Thanks to Astarael00 for beta-ing.
A white ceiling.
Shizuru blinked a few times, trying to clear her mind from sleep-induced thoughts and - nightmares - dreams.
She lifted a hand to her forehead, shading her eyes from the glaring light.
The brunette looked around; when she felt her mind was clear.
She was in her own room?
She tried to sit up, only to realize her head felt too heavy; and she fell back down, her fingers now making gentle circles on the temples.
Her head was throbbing.
How did she...get back here? The last thing she remembered was standing in the rain, and then Nao was...
"Finally awake, Fujino," a voice said sarcastically.
"I..." She tried to control the pain banging against her skull. "How long was I asleep?"
"A few hours," The other replied with a shrug.
"A few?" repeated Shizuru, and she glanced at the clock by her bedside.
It was night time.
She tried to sit up again, slowly, this time; and with considerable success.
Burgundy eyes trained on a redhead leaning against the door, whose hands were crossed.
"Yuuki-san has been here since this..." Shizuru paused.
Evening? Or was it afternoon?
How long had she been in the rain?
"Evening," supplied Nao gruffly, a hint of concern - though Shizuru was fairly certain Nao was trying to hide it - there in her tone.
"You fainted before you told me what unit you stayed in," the younger girl said accusingly, just before awkwardness could develop.
Shizuru gave her an amused look. "Did I, now? I apologize, Yuuki-san. But...seeing as we are both here, I assume the security guard must have helped you?"
The other grunted noncommittally, and pointed at the bedside table.
Shizuru glanced at it, and blinked.
A cup of water, and a pill.
Ah. Her fever.
At the reminder, her head began to throb. She picked up the pill and water, downing them in one go. She hadn't felt thirsty earlier, but with the beverage in front of her, a sudden thirst came.
Then she sighed, and placed the cup on her lap; fingering the cool glass subconsciously.
Her finger slipped.
The bit of water left in the cup soaked into her grey pants. She picked up the cup again, before lifting a hand to her head. The fever was having its...
She looked at herself.
"Your clothes were wet and stained," a significant pause, "with blood."
Which meant Nao changed her clothes.
Instinctively, her hand moved towards the side of her stomach.
A fresh bandage had been wrapped over her wound.
Shizuru closed her eyes.
"I see. Thank you, Yuuki-san."
For a moment, silence reigned.
"I saw quite a few packs of bandages and antiseptics in your bathroom, Fujino," Nao said finally, frankly.
The other said nothing.
There was a sigh.
"I'm not going to beat around the bush, Fujino," the redhead said roughly, and she walked over to the girl on the bed, unceremoniously plopping herself next to Shizuru. The cup was plucked out of her hands and placed on the table.
Green eyes stared right into surprised burgundy orbs.
"What the hell happened to you?"
A deep silence fell, until Shizuru leaned against the bed stand, a little smile gracing her features.
"Such concern, Yuuki-san," murmured Shizuru, calm, crimson eyes gazing at the other. "Did you not hate me? I'm surprised you even brought me back here instead of leaving me there."
Nao raised a sculptured eyebrow at those words, but said nothing, for a brief moment.
Two sets of eyes met, engaging in a battle of wills.
"It's true that I hated you," admitted Nao finally, turning away as she looked up at the ceiling, resting on her hands. There was no sarcasm in her tone.
"I was mad, and I was angry." The words were intoned calmly, without any hints of rage. "I wanted to take revenge on you, for what you did. You made me lose the person that is most important to me."
Shizuru listened silently at the words, expression stoic. Though there was no accusation in that tone, she had felt it.
"You tried to kill me," the other said, before she paused, then snorted. "I'm surprised Kuga even tried to save me after what I have done to her."
A moment lapsed, and her voice grew softer.
"I really hated you," she said, quietly.
The brunette felt her chest grow heavy with guilt, but her expression remained the same.
"And yet," the youger girl continued, "If it weren't for you...my mother would never have returned from her comatose state."
At that, Shizuru did blink, once, twice; surprise marking her features. "Your mother?"
