Disclaimer: Sekirei doesn't belong to me but to some shady MBI like corporation.
The almost suffocating tightness in her chest had long passed by the time Tsukiumi perched atop a large MBI billboard to observe the converted domicile below her. Neighbored as it was by regular, small, single story bungalows, the large, re-purposed temple dominated the surrounding landscape. With a minimum of effort, she leaped the distance to the only open window on the top floor as she wanted to avoid having to ring the front door. Such a pedestrian entrance was beneath her.
Though there was no way for her to know for sure, she intuitively felt like that the window must have been left open especially for her – why else would someone leave a single window open in the middle of the night. She had resolved never to come here despite the open invitation accorded to her before she left the relative safety of the MBI headquarters. But the sensations she had felt overrode any concerns she had and the truth was that there was no one on the planet who would know better what had happened to her then the building's owner.
"While you work things out, you can call it home," an amused voice echoed in her memory.
Frowning, she stepped through the window and alighted lightly in the room. Save for a simple cot that was flush against the far wall, the small room the pretty much empty. Looking around, Tsukiumi felt that while the building had obviously been lived in at some stage, it had some time since the living had occupied it with any great frequency.
She opened the single door softly and crept along the landing, feeling her way along in the relative darkness towards the dim light that came from somewhere below. Though she had no reason to be afraid, a fear almost as strong as the one she had felt earlier began to build in the pit of her stomach. The urge to flee came upon her but she steeled herself – what had happened tonight had been physical – if something was wrong with her, she had to know and fix it somehow.
She made her way steadily down the two floors of the building until the light source was apparent, spilling out from beneath a single door off the main hall. She reached forward and tentatively pushed it open, revealing a study of some kind that seemed to be covered from wall to wall in books. In the centre beneath the single light, a large chair held a thin, gray haired woman who was busy reading from a large leather bound book.
"So you came," her surprisingly chipper voice called out, sounding much louder than it was as it shattered the silence.
"I did…ma'am" Tsukiumi answered haltingly, always tongue-tied around the woman.
"Surprised it took you this long – seven days is a long time when you're on your own for the first time."
"I wouldn't have come at all but," Tsukiumi began defiantly before trailing off, not wanting to admit weakness to this woman of all people.
"But?" the woman inquired.
"Something happened tonight…I was engaging in the plan when I was struck down by a…a terrible weakness," Tsukiumi struggled to find the words to describe the feeling.
"Oh," was all the woman said in response but she at least she had now lowered the book, placing it on a small table adjacent to the chair.
"You've been eating I take it?" she asked with a small smile.
"Of course," Tsukiumi dismissed this notion immediately, insulted that the woman think her so stupid.
"Well then, let's take a look, shall we?" She said after sniggering openly at Tsukiumi's annoyed defense. "Come with me child," she beckoned as she rose from the chair and made her way past Tsukiumi and out the door, waiting until the Sekirei began to follow.
She led Tsukiumi wordlessly back up the stairs to another room that once lit, showed a large number of cabinets and medical equipment frequented about the room. On the large examining table that dominated the room, lay a single white patient's gown that Tsukiumi recognized all too well.
"Change and we'll do an examination," the old woman instructed, pointing at the gown before taking out some instruments from a drawer to check that they were sterile and suitable for her needs.
Tsukiumi considered the gown with disdain. "No – I'm done with examinations now," she declared proudly, not wanting to reveal the real reason.
"Don't tell me you're still too much of a prude to undress in front of me after all this time?" the woman asked, clearly enjoying Tsukiumi discomfort and knowing exactly why the proud warrior was being difficult.
"It's not dignified," Tsukiumi blushed, hating her body for betraying her.
"Remember child, I've been with you since you were little more than a collection of cells in suspended animation. There's nothing you have that I haven't seen before – even if you have quite a deal more of some things more than others," she said absently regarding Tsukiumi's bosom which seemed to be in a perpetual state of heaving indignation.
Tsukiumi knew there was no winning and quickly changed in the corner, trying her best to shield her modesty. When done, she sat upon the table without prompting, having gone through this ritual numerous times before.
"Describe what happened – leave no detail out," the woman demanded as she began her examination.
Tsukiumi began relating the events as she remembered them as the woman circled her continuously stopping now and then to use one of her various tools – some archaic and some from the very cutting edge of science.
Tsukiumi told her everything up until the point she reached the billboard outside the house.
The old woman leaned back against a counter and pulled out a crushed cigarette as she regarded the readout from one of the newer looking instruments. "Interesting" was all she would share with Tsukiumi.
"Is there something wrong with me, do I need more tuning?" Tsukiumi asked fearfully.
