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Endearing Misanthrope
The Convergence Series GM
Between the Lines

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Fighting of the Spirit was only one side of the story.

As the Revanchist War drove the multiverse into a state of emergency, countless people and organizations across the multiverse were thoroughly impacted by the mastermind's ambitions. In this companion piece to Fighting of the Spirit, witness not only the stories of what happened to the teams of the front lines between chapters, but also the stories of those between the lines of the massive war.

This ongoing anthology series began on May 21, 2020.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - No Evil

Chapter 2 - Fall of the Keeper

Chapter 3 - To Be Blunt
Chapter 1 - No Evil

As the chapter was originally conceived as a standalone story written by @Sark and @Yun Lee, a link to the story is provided here. Set during the sixth chapter of Fighting of the Spirit.
Chapter 2 - Fall of the Keeper

Collab written with @Atomic Knight, set shortly after the events of the third chapter.

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The Great Spirit known as Pluto was dead. The trek to Silent Earth ended in failure.

The team assigned to retrieve Pluto finally returned to Knowhere, despondent over their failure in many different ways. While most of the rest of the group separated, whether to mull over their next move or to just rest, Touma Kamijou tirelessly made for the Briefing Room instead, consolidating with the Coalition Administration, along with his own allies from his home world.

The intricate strategies and pensive distribution of troops was far more than what the boy was able to keep up with, but the ever restless boy wouldn't have been able to be relax when there was more work to be done. At some point, he was probably gonna collapse from overworking himself, but hey, he only first met Index only four months ago, and considering all the crazy shenanigans he found himself roped in ever since, what was a few more in a different world?

"So, while the other team is still trying to recover Celsius, we can't afford to slow down," Ollerus murmured as he looked over the holographic projections of their plans, which included a list of all the known Great Spirits, as well as whether or not they were still alive. "What is our next step?"

"Right now, we're in the process of consolidating our intel with ODMA and the United Universes. It'll take some time however, especially since anything can happen on a dime," Kyoko responded, holding her chin in thought.

"Three organizations and the Revanchist is still able to stay one step ahead of you all. I'm almost impressed with Revan's prowess for strategy," Fiamma of the Right whistled half-facetiously.

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"It's clear he's been plotting this advance for a long time, maybe even before the Arch Demon's Downfall," Doppo said, giving the magician a side-long glance before adjusting his glasses. "We can only hope that we'll be able to reach the rest of the Great Spirits before they can. It may be an uphill battle we're facing right now, but it's still a war we can win."

"It's clear his people have something to believe in," said the voice of Paladin Danse, his voice coming in through the intercom. "They're villains, through and through, but we can't forget their conviction is just as strong as our own."

"Let us hope your team has the same amount of morale as you do," the fairy Othinus said, sitting daintily atop the edge of the table projector, her legs and arms crossed sternly. And then suddenly--

"That's rich coming from you," a familiar voice said from the entrance to the Briefing Room, her words piercing through the air like a hot knife through butter. Will Vandom stood with a narrowed gaze, one fist clenched as she looked right at the fairy like glaring daggers.

Touma blinked in mild surprise as the woman who was supposed to be his comrade stared rather threateningly at the former Magic God. "Where did she come from...?" The boy murmured mostly to himself, standing next to Ollerus and Fiamma as he wondered what Will could possibly want right now.

Makoto Naegi was still deep in thought, musing on the strategic power of the Revanchist, when Will's outburst caused him to look up suddenly. He eyed her for a moment, a bit surprised.

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"Will, you shouldn't be barging into this room," he said almost automatically. He felt bad immediately though upon recalling how difficult the mission on Silent Earth had been. "... I apologize. You should spend be spending this time resting."

Ludger came in quickly behind Will, looking cross. He sigh and looked around at everyone in the room. "I'm sorry, she came here just after we got back."

"Sounds like she had a plan," Ollerus said to Ludger with out-of-place amusement, the blonde man viewing Will as little more than a dog with more bark than bite.

