Disclaimer: I don't own Rosario+Vampire, nor do I make any money from the writing of this story. Simple enough, ne? Just don't copy from this story and we're all good!
V^^ A Most Colourful Reveal ^^V
On paper, three weeks seemed like a long time. It was three quarters of a month, twenty-one days all told. To most high school students, three weeks would be a long time.
For the Newspaper Club, that was not the case.
During those three weeks they would need to help their homeroom get ready for the school festival, and there wouldn't be a better time for the Newspaper Club to put out a new edition. They were even planning reprints of old editions to give the alumni in attendance an idea of what had gone on in their absence. Besides that, they had to continue work on the construction projects—some of which were down to the wire, with the festival so near. That meant hours were going to be extended on those with precedence, and that meant less time for anything else. They already knew that this was the last weekend they would have free of obligation until the festival was over, but it wasn't all bad. It wasn't like the actual workers wanted to be there on their days off any more than they did.
While classes would be focused on the festival for the most part as well, there would still be homework to do, and there was also PSC duties to take into account. Those duties were even more important and varied than normal, as they had to go over emergency scenarios and everything else necessary for such a huge gathering of youkai. At least the Commission's costumes were mostly done, so they had some leeway there. Making sure the conjurations lasted at least a day at a time had been a bit tricky, but since that was already Yukari's area of expertise, it was easily remedied. All that remained was the specifics of each costume.
They all knew how lucky they were for that week of Evangeline's help. With her assistance, not one but two extremely useful projects had been completed, both of which would be seeing extensive use in the following weeks. Her offer of Vincent's time was…distasteful to them, but they simply weren't in the position where they could turn away help offered freely, no matter who it came from.
Granted, Kokoa was having a hard time maintaining her hostility towards him, as she watched Tsukune spar rather efficiently against their former enemy. She tried to remember that the man had once tried to take everything of any value away from her, but really, he had been manipulated as much as they had by her father and sister.
The fact that they were fighting with their shirts off had nothing to do with her distraction. Nothing at all.
She may have drooled a bit when Vincent's blunted steel sword crashed against Tsukune's ice batons, straining the muscles of their arms as sweat dripped down the contours of their backs. Just a little. It wasn't like she was the only one. Kurumu was practically squirming in place, and she didn't think Mizore had blinked in the last twenty minutes. She couldn't even look at her sister, since the last time she had done so Moka's hands seemed to be fighting a losing battle against reaching for their chest and waistband respectively.
Yukari's going to be furious she missed this, a detached part of the redhead noted.
For all their misgivings about his presence, Tsukune had taken surprising zeal in getting down to things once he was there. They soon learned the reason why, however, when Tsukune had thrown away the training sword Vincent had brought for him, blocked the identical sword in the man's grip with a baton made of the same substance his hands and hair had become, and proceeded to lay into the other vampire with the kind of force that suggested he might not be as pleased about his company as he seemed.
They had been at it for some time, Vincent's laughter ringing in Paradise's ambiance as Tsukune showed him how much Isao—and occasionally, Kokoa herself—had taught him about facing weapons since his first visit.
The girls knew they were supposed to be doing something too, but the second shirts came off, so were all bets.
On a similar note, the blood-soaked and battle-crazed part of her instincts was able to appreciate the interesting contrast in builds the two presented. Vincent was even taller than his brother, and Alexander had already been taller than Tsukune. He was well-proportioned but thin all the same, with a slim, wiry musculature that fit his flowing, near contortionist fighting style perfectly. In comparison, though her sister's training and long experience had forced flexibility and form into his movements, Tsukune's body simply looked stronger in the way it held its muscle.
Constant use of incubus wings had tightened his whole abdomen, building his back and shoulders from the iron foundation of Moka's laying to an intimidating crescendo impossible by normal means—which also explained Kurumu's unassuming strength. Kamaitachi blades and snow woman claws built his arms, while dancing with Rei—and Moka in general—strengthened his lower body. As if she would let him skip leg day.
The other part of her, the part that reminded her—loudly and often—that she was a woman and she had needs, appreciated their builds for completely different reasons. Comparing them to bodybuilders was like comparing motorcycles to cars. They would never be as big as cars, but they could accomplish the same purpose just as well, and she was sure either would feel wonderful between her le—
Kokoa bit her lip as her core clenched. That part was getting annoyingly difficult to ignore.
But the truth of it was, Tsukune was at a physical peak he'd never before reached, and he was putting every inch of it to use against Vincent.
To the untrained eye, it would look amazing.
To Kokoa, she couldn't help but notice that for all Tsukune was doing, Vincent too was wearing a seal and he was still able to hold him off. Tsukune was faster, stronger, and setting a relentless pace that even she could approve of, and for all of that, Vincent was still testing his boundaries, pressing advantages, forcing Tsukune to respond and improve even then. It set her teeth on edge.
Of course, seconds after that thought, Vincent disarmed Tsukune of one baton, and even as another was forming the second was wrenched away, opening up Tsukune's defenses for the crucial second Vincent needed to swing his sword up to Tsukune's neck. It spoke of how strong Vincent still was even sealed that he could stop a full-sized steel sword millimeters from flesh without the slightest wobble.
"Incredible," the taller vampire murmured, withdrawing his sword in favor of rubbing his aching jaw. "Simply incredible. If Alex had put half as much effort into his training as you have before he met you, he might have stood a chance. That you've only been doing this for weeks at most… My god, kid…"
Tsukune rolled his sore wrists as the sting receded and pursed his lips. "Not good enough, obviously, but thanks," he replied.
"I suppose the reason for those side-handle batons is to keep up the abominable snowman ploy?"
He nodded. "And how easy it is to form weapons. As long as I keep up their integrity, they can be as strong as I need them to be. There's no way any regular sword could match up to what a vampire would need to use. Kokoa's familiar Kou is practically invincible when transformed for a reason."
"But don't you see how limited that's making you?" Vincent asked curiously. "You have to stay in that form to maintain them, but there were three times you could have switched to incubus that would have put me in real danger, and there's no telling what your sickle-weasel blades could have done, especially if you utilized your wind-riding to the extent Eva said you can. And those are just the ones I know about."
Irritation snapped over the younger vampire's face, but like a passing cloud it vanished in moments, and Tsukune's posture slumped with it. Vincent huffed in sudden amusement. "But you know that, don't you?"
"The whole point of this ruse is for other vampires," Tsukune confirmed unhappily. "Our classmates, and most of the school for that matter, know what I am, but I've confused them enough with what else I can do that they don't know if that's simply something else I can mimic. Look what happened when I did that with you! I let you go, and in days you not only knew what I was, you knew what I was doing! It was a stupid decision that only paid off because you really were the kind of person I thought I saw in your memories. I can't expect that to happen next time. If I want to keep this secret, I'd either need to outright kill whoever came next, or repeat Kurumu's memory charm like we did the first time."
