there, getting some food for Missa." She explained. I nodded to show that I understood and turned to Missa.
"Hey Missa." I said gently. "Are you doing okay?"
She didn't respond. Her eyes were red and swollen and she was hunched over. She was holding her arms over her chest, the nails digging into the opposite arms. I wasn't going to get anything from her in that state, so I turned back to Asami.
"You get some sleep Asami." I said. "You look like you didn't get any." Asami shrugged.
"I've gotten used to feeling tired at this point." She said. "But thanks."
She left the room and Missa and I sat in silence. After a bit, Missa finally spoke.
"It's my fault..." She said. Her voice sounded rough from lack of use.
"Missa?!" I exclaimed, desperate to get any kind of a response from her. "What's your fault?"
"All of this." She answered. "Nori, Isoya, they're gone because of me."
Did she really think that? Was that why she was so quiet?
"No! That's wrong!" I said. "It's Monokuma's fault, Missa! Not yours!"
Missa wouldn't listen. Or maybe she didn't even hear me in her dazed state.
"The whole time I was in there... I was terrified." She said. "It couldn't stop thinking about the kidnapping. But I kept telling myself that Isoya would get me out. He would save me. I didn't know that he would save me by... by..."
She began to cry. I moved closer to her and wrapped my arms around her shoulders. The same way Kinji had to comfort me. Missa turned her head and cried into my shoulder. I had no idea what I should say. Luckily, I didn't have to speak.
"If you keep crying you're going to get dehydrated again." Ren said. I hadn't noticed him come in. This time, Missa did react, turning her head in his direction. Seeing that we had heard him, Ren continued.
"You can't blame yourself for this Missa." He said. "I know for a fact that Isoya didn't save you so you could while away in self pity."
I felt the urge to stop him, but I realized he was right so I stayed quiet. If things got bad, then I'd step in.
"By killing Nori, Isoya didn't save just you, he saved all of us." Ren continued. "In other words, we are all just as much to blame for his death as you. So if you want to spend your days crying and hating yourself, I'm afraid I can't allow that. Isoya didn't die so you could sit around wallowing in despair. He died to give you hope. He wanted his execution to be the last, and he wanted all of us to get out of here. So stop crying, pick yourself up, and accept the hope he was trying to give you."
Missa stared at Ren silently.
She managed to say "Ren... I..." before bursting into tears again. Only this time, she was smiling.
"No happy tears either okay?" Ren said. "Save those for when we get out. Now, are you going to eat this or not?" He held up the plate of food in his hands Missa nodded and he handed it over. Once Missa was eating, I smiled at Ren. It was very nice of him to help Missa out like that. He noticed the gesture and looked away, his cheeks red. Probably to hide this, he went back into the kitchen. After he had left, everyone began entering the dining hall. Mayu noticed Missa crying and rushed over.
"Are you okay?" She asked. Missa nodded.
"I think I'm going to be." She replied.
We all ate breakfast, and then headed over to the train station to investigate the new area. This time, no one stayed behind. The train rattled on the tracks as we passed through each of the areas. Each time we passed through one of the tunnels, my eyes had to readjust to the blinding light that followed. Eventually, we reached the tunnel that led to the new area. What was it going to be? Despite the fact it was a reward for killing Isoya, I couldn't help but be curious. Would this be the time that we found a way out?
The newest area seemed similar to the second, though the buildings were larger and more recreational themed. Mayu split us up into groups and we each went off to investigate.
"So a movie theatre huh?" Mayu asked. We had been assigned the theatre, which was at the very tip of the triangular area. It seemed like a normal theatre, with popcorn machines, dim lighting and red carpet. Though it also felt weird that it was completely empty. We looked at the movies playing.
"The Wizard of Monomi, The Monotrix, Bear of Despair." I read. "They're all Monokuma themed."
I guess that meant we wouldn't be spending much time in the theatre. Mayu looked more disappointed than I felt though. Not being able to find anything else, we headed back to the dining hall to wait for the others. It wasn't long before we were all together again.