"No, as expected you're practically the peak of physical perfection. But it does appear that your bio-electrics are out from your baseline numbers from previous exams."
"What does that mean?" Tsukiumi asked, not being at all familiar with any of what the old lady was telling her.
"I believe it indicates your body is undergoing what my old departed colleague Dr Asama referred to as sympathetic resonance."
"Sympathetic resonance," Tsukiumi repeated in a whisper, not liking how that sounded at all.
The woman nodded and then went on to explain, "a Sekirei's body is quite unusual that in additional to regular "human" functions, your bio-electric field also acts as a rudimentary kind of broadcast-receiver system. Earlier this evening, I believe an external event occurred that caused that system to turn on for a period of time – probably the duration of your discomfort."
"What kind of external event?"
"If I were to guess, probably an Ashikabi winging his or her first Sekirei," she shrugged.
"What has that got to do with me?" Tsukiumi snapped, not wanting anything to do with any of the monkeys or the lesser Sekirei that associated with them.
"Again it's only hearsay, but it was probably your destined Ashikabi who was doing the winging," she emphasized the word destined for maximum impact, knowing exactly how to get a reaction from her adopted child.
"What!" Tsukiumi nearly fell off her seat in surprise.
The old woman still found Tsukiumi's attitude towards Ashikabi endearing if a little misguided. "Yes. Their first winging would dramatically increase their field of influence, seemingly wide enough now that your body picked up on it and in response is now altering its properties to be even more receptive to the Ashikabi – to resonate in tune with the field of their destined as Asama so quaintly put it."
"How can I stop it," Tsukiumi demanded, leaping from the bed to grasp the older woman by the collar, lifting her off the ground with no apparent effort.
The older woman gave her look which dimmed her fervour instantly, and she gently put her back on her feet.
"You can't. Whatever your feelings on the matter, the heart wants what the heart wants. If they were to wing another or somehow come close enough, I imagine you'll feel the sensation again, and a lot stronger the next time."
Tsukiumi stumbled back against the table, "I would rather die," she exclaimed dramatically.
"Oh pish, you're far too stubborn to allow yourself lose to anyone," the woman declared with a dismissive wave as she made her way out of the room – apparently now totally unconcerned with Tsukiumi's condition. "Get dressed and I'll make you a proper meal – you can tell me all about your adventures since leaving MBI."
Alone in the room, Tsukiumi contemplated this most recent revelation. The old woman was right - suicide or defeat was not an option for Tsukiumi. But there were other options. If her supposed destined Ashikabi were killed somehow – then how could she be winged?
It had been a dream.
Shifting stiffly on his futon Minato considered it in the simplest terms. There was no possible reality in which girls forced their way into his room to have their way with him – no matter how much (or how little) he resisted. That kind of stuff wouldn't even happen to Seo and he had somehow managed to snare twins.
So the idea of a girl wanting to make out with him like her life depended on it made the whole scenario unlikely. Couple with that was the fact that during the life dependent making out the room had suddenly filled with light, all of it seeming to spill from Musubi's back or neck.
In some last man on earth scenarios he could possibly see a very desperate girl wanting to make out with him. But light coming out of their backs – well that was just pure dream fluff, wasn't it?
The phone call of course would also have to get a mention than. As a growing boy, he had of course experienced some frustrating sex dreams before but never once had his progress to becoming a proper man (in his dreams) been halted because the head of the biggest multinational corporation in the country needed to inform him that he was now part of a super-secret-fight-club kind of thing taking place all over Tokyo.
Yup, definitely a dream.
Given that he was now alone in his room he hoped he could just fall asleep again in order to get back to enjoying the dream for what it was – especially the portion where large, soft breasts used him as a willing pillow and definitely before things got weird...or at least exceptionally weird.
All his hopes were dashed as usual when there was a gentle but insistent knock at his door.
"Minato, I need you to come to the kitchen please," Miya declared with the same firmness as her knock.
While her tone was perfectly pleasant, Minato's guard was instantly raised – what had he done? Oh no - she knew about his dream –he knew she was practically omniscient when it came to goings on in the inn but how the hell did she know about his dream?
"Landlady, there's been a terrible misunderstanding," he practically shouted as he stumbled from his bed.
"You should hurry Minato, your mother is a busy woman," Miya advised as she drifted down the corridor away from his room, "it's long past time we had a talk"
His mother – what the hell was going on? He must still be asleep but now instead of dreams of heavenly soft breasts he was experiencing hellish nightmares of well…his mother.
"What the hell is going on?" he asked the empty room in exasperation.