Vincent considered him for a long moment, then slowly nodded his acknowledgement. He knew what they were trying to do. While maybe not the original intent, by claiming to be something he wasn't, Tsukune was putting doubt on Moka's claim and luring the Shuzens into disregarding both him and their bond. It was a simple plan, but simple plans allowed for a lot of leeway should something go wrong along the way, as plans were wont to do. The payout for this particular one was more than worth the trouble.
"Speaking of: if my brother is to be any help to us, it would be best to have that removed. He's as bound by our truce as you are."
Tsukune swallowed past a grimace, as if the request alone was palatably unpleasant. "…I'll talk to Kurumu about that."
"Booo!" Kurumu hollered from the sidelines as if on cue, using her hands as a makeshift megaphone. "Less flapping lips, more swinging fists!" She grinned lewdly. "Feel free to get Greco-Roman too! We won't mind!"
Kokoa's train of thought skipped a few rails, and her eyes unfocused to imagine that particular suggestion in more detail.
Mizore was blinking away her incredibly dry eyes, but even she spared a glance at the disconcerting giggles coming from the redhead. "I'm surprised you even know what that's called," she jibed to her duet partner, and Kurumu stuck out her tongue.
"Fit men in tights groping at each other? You better believe I know what it is! Did you know the original Olympics used to be done in the nude? It was a celebration of the physical form! They were supposed to show off! Now, everyone spends so much money trying to get back the performance they'd have without all their high-tech swimsuits, it's almost sad."
The snow woman squinted at her. "That's…actually a really insightful argument. Then again, it's about nudity, so I shouldn't be too surprised."
Kurumu looked simultaneously put-out and pleased. She settled on pleased. "I am good at getting you and Tsukune out of your clothes, aren't I?"
Mizore's cheeks darkened, but she tellingly didn't have a response to that.
The succubus preened at the victory, then put a finger to her lip thoughtfully. "Now that we know she's not opposed to the idea, how long d'you think it'll take me to talk Moka out of hers?"
There was a dull thump as Tsukune accidentally walked into a tree on his way back to them.
Violet eyes darted to the sound, and she grinned as she looked over to an equally flustered Moka, who had finally realized where her hands had gravitated and squeaked in embarrassment. The black and white duet shared suppressed laughter.
"You wouldn't be trying to beat Yukari to a vampire sandwich, would you?"
The deadpan delivery made the actual meaning of the outrageous suggestion take a few seconds to sink in, but Kurumu would cherish the looks on Moka and Tsukune's faces for all time.
Her smile back was all teeth, eyes half-lidded and dark with promise. "Like you aren't," she replied, but never looked away from her targets.
Moka gulped softly. Tsukune's was far more audible.
Mizore's carefree shrug did nothing to ease their concern.
Vincent just chuckled at the byplay. "You invited a succubus to your bed; did you honestly expect anything different?" he wondered aloud, and Tsukune grinned reluctantly while Kurumu outright laughed.
"Gah! You're not supposed to be so likeable, dammit!" the blunette said in good humor, a thought that was mirrored in the rest of her friends. "You're supposed to be the older, stronger, eviler brother, not some…funny, patient, chiseled fight-freak who can goad another man into taking his shirt off so easily!"
"Let's not forget my absolute fox of a wife," Vincent reminded with an amused smirk.
"And your absolute fox of a wife!" Kurumu agreed vehemently. She blinked, and Kokoa slapped a hand to her face while the others laughed.
"So close, Kurumu. So close," Mizore whispered teasingly, and her partner made a face at her.
"Doesn't count if it's still true!" she retorted with a haughty sniff. "Besides, he's only got one hot wife! I've got ALL of you, and we've got twice the tsundere!"
Tsukune almost doubled over in his fight to keep the laughter behind his hands, and he could practically see his silver-haired lover's affronted look. Vincent didn't even try to contain his, and Mizore and Moka joined merrily along as Kokoa and her sister's spirit glared.
"I am NOT a tsundere!" Kokoa roared, and that ended Tsukune's battle for silence.
"Did I name names? I didn't, did I?" Kurumu asked her duet partner rhetorically.
She shook her head solemnly, entirely too amused. "You did not."
"See? You decided I was talking about you all by yourself."
The redheaded vampiress looked ready to kill. "You—! I—! Not—! Grrrr! Why do I even bother?!"
"Because deep down you luuuuv us," the illusionist sang as she draped herself over the younger girl's shoulder. Kokoa reddened, though whether from anger or due to the proximity of such an otherworldly beauty was arguable. Her irritated huff only made Kurumu's point for her; the only thing missing was puffed cheeks. "See? Isn't she adorable?"
"I bow to your superior harem, young succubus," Vincent allowed graciously, and Kurumu glowed at the praise while Mizore rolled her eyes.
"As you should. As you should."
Poor Moka didn't know whether she should be pinker than her hair or go back to laughing at the sagely stance her friend had adopted, and if that wasn't enough, she could see—feel—Tsukune responding to the blunette's licentious stare. Worse yet, it wasn't just Tsukune. Her inner self's indignation was fading quickly under her family's mirth, but now she was examining the Nightwalker with a quiet, deadly intensity that the outer Moka honestly didn't know what to make of.
Regardless of if they couldn't see her, the others could see how the pink-haired woman had grown pensive, and naturally it was Mizore who made her way imperceptibly to her side. "Are you okay?" she asked gently.
Moka startled, and scowled playfully at the snow woman as she held a hand to her heart. "Still as stealthy as ever, aren't you?"
Mizore's blue eyes twinkled as she shrugged a shoulder. "I'm not that far along yet. A little nausea won't keep me down." She saw her friend's expression tighten imperceptibly, and resisted the urge to sigh as she smiled tenderly. "I'm fine, Moka. Really. Kurumu already made me get some medication for it."
The pinkette sighed. Other than the faintly sickly pallor of the snow woman's normally wintery skin, no one would know what she was going through—not even her, with her supernatural sixth sense. "Good…that's…good. I still can't—I mean…"
"I know, don't worry," she hummed. "I've wanted this for so long, some days I wake up and think it's all a dream too. That this is a dream," she whispered, hands folded over her sweater's front pocket. "It's okay if it hasn't sunk in yet. I have times it hasn't sunk in for me." She laughed. "Though, that might just be my hormones screwing with me."
That pulled a reluctant giggle from Moka as well.
"So come on, what's really bothering you?"