He could feel the hostility in her gaze just from her eyes alone, but despite the easy-going curl on his lips, he found himself squeezing his wrist ever so slightly by instinct, as though he could almost sense... something was a bit off here. Whatever it was though, he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

"Don't you dare patronize me. Any of you!" Will said more intensely than before to everyone, pointedly ignoring Makoto and instead stepping further into the room. "This entire mission so far has been a disaster! All of your stupid Great Spirits got themselves killed because the Revanchist was somehow able to keep a foot ahead of us at every turn!"

Kyoko pursed her lips subtly, letting out a soft sigh before looking to the other woman. "I understand your frustration, Will, but this isn't a productive way to--"

"No, you don't!" The self-described Guardian snapped, not even letting Kyoko finish as she clenched her fist in anger. "You people might enjoy sitting here with your thumbs up your asses, but where I come from, I prefer to get things done! I'm the Guardian of Infinite Dimensions for a reason!"

"Here we go..." Touma breathed under his breath.

"I thought the extra help would be appreciated on my mission to beat the Revanchist, but it feels like ever since I bumped into you clowns, I can't get anything done!" Will continued venting without abandon, flailing her fists briefly like a petulant child.

Meanwhile, Fiamma said nothing, attempting to tune out Will to the best of his ability, but was finally forced to waver, furrowing his brow silently when he felt a strange yet familiar tingling within his right arm. The Right Hand of the Crimson Moon was responding to something. Something very close. He narrowed his gaze to Will, not even caring at all for what she had to say, considering he wasn't even a part of the Coalition anyway, but all the same, straightened his posture as he looked at Will now, giving her his full attention.

"Your help has been overwhelmingly appreciated," Makoto said quickly in an attempt to smooth out the situation. He eyed her like the others were, though immediately felt sympathy. They really needed to get her calmed down so that they could have the medical staff check on her. "It's just that our enemies are stronger than any of us might have realized. Only through cooperation and understanding will we defeat them."

Ludger reached out to grab Will's arm, trying to do it gently. "We need medical and the exorcists to take a look at us, Will."

"Don't touch me," Will coldly said to Ludger with a low voice that could only be described as pure hostility. Against Ludger's gentle approach, the woman yanked her arm away, before spreading that hostile gaze toward Makoto next. "No, you know what I think? It's not that they're stronger. Because they're not. Not even when they tried sapping my connection to the Heart with their nets on Silent Earth!" Will said, erroneously believing that she had that situation under control.

"I think the real reason the Revanchist has been able to stay one step ahead of us all this time... is because of that!" Will exclaimed, suddenly pointing an accusing finger toward Othinus, who could only glower back at the redhead silently. "There's no other explanation. She has to be leaking data back to the Revanchist!"

"If Othinus was leaking information, we would know," Makoto said, sounding grim and serious now. He understood how was feeling, but clearly she was pushing this matter too far.

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"And besides, Othinus would never! Not after what we all went through together!" Touma quickly said atop Makoto's words, jumping to Othinus's defense. "You were there, weren't you, lady?! You saw that Othinus realized her own errors and restored everything! She--"

"What I saw was an evil little witch crying her way out of getting what was coming to her," Will said with a scrunched up glare. "And then, what, she says sorry and we're all suddenly best friends now?! Snaking her way into the Coalition and feeding us fake intel? I'll bet this was part of Revan's master plan too!"


"Your defense is appreciated, but not necessary, Touma Kamijou. A Magic God does not need a human to speak on her behalf," Othinus said, though it was clear even from just her one visible eye that her gaze wavered with Will's cutting words.

"I do not refute that I've done a great many... unsavory things in the name of returning to the previous cycle of the multiverse, to reach the world I've since realized I had no reason to look for, and it is by aiding your Coalition that I'd hoped to make amends for what I've done. Perhaps even after restoring most of what I've done, maybe I cannot wholly take back everything, but... that is the human experience, is it not? To know of such futility, yet to strive for it all the same..." She said, her gaze turning wistful as she spoke.

"Othinus..." Kyoko could only say, even the cold and logical detective able to see the genuine truth in the goddess's feelings, though Othinus's words did little to deter Will.

