Disclaimer: This novel contains adult materials including sexually explicit activities, childhood trauma, domestic violence, strong language, and incest. Reader discretion is advised.
Session 16: The Long Walk Home
Once we departed the halls of Oransen High, we all gathered into Maxxie’s car, resuming our positions from this morning. We could have done a partial swap back, but we wanted to pick up Shiaka(T) first. A moment of quiet settled as Maxxie(Z) began driving out of the school parking lot, only to be disrupted by Terra(S), who started sobbing.
“I… I’m sorry if I’ve been difficult, but… I just want to thank you all for putting up with me. I know I’m not as strong as you all, but… I’m glad that I tried. That I got to experience what it was like to be a high school girl so soon. It was scary, it was strange, but… I’m so happy I did it. These past few days have been challenging, but I know that, no matter what, this is what I want. That I want to live the rest of my life as a woman. T-Thank you for your generosity. For putting up with me and… accepting me as I’m trying to figure out who I want to be.”
I regretted my decision to sit in the passenger’s seat, away from her, robbing myself of the opportunity to comfort her. Marking yet another opportunity where I can do nothing to help her. Help someone who… is the closest thing I have to a sibling in this world. Instead, Zoe(J) is the one who comforted her… again. He wrapped his arms around her and said to her, “I love you, Terra. We all love you.”
I looked on at Maxxie(Z)’s face, and could tell that she wanted nothing more than to switch back to her own body to comfort her sister. But as she listened on… she trusted Zoe(J) to handle it. She knew that she would comfort Terra(S) once they got back home.
As for me… I could not share the same empathy. As I saw Terra’s display of sorrow, I thought about how I made everything worse for her. I fucked up her coming out. I was unable to give her the support she needed all day, when I should have been there for her every step of the way, holding her hand. Why? Because I was being selfish. Because I was focusing on my petty little meaningless anxieties instead of helping Shiaka deal with her dysphoria. The more I thought about it, the more I felt the need to disengage. After all, for all my fuck-ups, did I even deserve to help her?
I groaned as I recognized my failures and looked out the window.
It began to snow shortly after we left Oransen High, with small flakes clinging onto the ground, street, and sidewalk, building on top of the mostly melted mounds from a few days prior. The sight was pleasant, emblematic of what was my favorite time of the year. It was cold, but not frigid. Remnants of autumn still resonated through the air. And the snow still held a sense of beauty to it before it transformed into a chore. I possessed a plethora of fond memories about these kinds of days, but the fact I was not happy on one of these few days. Days that seem to grow more and more uncommon with every passing year, it just made my mood all the worse.
What sealed the deal was seeing Maxxie’s original body’s face staring back at me. With Maxxie being such a spunky and happy-go-lucky person, it was rare to see this upset expression on this face. So the fact that I was looking at such an expression… only added another layer to my mound of depression. I would have mused that the world just did not want me to be happy, but really, it was just me. All of this was my fault. I chose to ignore the wonderful formative experience my friends and I were going on, and lingered on the nebulous and needless. I had every reason to be happy, but… wasn’t. I let out a sigh as I dug through these thoughts in my mind once again, and managed to draw a response from Maxxie(Z)
“Jad, you’re being awfully quiet. I mean, I may just not be used to not hearing my voice when driving, but I just want to make sure everything’s chill with you.”
“I… I guess I’ll just be honest,” I began. “I really do enjoy being you— being in your body, I mean— but it’s… I feel like I’m wasting it, that all I’m doing— all I did today— was squander an opportunity. All because I’m not capable enough to handle a day as you. I don’t know why, out of the billions of people in this world, Verde decided to give the remote, this VD to somebody as useless as me.”
As I finished that sentence, Maxxie pulled over, parked the car, and reached over me to yank the VD out of the glove box. She switched herself and Zoe(J), placing her in my original body, and Zoe back in his original body.
“Guys, guh— do— ahem,” Maxxie(J) said as she cleared her throat. “Sorry about that, new voice. Well, not really, but, um, anyway, you guys go pick up Shiaka, I’ve got to work this shit out now. Get out of the car Jad! We’re going on a walk.”
I did as she ordered and stepped out of the car. I breathed in the cold November air as I wondered just how terribly I was handling this situation.