Blue eyes, so blue, peered inquisitively into hers, and she shied away. She knew how perceptive Mizore could be, and she feared what would happen if she met that gaze too long.
Not that it did any good, apparently. "What?"
But Mizore didn't answer, she just looked at her, something almost sad in her eyes. Sad, but understanding. It made her want to curl up into a ball and hide. As the silence stretched that desire only grew, but then cold arms pulled her against an equally cold body, and Moka couldn't help but relax as her friend meshed herself to her, gentle and sympathetic. Of course, that was when her mind reminded her of the wonderful curves that friend had, how soft and firm certain parts of her were, and the arctic breath tinged with sugar as she giggled again certainly didn't help matters.
"It's okay, Moka. We'll tone it down," the ice maiden assured her quietly, then extracted herself to slink next to Tsukune like the ninja she could easily be.
The vampiress was left there, heart hammering and mouth dry, trying to figure out how she felt about being so easily seen through. Luckily she didn't need to dwell on it long, as a rush of warmth from her blood-mate sent tingles to the peaks of her chest and the valley of her thighs. She sighed in welcome relief as she basked in the comfort of his heart, so easily reigniting the fire she had felt watching him fight another admittedly attractive man.
Of course he would feel her anxiety, her whole problem had only been made more difficult by their constant connection. Both of them had already noticed how he could react to a pointed effort on their behalf to get him to feel them, and how he had been influenced by the good and the bad of their personalities since it had started. It wasn't much, which only highlighted his strength of character, but it was enough to show it went two ways, after all.
She knows that, Omote, the apparition of her sealed self said consolingly from the rosary, and the outer form of the young woman fought the sudden urge to cry.
I know she does! I know!
And that made it so much harder. Inner's talk with the snow woman once upon a time laid the groundwork for a mess of confliction that only tore her up more with every empathetic incident that followed it. Mizore was so certain, so calm in her own assurance that what she felt for them was deep, right, and powerful—and now she and Kurumu were pursuing her exactly as they had Tsukune.
That is: with absolutely zero restraint, and extreme prejudice.
Just relax, Omote. It might not seem like it right now, but we will have time. We've been so pressed by all corners we've resorted to relaxing when we sleep, but it won't always be this way. She won't hold it against you.
Of course she won't, the young woman thought, in a sudden burst of bitterness. She'll already have y—
Don't. Don't do that to yourself, the inner vampiress interrupted, tender admonition in her eyes and tone.
Her pink-haired double just looked sullenly askance at her. Why not? It's true, isn't it?
Spectral hands cupped the teen's face as the spirit of the rosary pressed their foreheads together, red eyes staring into their emerald human disguise. No, it really isn't, and you know that—that would be like wanting Mizore and Kurumu and stopping after getting Mizore.
Reluctantly, the outer Moka snickered at the comparison, but she still had to think, It's not the same.
It's exactly the same, the translucent vampiress countered hotly. Did we not stand in front of an elder vampire yesterday, separate but complete? If it was just me they were after they would only go after me! And saying that made the woman blush, even in her current form.
It made her pink-haired counterpart giggle again, which Moka took as worth it.
But you know that. You've always known that. You'd rather they just love me, because that would mean they didn't love you, and you wouldn't need to feel so bad about your reservations.
There's an easy way to check, if you're really not sure. It does bring up another problem though.
…What is it? And what problem? the outer consciousness asked, despite herself.
You need to talk to them, not rely on me to get you out of uncomfortable situations. Even if you talk to them, however, you'll always have some doubt…because whatever they say, MY name is Moka Akashiya.
I'm—! her mirror image began to argue, but immediately quieted as what the vampiress was saying sunk in.
You're you. My seal, in my body, but not me. We've become so used to the idea of being one we never considered we weren't. We've played around the issue with nicknames, given it power with this 'inner,' 'outer,' and even 'reverse' nonsense, but I could no more be you than Gin could be Tsukune.
Unbidden, the trysts they had rather frequently stolen away for with their lover over the past weeks came to mind, some filled with smiles and laughter, others with dark lust and ruthless intent as they gratified themselves after a long day.
They looked at each other awkwardly, the thought unspoken but still reflected in the grins threatening to break out.
…He's not a pervert like Senpai, not really, the pink-haired woman thought.
The spirit of the rosary laughed. The mutt wishes he was getting laid as much as we are! There's nothing wrong with having those desires; Morioka's problem was being a womanizing creep about them.
The protest was meant to be amused, but the red-eyed Moka's look back was anything but. You know my name. You've taught me so much about who I could be just by being who you are, being someone different from me. Without you I know I wouldn't have the life I do today. All these years, trials, and triumphs…but none of us know yours.
To the young woman who had called herself Moka Akashiya ever since the enchanted rosary was put on a stubborn vampiress' neck, the statement did more than just surprise. It hurt. It wasn't even a metaphorical hurt, it was like a vice around her chest, a knife between her ribs. It hurt in a way she didn't think she'd ever hurt before…and two sets of eyes widened at the almost physical jerk that went through the silver cross.
Her feet carried her, almost in a daze, to where the others were still grouped. They had clustered around a seated Mizore, who had finally gotten back to what she should have been doing before Tsukune and Vincent…distracted her. An earring stud was suspended in a speciality grip made of ice in front of her, and a paper detailing a specific diagram was on a stand behind that. She even had a jeweler's loupe clutched in one eye. The picture of professionalism, she was patiently explaining what she had been asked to do as an impossibly sharp pick stenciled in the design. Kurumu was all but draped over her back, her hands in the front pocket of the snow woman's hoodie, but Mizore withstood it with the serenity of long experience. If her cheeks were pinker than normal, no one mentioned it.
"Decided to come back to us?" Tsukune teased warmly when the young woman embraced him from behind.
His hand sought hers without prompting, silently telling her that he must be feeling some echo of her turmoil. She didn't care that he smelled of sweat as she pressed herself to his back, only that she was close to him. The conversation washed over her, a white noise in the background as she concentrated on nothing but the firmness of the muscles under her fingers and the tempo of his heart against her breast, something to ground her to who she was that exact second, when she was uncertain if the actual ground was even under her feet.
In the metaphysical realm, the silver-haired vampiress clenched her fists as she bit the inside of her cheek. She wanted to say something, make her stop running away from the obvious, but she was just as concerned with the results of her probing as her pink-haired double.
The last time the rosary had acted up like that they ended up indebted to a Dark Lord and at the head of a silent war—not something she was eager to repeat any time soon.