"Oh, that's rich. You think you can move everyone else here with your pretty little words, but I see through you. I've always seen through you..." She said, visibly clenching her fist as a light pink energy began to emanate from it.

Furrowing his brow at the sight of it, Doppo stepped in front of Kyoko. "Vandom... What do you think you're doing?" He asked uneasily.

"What I should have done back then!" The woman yelled, before making her intentions clear for everyone to see. As the energy surged through her arm, Will then swung her arm forward, throwing what looked like a projectile of pure magical energy headed right at Othinus, before...!


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With a piercing sound that cut through the air even sharper than Will's words, the projectile was dissipated into nothingness as Touma dashed forward, using the power of his right hand to easily negate the projectile. A pregnant pause followed shortly thereafter as Doppo and Kyoko stood in shock, while Ollerus and Fiamma glared daggers at the woman, less surprised and more realizing the truth of what was going on here.

And it wasn't long until that truth became plain to see for everyone.

The energy in Will's hand began to spread to her arm, and then it began to envelop around her body like an imposing aura. Once that aura turned from a bright pink to a deathly black, it became clear.

Malevolence had taken her over. Whether it was influencing her to bring out her deepest desires, or outright controlling her, it didn't matter. The darkness in her heart had won out.

"... I don't think we'll be needing any of the Exorcists to see what the problem is," Fiamma grimly said to Ludger.

"What is going on over there--" Paladin Danse's voice cut in, but the latent energy in the room caused his connection to fluctuate and eventually cut out with a zzt sound.

From behind Will, Ludger took a few measured steps away from her dark aura. "Being on Silent Earth can influence us, Will," he said, twin blades appearing in his hands. "Malevolence brings out the worst in all of us. Please, stop this before it's too late."

"No, you're the one who doesn't get it..." Will responded coldly to Ludger, not even looking at him as she kept her glare fixated on Touma and Othinus. As the dark aura only grew stronger around her, the corrupted Guardian suddenly thrust her arm -- steadily growing darker in color until it became pitch black -- in Ludger's direction and swiftly channeled her Quintessence energy, before expelling it out in the form of two lightning bolts to fly straight at Ludger!

Ludger raised his blades to cover himself in a defensive manner, but still Will's attack caused him to go flying backward, even slamming into the wall behind him. "Ugh." He let out a grunt as staggered down to one knee. "Silent Earth took a lot out of me..."

"Influenced? Don't make me laugh. There aren't any strings on me. In fact, I feel better than ever. Everything's so clear to me now! I know exactly what I have to do now...!" She said angrily yet resolutely, taking another threatening step toward Othinus, with Touma still standing in front of the fairy protectively. It was clear that there was no talking her into breaking free of the malevolence's hold. With each passing second, Will's right arm began to transform further, until her blackened hand looked more like a monstrous claw than a human hand.

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"Alright, if that's how you wanna play it, then be my guest! If you wanna go through Othinus, you'll have to go through me!" Touma exclaimed, clenching his right fist, and ran forward to do what he did best. With a resolved battle cry, the boy leapt into the air and attempted to throw a solid overhead punch right at Will's face, before something unexpected stopped him.


Before anyone knew it, suddenly Will's arm stretched forward in a grotesque, inhuman manner, and grabbed Touma by the neck right out of the air, stopping him right in his tracks before easily tossing him aside into the ground like a ragdoll, knocking the wind out of him.

With narrowed glares, Fiamma and Ollerus quickly scrambled in front of Othinus, who hardly moved at all from her position, while Doppo pulled out his notebook -- the catalyst for his power -- and stepped protectively in front of Makoto and Kyoko. "Commander, Naegi! Get behind me!" He exclaimed, before flapping the notebook open. Though Doppo would hardly describe himself as utterly defenseless, he imagined he was definitely the weakest behind the two magicians, Ludger, and perhaps even Touma, but he had to do something...! He'd just need to time it right...