"My mother. When I got back my powers, the injury I had on my eye was healed, and my mother...she returned," green eyes grew distant, and Nao's tone became unusually subdued. "Breathing, moving, talking...alive...awake. She was actually awake. Awake, Fujino," Nao repeated, as if in disbelief, her voice turning into a whisper.
At those words, Shizuru managed a smile. The weight on her shoulders that she never noticed till then felt lighter, just by a little.
Just by a little.
"I am glad for you, Yuuki-san," the brunette said honestly.
Nao glanced at her, lips quirking into a little smile, before she turned to stare at the ceiling again.
"Such irony, Fujino," she said quietly. "You took away the person I treasured most, but if it weren't for you, she might never have woken up."
And then you supplied funds for her rehabilation, were the unsaid words hovering over the air.
Shizuru shook her head this time. "I fail to see your point, Yuuki-san," she said quietly. "You never struck me as the type who would speak of this matter, much less with someone like me."
" 'With someone like me'...do I sense some self-loathing in there, Fujino?" The quick, biting reply came.
Shizuru didn't reply, and only smiled. Burgundy eyes closed, a sudden weariness taking over her.
Shizuru stilled, briefly, seemingly unable to process those words.
"Excuse me?" asked Shizuru, and eyes opened to stare at Nao.
"I don't hate you, Fujino." Nao said gruffly. "Not as much as before, anyway," the girl added, swiftly.
For a moment, the brunette found herself taken aback, before her features faded back to a mask of calmness.
"Even so," replied Shizuru, deep crimson eyes cool and calm, "You are still angry at me." A pause. "And very much so, if I may add," she said.
"Yes, I am," Nao agreed, brutally and honestly; that Shizuru almost flinched.
But the red-haired girl was not done talking yet.
Nao glanced back at Shizuru.
The younger girl picked up Shizuru's right hand by the wrist with two fingers, and waved it at the brunette lightly.
"It was hard to be angry anymore, when I saw this."
Burgundy eyes widened slightly, and she stared into those green eyes.
Her gaze was returned unflinchingly.
"You know," Shizuru said quietly. It was not something that needed to be questioned, it was a fact.
"I know," agreed Nao.
A deep silence fell between them, before Shizuru smiled, a hint of regret in her crimson eyes. "You really do notice many things, Yuuki-san," she said. "Perhaps...a little too many, I should say."
The redhead snorted. "I will take that as a compliment."
The brunette gave her an amused smile.
"Ookini, Yuuki-san...for bringing me here." She waved towards herself, "As well as for helping me to change the bandages, and clothes."
Nao stared at her blankly for a second, before her lips curled into a smirk. "I hope you are not thinking that I'm doing this for free."
Shizuru raised both eyebrows.
"You owe me one now, Fujino." Nao said pointedly, a Cheshire grin on her face.
Shizuru resisted a sudden urge to roll her eyes.
"I noticed," the reply came dryly. "And what does Yuuki-san want?"
Nao blinked at that question, and looked thoughtful. "Hm...Can't say I can think of anything for the moment." Then something flickered across those green eyes, and she smiled.
"Although, that means you will do anything, right?"
That smile looked a little mischievous, thought Shizuru blandly.
"When Yuuki-san says anything," Shizuru said, cautious of what Nao could have in mind, "It has to be something within the limits of what I can do. And not particularly extraordinary. Nor embarrassing. Nor - "
"You are no fun," interrupted Nao with a sigh.
Shizuru barely stopped herself from smirking.
"But it's just as well," continued Nao mildly. "I wasn't thinking about anything extraordinary or embarrassing or...whatever you were going to say, anyway."
"What is it, then?"
"Tell me," the red head said.
Shizuru's expression was unreadable, but her eyes focused on Nao, a little surprised.
The light tone Nao adopted had disappeared, replaced by a sudden seriousness.
"What happened to you, Fujino?"
For a moment, Shizuru said nothing. Then;
"It was - "
"Fujino, I don't want a half-assed explanation," Nao cut in, as if she knew what the other was about to say.