It was almost ironic, how both she and her chosen mate were restricted by unique rosaries made by Dark Lords. The problem laid in hers being a bit too unique. Even with Touhou Fuhai's adjustments they still didn't know if there were any other hidden pitfalls waiting to be found, and the only one who might know just happened to be the last person on the planet they'd want to talk to.
For now, she'd let the subject drop.
Right that moment, however, she allowed herself to relax to the soft cadence of Mizore's explanations mingling with the echo of her beloved's heart. Staying awake any longer would only leave her frustrated at the outer consciousness' denial, not to mention the other frustration that would deepen when she was forced to witness she and Tsukune relieving that self's physical frustration.
Already Tsukune was being informed of that frustration, as the hand not kept in his slowly traced the contours of his abdomen. There was a distinct hitch in his breath when her nimble fingers slipped under the waistband of his shorts, teasing over his hip just enough to let him know it was intentional before wandering back up his side. Luckily everyone was still focused either on Mizore or what she was doing, but it would only take a glance for anyone to know what was going on. Moka clearly didn't care about that possibility. He squeezed her hand softly, whether as a warning or a reminder even he didn't know. If anything it just made her bolder. He shuddered as he felt her teeth scrape teasingly at his back, as her hand flattened to grasp him wholly, drawing up and paying special attention to a nipple before curving down his neck.
Trying to keep his breathing even, trying to smother the arousal she was purposefully fanning not five feet away from a former enemy, the last thing on his mind was what her fingers would find just under the hollow of his throat.
The effect wasn't anything he could have anticipated either.
With the discourse with her inner self so close to the surface, the second her fingertips brushed the edges of that supposedly holy artifact around her mate's neck Moka Akashiya was reminded of hate. It was an emotion most never even attributed to her, one she herself seemed to forget about at times, but it came with such a sudden ferocity both the woman within her seal and Tsukune stiffened at the force of it.
In the time since she had come to awareness, she had only truly hated two things: she hated Alexander Valentine, and she hated the man who dared call himself her father.
Now though, now, with her mind still reeling from the woman whose name she had called her own for close to a decade, she added seals to that list. It was a seal that kept her life in limbo. It was a seal that kept her mate weakened to the point he doubted his place at her side. It was seals that necessitated they make plans, diversions, truces, and debts.
It was a seal that made her question her own name.
And she hated them for that.
Even as her hand closed over the small cross Tsukune wore, she could feel her own trembling between her breasts, but that was nothing compared to what happened when she pulled. A beat, a pulse, tore through her every cell, and even as the increasingly frantic voice of her inner self shouted at her, she couldn't hear her over the pounding in her head or the pain from her hand as the enchanted metal turned white-hot in her grip. As if in a current, her muscles were locked in place, unable to move or tear herself away as she and Tsukune were caught in a feedback loop neither of them had ever experienced before. Skin was burning, something felt like it was crushing her wrist to powder but she couldn't let go, couldn't breathe; metal was shaking and pearls was clacking but she couldn't let go and—
And they were wrenched apart, flung away from each other and rolling to stops clutching their throats and choking in air. Despite how disoriented they should have been, their eyes fixed on each other with supernatural precision, pupils blown wide. A million and one things passed between them—confusion-FEAR-lust-RAGE-mania-desire-desire-DESIRE—and even though everyone was yelling questions, trying to check them for injuries, even though they could barely make it to all fours past the twitching of their entire bodies, they heard nothing.
Like marionettes on tangled strings they fought their way upright, twisting and jerking uncooperative limbs against gravity without ever looking away until their heads were held high once again.
"Tsukune…Mo—" Kurumu was cut off as her destined one swept her into a fierce kiss that left her dazed and breathless, and Mizore barely had the chance to be surprised before he had left her in a similar state. They shivered as his eyes raked over them, raw with a naked possessiveness he rarely let himself show, and Kokoa's thighs clenched when it passed to her.
The thought was there—fleeting, but there. Would he take her into his arms as he had the others? Kiss her senseless regardless of the audience, dominate her mouth as she remembered so vividly every time she closed her eyes? Most importantly: what would she do if he did?
Thankfully her sister took the choice out of his hands, because honestly the answer to any of those questions was starting to seem worryingly less objectionable than it should have been. Of course, then she ended up imagining herself in her sister's place.
They were like a single entity, wrapped around each other as much as they could, and Vincent reflexively backed into a defensive stance when their eyes shot to him in perfect synchrony, as if the two vampires had just remembered he was there.
A gust of wind blew through the clearing, and they were gone.
Vincent Valentine lounged in the rafters of the manor's training wing, his mind elsewhere—unceasingly reviewing his latest meeting with Clan Headache, as his wife had so succinctly dubbed them. He wished he could call her, but she had made it clear she was going to be working on a schedule that made Clan Headache's look tame. She promised she would call every day even if just for a few minutes, but she absolutely could not be interrupted.
Now more than ever could he understand her desire to get blackout drunk after interacting with the kids as much as she had. Hearing about it was bad enough, but he had discovered that it was so much worse at the source.
There was one bright spot in it all. Fighting Tsukune was something he didn't think he'd ever tire of. The boy was younger than his brother but Moka had turned him into a warrior any Valentine—any vampire, period—would be eager to fight. Each Shuzen sister had their own unique style of combat, and he recognized enough in Tsukune to know who had trained him. He could tell it was exactly because of that reason that the kid had so much trouble using weapons. He adapted quickly enough to the tonfas because he was so used to using his body as the weapon it rightly was, and in the right grip a side-handle baton was little more than an extension of the fist. He was good, Vincent would even go so far as to say he was great for the amount of time he had been working on the skill, but the Shuzens weren't to be underestimated, even lacking two of the fearsome sisters.
He rubbed at his eyelids wearily. The din of battle below him was an old friend, but even it couldn't soothe the images burned into his mind.
The succubus joked about his ability to goad another man into taking off his shirt so easily, but it had served a purpose. Pride was a weak point in all vampires, and Vincent knew the Blood Sage wouldn't stand to see another flaunting themselves in front of so many attractive women without doing the same. Ever since they had seen what Tsukune wore around his neck they knew Mikogami hadn't expected Shuzen to make the play he had. The Tests weren't something taken lightly, but moreover it was a huge game of 'ifs.' If the candidate was accepted, if the candidate could meet the requirements, if everything went as planned.
If it even came off before they begged for it to be removed.
If, if, if…
Vincent needed to see how far along he was. Just seeing that seal was a splash of cold water, but if Tsukune actually had a chance, if they were really dealing with what that meant… He could understand Eva's determination. When the shirts came off it did more than just spike the lust in the women. It also allowed Vincent to examine the rosary Tsukune wore more closely.