Makoto exchanged a worried glance with Kyoko before turning his attention squarely back on Will. "Please stop this!" he yelled, fearing anything he had to say at this point would be too late. Perhaps an Exorcist could save the girl from herself, but Makoto had a grim recollection of Sorey telling him that at a certain point, some people were impossible to save from malevolence. "This... isn't the way!"

"Once I take Othinus out of the equation, then we won't have any more interference! Just you all watch!" Will cried out, the malevolence wiping away her inhibitions as her pure emotion exploded out in the form of stray electric bolts, hitting a few of the computer panels in the Briefing Room and even causing them to short out, all the while the Keeper herself began to charge and fire a greater ball of Quintessence energy with the intent of bowling through the two magicians, before...!


Ludger's voice cried out as solid walls of blue magical energy formed in front of Fiamma and Othinus. Ludger had managed to recover and was twirling a sledgehammer in the air to conjure the barrier.

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"Stand down!" he cried, bringing the hammer down to slam into the ground and cause magical spikes of earth to form across the ground. The spikes crossed the distance between him and Will quickly, threatening to impact her.

"Never! If you're gonna defend a monster like her, after everything she's done, then I'll have to put you down too!" Will yelled out in response to Ludger, speaking as though it would genuinely be no skin off her back to kill Ludger and even the rest of the administration if it meant being able to reach Othinus.

This observation was not lost on the former Magic God herself, who could only give a troubled look through all the danger she was in. Even in the heat of the moment, she couldn't deny that there was a part of her that was affected by Will's words...

As Ludger's spikes raged toward Will, the woman easily conjured a pink force field to shield herself from the impact, her barrier easily tanking the spikes. However, her shield wouldn't be able to protect her for long until Ollerus, without even so much as uncrossing his arms behind his back, uttered one word.



Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, an invisible force sent Will's body flying through the air out of nowhere and sent her crashing into the wall like a runaway train had just hit her and bypassed her force field. She let out a sharp yelp as her body made a dent in the wall, but other than a staggering in her movement as she got back up, it did little to deter her from her objective, the Keeper glaring daggers at Ollerus.

"My magic may not be suited to such measured combat, especially in a delicate room as this, but it will certainly do when I wish it to," the powerful magician mused, not moving a single inch as he spoke idly.

"You... You were the one who wanted to hunt Othinus down in the first place, and now you're on her side too?! She really has brainwashed you all...!" Will growled through gritted teeth, before charging more electric energy in her arms to attempt to break through Ludger's Sanctuary spell, before thrusting her darkened hand forward, ready to blast at the walls, before--

"Vandom! Over here!" Doppo's voice suddenly called out, the bespectacled man having snuck away from Makoto's and Kyoko's position so as to drag Will's attention elsewhere.

Ripping a page out of his notebook, the paper suddenly lit up in a bright green glow, before suddenly, in its place, Doppo held what looked like a grappling gun. And without hesitation...



At staggering speeds, a wire hook shout out of the gun right at Will. By pure instinct, the young woman held out her darkened hand to protect herself from it, only for the grappling hook to brutally impale itself inside her hand. "Gaaaagh...!" She let out a pained groan, yet such was the degree of her body's degradation that no blood even came out of her black hand.

"This is just like... back then..." Touma murmured to himself as he attempted to recover in the background, waiting for his own chance to strike without getting himself caught in the crossfire. With the administration up against Will, who herself was perfectly more than willing to cut them all down like nothing, the boy couldn't help but remember when Othinus had destroyed the multiverse, and on a complete whim, created a new one in which she was the leader of the Coalition, and the team he was with, Will included, were the real villains. Life really did repeat itself...

Without mercy, Doppo began to pull at the wire harshly, whether to pull her toward himself for whatever reason or even to just keep her occupied, his efforts amounted to little however. Despite his unique power, Doppo was physically just a normal man after all, hardly able to compare against the Keeper of the Heart.

With that said, Will countered Doppo's maneuver and pulled on the wire embedded in her hand in turn with superhuman strength that was able to sweep Doppo off his feet and yank the man right at Will, who brutally caught the man by letting him land on her fist, right in the solar plexus, knocking the wind out of him.


