Notes: I wrote this for a kinkmeme prompt a couple of weeks ago. Forgot to upload it until now! Yes, can you tell I'm procrastinating?
The funeral is small.
The Elite Four are here, of course, currently paying their last respects before the casket is closed. Even some of the Nudist Beach operatives are here. They're standing awkwardly in a corner, trying not to be too obvious about fidgeting, but Satsuki appreciates their presence all the same.
She closes her eyes. The eulogy reverbs off the cave walls. If she concentrates hard, she can hear the dripping of groundwater.
How she wishes she could have given him the sending off he deserved.
Her heart pulses again, like something's slashing at it from the inside, trying to get free, but she squashes it down. It's disgraceful that she feels so helpless, really. Others here have experienced much worse over these past few months. Just look at Gamagoori and Sanageyama, throwing themselves into every mission like it's their last. Everyone has lost friends and family.
It's always the flashy deaths you expect in war. The loyal servicemen in the frontline going down, the noble sacrifices made to ensure the safety of others. Somebody has to be the live bait. Nobody can fight forever.
You just don't expect a peaceful passing during sleep to break the routine you've had since childhood.
The eulogy finishes, though Satsuki hasn't absorbed a single word. From the corner of her eye, she sees the Nudist Beach operatives offer a small prayer before slipping out.
There's a deep gravelly sound, someone clearing his throat. Of course, it's Gamagoori. After all, the Elite Four has been with her for so long that their verbal tics might as well be carved into the back of her skull. Satsuki looks up, and there they stand, right before her.
"They're going to close the casket soon, Lady Satsuki."
Gamagoori shuffles his feet awkwardly. It's so jarring when such a big man acts so small, and she's said as much, on many occasions. But he's not the only one out of the Four to lack composure. Sanageyama looks distracted, and Nonon is dangerously close to tears. Even Inumuta's expressionless mask seems brittle.
"Don't you four have work to do?"
Sanageyama takes a deep breath, but Gamagoori beats him to it.
"Yes, my lady. Please excuse us... and please take care."
Whatever Sanageyama wanted to say is gone now as the Four bow and back away. Satsuki stands still, closing her eyes again, waiting for their footsteps to die out. That little monster in her heart seems intent on drumming its way out.
Deep breaths, Satsuki. Deep breaths.
When she goes to the casket, Iori is still pottering about. He's fixing his uncle's suit, dabbing a cloth under his glasses every so often.
He sees her and backs off at once, before extending an arm forward. "Lady Satsuki. Please."
And Satsuki finally comes face to face with Soroi, her butler for as long as she can remember, and her most loyal friend.
Just the sight of him lying there, dressed as impeccably as ever, makes a lump rise in her throat. Inexplicably, all she can think at that moment is that Iori has done well.
She clears her throat. Several times. "He looks like he could just be sleeping."
Iori nods. "I'm sure he is sleeping very peacefully right now."
Satsuki's fists clench. "Indeed."
"He would've..." Iori starts to speak, then checks himself. "I mean... I'm sure that Uncle wouldn't just have left like that, had he known it was his time."
There's silence for a good few moments, as Satsuki looks at Soroi and doesn't know at all what to do. Iori runs a hand through his hair and smiles, ruefully.
"Lady Satsuki. Please take my seat. You've been standing since the start of the service. And... I know I can't compare, Lady Satsuki, but... would you like some tea?"
And Satsuki cracks.
Her resolve falters, just for that small moment, but it's enough to set the demon in her heart loose to wreak as much havoc as he pleases.
She sags forward, propping herself up just in time on the stand where Iori read his eulogy. His neat handwriting warps where a drop falls from her eyes, and then there are more, until her shoulders are shaking and the eulogy, hell, even the stand and her hands are all just one big mess. She is glad that her hair, at least, shields her dripping eyes and burning cheeks. This loss of control is completely unacceptable, and an insult to Soroi's memory.
Vaguely, she can register two uncertain hands settling on her shoulders. She doesn't shake them off.
"Lady Satsuki... Uncle cared about you very, very much."
"His tea was so bitter at the start."
"I know, Lady Satsuki."
"He was always there, after a long day."
"I know, Lady Satsuki."
"He did so much-" A ragged inhale, and a slow exhale, before Satsuki is able to speak again. "-so much for me."
And the hands falter, just for a second, before pulling her closer in. One hand stays on her shoulder, tightening its grip with surprising strength, and the other slowly rubs circles up and down her back.
"...I know, Lady Satsuki."
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