The Disclaimer: All characters in this fiction belong to their original creators, I make no claim to own anything from this work and certify I am certainly not making any money right now.
A few things to consider before we begin:
Warning! A warning in bold no less. This fiction carries directly on from Three Days, Five Steps. Unless you remember perfectly what happened, rereading the last chapter of the fiction would help you a lot.
Second, I would like to dedicate this chapter of my fiction to ArmorBlade - for the creation of the impressive fiction "Standing Between Luck and Oblivion" - a crossover with Oblivion though there is little need to have any actual knowledge about the game itself. Its a showcase in what can really be done when you decide to spit on convention and just go ahead and see what you can do with beloved characters if you try. I wish him many happy reviews in the future, and hope that he inspires more people to do some more AU type fictions.
Now, I hope that everyone enjoys my work!
Deep within the deliciously warm cocoon of blankets she had formed in her futon Konata found herself stirring again. Kagami had already woken her up a few minutes ago when she had gone to the bathroom, but the sleepy girl had quickly found herself snuggling back down into the comfortable haven that was her temporary bed – after discarding the sweaty tank top she had been wearing all night of course. She had only began to wake again when bangs and shouts erupted sporadically from the next room over.
"Heh... is Kagamin starting a fight or something?" She chuckled to herself at the thought. It was just like her Tsundere to get into a scuffle first thing in the morning. "It's gotta be with Misao." She said to herself knowingly, sinking back down into the depths of her blankets to try and recapture the dream she'd been enjoying The one with Mikuru in her bunny girl outfit getting caught in a splash of cold water.
She lay back with a wide contented look on her face, knowing that truly moments like this were what man and womankind alike were supposed to treasure. Warm, soft lie-ins with vaguely arousing dreams going by. Taking a deep calming breath Konata allowed herself to be lulled off to unconsciousness by her tired mind...
...Only to sit up like a shot as a high pitched scream reached her ears. It was muffled going through the walls but still entirely recognizable as Tsukasa – accompanied by unintelligible but undoubtedly aggressive-sounding voices. In seconds Konata was on her feet swinging the door open in her pyjama shorts and nothing else. There were more important things than dignity right now and besides, she always thought she looked pretty dignified even when she was half nude.
She was just in time opening the door to see Kagami with Misao in a headlock – yanking her out into the hallway with all her strength - the most furious expression the blue haired teen had ever seen plastered on her best friend's face.
"What the hell?" Was all Konata could say, staring shocked at the fanged girl being attacked. It was clear even with a glance she had taken a beating – her face was already swelling, one of her eyes was half-closed in obvious pain and blood poured generously from a wide jagged split in her lip. Despite all this however she still wore a wide grin on her face which only intensified when they locked gazes with one another – concern and confusion on one pair, mischief and maliciousness in the other.
"Wow... cold in here isn't it midget? Or are you just excited from flashing for me?" She asked her lecherously, licking her lip clear of blood and giving the best wink she could manage in her current state. "Maybe we need to go have some fun instead?" She laughed, then laughed even harder when Konata looked down at her semi-erect buds and pointedly refused to cover them up.
"Shut up!" Kagami growled and released her, not giving her former friend even a second to react before she shoved her away as forcefully as she could. Unbalanced on her feet, Misao squealed as she stumbled backwards awkwardly. Silence cut through the house like a knife as the fanged girl struck her head on the wall with a far-too-loud bang and went instantly quiet.
She crumpled immediately and slid down to the floor, completely still.
Her enraged former friend stood over her, fists clenched so tightly they were shaking.
Konata simply stood in the middle of the hall, the scene in front of her so completely incomprehensible she was having trouble coming up with a response. Slowly she felt the instinctive prickling along her neck and back that told her someone else was watching.
She span around.
Tsukasa stood in the doorway to her room. She looked almost like she had been dressed for a date, wearing a cream skirt, a cute matching shirt, and even what looked like the tiniest bit of make-up. She should have been beautiful. Instead Konata had never seen her looking worse.