"So, the movie theatre is pretty much useless." Mayu said. "There's no good quality movies playing." Sota sighed.
"Aw man." He said. "I was looking forward to watching movies again. I miss stuff like that." We all nodded. It really was a shame that the theatre was completely meaningless.
"Oh right!" Sota continues. "Michiyo and I found a CTS lab. It's kind of out of place, but I suppose it's better than nothing.
"What's a CTS lab?" Akio asked.
"It's like a kitchen." Michiyo said. "But there can be other stuff there too."
It didn't make sense to have that there. We already had a kitchen here in the dining hall. And why would it look like a CTS lab instead of just a kitchen? Saruwatari shrugged.
"Well, the area isn't completely useless." He said. "Koharu and I found a roller skating rink, so that could be fun."
"And there's also a concert hall." Asami added. "With a big piano on the stage!"
A piano? Maybe Missa could play it. Perhaps having an instrument would help keep her distracted.
"I found a bar." Akio said. "But there's no alcohol or anything. Just juice and stuff like that." Ren nodded.
"Makes sense." He said. "We're under the legal drinking age after all." He fixed his glasses before continuing. "There was also a rec room attached to the bar, with this-" He held up a photo. "-On the floor."
This time the photo was of an extremely muscular girl. She had long white hair and quite a few scars. The sleeves of her uniform were also ripped. I would definitely not want to get on her bad side. Ren handed the photo to me.
"I've been trying to figure out a connection between the photos." He said. "But I haven't come up with anything. So could you hold onto this one as well?" I nodded, taking the photo from him. Mayu clapped her hands together.
"So that's it then." She said. "No way out here either." Sota shook his head.
"I guess not." He said. "But there's some other cool stuff. Like the piano!" He turned to Missa. "Do you think you could play it Missa?" He asked. Missa nodded.
"I should be able to." She said quietly. "I just wish Isoya was here to hear it." She was silent for a moment, most likely thinking about him.
"I could play some songs for all of you." She offered. We said yes. Who would turn down a chance to hear the Ultimate Pianist play? We all headed towards the concert hall. On the way, I walked next to Missa.
"Are you sure you're up for a performance?" I asked. She nodded.
"I'm going to start trying my best to help in any way I can." She said. "If that means just playing songs for everyone, then that's what I'll do."
She must have still felt really guilty about what had happened with Nori and Isoya. If this would help her cope with it, then I wasn't going to interfere.
We made it to the concert hall and sat in the first few rows of seats. Missa took her place on stage and prepared to play. I wondered what it was going to sound like. I had never been to an instrumental concert before, so I didn't know what to expect. After a bit, Missa began to play.
Her fingers flew across the keys with ease. It almost seemed like they were dancing from note to note. The song that she played was so beautiful. So, otherworldly. It made me feel as if I was weightless. That nothing that we had suffered through was real. I had separated from this world into somewhere different.
Without realizing it, I had closed my eyes. I opened them again to see the others' reactions. Mayu was smiling.
"This would be the perfect theme for a fantasy movie. She whispered to herself. "In the final scene, where the heroes ride off into the sunset."
She always had movies on the brain, didn't she. I turned my head the other way and saw that Asami was tearing up.
"Are you okay?" I asked quietly. She nodded.
"I'm fine." She said. "The music is just so beautiful and... for some reason it makes me think of home."
Home. It had been so long since I had seen my own. I wondered how my parents were doing. Were they worried? Were they looking for me? Did they give up on me? I wasn't sure how long I had been stuck in this city, but it felt like an eternity. And if Monokuma really had stolen three years of memories from us, then what happened to my parents? My home? My life?
No. I couldn't think of stuff like that. If there weren't going to be any more murders, then I needed to be ready to stay in here. I needed to be able to leave all of that behind.
Missa's finished, and the silence snapped me from my thoughts. I clapped along with the others.
The people shouting were Sota, Asami and Mayu. No surprise there. Smiling, I joined in the chant. Soon, everyone was chanting and Missa began another song, just as beautiful as the first.
Once again, I felt hopeful that we could get through this.