Half an hour later…
Minato sat limp and stunned in the dining room. Thirty minutes was all it took for the trio of Miya, Musubi and his clearly amused mother to calmly turn his world upside down. To explain that he had experienced no dream the previous night and that the Sekirei plan was in fact real. That his mother was not working for some pharmaceutical company was in fact one of its chief architects of this insane plan and that the Sekirei were some kind of super soldiers destined to fight one another until only one of them was left. That he had been living with these beings for six months now in complete ignorance and now he was responsible for one.
And Minato thought his biggest worry for the day would be having to contact his mother and tell her about his latest set of failing grades. He got the impression that she probably wasn't too bothered as she calmly pulled away on a cigarette, much to Miya's displeasure.
"Why me?" was all he could muster in response.
"For many, that question never even crosses their minds," his mother puffed, "Why me? My colleagues and I had several theories but nothing especially conclusive. Maybe what the Sekirei themselves believe is right – maybe it's just a matter of fate and there is no rational logic to it. Dwelling on the why is merely time misspent – you should just accept it and move on."
"I knew it was you straight away," Musubi added with such certainly that the reasons why seemed unimportant anyway.
For all that, Minato could only manage a weak smile, not yet able to come to terms with her unshakeable belief in their destiny of being together. He leaned forward across the table and refilled his glass from the large pitcher of water placed there, needing a moment to clear his head.
"So what happens now?" he asked the trio as they waited patiently for him to come back down to earth.
"That's up to you," his mother shrugged.
"I would offer some council if you'd accept it?" Miya interrupted the two, having thus far been largely silent which Minato noted was very unlike her. He nodded his agreement immediately, still feeling like he was standing in quicksand and that it would be Miya of all could people who could provide him something solid to stand on.
"As your mother says, what happens now is largely up to you but in one respect your hands are very much tied. You are part of the plan now which means Musubi will eventually have to fight on your behalf."
"Fight…for me?" he stuttered.
Musubi nodded furiously, "and win for you," she added with a clenched fist, her conviction unshakeable.
"Sekirei live for the fight almost as much as they live for their Ashikabi, Mina- ," Takami stated, trying to explain Musubi's apparent enthusiasm for battle.
"So does the fighting happen in a ring or something?"
Takami shook her head, "It can happen anywhere – impromptu fights are taking place as we speak. Some winged Sekirei are even fighting the un-winged to increase their chances of ultimately winning."
"Why don't you stop it?" Minato asked, almost pleading for his mother to save him like she did when he was a child.
"Truthfully, I have little actual power in MBI when it comes to the plan. Everything of any importance runs through the Chairman. Even my being here now puts us all at risk."
"Why?" Minato just couldn't understand – they were only talking after all.
"That fool Minaka believes in the whole destiny and fate spiel even more than the Sekirei do – he would not look kindly on my tampering with fate," she explained with a bitter smile.
"That's not important right now," Takami dismissed his inquiry nonchalantly, not wanting to reveal just how instrumental she had been in directing Musubi towards her son and consequently snaring him in the plan.
"I knew that there was always a chance that you were capable of becoming an Ashikabi. You had all the genetic markers that we've discovered an Ashikabi must possess to allow for winging to occur. I placed you here to help prepare you if a winging came to pass and I'm glad that I did."
"What about Yukari, wouldn't she be the same as me?"
Takami sighed sadly, "She is. But I figured as long as she stayed away from Tokyo that she'd be safe enough. It was a good plan in principle but is no longer viable I'm afraid."
"She got into Shigdong Women's University, first time. She found out yesterday and is already on her way here to check out the facilities. Her train arrives later this morning in fact. She told me she wanted to surprise you. So…surprise!" she finished weakly.
"What are you going to tell her?"
"I'm not sure yet. I'll see what she's like when she gets here. It's possible she only wants to do some scouting and nothing more. If it's more than a few days, then we have a problem. Either way, you should prepare some way of explaining Musubi that doesn't get you in trouble with MBI…or Yukari for that fact."
She looked at her watch and rose from the table. "I'm sorry to cut this short but I should return to the lab before picking up your sister. Listen to Miya, Mina-tan; she will help you where I can't. And Musubi-chan, please take care of my little boy."
"Of course," Musubi nodded before offering a small bow of respect.
"Wait," Minato jumped from his seat, still having so many questions for his enigmatic mother.
"Miya will help you," Takami re-affirmed, "trust her and your Sekirei and everything will work out. Miya can point you towards others, Sekirei and Ashikabi alike that will aid your cause," Takami stated, stopping by the door, wanting to say more but knowing that time as always was against her. She gave Miya a brief nod and then was gone.