Her other friend was literally as white as a sheet, trembling from head to toe. In her eyes tears had already begun to fall and her breathing was ragged – unsteady and as shaky as her stance. Worst of all though was that look of absolute fear directed towards the two other girls. Konata couldn't tell which one it was towards, but she could take a guess.
"Tsukasa? What's happened? Are you alright?" The young geek tried to get an answer using the calmest quietest voice she could, but the tiniest Hiiragi was completely unresponsive and seemingly divorced from reality. Her eyes didn't even move to look at her.
Konata quickly gave up, Tsukasa was completely unresponsive to her. Instead something that had been bothering the petite girl for the entirety of this bizarre experience suddenly decided to assert its dominance in her mind. A single overwhelming question in her thoughts.
'How the hell did Kagamin win this fight?' It came even before she was questioning what the fight could even be about. Had Kagami even thought of this yet? She doubted it. Nevertheless her favourite Tsundere was definitely the victor, if Misao was even conscious right now she still wasn't getting up soon too soon. But that was the problem – in that it made absolutely no sense. Misao was in a dozen clubs at school and Konata was sure at least one of those did some kind of martial art. Judo or something. Plus, from all accounts even before that had been an enthusiastic scrapper. In addition she was one of the more athletic girls Konata knew, running faster than even her and Minami in races and generally being the queen of any sports club she had time for.
Kagami was scrawny in comparison. The only real exercise she did was working at the shrine and cleaning floors didn't build much muscle - what's more Konata was pretty sure she'd never been in a serious fight in her entire life.
In the face of this one thing stood out even more than the rest. Alright, so maybe she could accept that someone fuelled by anger could defeat a trained fighter if they had a lot of luck on their side. But in Konata's opinion, there was no way they could do it over an extended fight whilst seemingly receiving absolutely no hits of their own. Kagami didn't have a scratch on her.
Every inch of logic in her head told the small girl that Misao wasnt supposed to be beaten black and blue like that.
Just as importantly, why was the one Tsukasa looking at in fear exclusively her own sister? She was almost sure now, after all it wasn't like anyone could be afraid of Misao in this condition.
"K-Kagamin?" She could hardly believe that under-confident stutter was really her own voice. She tried again. "What are you doing?" She tried to keep her tone level and calm, like how she imagined a lion tamer might when trying not to be consumed. Instead it came out shaky and the sentence just sounded bizarre. So completely unsuited for something this serious.
Her best friend turned to her with a look as if to say she could easily be next. "Wait in my room, I'm dealing with this." Every syllable was a growl, and the blue haired geek reminded herself that while she was athletic she too had no experience in fighting - and that Kagami was much bigger than her. She didn't expect her best friend to attack her of course... but it was still just something to think about.
"Kagamin... whatever she did you've probably given her a concussion. A doctor would be a really good idea." Konata couldn't help but suggest it. Alright so there wasn't any blood, but even she knew you had to be careful with bangs to the head. Misao could be staying silent so as not to provoke more pain, or she could be truly unable to speak – struck unconscious by the impact.
"I'm dealing with this!" Kagami almost screamed the sentence, and for the first time her short friend noticed pinprick tears in the corners of those beautiful blue eyes. "Go away!" The very act of being shouted at like that from her best friend made Konata take a step backwards with wide eyes. She had angered Kagami hundreds of times, but that voice had never been used and she'd never felt such ambient fear. The pigtailed girl pointed meaningfully to her bedroom door and gave her a look, one that said that arguing would be the worst idea in the entire world.
Konata almost wet herself just seeing it.
Without another word to her best friend Kagami grabbed a fistful of Misao's hair between her fingers, trying to pull her up to her feet with little success but much gusto – pulling so hard the girls entire body jolted. From the complete lack of pained screams it suddenly became terrifyingly clear to Konata that Misao's silence was genuine.
Just seeing that was the last straw.