"Puwaagh!" Doppo spat out, saliva visibly shooting out of his mouth, the momentum sending his glasses flying right off his face and into the ground behind Will's feet.

"My turn..." Will growled, thrusting her arm up to throw Doppo's body straight up in the air, and as he came back down, mercilessly punched his face into the wall, swiftly knocking him unconscious. With that out of the way, the Keeper looked back to Ludger again, her gaze as fiery as ever as her hands charged up with more Quintessence to empower her punches. "Now... Where were we?!"

With that, Will leapt right at Ludger without abandon, beginning to rapidly throw multiple punches right at the man in hopes of overwhelming him!

Ludger held his weapon in a defensive measure to take the hits, eventually swinging his hammer around in front of him in order to force Will to back off. He then brought the hilt of the hammer down, causing similar earth spikes as before to explode around him and push Will away.

"Hammer Toss!" he cried, throwing the hammer so that it spun in a circle, conjuring flames around it as it impacted Will, despite her efforts to defend herself with her arms. Then, pistols magically appeared in his hands, followed by a cry of "Squall Blitz!" as Ludger shot into the air. The bullet exploded into magical water energy that proceeded to rain down on Will.

"Now... Wings of Destruction!"

Ludger fired both of his pistols, the bullets exploding into a flurry of dark winds that entrapped Will.

"If all you understand is violence, then I have no choice!"

Time seemed to slow as armor appeared around Ludger and his pistols turned into a great lance. More lances appeared behind him and Ludger proceeded to throw each of them at Will in rapid succession, who could only clumsily deflect some of them with her blackened arm and tank the rest as they impaled her throughout her body, until all that was left was one, which he rushed forward with and pierced right through the witch.

Astonishingly though, she wasn't done for the count just yet.

As the winds subsided, Will was down on one knee, but she wasn't done for the count. Despite her grievous wounds, her fiery gaze was still as sharp as ever, the woman gritting her teeth as she glared daggers at Ludger. "Is that... all you've got?! I'll... rip you apart!" Will growled, her hands once again glowing as she charged up more Quintessence mixed with malevolence to draw out.

"No, but we're tagging out," Touma's voice said as he suddenly appeared right behind Will. As she instinctively turned around, Will was swiftly met with a hard right hook to her jaw, sending her staggering back a few feet.


"Gnnngh!" Will groaned, her wounds clearly beginning to catch up to her, but at this point, it was clear that the fight wouldn't be knocked out of her until she was knocked out entirely, meaning that none of them could spare any hesitation, if her words didn't already tip that off. "I've had enough of you people!" She roared, the Quintessence super-charging her fists to put more power in her punches. Single-mindedly, she switched her sole focus to Touma while Ludger needed time to recover, throwing a barrage of punches toward the boy's way.

With unprecedented reflexes, as far as Will would have come to expect from the boy, Touma was able to dodge each and every powered punch Will threw, even getting an occasional counter-jab right in her face every now and then. It became especially clear, more than before, that Will wasn't holding back as the next punch Touma dodged slammed right into the wall, easily creating a sizable crater that was probably liable to crush a human skull easily.

"All you people... must have always looked down on me, especially if a kid like you thinks he can take me on! Do you know who I am?! I'm the Keeper of the Heart! I went toe to toe with Jiren!!" She exclaimed haughtily, before swinging a wide hook toward Touma, who easily ducked underneath, keeping his dukes up all the while.

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"Yeah?! Between you and me... I think he was holding back!" Touma taunted pointedly, rising up again to throw his own attack in the form of a devastating uppercut into the woman's jaw, causing her to stagger back.



As Will's wounds from Ollerus and Ludger began to clearly take their toll on her body, the woman was stupefied by Touma's dizzying punch, allowing him to get a few more quick jabs in to keep her stunned, before clenching his fist as tight as possible for one last hit.

"Alright, Ms. Keeper of the Heart! Have a taste of the weakest Level 0!" Touma roared, letting out a fierce battle cry before he slammed his fist brutally into Will's jaw, the boy putting all of the power from his hips into his punch to make it a sure knock-out.




