Five Things That Never Happened to Yuzuriha Nekoi
Author: Tiamat's Child
Pairing/s: Yuzuriha/Kusanagi, Yuzuriha/Satsuki, Seishirou/Yuzuriha (mentions of Seishirou/Subaru and implications of past Seishirou/Hokuto)
Disclaimer: I don't own X, and I'm not making any money off of this.
Summary: It's all lies.
Notes: Yuzuriha held my brain for ransom. This was the result. Oh, and since I wrote Fairy Story, the one where Seishirou tells Subaru Red Riding Hood, last year, I have done some deeper research into folktales and folktale cognates, and found a story, even older than the one Seishirou tells, about a girl – clearly belonging to the same narrative family as Red Riding Hood – who fools the wolf who initially catches her off her guard and makes it home in the nick of time to escape being eaten. It's called The Grandmother's Tale.
Five Things that Never Happened to Yuzuriha Nekoi
When she wakes up the sun is shining, and the slab of concrete she's lying on is warm. Inuki is sprawled next to her. He's dead. When she reaches out to touch him he dissolves into the air.
She's glad he waited until she woke up to go away.
She stands up, shakily, feeling her knees threaten to buckle. She sways, stumbles, and manages several steps before she crumples, retching. Her head hurts and swims. She can't see straight.
There isn't anything in her stomach to bring up, but she kneels there, shaking, for quite a long time. Her stomach won't cooperate. Acid burns her throat, scaring her. What if she's sick? Is there anyone still alive in the city? What happens if she can't stand long enough to find out?
But she can stand, eventually. And she can walk too. She does both.
Kamui and Fuuma are easily found. They're together on the surface, and they're very clearly dead. No one, not even Kamui, survives a crushed skull.
She's sick again.
The sun is close to setting by the time she gives up looking. She hasn't found anyone else. Probably they're buried under all this rubble. Or maybe they're alive, she doesn't know. She hopes they're alive.
She should bury Kamui and Fuuma, but she doesn't think she can really move all that concrete, and she can't do it properly anyway. She wishes she could, but she can't. She'll have to leave them without a burial.
She'd cry, but there isn't enough water left in her body. She'd scream and call for someone, but her vocal cords are dry and tight and so is her throat. She hasn't any voice left.
So she starts walking. There must be water and another living person somewhere.
The moon is half way to mid-sky when she stops. There's a fire hydrant here, and she opens it up, hoping there's still enough pressure left to bring water to the surface. There is. She drops to her knees and drinks greedily from it, only barely remembering not to take too much. Too much too fast will make her sick again, and she can't afford to waste the water.
It feels good though. She stays there, in the water, which is nowhere near the violent flood it's supposed to be, and pretends that the moisture on her face came from her own body as she shakes with silent sobs. Everything's gone.
She wants them all back, but she knows she can't have that. She wants the city back, but she knows she can't have that. She wants to be back home with her grandmother before any of this ever happened, but that is completely out of the question and she knows it. She wouldn't really want to have gone without meeting the second Inuki and all her friends anyway. Not really.
After a while she gets up and walks a little ways, collapsing onto a flat plane of masonry. She curls up there and stares at the sky. It looks so different without the city lights. Some section of the city is burning, and the red glow and smoke blots out the stars near that end of the sky, but still it's different. Everything's so clear. So strange. She wonders if this is what Tokyo looked like towards the end of the war, when it had been under constant bombardment for months.
She falls asleep that way, trembling with the tears she can't shed.
When she wakes up again the water has stopped gushing, but there's still some left in a puddle on the ground. She drinks and drinks until she can't get any more water down and then she sets out again.
Maybe this is the moon, and not her city at all. When did it become her city? She doesn't know. But she does know that it can't really be the moon, even though she'd like it to be, because the moon has never had people, and it's clear here that there were people here, once.
About midday she finds a mother and her baby. The mother's dead. The baby's alive.