If, for a moment he dared believe what he had seen with his own eyes, not only had Tsukune been accepted by the Test of Judgement, but there were signs of heat scoring hiding miniscule cracks in every single loop of the necklace.
But that was impossible—literally. There was no possible way that could happen, because if all the seals had broken…why was it still on?
And it was still on. He had seen the cross glowing fiercely even through Moka's hand.
That whole debacle was another thing altogether. It was incredible what could go on mere feet away and be unnoticed. It was like eating lunch in a cafeteria while someone choked to death a few seats away. There was no sounds, no screams, nothing to indicate anything out of the ordinary was happening. He and the others had been justifiably interested in the anchor seal the snow woman was stenciling into the piece of jewellery, and then he had looked over and seen Moka and Tsukune frozen in a rictus of suffering. Not only that, but how they were frozen.
One of Tsukune's hands was on the wrist by his throat, but that entire arm was a purple so dark it neared black. Tangled veins throbbing up under his skin were already spreading past his shoulder, and if that wasn't enough it looked like it wasn't limited to just him—Moka's arm was experiencing the same thing. It was unnervingly similar to what had happened during the first time they fought, back with Alex, only far more advanced.
Not that there had been any, but if there had been doubt, any doubt at all about Tsukune's nature, that had all been blown away when he looked into his eyes and saw a vampire's red staring back at him. Again, something that should have been impossible with the rosary's influence, yet absurdly, also something that supported his theory that it was already fundamentally broken.
Vincent covered his eyes with a hand, squeezing his temples like it would help relieve the pressure under his skull. Eva was going to have a conniption if he told her about this latest development, he knew.
Of course whatever had happened had all but cannoned the two into a frenzy, and after tersely telling him to get the hell out of dodge they dashed off—to sate their inflamed instincts, no doubt. He was mildly surprised he was actually given the option of leaving under his own power, since the tone conveyed clearly even the ever-patient Tsukune wasn't without his limits. That noted, he still trusted in their Oath enough that Vincent was left alone with the other three for any time at all. Not a huge gamble considering the consequences, but progress nonetheless.
One step at a time, he reminded himself. Unlike his wife, he had a lot to make up for to earn their trust in any meaningful measure.
That didn't mean that their next meeting wasn't going to awkward as all hell though.
Awkward definitely described the atmosphere of the clubroom Noriko and Hitomi were huddled in, looking at each other only to shift every so often to the newspapers unfolded on the table in front of them. With the school festival only days away, the Newspaper Club had finally gotten around to reprinting old issues for the alumni as they worked on the shorter, special edition for it, and that allowed Noriko and her friend the means to look into some of what they talked about.
"Well…uh, this sucks," the blonde stated concisely.
Her bespectacled gorgon friend gave a morose nod. "Nothing like finding out you share the name and race of the person that almost singlehandedly derailed the last school festival, right?"
"Could be worse," Noriko offered glumly as she leaned into the desk to hide her face in her folded arms, "you could be related. No, wait, that's me—to the person who nearly destroyed my club and the reputation of the last PSC. Of course we'd be friends. How is this my life?"
"Well…it looks like Kaori got away unscathed, so we're only two for three rather than a perfect trifecta," Hitomi commiserated.
The spirit fox wanted to take heart in that, but then she remembered that the reason there were hardly any newspapers printed during the second part of the last year was because they had been fronting the fight against Fairy Tale, an organization with more monsters than she could probably name. If they hadn't faced at least one of Kaori's species, she'd be astonished. She could console herself in the fact that at least it hadn't been a concentrated effort against them specifically however, unlike what seemed to happen on an almost weekly basis during their first year. She groaned anyway.
Hitomi understood the sentiment, but still rolled her eyes. "You don't have to be quite so dramatic, you know. If they really hated you they wouldn't have dedicated all that time to helping you, especially now with the festival just around the corner."
"You have a point," Noriko sighed. The tension between herself and Moka aside, there was no mistaking the effort they had put into her and Isao as anything but genuine, even as their schedules got tighter and tighter.
"Of course I do. I am the smart one, remember?"
"Oh, definitely," the blonde replied, dripping sarcasm from every syllable, "the boys just love to drool over your massive…brains."
The gorgon smiled, saccharine and menacing. "I'm sorry if I like to keep my A's on my report card, not my bra tag like you."
Noriko squinted, tight smirk belying the twitch of her jaw. "No, the only A's you like are the double-A's you keep in your nightstand, right?"
A matching twitch appeared on Hitomi's brow. "Oh please, we all know how much 'private instruction' you've been doing since Captain Aono got to your neck."
The only way Noriko could have gotten redder was if she actually burst into flame. She raised her finger, poised to counter, and eventually lowered it in defeat. "Okay, one: low blow. Two: you'd be going through a set of batteries a day if you could get Kurumu to suck on your throat."
Even Hitomi's hair reared back, but like Noriko moments before, she didn't argue the point. That wasn't to say she didn't look jealous of the closeness her friend was able to have with their seniors. "Tch, fine. We'll call that a tie then. …Vulpixie."
The spirit fox accepted that gracefully, and inclined her head with a returned, "Medon'tsa."
They shared a smile, pleased with their latest round of wordplay, and turned back to the papers ordered along the table.
"…Do you hate him?" the gorgon asked quietly in the silence that followed. "I mean, yeah it sucks that I share a bit with this Ishigami woman, but I look nothing like her. My classmates don't expect me to make art projects out of them on a whim."
The blonde smirked. "Now who's being dramatic?" But still, she sighed. "'Hate' might be a strong word. My family loves him. He's always been smart, powerful – everything an S-class youkai should be. The only disagreements our parents ever had were in how far to take that. If you look at it logically, what he did here doesn't make much sense. Why would he jeopardize such a well-respected position? But if I look at it like his folks would, I think he might have been trying to help Anti-Thesis."
Hitomi blinked. "What?"
"We're S-class. We're not just S-class, we're legends; revered as gods. But we aren't so much anymore, are we? He's exactly the kind of person Fairy Tale would have targeted. Just look at his modus operandi: anyone who spoke out, anyone who was different, they were punished. Strong versus weak, us versus them. He was silently condoning everything Anti-Thesis did. I know Kuyou; if he wanted to, I'm sure he could have burned out those idiots at the root if he had actually tried. Claiming a human had infiltrated the academy, sharpening that fear into hatred, it would have rallied more right into their waiting arms."
She looked down at her clasped hands contemplatively. "He's always been stronger than me. Better than me. Our parents knew it. He knew it. And he wanted to be better – better than anyone, and for them to know it too. He's exactly what they made him to be: powerful, and cruel to everyone who isn't." She sighed again. "I can't say I hate him, I don't even pity him, but thanks to Tsukune and Mizore I can understand him. So I might have to work a little harder than I would have had to if he hadn't come here, but I'm carving my successes into his failures and I'll make them miss me where they celebrated when he was gone. That'll hurt him more than my hate ever would."