Without even making another gasp, the sound of Touma's fist colliding without restraint into Will's face rang through the Briefing Room, Will found herself lifted off the air again before slamming just as harshly into the ground, hitting her head on the floor. That was the last thing she knew before her mind faded into unconsciousness.

With that, the fight was finally over. Ludger's armor and weapons disappeared as he fell to his knees exhausted, relieved that it was all finally over. However, the dark, foreboding aura of Will's malevolence could still be felt, threatening to overwhelm anyone else if they threatened to get too close and push their luck.

"J-Jeez..." Touma panted tiredly, hunching over and putting his hands on his knees. "Not gonna lie, I kinda wanted to do that for a while now."

Makoto eyed Will with a melancholy expression, lamenting the toll this war was taking on everybody. "It's imperative now we make sure all those who went to Silent Earth be looked at so that we can... determine if they too were affected."

"Yes, that may be a wise course of action," Fiamma mused wryly, holding his chin as Ludger's Sanctuary finally disappeared, seemingly unperturbed by all this. Inadvertent corruption at the hands of dark power was nothing new to him after all. "While we're on that, perhaps Mr. Kunikida would do well to pay the clinic a visit as well. And perhaps we could give the little lady a comfortable holding cell while we're at it."

"Already on it," Kyoko said, putting two fingers to the comm link in her ear. "Dr. Yosano, I'm going to need a medical team to the Briefing Room immediately. There's... been an incident."

While Kyoko issued her order, Othinus could only cross her arms in a reserved manner, her grip on her own forearms tightened in an attempt to ease the tension welling up inside of her. Will's words were harsh, but they weren't entirely without truth. It almost felt too easy being forgiven and accepted into the Coalition like this, even if it did come at the price of exchanging information. It seemed, however, that this was what it meant to fraternize with humans. Hoping to reach an understanding with one another... even if it meant coming to terms with the effect of one's own actions on others.

"Phew..." Touma breathed as he leaned weakly against the wall, his movements finally catching up to him. "What a mess. How could this day get any worse?"

Beep beep!

As though on cue, the communication signals finally returned to operating capacity in the Briefing Room. While the link with Paladin Danse was severed for the time being, it seemed that they were receiving another call anyway.

Nonchalantly, as though paying little mind to the ordeal that had just transpired, Fiamma answered the call, the main screen in the room turning on to reveal Riesbyfe Stridberg, holding a downcast look on the other side.

"Command speaking. Have you something to report?" The magician only asked briefly.

"Stridberg to command. I bear bad news," Riesbyfe said with a heavy heart. "... Celsius is gone, captured by the Revanchist. We failed."

With that bomb being dropped in the room, Kyoko clicked her tongue pensively. Between the incident with Will just now, and Maeve being taken in for stealing valuables on the mission, they were losing members fast. On the other side of the room, Touma pursed his lips with a furrowed brow. Talk about misfortune. Little did he know just how worse things would get later on though...
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Chapter 3 - To Be Blunt

Collab written with @Josh, set during the final chapter.

Junko Enoshima found herself feeling pretty uneasy at being within the Coalition HQ, even if this was an entirely different HQ than the last one she had been in before. Lured in, kidnapped, threatened by the organization's in-fighting... Junko wished she could have said it was awful, but really it had been just another day for her. Ultimate Disaster Beacon, Junko Enoshima, coming on through. Now she was in Knowhere, tossed around yet again by groups who wanted to study her. ODMA made it clear that Junko would go to them after the war with the Revanchist, but the Coalition had insisted they protect her for the moment.

It wasn't all bad really, for Junko realized this meant she had the opportunity to say hi to a friend.

He was in the medical bay, apparently having been involved in an attack on the HQ. Junko was sure happy she hadn't been around for that. She'd been told that the situation was pretty dire and she couldn't see him, but once a bunch of medical staff were being transferred to somewhere called Avalon, Junko finally had a moment to get through.

"E-Excuse me..." Junko stammered, passing by a woman in a scarlet outfit. She looked pretty smoking in Junko's opinion. The woman just gave her a sad smile before continuing on her away.