She picks the child up. It's a boy. She holds it close and sings to it a little, even though it isn't crying. It's asleep. "Bye baby, bye baby, bye baby, bye…"
They move on, looking for more water.
She's dizzy with hunger by now. She hadn't been able to eat breakfast yesterday – was it even yesterday? She has no idea how long she was lying on that slab of concrete, after all. It could have been the day before. Either way, she's really going to need food soon. She's having trouble thinking from the lack, and she hurts. Besides, her stomach's empty anyway. She lost whatever was in it in the first place when she tried to stand up too fast after the Beast hit her head.
They need more water too. She's getting badly thirsty again, and the baby probably hasn't had any fluids since yesterday (or the day before). She hopes it can eat solid foods. She doesn't have any milk.
After a while they find a store that isn't completely crushed. She sets the baby down (it's too weak to do more than squeak in protest, and her whole body twists inside on the sudden jolt of fear), and tries to force the door. It's locked. She backs away, takes up a reasonably sized chunk of concrete and throws it through the window.
A few more flung chunks and several kicks later the large front window is demolished enough to allow her to make her way inside. She leaves the baby outside, not wanting to risk its tender skin to the jagged glass. Her own skin doesn't matter so much. It's pretty torn up already.
Inside she finds and takes various canned goods, a first aid kit, a backpack, bottled water, a can-opener, diapers, all the other needed things to keep babies from being too terribly unhappy, and several blankets.
She ties one of the blankets about her waist – the state of her skirt is disgraceful, and she'd hate to meet anyone she knew with this much of her legs and underwear (which is fairly disgraceful in and of itself) showing. Which is to say, she's fairly uncomfortable wandering about half naked, now that she pauses to thing about it. The rest of the things go in the backpack, except for a blanket that she carries in her arms.
Outside again, she wraps the baby in the blanket and does her best to feed it. But it doesn't seem to want to take any water, no matter what she tries, and it refuses to eat. She thinks she may cry from frustration and fear. For all she knows she and this baby may be the only living humans left. What happens if the baby won't eat or drink?
"Oh please," she says, "Oh please, just a little! For me, please? Please."
But the baby just sighs and sleeps again. She does cry a little. And then she stands, with the backpack on her back and the baby in her arms, and starts to walk again.
"…Bye baby, bye. Daddy still loves you, Daddy still loves you, Daddy still loves you, though he's gone to war." She doesn't know where she learned the song. She just remembers it. There are a lot of songs like that.
When she can't walk anymore she stops and settles down. She covers herself in the blankets, and hods the baby close. That's where she sleeps, all alone but for the baby.
In the morning it's only her.
She buries the baby in a little corner of a park. It isn't a proper burial at all, but it's all she can do. She hadn't even known his name.
She feels bad about that. She should have known his name. Should have left something. But she didn't know and there wasn't anything to leave.
"Bye baby, bye baby, bye…" She leaves the song, and lets the mourning be done. Death is death, but it's so close to life it looks the same sometimes. There's nothing to be done with death, but there's plenty to be done with life. She's going to do all of that plenty that she can.
Three days later she finds the edges of the city. She doesn't see anyone about.
But she doesn't care. She's going to make it all over again.
She isn't afraid. Even if she can't find anyone else, she can draw the world back up into life. She has to. There's no more room for fear.
As she leaves Tokyo a ghostly puppy bounces behind her, barking with all his minute might.
He knows she brings things back to life.
After all, isn't his name Inuki?
II. Crossing Swords
"I do not understand you." Satsuki reaches out to take the bread basket away from Yuzuriha. Yuzuriha snatches away the last of her share of the bread rolls before Satsuki can get it. Satsuki has a habit of hogging the bread.
"Why not?" Yuzuriha asks.
"They didn't want you, either, no more than they wanted me, and yet you still help them. Still love them, whatever it is that love is. It doesn't make sense."
Yuzuriha shrugs. They've had this conversation before, over tea and rolls, as if they were any two normal girls talking about boys and being nice instead of humanity and homicidal tendencies. "I like people. Even if they don't like me. They're just so wonderful, even when they're being cruel."