Her friend looked suitably impressed. "You know, if you weren't my best friend I'd say you were pretty cute. You're hot when you get intense like that." At Noriko's deadpan look, she giggled. "Yay, double-pun!"
"You're hilarious, really," Noriko stated sarcastically. "We were having a moment and everything."
"Can't let you get too serious," the bespectacled teen replied. "You go all cold and quiet and those little dots of yours scrunch up." She pointed between her eyes with a theatrically furrowed brow. "You're going to get wrinkles like that."
"Shut up I will not!"
"Why do I even put up with you?" the blonde groaned.
"Because you secretly like big boobs and you know I could go down on you with hundreds of little tongues?" Hitomi postulated innocently. One of her bangs came to life with a drawn-out hiss, and if snakes could smirk Noriko swore it was doing it.
She shuddered, equal parts horrified and morbidly curious. "Oh my god."
"Not that? Maybe it's because you know I'll call you on your crap and I'm strong enough to take care of myself? Your words, remember?"
"Right, that," Noriko muttered.
Hitomi giggled. "You're cute when you're embarrassed too."
"I'm going to get you back for this, swear to God…"
"…When you least expect it…oh yes…"
"I'll be waiting, firefoxy." The lavender-haired teen silently chalked another point in her favor at the mutinous look her friend set on her. She huffed in amusement and tapped one specific paper musingly. "You know, since we were talking about…him, you don't think there'll be any trouble if he shows up next week, do you?"
Noriko couldn't answer her. She just stared at the newspaper the gorgon had singled out, the one with a picture so similar to a male version of herself, as if willing it to give her the words that wouldn't come. Finally, she could only say one thing:
"I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see, and be ready if there is."
Because she knew as well as Isao that their mentors expected something to happen. What that was, and by whom, may not be the clearest, but their tutors had spent months making sure that if no one else, they were ready for it.
She wasn't going to let them down.
Try as he might to ignore them, similar thoughts were going through Isao's head as he looked up at the cloudy mid-autumn sky. From the roof of the school's yellow bus, the puffy smoke made from his long-stem pipe looked right at home with their sky-bound brethren, and he leaned back into his folded haori as he plucked mindlessly at the instrument in his arms. The bright, twangy notes ran directly counter to the soft melody they played, but perhaps for that reason it sounded even sadder.
"The School Festival's right around the corner," the figure leaning against the front bumper stated ominously. His bright blue uniform, as crisp and clean as ever, stood out in stark contrast to the black and yellow of his profession's vehicle, and his cigar flared before another cloud floated up to join its siblings.
"Mmhmm," the teen replied.
"Ready for it? After all, it's bound to be…scary."
Isao shrugged, then tried to match the shape the Bus Driver had just blown out. "Mmhmm."
"Not as scary as that mother of yours if she finds out about that pipe—or what's in it."
He paused in his strumming. "Mmhmm," he conceded, "and I'd hate to tell her who got it for me."
The Bus Driver grinned, the same creepy grin the headmaster was so fond of using. "Heh, you're going to be busy."
"Mmhmm," was his reply, but be couldn't help adding, "So are you."
A dark chuckle answered that. "Some things are better than others."
Isao thought of the secret war fought less than a year ago, of the doubtless uncountable monsters that would need to be arraigned and organized not just in China, but Japan as well, and silently shuddered. "This is true."
"It always is."
On any regular year, a school festival would be difficult enough to coordinate, and it wasn't as if the opportunity hadn't been exploited before. With the administration of the youkai realms still running damage control from Fairy Tale, the headmaster would have even more on his plate than usual, but it was a sign that Youkai Academy was still going strong, that there was another future than the one Fairy Tale tried to force. If the Newspaper Club wasn't so worried—and try as they might to hide it, he knew they were worried—about the upcoming festival, Isao would have thought the festival a good thing. It was telling that they were putting so much effort into themselves and those that would be in charge without them—it meant whatever they thought was coming was something they expected to be aimed at them.
He sighed. "But to be a simple bus driver, right?"
"Heh heh heh. Found your calling?"
"Ehh, doubt it. Too noisy."
The silence stretched, relaxed and calm, broken only by the bittersweet notes plucked from the teenager's ukulele as the two savored their vices and traded barbs. There were words there to be said, surely, but Isao had learned long ago that sometimes the best conversations were held without saying anything of importance, and his irreverent sluggishness was a source of constant amusement to the man standing below him.
When the last ashes of the Bus Driver's cigar fell to the ground, the enigmatic youkai stood from his spot and began a leisurely walk away, still grinning.
"The headmaster knows what he's doing, right?"
He paused, and turned his head just enough for Isao to see the amusement in the one eye showing under the shadow of his cap. "Kiddo, I've known Tenmei for centuries; half the reason this school is as…" he smirked, "scary as it is is because it's his brainchild. You just worry about explaining why you smell of smoke to that little blonde spitfire you've had your eye on."
Watching someone try to pale and flush at the same time was something Tenmei Mikogami had taught his old friend to enjoy, but the kid was notoriously hard to ruffle.
"Yours puts up with it," Isao sniped back, and the man chuckled.
"With dry-cleaning, breath mints, and a whole lotta fish, there's not much that can't be forgiven." That and a few things that would make the young boy's brain explode, but a gentleman didn't kiss and tell. Plus it was hilarious watching youths stumble around the world of interpersonal relationships, and he wouldn't wish to deprive the boy of that. That didn't mean he had to leave him completely unarmed though. "A word of advice: find a food she can't resist. It might not always make the situation better, but it will never make it worse."
"Hm," the teen grunted thoughtfully. "'Wars are won with gold, but armies march on their stomachs,' huh? She does love marshmallows…"
The Bus Driver chuckled. "Might be an idea to stock up on graham crackers and chocolate. If she's anything like her grandmother, she loves campfire sweets. Good thing that didn't go anywhere, eh?"
Isao's pipe fell from his open mouth, and he flailed about to catch it when the embers spilled onto his chest. Between trying to keep a grip on his instrument and not fling himself off the roof of the bus, Isao's calm was thoroughly scrambled when he finally settled back. "…You're horrible, oh 'honored ancestor.'"
Dark laughter was his only answer as the uniformed man walked away with a jaunty wave.