As I sighed, Maxxie(J) hugged me, and I hugged her in return.
“Jad, I am so, so super sorry that I did not notice this earlier. You need to let me know if anything is troubling you. Because if you’re bummed, you better believe that I’m bummed and will do everything and anything I can to light your heart up!”
“I… I know that. I’ve always known that. I just feel like I don’t deserve… you.”
Even though she was wearing my original body, I could not bear to look her in the eyes.
“Come walk with me, J-Star. We’ve got some major beef to squash.”
As Maxxie(J) said that, she broke out of the hug and wrapped her arm around my waist
“W— Wait, you want to walk around hugging like this?”
“It’s not really hugging, and besides, who is going to A, see us, and B, care? Just don’t get so worked up about what other people think, it doesn’t matter, and you know this, dude!”
“I know, I’m just… ellipsis. I feel like compared to you, Zoe, Shiaka, and even Terra, I’m useless. You are an amazing artist, rightfully have a large following, and are the— You are the most fun person I have ever met, while also being so amazingly, delightfully weird. Zoe started with nothing, a dead dad, overworked mother, but through all that, he became an ambitious, professional, and incredibly mature young man. He keeps his cool even when in a goldarn inferno. Shiaka is a technical, smart, and adorable young woman, who went through the most major shit I’ve ever heard of. But despite that, she still leads a normal life. While Terra… She is such a brave little girl who is finding herself. She is panicky at times, but she keeps going, because she knows that… if she doesn’t try… nothing will change. Me, I guess I do well enough in school, but without you all, I’m nothing! I’m fucking nothing!”
At some point in that tirade, I began to cry, sullying Maxxie’s face with undeserved tears.
“Trying to be you, act like you do, it only made me realize how worthless I truly am. You’re always smiling even in the face of adversity, and always doing what you want, not caring about what others think of you, it is all admirable and… Guh!”
“Jad, I… I appreciate how highly you think of me, but… that is complete, utter, distilled, fucking stupid-ass bullshit!”
Maxxie then stopped in her tracks, grabbed me by my shoulders, and forced me to look into her green eyes.
“You think I would be the same person without you? That Zoe and Shiaka, and even Terra would be the same person without you? I dunno if you recall, but I was a cunt before you came along and showed me that friendship is magic! Zoe was a bitter and isolated ass— I guess he still is to an extent— but he’d be full, one-hundred percent antisocial if he was left to sulk in the corner and not speak to anybody. Shiaka, oh my goodness, you know what one of the reasons why she is able to exist in a social environment? You, ya dummy! You are quiet, shy, and open as all fuck! I’m a loud bitch, and Zoe’s hardly the most friendly face around. Without you, she would have never opened up to anyone outside her family. And Terra, dude, you are basically her big brother! And don’t try to extrapolate something wack about how she saw you as a bad male figure and decided to be trans, or whatever demeaning shit is rattling around in your brain space! That’s absolutely not the case, you… silly slippery salamander!”
At this point, Maxxie joined me in the waterworks, tears filling her eyes and pouring down her borrowed face.
“Besides, you act like you’ve never had to deal with hardships, you know? I mean, your dad was a total prick with thorns attached. Your parents went through a divorce, your ass was almost beaten open in the process, and you’ve kept your shit straight through the years. All while being the… I am so happy to have you in my life. I know I may not show it a lot of the time, but I love you Jad. Fuck, I probably can say the same thing for Shiaka, and definitely for Terra.”
As she said those words, the tears stopped. But before I could comprehend the love she was talking about, she continued her speech.
“You really don’t have anything to be ashamed of, you may not be living a dream life, but fuck it, you can change that around. Never give in to despair, I mean, that’s the entire point of Danganronpa! Always believe in yourself, your potential that is just waiting to be awoken! Unleash the power of your hope and send that twin-tailed bitch into the furnace where you burn all you stupid and petty anxieties! Don’t Get Discouraged! Put a Smile on Time! Dark is the Night, but the day shines just like the sky!”
As she finished our speech, I took a moment to allow her words to sink it… before saying the first thing I could think of.