Once inside, Junko quickly spotted the boy she had come to see. She made a beeline for him, happy to see he was awake.


"Ellis..." Junko paused for a moment. "... Funny story, last time I saw you was in another medical bay. Dunno how long ago that was for you, really..."

"Miss Junko? Shoot! That you?"

The boy slowly lifted his body up, his body shaking slightly. His head was bandaged, but Ellis seemed in good spirits. His eyes were red slightly, like he was crying not too long ago. Forcing himself up closer to the girl, Ellis still had his famous winning smile.

"Wait? Ya visited me before? I'm pretty invincible most of the time, so I'm not sure when that was. You saw me killing those zombies. I'm pretty badass."

Lightly pulling back as a rush of pain went to his head, he frowned.

"Except right now, ya know? Few broken bones, but that ain't the interesting part. Apparently I suffered 'A massive concussion,' which is kind of cool, right? Well, expect with being super sensitive to light and noises. Oh! Here's something interesting: I can't remember anything from the last month. But besides that? Same old, same old."

Ellis paused, laying his head against his pillow. "So, ain't hurt too, right? I mean, you didn't come here to see little ole me?"

Junko went silent as Ellis talked, letting him fill in the conversation for the moment. It was nice to hear his voice after what felt like ages. His Southern drawl was pleasant on the ears. "Ugh," she eventually said, sticking out her tongue, "don't remind me about zombies!"

She watched him as he laid back down, taking note of the little things that indicated he probably wasn't doing so good. He might have said he was invincible, but he was clearly wincing a bit from the pain. It was also hard to not notice the redness of his eyes.

"I actually don't really get much choice in where I go, Ellis," Junko said, smiling to indicate it was meant to be a humorous comment. "And I'm usually getting hurt somewhere, but... in this case, I'm only here to see you."

She reached out to take his hand, partly feeling bad about his obvious hurt, but also feeling bad for having left him. "I never got to give you a proper goodbye after we met. That always happens, you know. My powers take me somewhere without warning. But, um... fuck, it's not often I get to meet people again, so it's just really nice to see you."

Ellis smiled at the young woman, still obviously in pain. Adjusting his body like a wiggling toddler, Ellis settled in. He nodded his head as Junko explained herself.

"Oh come on, now! I knew we'd see each other again! It's a small multiverse we're livin' in, after all. And in the circle I run in? Shoot, I always felt that worrying if I was going to see you again was like... ya know? Worrying if the sun was going to shine tomorrow."

Still wincing, Ellis let out a slight groan. "You know, I needed this. I was havin' a shitter of a day so far."

Junko let out a gentle laugh and squeezed his hand. "I can imagine. Probably up there with the kind of day I normally have."

A memory came back to Junko and she found herself looking past Ellis at nothing in particular. She breathed in deeply at the rush of emotion.

"I hope you're right about, uh, our chances of running into each other. It won't be long before I'm whisked away again."

Grasping Junko's hand tighter, Ellis closed his eyes for a moment before opening them.

"Ya know, when I'm around you I, um, I just feel, what's the word? I guess I just feel good, ya know? But I don't know. If you want to stay so bad, I bet you can control it or somethin'. You just gotta want it bad enough."

Moving his head closer to Junko, Ellis still was all smiles. "Because I can get used to this. "

"Mmm..." Junko paused for a moment. "I feel good about you too, Ellis. But let's not go all crazy here... If you think I could just control it, I would have by now? Like, ugh, Ellis, I've wanted so badly to get used to so many people and things, not just you!"

Junko's tone had changed and she was distressed now. She shook her head. "Ellis, you're lovely, but you're not gonna magically save me."

"Maybe it's the concussion I'm suffering from talkin', but hear me out. I'm not saying I can save you. Only you can do that. It's just, I believe you can control it. "

Ellis lifted his body fully up, sitting straight. "I'm just a nobody. But you? You're one of the strongest people I know. It'll take time, but you can do it." Looking around the room, Ellis blinked. "But can you blame for wantin' you 'round more? First off, you always been good to me and we click like two peas in a pod. Two? You're hot. I'll just be blunt. Like, I'm surprised you don't light the floor on fire when you walk. That kind of hot. Like... you're hard to look at hot."