Now he knew he could try to get back into his happy place, but a quick glance at his watch told him if he wanted to have a quick shower before he met up with his captains it would be best to leave. With a heartfelt sigh, he carefully packed up his pipe and its contents before trudging out down the beaten path from where the bus was parked, filling the silence with the plucky strands of his tiny guitar. It was lucky his pipe case was in his jacket, because naturally he would run into the subject of his earlier thoughts on the path to the dorms, and she wasn't alone.
"…Noriko, Raida," he greeted plainly, when they stopped to stare at him.
"Isao," his fellow leader replied, while her friend smiled and waved. Her eyes narrowed, honing in on what he held with suspicion. "What is that?" Then her nose scrunched up. "And what is that smell?"
He looked down on the instrument he was still playing. "This? It's a ukulele. Small, light, easily-portable; usually four-stringed. Quite popular, really. Never seen one? As for the smell, I'll blame that on hanging out with the school's resident smokestack."
"Probably the bus driver," Hitomi supplied helpfully, and Noriko twitched.
"Right. I knew that." She glared. "And I know what that is too! I meant what are you doing with it?!"
He cocked his head to the side with a raised eyebrow, and played a few more chords for good measure. "Playing it?"
"You—!" But she had to stop, eyes wide when she finally placed the tune. "Final Fantasy?"
He nodded. "Ten, to be precise. Great soundtrack."
"Yeah," she agreed dumbly, eyes slowly tracking his hands sweep up the simple four-string guitar.
"I think what she really means is that she didn't know you played," her friend interjected again, and Isao hummed.
Even as Noriko puffed up indignantly, Hitomi giggled. "That sounds like her. You look like you really know what you're doing," she said with a kind of undertone Isao couldn't place, but from the warning look on Noriko's face she did. "Have you played long?"
"I guess," he replied casually. "No formal training if that's what you mean; learned by ear."
An outrageous claim by most standards, but Noriko didn't even have it in her to be surprised. "Too much hassle to read notes, right?"
Her fellow captain smirked, and Hitomi nudged her friend with a concealed leer, mouth hidden behind her hand as she bent down to whisper in the blonde's ear. "You could do a lot worse than a guy who actually knows what to do with his fing-GUH!"
Isao just looked confused as the taller girl stumbled away from the elbow Noriko had slammed into her stomach, grin wide and coughing out laughs, but surmised from the color the spirit fox's ears had turned that it must have been embarrassing.
"My arm twitched! So, you getting ready for our nightly beating too?" she deflected, but if anything her bespectacled friend's grin just widened.
"Oh ho, already that far alon-BLUGH!"
"T-Those darn m-muscle spasms! Come on Scaleface, we should get going! I don't want to be late!"
Isao scratched the side of his side as the two ran off, feeling distinctly like he had missed something important.
The days blurred, hours and classes and work and training and Tsukune felt like his life had become nothing but checklists and details—details he couldn't afford to overlook, no matter how small. The fever pace at the academy had only gotten worse, with classes and clubs stretching their budgets for their stalls even as he and Moka endlessly drilled the Safety Commission in their emergency protocols. On top of the pressing construction projects trying their best to finish in time, it felt like the past three weeks had turned into years. Most of the members probably thought they were insane by now, and he knew there was a fair bit of grumbling at the absolute perfection being demanded of them, but Tsukune hoped they saw he was pushing himself just as much as he was pushing them.
Luckily, even if they didn't, that grumbling was nowhere to be found in the excitement that had overtaken everyone as they costumed up, finally ready to put those drills into practice.
Truth be told, he was ready for that too. More than ready. That was part of the problem. He and his family had been agonizing over this potential disaster for so long he was downright twitchy with nerves, desperate to put his preparations to some kind of actual use. It was a situation shared by the rest of the Newspaper Club, and not even shared dreams could alleviate the worst of it.
His gaze found itself drawn to Kurumu by the thought, and as if sensing his eyes on her, the succubus grinned at him past the group she was talking to, cocking her hip to the side as she showed off the many, many curves her costume emphasized so well. The salacious turn that grin took when she saw the intensity in his eyes would have made him blush in first year.
He knew—more than Mizore's varied and longstanding preparations for her own eventual pregnancy, more than the occasional visits they took with the snow woman to the doctors to monitor her progress—that Kurumu was going to be an excellent mother. How could she not, when she had shown them every evidence of that over the past three weeks? When her family needed her most she rose to the occasion, and he wasn't the only one appreciative of it.
Tsukune knew what it was like to lose himself in a vampire's bloodlust, he knew it intimately in a way many vampires didn't know even when he hadn't technically been one himself. What happened when Moka grabbed his rosary those weeks ago wasn't anything like the blackouts he had once experienced. When they had finally calmed down, when the red had finally faded from their vision and the heat finally abated from their veins, both he and Moka knew exactly what they had done.
Yes it was awkward the next time Vincent visited, but they didn't feel any shame when they remembered how they came to be entangled in a newly-made clearing in Paradise, naked as the day they were born. There was no indignity in the frantic lovemaking of a pink-haired woman and her brown-haired man, and certainly not the desperate rutting of a red-eyed vampiress and her mate. Their love, physical or otherwise, was never something they would be ashamed of.
It was somewhat ironic then that the reason for Tsukune's growing tension wasn't because of any shame or fear, it was because of the trust he had in her—in them. Outer wouldn't tell him what made her grab his rosary and Inner wouldn't tell him because it wasn't her reason to tell. That was the problem with their bond—it wasn't truly telepathic, but they didn't need or want it to be. The empathetic sense they could get was more than enough. One look into Moka's red eyes as they basked in the afterglow told him more than any mystical bond ever could, and her gentle kiss told more of her gratitude than actual words. If it led to them getting back even later than they would have otherwise, neither of them mentioned it.
So the only thing he could do was wait, wait and let her know that when she was ready to tell him, he would be waiting with open arms. But the bond made it so hard. He could feel what she was going through, the confliction as the two stewed in their internal argument, and try as he might he couldn't stop it from affecting him. Even if he tried to ignore the tug at the back of his mind that connected him to his blood-bound mate, the tension between the two leaked down the line into him regardless.
With all the things on their agenda it should have been easy to lose himself in sheer drudgery, but it followed him like a bad stench. He was restless no matter how exhausted he made himself, which wasn't helped at all by their schedule, and despite his brain knowing he had to give her time, his heart began to tire. He trusted her, really he did, but even when he sent that to them it only seemed to restart their argument and make it even worse. What happened when he actually asked wasn't even worth remembering.