We then embraced one another standing as the snow fell onto us, calming our hearts and cooling our fiery emotions. We then looked at each other, our faces stained with tears, but the crying was over. I looked at her sheepishly, she did the same and then… we brought our lips together, sharing our first ‘true’ kiss.
After we relished in this moment for five seconds, we both broke out of the hug, looking the other way as we comprehended what we just did. As I was preparing an apology, Maxxie(J) spoke first.
“Hahaha, wowzers. I sure as sugar wasn’t expecting my first smooch to be with myself. Pretty darn weird if I do say so myself, hehehe.”
“Erm, it was a platonic thing, some sort of emotional excess that happens with really good friends and—”
“Dude, it’s kissing, this culture just don’t like non-romantic smooches, your Deutschland ancestors used to make out with their family members all the time. You can take it however you want though. Either it was a cousinly kiss, or a ‘lovey dovey kiss’ either way, it’s all swell with me.”
“I, erm, thank you, but I should say that I was, you know, feeling something down there…” I nervously said while gesturing towards my crotch.
“It’s brain chemicals reacting to stimuli from your mind and body, which is a pretty cool can of beans. But if you think about the beans for too long, then the beans will get all cold, moldy and gross so that nobody would want them. So just take a spoon and dig in while you still got a boner or something. …I dunno. All this emotional talk has gotten me winded, spacey… and a little horny.”
We then shared a laugh over the awkwardness of our situation. I held out a hand and, without hesitation, Maxxie(J) grabbed it. Hands clenched, we resumed walking towards our homes, looking at the snowflakes delicately falling from the sky. I’m not entirely sure what inspired us to do this, but before I knew it, we were skipping our way to her house, singing a wintry song together.
Verde: Winter’s breeze, brushing on your face.
Verde: A cold reminder of our happy place.
Verde: As the snow continues to fall, the time is now.
Verde: We laugh at the heavens to make a vow.
Verde: Through the worst and best, our bonds will last.
Verde: It is one way our future shall be like our past.
Verde: It is up to us to make sure all is well.
Verde: Come, my dear, we mustn’t dwell.
Verde: …Is that right?
I… I was not expecting you to come back, Verde.
Verde: Well, I did promise that I would explain everything to you, Jad, and I’d say your story has ended. …Oh my, that sounded far more aggressive than I intended, please, forgive me.
I— okay, before getting into— but then there is the— I thought that—
Verde: Calm down, Jad. I stopped your story as I do not feel I need to hear how Shiaka(T) had a ‘mildly’ discomforting time as she tried to lose herself in the experience of being a school boy. Nor do I need to hear about your pizza and Smash Bros. filled Tuesday night, even if I do enjoy your group’s antics.
…Now that you spawned yourself a chair, can you explain why exactly you left?
Verde: My experience with people is… minimal, if I may admit my most evident fault. I was intimidated and, as such, I hid. I pondered returning, but I felt that now, after you have calmed down, was the best point to come back. I must thank you for staying with me all this time.
Oh, well, it was not really a choice to me, no way I was going to forget all of this… Even if it did not really happen.
Verde: It happened, just not anymore. It is an alternate history you have memories of.
Right, right… So, you said that you would explain everything about… everything.
Verde: Yes, yes. Being a woman of my word, I shall tell you how everything began, repeating information when necessary for the sake of clarity.
Verde’s Doohickey Main Page
Session 01: Re;Birth.exe
Session 02: Osananajimi;Myself
Session 03: Maximum Flare
Session 04: The World of Girl Love
Session 05: It’s Slippery When Wet
Session 06: T-Girl Trouble
Session 07: All The Warriors
Session 08: A School-Style Swap
Session 09: School Daze
Session 10: Starred Social Links
Session 11: Finer Foreshadowing
Session 12: Dark Dreams Develop Despair
Session 13: Back 2 Best Girl
Session 14: Can’t Even Shine In A Prism
Session 15: Maxxie Mit Melancholy
Session 16: The Long Walk Home
Session 17: Obtuse Origins – Omega Overdrive
Afterword: Natalie Rambles About Verde’s Doohickey
Session Extra.1: Adoration
Session Extra.2: Inheritance
Session Extra.3: Resonance
Session Extra.4: Confessions