The remaining trio sat in silence, Minato hoping in vain that his mother would return, but resigned to knowing she would not.
"I know it may not seem like it now Minato but your mother has your best interests at heart," Miya finally spoke, trying to assure him a little.
"My best interests? She has been lying to me my entire life!" He exclaimed.
"Sahashi-senpai was always very kind to me," Musubi observed, placing her hand gently atop Minato's, calming him almost instantly.
"So what can I do? I've never been much of a fighter…" he whispered to her, feeling so lost
Miya smiled gently, pleased at his concern.
"Being an Ashikabi is not so much about being a fighter. It is more about the bond between you and your Sekirei. By simply being with her, you aid Musubi. But if you're concerned about fighting then you should allow me to train her. Her own skills are considerable but I have experience that may aid her."
Musubi eyes practically glowed at the thought of sparring against the enigmatic landlady.
Minato bowed immediately prompting Musubi to quickly follow suit.
"Please Landlady, I would be in your debt," his own eyes were damp and pleading.
"It would be my honour," she said, happy to see him embrace the responsibility placed upon him, however unwelcome it may have initially been.
"Furthermore as an Ashikabi, you should also consider winging other Sekirei" she mused aloud.
"Wait, what?" Minato's snapped up in shock, as if Miya had run some kind of electric current through the floor.
"Of course, strength in numbers is the most rudimentary of tactics but it's a tactic nonetheless and a good one to start with," she explained, indifferent to his surprise.
"You mean I should just replace Musubi?" Minato was truly horrified at the thought. They may have been thrown together by fate or whatever but right there and then he felt he would rather die than betray her.
Miya laughed softly, amused by Minato's presumption.
"Sekirei are not cars or cell phones – you would not be upgrading or replacing her – you would be supplementing her. There are already quite a few Ashikabi who have winged more than one Sekirei – some even against their will. For better or for worse, every Sekirei winged by an Ashikabi adds to their potential to ultimately triumph."
"That can't be allowed, surely?"
"The plan has very few rules, most of which you already know. There are probably only a few individuals capable of winging Sekirei, but those few are capable of winging any Sekirei they encounter. As Musubi said, within seconds of meeting you, she subconsciously knew you were her Ashikabi. No other Ashikabi would give her that feeling but they could still wing her no matter how much she might resist."
Musubi nodded in agreement, having heard some horror stories while living in MBI.
"That's just not right," Minato muttered.
"I agree – but they will still fight to the fullest of their ability for the Ashikabi who winged them. Fighting for your Ashikabi is a core tenet of a Sekirei's being…but it's also true that their very ability to fight will be diminished because the winging was not with their fated partner."
Minato slumped forward onto the table, shaking his head as he did so.
"It just all seems so crazy," he murmured.
Minato was still grappling with it all as Miya calmly finished her tea. Musubi was content to just sit still next to Minato, instinctively knowing to trust in the older woman's ability to guide her young master.
"Minato, I have a confession to make," Miya announced, finally ready to break the comfortable silence.
Minato sat back up and regarded her curiously, wondering what could be regarded as a confession after all that she and her mother had just shared with him.
"Prior to your arrival at the Inn, there was another un-winged Sekirei, Matsu, staying here. She was in a little spot of trouble with MBI and knew of this place as a safe haven for those with nowhere else to go. When I learned that you were coming, your mother insisted I send her away as she didn't want to compromise you both. Matsu is a good girl but she lives in her head and sometimes doesn't think through what she does. We feared she may inadvertently wing herself with you before either of you were ready to deal with the consequence of that act but now that Musubi is by your side, that danger is passed and I would like to allow her return to the Inn."
"Uh…okay – I mean of course she can come back," Minato responded, not sure why she would need his permission.
"Don't be so hasty. Before I sent her away she was naturally curious as to who was usurping her here, namely yourself. Her curiously spiked, she resolved to find out all about you and her abilities as a Sekirei allowed her to do this with ease. I should have curtailed her activities immediately but my sin was in underestimating just how committed she can be."
"You've seen how single minded Musubi was once she decided you were her Ashikabi, Matsu could be far worse. Would you welcome her back – knowing that there is a high chance she would seek you out as her Ashikabi?"
"Could Musubi stop her?" Minato asked; feeling threatened by the spectre of a girl he had never met yet according to Miya knew all about him.
Miya regarded Musubi for a moment and also considered the absent bespectacled Sekirei they were discussing.
"In a physical fight I believe she could. The pertinent question however is whether she would stop her. Matsu presents no real physical danger to you and Musubi strikes me as the type who is more than happy to…share, eh?"