Kurumu didn't need an empathetic bond to see something was wrong. Her destined one, destined ones weren't acting like they should, and she wasn't about to let that go unchallenged. She was there when his patience thinned, soothing the hurt in his pride and heart not as a sexual succubus, but a friend. She made sure he wasn't alone to brood in his thoughts even when she went to Moka because she needed her more. She was there as Mizore took him to her first trimester appointments, a balm on his soul as he desperately sought to control his anxiety for the new life they would soon be responsible for. She taught him Mizore wasn't as unaffected as she seemed either, and if anything she brought them closer together because of it—and not just in the physical sense.
But…she was a succubus—the physical was amazing. She glowed under his attentions, took everything his rosary denied him and used it to power their shared dreams. Even when the odd headache had her in tears, she never let anything slow her down, she was boisterous and supportive and god he loved her all the more for it.
It was almost ridiculous when he realized this was the closest he and Moka had come to a lasting fight in their relationship.
As he stood in front of the gathered PSC, gradually growing in color as they came back from where Yukari and Ruby were giving them their outfits, he mouthed a silent 'thank you' to the black-clad succubus. She blew him a kiss, but it was such a common occurrence he knew something else had heads turning to him. Intrigued, he looked around, and almost flinched in surprise at the pair of amused silver eyes so close to him at his right.
"How on earth did you manage to sneak up on me?" he jibed playfully to his familiar, and Rei's brown lips curled in amusement.
"'Tis no fault of mine if you fail to notice someone of my bearing approaching," she replied loftily, one hand splayed out as if to present her greatness to the masses.
The ball of tension that had been in his gut for the past three weeks made Tsukune want to punch some of those masses. They were certainly appreciating it. Logically, he knew he couldn't blame them; Rei's predictions had been spot-on, and the young dragoness now looked barely any younger than he did, if not as old by simple merit of her height. She was barely a centimeter shorter than he was, and god only knew how long that would last for. With how fast she was changing and how little she was seen outside of Paradise, Tsukune wondered if any of the people ogling his familiar even remembered who she was—all they saw was yet another beautiful woman talking to Tsukune Aono.
He hadn't known what to expect when she had announced she was going to be participating in the costume craze that had overtaken the academy, but it was…something. At first glance it might have been intended as a dress, once. Rather, from a breastplate that looked like it had been formed from melted steel and shaped with bare hands over a human base, two strips of black fell in the facsimile of a dress, one from the front and the other at the back, connected at the hip with buckles of crushed copper. And only there.
He resisted the urge to drag a palm down his face. One of these days he would get Rei into a set of normal clothes.
As if baring almost the entirety of her legs and a good deal of her sides wasn't anything unusual, the rest of her costume was simple ornamentation. Melted steel polished to a similar shine as her breastplate had been wrapped around her arms like coiled snakes, and a tiara of the same rested on her brow, crested into one spike at the center of her head. If not for the six red glass orbs framing the copper disc set into the middle of her cuirass and the tri-toed insignia in her dress' buckles, he might not have known what she was supposed to be.
He laughed, looking down on his own green and gold ensemble. "Well well, I wouldn't be half of what I'm dressed as without you, now would I, Caesar?"
She shook her head solemnly, eyes alight with mischief. "Nor would you be even that without this," she added, and pulled her other hand out from behind her back.
"You didn't…" he breathed, and he was sure his cheeks would break if he smiled any wider as he took the toy dagger from her.
Black and green, stenciled with gold and bearing the same tri-toed footprint as the buckle on his belt and the ones on her sides, it was obviously paired with their outfits. What really set the dagger apart from anything comparable was the key valves jutting from its handle, and the embellishments along the blade clearly meant to imply the sword itself was some kind of instrument. Shaking fingers pressed the first key, and a vibrant, six-tone anthem rang from the plastic replica.
There was a reason he had chosen this particular costume. Rei made the choice obvious, but he felt a certain kindship with the character that lost a little of his life every time he fought. It wasn't unlike his own situation with the Holy Lock. As long as he didn't use it his time was fixed, but every time he used his vampire blood he pushed that candle just a bit closer to its wick's end—and unlike Burai, he had no idea when he would finally reach that point.
Was it any wonder then, that Rei had adapted Dragon Caesar to her style, to match her partner, the green Dragon Ranger?
"Thank you, Rei."
"You are most welcome, Tsukki."
Heads were turned to him now for a different reason, and Tsukune took advantage of that as he stood tall and pressed the button again. Bodysuits in a rainbow of colors filled his vision, fitted to their appropriate genders regardless of what they were supposed to be. It was the extra touch of originality, he thought, that really made it special; like Kurumu's black Mammoth Ranger suit fashioned for her feminine form.
Some, like Moka's pink Ptera Ranger costume, needed no alterations.
He took a deep breath. "Thank you everyone for being on time today, and thank you again for putting up with everything Moka and I have asked of you leading up to today. We know it hasn't been easy. For the next three days all that practice is going to be put to good use, and we want all of you to show how great your Safety Commission is and have fun at the same time!
"You all have your patrol routes and drama times on the sheets we made beforehand, so remember even if you can't get to a booth you want to one day, you will get a chance there eventually. I want everyone to keep a lookout for suspicious activities—" the sudden image of his cousin Kyouko's face almost made him laugh, "—and support the team you've been assigned to. Team leaders, you all have your radios; keep in contact if you encounter something you need help with. Moka, anything I'm forgetting?"
The helmet she was wearing kept him from seeing her smile as she approached, but when she grabbed his gloved hand he felt himself relax infinitesimally. "Just one thing, I think," she said mischievously, and before he could ask what it was, she had pulled up the white balaclava around his neck, securing his hair in place underneath before handing him the Dragon Ranger's green mask.
He grinned. "Of course."
After buckling the helmet in place, his transformation was at last complete, and Tsukune rolled his shoulders as he got used to the weight.
He raised the Dragon Dagger up high, giddy with nerves and excitement in equal measure.
"Public Safety Commission, what are we?!"
They were all laughing as they pulled out their most ridiculous poses and replied, "SUPER SENTAI!"
All except one, a short red ranger with her helmeted head buried in her hands, who muttered, "Embarrassed."
They laughed louder.
"All right! Rangers, let's go!"
Tsukune felt it was kind of poetic.
This time, the monsters were going to be the heroes.
Author's Notes: Fun fact of the day: did you know Japan is considered the second home for Hawaiian musicians and ukulele virtuosos?
Fun fact of the day #2: I don't think you realize how long I've waited to reveal them as Power Rangers, or how hard it was not to have them shout, "IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!"
This has been mostly done for too long. Finally got down to writing for a while; now it's an early birthday gift to myself, heh. Nice to see you all again! Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any questions or just want to talk, send me a line. I wouldn't object to you filling in that review box either! I'd still like a proper cover for this too, if anyone has the skills.
'Til next time!