At that, the brunette halted, then sighed.
That was all the sign Nao needed, and she almost grinned in vindication.
"Everything, Fujino." Nao drawled out, "I want to know every single thing that happened...and what's the deal with Kanzaki, anyway? I heard you both were going out."
Shizuru pursed her lips.
"I thought it had been a rumor, since you liked, you know, her. But obviously I had been wrong, when I saw you at the seashore with him one night." Nao raised an eyebrow. "But apparently I hadn't been the only one who saw it."
"You notice too many things, Yuuki-san." Shizuru said finally, dryly.
Nao only shrugged, a smirk on her face.
"Are you sure this is what you want to know, and not something else?" The brunette asked, obviously trying to deter Nao to some other favor.
Nao opened her mouth to speak, but Shizuru interrupted her.
"Yuuki-san," the brunette said quietly, her tone losing all humor, for once. "I cannot guarantee you will not be dragged into this once you know." I will do all I can, but there is only so much I can do.
"It is dangerous." Maple eyes regarded green orbs calmly, stoically.
The other took only a moment to consider, but even that was only because of Shizuru's unusually serious tone.
"Tell me." Nao then said.
"Yuuki-san does not have to get involved in this."
"Tell me," repeated the redhead, firmly.
"Consider this a favor for my favorite customer."
"The First District isn't gone."
The rain poured hard and fast.
"I heard some interesting rumors about who's leading them, Kuga." Yamada tossed an envelope to her. "The old women who led them are gone and dead."
Natsuki's grip on the handle was tight and painful, and she went even faster.
It can't be!
"You probably will want to ask a friend of yours about this."
It can't be, can it?
"To destroy then to lead them. Isn't that interesting, now?" Yamada gestured to the photographs that was in the envelope, which were now in her hands.
It's a lie.
It has to be a lie.
It's a lie right? Shizuru?
He took out an envelope from his coat, and slid it across the table.
Yamada picked it up, and counted the money in the envelope.
"It was a pleasure doing business with you, Yamada-san."
Yamada shrugged, and slipped the envelope into his pocket.
"Now," the other continued, tipping his black hat, "if you will excuse me..."
Yamada glanced at him as he stepped out of the bar.
He could wager a guess, somewhat, on why that man wanted to pass that particular information to Natsuki.
His eyebrow creased.
Careful, Kuga. Lose your head, and you lose your life.
Well, well, well. A fairly civil interaction between Nao and Shizuru. Nao is a character I have been curious about for a long time now, and so this is a random stab on portraying her. But, in all honesty, I have no plans to make any romantic suggestions between the two of them. It's already a three-way, and I do not want it to become a four-way. Not to mention ShizNao is not a pairing I can see happening in this fic.
And the interaction between them does not necessarily have to be hostile, I think. There's a bunch of stuff I want to say about her, the dynamics between Nao and Shizuru and Natsuki, and some other stuff, but that - I guarantee - will turn out to be a long essay instead. So I won't try. Not here, at least. But the one thing I would say about them, I suppose, would be this.
Even more than Natsuki, I'm in the opinion that Nao is far more similar to Shizuru. The main reason Natsuki and Nao was said to be similar is because of the past. And how they reacted. Of course - there are other things that are similar, but most of the time, the highlighted one is the past/trust issue. In terms of analyzing people, Nao and Shizuru are similar, yes?
All things considered, if it wasn't for Nao's bad past and the little feud between them, I think they could have been good friends. And no, I absolutely abhor the idea of making Nao into a literal Natsuki clone. No. Just no.
Heh. That aside, I have revamped my bio to change and add more details on stuff. I have also added a chapter index for this fic. So progress on the story can be monitored there. I won't claim to update the bio daily, but that's pretty much the only way to monitor my progress, unless if you hassle me in my livejournal or something. :P
A side project to this fic is also under planning. A prequel, of sorts. Some of the things that won't be explained in this fic will be explained there. More details in my bio.
And that's pretty much all I have to say for now. Next chapter: Shizuru tells a little story; Natsuki confronts Reito again.