Disclaimer: I own nothing.
AN: I'm pretty sure this fits in badly with the canon timeline (among other canon details) in just about every way, so I'm just going to say that this is mildly AU.
Setsuna liked to think that she knew better than to get into fights with the older Shinmeiryuu students. They were stronger, more experienced, and much, much bigger than she was. Anyone with half a brain could tell that someone with her skill had no business even attempting to match theirs outside of an official match.
So what, she wondered, rubbing her bloody knuckles, had she been thinking? She was lucky her head was still attached to her neck. Plunging into a brawl where only one of the combatants was younger than her wasn't an intelligent move by anyone's standards.
Her eyes darted over to the blonde girl that was sitting in the chair next to her. The girl who seemed to have something to do with her emerging suicidal tendencies. Tsukuyomi? Was that her name? Setsuna wasn't sure. They'd never had an actual conversation. Or a lesson together. Or spent multiple seconds in the same room before now.
…And yet, for some reason, when Setsuna had caught sight of the girl's guileless, bloodthirsty eyes smiling out at her from the small mob of angry swordsmen, she'd found herself getting involved in a fight that had absolutely nothing to do with her.
Not that she would have just let them murder the younger girl—who had obviously done something to make their upperclassmen consider her worthy of a very bloody death—but actually throwing punches just because of that—that look in her eyes?
Setsuna glanced back at the now humming Tsukuyomi, feeling a little lightheaded. How could someone covered in that much of her own blood be so cheerful? Or conscious?
The humming stopped, and Setsuna's eyes flickered back to her hand before she was caught staring.
"Thank you for the help, Setsuna-senpai," Tsukuyomi chirped. "I know fighting like that isn't really something you like."
Setsuna shrugged awkwardly, not quite sure how to respond to that. Tsukuyomi started humming again. For some reason, Setsuna found the disruptive noise more awkward than thinking about why a complete stranger knew anything about her fighting preferences.
"Why'd they attack you?" She blurted out, still avoiding looking at the younger girl. She wasn't sure what starting a conversation with Tsukuyomi would accomplish, but it had to at least put a stop to the humming.
It did. Before Setsuna could even breathe a sigh of relief, the blonde laughed lightly and threw something soft over her bleeding hands. A feather smeared with blood. It was white.
Setsuna's heart started beating so hard that she barely heard the words coming out of her companion's mouth.
It wasn't hers, right? She hadn't—no, she hadn't flown in years. The last time she'd even had her wings out… that was before Eishun-sama found her, wasn't it? Way before Tsukuyomi could've gotten her hands on… There was no way that was one of hers. It couldn't be.
Tsukuyomi's voice grew clearer as Setsuna's heart started to fend off the shock of seeing the feather. "—really upset that someone went to the trouble of slicing up his poor pet crane. They saw me with that and decided that I had something to do with it."
Setsuna flipped her hand up and ran her fingers over the soft feather. "And did you?"
Somehow, even without looking at the girl, Setsuna knew that Tsukuyomi was smiling. "I can understand why they thought that, but I didn't get that feather from his crane."
"Why's it covered in blood?"
"Because I got it from another bird," Tsukuyomi answered happily. "One I did slice up."
Setsuna felt her eyes drifting over to stare at the blonde of their own volition. Tsukuyomi's perversely innocent smile met her gaze, and Setsuna felt a shiver run down her spine. This girl… there was something very off about her. More and more, Setsuna was wishing she had just left Tsukuyomi to her fate at the hands of their upperclassmen. She should've known better than to help someone who looked like she was actually enjoying swordsmen twice her size trying to kill her.
What had she been thinking?
"The ones with lighter feathers are more fun." Tsukuyomi reached out her hand and caressed the bloody feather, wrapping her fingers around Setsuna's. "With darker feathers, it's harder to see the blood. And if you can't see the blood… well. There's just no point then."
Setsuna nodded blankly, not really processing the words. Tsukuyomi's free hand moved up to cup her cheek. They stared at each other for a moment. Setsuna could practically feel the air thickening with tension. Her body felt like it was waiting for something. Anxiety and adrenaline were rushing in her veins.
"You have really soft skin, Setsuna-senpai," Tsukuyomi crooned. "Pale, too. If I cut into you, I'd be able to see every drop of your blood, wouldn't I?"
Setsuna untangled their hands and jerked backwards so quickly that she nearly sent herself tumbling off of the chair. To keep from damaging herself further, she shot to her feet, at least a yard away from Tsukuyomi. The feather floated to the floor, ignored by both of them. Setsuna kept her eyes fixed on Tsukuyomi's face. The girl looked like she didn't have a care in the world.
And abruptly, Setsuna knew why she'd gone out of her way to help the blonde girl. That happy innocence, as unfitting as it was, was something she'd only ever seen in Konoka's eyes. An innocence that Setsuna was willing to do anything to keep safe.
…It was disturbing, recognizing such a precious piece of her friend's heart in a girl like this.
Setsuna gritted her teeth and walked forward, inadvertently crushing the feather. Standing up, she towered over Tsukuyomi. She doubted intimidation would work on the girl, but anything that could help to quell the fear that had taken root the moment Tsukuyomi touched her was welcome.
"I'll never let you get close enough to find out."
Any response Tsukuyomi might have made was cut off by the healer finally entering the infirmary. Setsuna immediately took her place back in her seat, moving it a few inches away from the blonde girl. No, she certainly wouldn't let Tsukuyomi get close enough to hurt her. And even if they did end up fighting, she'd win.
It was an emotion she'd keep buried for as long as she possibly could, never letting it out, but for that moment, Setsuna let her head ache with the acknowledgment.
Tsukuyomi scared her.