A/N: Finally, Sora is introduced into the bizarre metaplot that ended up happening in these stories. Sora, by the way, is my favourite and therefore the objectively best girl. Except for Hime, who is also best girl. Praise Hime! \o/
An aching head. Heavy limbs. Too heavy. She can't lift her feet. No strength. Words have colours. Sounds are more than sounds.
"...it can't hurt."
Strange words. A strange place. All she remembers is a blue sky. Endless. The black clouds were beneath her. Satisfaction. Her heart was beating fast.
"She did attack us for no reason…"
The world is soft, blurred at the edges. The sounds are soft. How long has it been since her heart beat like that? Yesterday, a thousand years ago. How many years since her eyes were open, since her ears could hear?
"She had reasons. We just don't understand them. She's one of this planet's legends, Hime."
"Well, I can't deny her strength…"
The world is slowly drawing into focus. Her body is remembering. She is awake. Painfully, painfully awake. Covered by a duvet. So heavy. She remembers blankets being thinner, in her day. Not as luxurious. There was no luxury in the military. No choice.
"...She feels a little like you, Suguri. You, but broken."
"It's not surprising. My power was created to restore the planet she saved. We share a purpose. Probably a design, too."
She rolls over, her arms trembling. She's so hungry. So exhausted. Her throat is sore. How long was she asleep this time? A day, a week, a year?
"Ahahaha." A laugh, like fingers across piano keys. "I suppose so. The resemblance really is striking. I don't know what I shall do with two of you."
"...You're agreeing, then?"
"Oh, why not. The more the merrier. I would have preferred a puppy, but a girl is fine too."
Footsteps, very quiet. A light rumbling, somewhere far away, gives way to a whistle. Not the long, sustained drone of a military alarm, but a wavering cry, almost like a strong wind. Sudden desire grips her; she wants to see the blue sky. She wants to fly again.
"I wonder, though… Is cocoa really going to be enough?"
"They built them tough back then."
More footsteps. Padding, the clap of plastic soles on tiled floor, a compression of silk. It's those things civilians wear at home. Slippers. That's what they were called. Water pouring into a cup, a spoon clinking against ceramics. The sounds make sense. She remembers this.
"Is she awake?"
"Maybe. She strikes me as a heavy sleeper."
"Hilarious, Suguri. Original, too."
She tries to answer them. She's not sure what she's trying to say – something lucid, cogent perhaps – but it comes out as a long, rasping groan. She feels like she's not had a drink in years. She realises that she's right. The duvet lifts, and she faces an unfamiliar ceiling.
"Hello, Sora. We met yesterday," Suguri says. Long, grey hair. Lithe body. The spitting image of herself. Apart from the eyes. Such focused eyes. "Here. Careful – it's hot."
The girl presses a warm mug to her lips. The smell of chocolate. Memories of childhood. She sips, and tastes only heat.
"What happened?" Her voice is a croak. She remembers a battle in the sky, her anger waxing hot. She had shouted a lot. Probably unwisely.
The girl smiles. Smiles. So rare, in the war. So full of wonder. "You overdid it. Flying around without eating or drink after so long was pushing it. Fighting us was too much."
"I should say so. I still have the bruises. Blaming us for some snow clouds… There's a limit to how audacious you can be, you know," another voice says. It rings, like bells, clear and beautiful. The girl appears from the kitchen, and she remembers her from yesterday: blonde hair, wings of light, a phantom's grace.
She tells them she's sorry. Whatever half-words come out of her throat, her face carries the message.
The blonde girl laughs again, not unkindly. "Well, it was an amusing diversion, so I can forgive it this time. My name is Hime, just in case you forgot."
"I'm Suguri. This is our home," the grey-haired girl explains. Suguri. An important name.
"Be careful of this one," Hime says, folding herself into a wicker chair a few feet away. "She collects blondes."
Suguri rolls her eyes. "One is not a collection. Hime likes to tease."
It feels like an understatement. The war was full of them, things commanders said that soldiers had to translate. 'Strong enemy presence': a smaller war has broken out. 'Some risk of injury': you will almost certainly have less limbs at the day's end. 'We will provide long range support': we'll be coating the sky with missiles; please dodge them.
"Anyway… the world is different now. We don't want you to feel lost. Or alone. We talked it over, and we'd like you to stay with us for a while. As long as you'd like," Suguri says, and then adds, as an afterthought: "You can say no."
"Although I, for one, would love it if you said yes," Hime chimes in. "Suguri said you can have the beanbag, and I can come up and share the bed."
Suguri's eyes roll again; a quick flick skyward. "I'm installing a pillow wall, of course."
Hime says nothing, but her eyes betray a sparkling grin. All walls must fall, in time.
"You're… so lively," Sora says. She takes another sip of cocoa, and tastes the chocolate this time. She almost feels like laughing. She hasn't laughed in a long while.
"…Anyway, think it over. You can do what you like. We won't order you around," Suguri murmurs, and stands up. Her posture is a little rigid. Restrained.
For all her strength – for all that they called her the 'ultimate weapon' – the most Sora can manage is to catch Suguri's sleeve.
"…The war is over. The world is safe. What am I to do?"
Suguri turns, and her motion is quicker, more fluid; it's as though a dam has broken. Before she can protest, Sora finds herself being folded into a hug.
"I can't answer that," Suguri says, her fingers drifting through the tangle of Sora's hair. "It isn't my answer to give. Just live. Look around this peaceful planet. You'll find something. I promise."
Sora doesn't answer. She closes her eyes. No, she thinks. Despite their looks, despite their power, the difference between her and Suguri is like night and day. She was a soldier. She could never hug somebody like Suguri can. She doesn't have that kind of strength.
The world begins to blur at the edges, warm and comfortable, and she feels sleep stealing into her, filling the hollowness of her bones. She's never slept on a beanbag before. Probably better than the bunks she's used to.
With that thought on her mind, wrapped in a friend's embrace, she begins her first dream in a wide and warless world.
A/N: As always with a new character, I was still getting to know her when I wrote this.
Also, if you're interested in seeing these OJ stories fresh off the presses, as it were, check my profile for a link to my blog and twitter, where they usually appear long before I get around to editing them and posting them in batches on FF net.