Satsuki shakes her head. "I do not see why you should be fond of people who have hurt you."
"I'm fond of you, aren't I?" Yuzuriha's smile is sweet, but there is sharpness in it, like glass razorblades delicately folded into whipped cream.
Satsuki almost smiles. "Third touch to Miss Nekoi."
"Were we keeping score?"
"I always do. And I never asked you to be fond of me."
"Yes. You did."
"When you asked me why it's wrong to kill humans." Yuzuriha smiles brightly, and Satsuki thinks that smile there, that one she doesn't use as much as would be nice, is like the sun. Terribly pretty, and it will make you warm and healthy, but it'll give you cancer and death if you overindulge – for surely cancer and death are always the fruits of hoarding too much of what is good. Yuzuriha stands up and moves around the table, coming close to Satsuki.
Satsuki cannot move. She's not certain if this is because she does not wish to, or if that smile has made her forget how. Yuzuriha leans in, right up next to Satsuki's ear. "You asked me why it's wrong. Here's your reason."
Yuzuriha's lips are warm and fleeting on Satsuki's. The touch is chaste, gentle, more sweet than sensual and more sensual than sexual, but Satsuki is nonetheless left stunned, sitting still and dazzled as Yuzuriha quickly leaves. She finds herself touching her just-kissed lower lip with a startled pair of fingers, the pressure nothing like that of the kiss, but still a pleasant reminder of it.
Then she realizes that Yuzuriha has just left her with the bill and she cannot help laughing.
Match to Miss Nekoi.
III. The Grandmother's Tale
It's a bright day in the park. The sun is glorious. Yuzuriha fits right in. Sometimes, on cloudy days, she seems to pop out of the landscape, like a bit of animation that's just a little too vivid for its glass-plate background. But on sunny days, she looks like she belongs. The rest of the world is just as glowing with energy as she is.
Still, for some people, she's a clear deviation from the rest of the landscape. For one of those people she's quite an intriguing target.
Seishirou has been watching her for over an hour. There's something about the way she moves, laughs, beams at everyone she comes across, gracefully turns down those looking for what she can't offer… If he looks just the right way, it's almost like looking at both the Sumeragi twins.
He'd be a little worried at how much he likes that thought, but he decided years ago that there was no use worrying about why one bit of prey was more interesting than another. If he did he'd drive himself mad. And he's not mad yet, no matter what some less familiar with the inner workings of his brain might think.
Anyway. The girl. Yes, she's something. Fascinating, really. There are a thousand things that would be fun to do with her, a thousand delightful ways to bend and break her. So much more fun than Kamui. Kamui… With Kamui there's no room for subtlety. It always must be simple, straightforward pain and cruelty. He really doesn't know what Fuuma sees in the boy.
And Subaru is, of course, always a delight to dance with, but he is also so much work. Sometimes you simply have to go looking for a little lazy fun.
Which is why the girl. So many lovely possibilities there, really.
"Good morning, Miss!"
She smiles and steps back, an action reflexive in the politer sort of short person who wants to be able to actually see who it is she's talking to. "Good morning," she answers, and Seishirou thinks of the sun. Oh yes, this girl is a match for Hokuto in all but the eyes.
He smiles back, and introduces himself, stepping carelessly closer to her. She steps back again. He doesn't move any closer, because she's backed herself up against a tree, which means she's vulnerable. He can trap her, if he wants to.
Idle chit-chat, this and that, and it's good to know that he's never lost the knack for seeming to be nothing more than a good natured, kindly man with a fondness for animals. But her eyes light and narrow when he compliments her on her dog and said dog growls. She's watching him just as closely as he's watching her, and oooh, yes, this one will be a delicious challenge. Not quite as innocent as she looks at first, is she?
He smiles. He should have known no Dragon of Heaven would be easy. But that just makes it better. Easy is boring.