Redness spread across Junko's cheeks and she quickly looked down at the ground. "Fuck, haven't had many people be blunt in... quite that way..." She cleared her throat.

"Come on, Ellis, we only knew each other for like a day... and like, it doesn't even matter, you know? Even if I started to control my powers, that other group is still gonna want to examine me. What was it... ODMA? You might not realize, but I'm a popular girl."

She leaned in suddenly, having a realization. "Now would be the perfect time for you to join my fan club, actually."

"Is there like a registration book or somethin' for me to sign? 'Cause why not?" A pain inducing chuckle was let out by Ellis and he grabbed his rib.

"Maybe you're right. I just thought you felt the connection like I did, ya know? It's not like I'm askin' you to marry me or anythin' silly like that. You ever just think about not going with ODMA? Actually, couldn't they help you find a way to control your powers? Also, you could find the right person in the Coalition who would be willing to help. I gotta say, I'm a pretty likable guy too. I know Miss Wanda has had her share of ups and downs with her powers. I mean, if she can control chaos, couldn't she help you?"

"Miss Wanda...?" Junko thought on that for a moment. "Well, ODMA did time travel to find me, so I do think if anyone could help me, it's them. Maybe you could get your friend to visit them too...?"

She moved to sit down next to Ellis on his bed, mindful to be careful of his wounds. Once she was settled, she looked into his eyes. "The fan club is sort of a complete fucking disaster lately, but once I'm in control, I'm gonna get it back up. This Ultimate Fashionista will be known across the multiverse. You'll be the first to join the rebooted version... and you'll be a very special fan."

Blushing, Ellis lightly stretched his arm around Junko. Taking a moment, Ellis looked the young woman in the eyes. "It'd be my pleasure." This was his moment. Taking a deep, Ellis started to lean in towards Junko. Suddenly, wobbling, Ellis fell on the floor.

"Damn it! A little help?"

Junko blinked down at him. "How did you even manage..." The girl rolled her eyes and reached down to help Ellis back up. "The Coalition just gave me a manicure, so be careful with the nails!"

As Ellis pulled himself off the floor, the boy's bruises and recent scars were easy to see on his body. Grabbing his rib, he once again was all smiles. "Gotta admit, your hand does look mighty fancy. I mean, you always do. But like, moreso."

Once again, the two sat next to each other. Even though he was in a lot of pain, this was great. "So, gotta ask, where all have you gone since you left? You got any good stories?"

"It's been nothing good, Ellis. Nothing worth telling." She looked away for a moment, thought of Ellis passed out on a medical bed filling her thoughts.

"You met me, though?" Ellis asked softly. "And other people along the way too. Just gotta find the positive."

This prompted Junko to turn back to him and smiled. "You should rest."

Laying back down, Ellis stared at Junko. "I guess you're leavin'? But this isn't goodbye, right?"

"Of course it isn't." Junko proceeded to lay down next to Ellis, curling her arms around his arm. "Maybe I need some rest too."

As the two laid next to each other, Ellis tightened his arm around Junko's softly. "Look at me. I'm livin' the dream. In bed with a hot model. All I need now is a cold beer. If Keith could see me now..."

Closing his eyes, Ellis dosed in and out of sleep.

"You're still..."

Junko watched Ellis as drifted off. Eventually, a look of contentment crossed her face. She thought about it and realized this was probably the first moment of calm and happiness she had experienced in months. She closed her eyes as well, wanting to pass out next to the boy, but a flurry of sudden activity in the medical bay caused her eyes to shoot open.

Junko sat up as an alarm began to sound. "Ellis!" she exclaimed, shaking the boy slightly. She watched in dismay as he roused only slightly, still half asleep. She shook him more, but it was too late.

As Junko called out the boy's name again, she felt the entire room rumble. A horrid sound of crushing metal drowned out her ears and all she could see was a searing white light.
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