Musubi pursed her lips in thought before nodding, "If it would make Minato happy then Musubi would also be happy."
"I'm not sure I'm comfortable with all this winging stuff to be honest," Minato interrupted, not wanting the two women to sell each other on an idea he himself wasn't sold on.
"Oh, did you not enjoy winging Musubi?" Miya asked with a small grin, causing Minato to go a bright red.
"What no, I mean yes, of course but that wasn't planned or anything – this feels a little creepy."
"Well, why don't I arrange for her to visit and we can see how you all interact. If she's around you and she feels nothing then all this might not even is an issue. I think I know you well enough to know that you would not press the issue."
"Of course not," Minato reaffirmed, appalled at the very notion.
"Very well. You and Musubi have much to discuss while I contact Matsu. Uzume should be back soon with some new clothes for you Musubi. When you're ready, change into something suitable and we'll have our first training session."
She rose gracefully from the table and bowed before the pair. She paused just before leaving the room.
"Minato, you do yourself proud in how you're handling all of this," she observed, causing the junior Ashikabi to blush again.
"Thank you, Landlady-sama," Minato replied, touched by her approval.
After she left, Minato turned to his face his Sekirei who had edged closer to him as Miya departed. Rubbing his head sheepishly, he smiled at her.
"MBI will supply you with your replacement uniforms for as long as you're in the plan so there's no need to worry about that," Uzume explained as she laid out all the purchases on her bed in front of Musubi.
Musubi eyes were as wide as saucers. Material possessions meant nothing to her but she still experienced the same glee as everyone else at getting new things.
"There's two of everything," Musubi observed.
"Ha!" Uzume exclaimed with a triumphant grin, "there appears to be two of everything but that's not completely true. Let's take your sparring gear for example," she said, grabbing the two plain white shirts from the top of the heap. She examined the tags for a moment before adding a small black M to the back of one with a market she produced from her pocket. She handed the non-marked one to Musubi along with a similarly plain pair of small brown shorts.
"Put these on," she instructed.
With her usual lack of modesty, Musubi changed immediately in front of the girl, who busied herself putting the remainder of the clothes into neat piles, marking the tags of a few garments with a telltale m.
"Well, what do you think?" she asked when Musubi was changed.
"It's great," Musubi stated with glee as she stretched this way and that, throwing a few air punches just to be sure, "they're very easy to move in."
"That's what I was going for," Uzume said as she walked around her companion. The clothes struck a good balance between being sensible and loose while still pleasing to the eye, which wasn't difficult really when applied to the curves Musubi possessed. Pleased with her choices, Uzume returned to the pile of clothes to acquire the other white top and another pair of shorts.
"What you have on now is your regular training outfit. Nine times out of ten, that's what you should wear but there are times when you'll want to wear this other training outfit," she explained, indicating the garments she had in her hand. She could tell that Musubi wasn't really following her.
"Here, try them on and you'll see."
Without a hint of complaint, Musubi changed again as Uzume sat back on the bed watching her struggle a bit with this version of the outfit tagged with the hidden m.
"It's tighter," Musubi explained unhappily, as she tried to stretch again but found that the garment was struggling to stretch along with her, particularly over her chest.
"Well you see that's because this one isn't really for training."
Musubi frowned, clearly lost.
"You wear this for Minato," Uzume revealed.
"For Minato?" Maybe Uzume didn't know but Musubi wasn't going to train with Minato.
"Boys are easy, Musubi. If you ever want Minato to pay attention to you, wear anything here marked with an m. They're all about two sizes too small for you which means that they'll squash your boobs and make them look huge - or massive in your case. Minato might not say it out loud – but you'll be making him very happy," Uzume promised with a grin.
"Thank you Uzume," Musubi squealed as she launched herself at Uzume, wrapping her in a hug.
Uzume giggled, hoping she could be there when Minato saw his Sekirei wearing this ensemble for the first time.
Author's Note: This chapter was a massive, massive struggle and has undergone numerous changes (and I'm still not happy with this) but I'll go mad if I try and change it again. The huge chunk of exposition blah in the middle started life as a much longer conversation solely between Miya and Minato but Miya isn't very talkative at the best of times so I added Musubi to help. Turns out she's basically an airhead so Takami showed up to do the heavy lifting. There was another three pages of Takami explains it all that I ended cutting out, so bloated as it is, it could have been a lot worse. Having gotten the "explain things to Minato" bit out of the way, hopefully I can start doing the more interesting stuff where the story moves away properly from the original story. Next up is my version of Matsu seducing Minato, the Green Girl incident and Minaka putting his own wheels in motion.