He leans in far too close, and she fetches up against the tree, and he blocks her way with a hand placed causally on the trunk and catches her right hand up in his. He offers ice cream. She smiles and turns him down. He insists. She ducks away and darts down the shady path, calling over her shoulder that she's very sorry, but she has to meet a friend for lunch.
He smiles and waves goodbye.
He's not worried. He has all the time in the world, and he's never lost his prey before. All he has to do is wait and work a little more.
She's good, but she's still just a child.
There's an old story, about a child and a wolf, and death. It doesn't have any happy endings. But there's another one, too, even older, and that's the one Yuzuriha has always liked best.
That wolf had never lost before either.
IV. Girl's Own
The news comes in a telegram. A telegram, and who sends telegrams anymore? No one but Grandma.
And Grandma's friends, too, it turns out, because Grandma couldn't have sent this one herself.
I fall asleep on the train home, because it's raining, and watching the water smear against the glass and turn the world outside into something glimpsed underwater, dim and grey and heartbreaking, was just too much. Too much like living in one of those boarding school books I used to read and read and read when I was younger and no one wanted to talk to me except Inuki. Only, you see, in those books when the girls were sent home to the funerals of the beloved grandmothers they were coming back to a laughing, loving family, who'd eat and laugh and cry and it wouldn't really be so bad in the end, even though it was sad.
For me, there's just Grandma's friend, Aunt Suzuki.
Sorata and Arashi and Kamui saw me off. Arashi gave me a handful of money so I wouldn't end up starving on the train. Sorata pinned a flower in my hair and kissed my cheek. Kamui… I wish he wouldn't look at me like that. It's not his fault Grandma died. I don't know why he has to look at me with guilt, now.
Aunt Suzuki picks me up and brings me home. We don't talk. I feel like someone took my words and scooped them out of my chest, leaving me hollow and quiet. Aunt Suzuki has just never been much of a talker. She likes to leave things unsaid.
The funeral is nice. I wear a ribbon in my hair and barely notice that anyone else is there. I can't bring Grandma back like I could Inuki, and that's… that's hard. To understand. To live with.
I feel like I'm dying.
And then I'm back on the train, back to Tokyo, and I still haven't cried, and I don't know what to do. There are all these empty places, and no time to face them. I can't sleep this time. It would be too easy.
Sorata meets me at the station in Tokyo. He wraps his arms around me and lifts me into a hug. And there, in the middle of the crowd, I begin to sob. Sorata doesn't try to stop me. He just holds me, and strokes my hair, and even though I have my face buried in his jacket and can't see anything at all I know he's glaring at people who stare at me with shock and distaste.
And I'm one of those girls in my books after all.
Kusanagi lifts her up in the air and twirls her about. She laughs and grins, and braces her hands on his shoulders.
She's so small, compared to him, and she should be made nervous by that, or at least just a little uncomfortable, but she isn't. He's him, after all, and he would do anything rather than hurt her. She trusts him.
So she isn't afraid when she leans down and kisses him. It's awkward to do so from where she is, and she knows she shouldn't really. He left it at just friends and she really should too, but it's so hard sometimes and if she were just five years older it wouldn't be a problem but she may not live to be five years older and it seems a shame to die without having kissed someone you love. So she kisses him. After all, how often is she anywhere near being able to reach his mouth?
So she kisses him, and for a moment he kisses back and it's wonderful and lovely and she doesn't want it to end and how many girls get a first kiss this good?
But then, of course, he's pulling back and settling her down to the ground again. She wants to pout, or complain, but she doesn't. She knows better. She's the one who crossed the line, after all, and it isn't right to be upset about not getting to go further over it.
So instead of pouting she smiles up at him. "Missy…" he says, sounding almost torn, though she isn't sure what by. She squeezes his hand.
"I know. I shouldn't have. I'm sorry."
He smiles too, and they stand there like that for a little. "Ice cream?" he asks, and she nods. They walk to the stand hand in hand.
He probably won't pick her up again just in play for quite a while, but that's all right. It was worth it.
She loves him.