Against her better judgement and every logical thought she could get together the otaku girl retreated back into the room she had come from, sparing one sympathetic glance for the youngest sister of the Hiiragi who didn't return it. She closed the door softly and leaned against it, her legs knocking together and her heart heavy with guilt. Guilt that she had abandoned Tsukasa to watch what she couldn't bare to. For though her thoughts told her to stay, her very instinct had wanted nothing more than to get out of view of that scene and keep it away.
There were more shouts from the other side of the door, and the occasional soft but urgent sounding voice that she guessed was Tsukasa, but Konata couldn't bare to try and figure out the words. She was freaked out by this entire thing. What had caused her Kagamin to go so over the top in hurting her friend? One that she had known for double the amount of time they had been talking with one another. When all was said and done, Kagami wasn't actually a violent person. Sure, she would give a light smack from time to time but that was just stuff between friends and it never really hurt. Certainly she hadn't started this fight - the idea was just impossible.
So what had been done to provoke her? What could be that terrible? Misao could be blunt and dense in her actions, she could even be overly-jealous and massively petty true enough. Even Ayano would admit that with a little pushing. But she wasn't known for over-the-top maliciousness, and that had been all Konata had felt in the little that had been said to her before the fanged girl was knocked out.
"Maybe I should call an ambulance..." She said to herself aloud, before recalling there wasn't a phone in this room.
For a few seconds Konata managed to get her mind off the trauma by dressing, getting out a simple pair of short pants and her favourite panda T-shirt from her bag, but it soon collapsed and sent her back to reality. The door had taken on a forbidding aura for her and for the first time she thought she knew what it was like to be grounded - an experience her doting father had never given his relatively well behaved daughter.
Sitting down on the bed she tried to keep her mind off of things for as long as possible, even thumbing through some of her friend's light novels out of a desire to think of something else. After twenty minutes of sighs and skim-reading however she began to consider anything had to be better than this.
Looking for something else to do she found herself peeping through the curtains out of the window, seeing the car was gone and wondering if any of the other people in the Hiiragi family were still in the house – hoping they were still in the house in fact. Of course, she had no idea what Misao had done exactly. Maybe if it had been enough to get Kagami so infuriated it would do the same to her? It had something to do with Tsukasa, that much was evident. But as for what she had no idea.
Her questions on Misao's fate were answered at least as she moved closer to the glass and her eyes widened. On the path leading up to the door there was a figure lying partly on the grass, only visible because she was so close. It was quite obviously Misao, along with her bags that had apparently been thrown on top of her.
'I wonder if Kagamin threw her out there or if she just crawled out and collapsed...' She thought. 'Actually which of those would even be better? Its either being unconscious so long that she's still out of it or that she collapsed again after waking up?'
Before she could try to see the extent to which she was harmed Konata hear a sound that made every muscle in her body tense in shock. It was the door handle being pressed.
By the time the door had even begun to open the curtains were closed again and the tiny high school girl was sitting on Kagami's bed looking as innocent as possible.
"Kagamin?" Her voice was just as timid as she felt.
"Hey..." Awkwardly, the pigtailed girl stood in her own doorway before closing the entrance behind her and sitting beside her friend on the bed. Immediately Konata's fear of her friend died. It was clear that she had calmed down a lot, well enough to not be dangerous anymore. "I threw Kusakabe outside."
"I saw her." Her friend answered. "What happened?"
"She... She did something."
"I guessed that." Konata replied blankly. "Was it to Tsukasa?"
"Do you want to tell me?"
"It's alright if you don't you know..."
"I have to... but... you have to promise not to tell anyone else. Not without Tsukasa giving you permission."
"I promise." She said truthfully. "What happened?" Konata stared at her friend intently before putting a hand around her shoulder with a friendly, though somewhat strained, smile. Usually it would have been thrown off immediately. In fact that was what Konata had been expecting, instead it was accepted and - some instinct in the smaller girl's mind told her - maybe even appreciated.
There was the awkward pause to end all awkward pauses. Kagami couldn't bring herself to say anything, Konata couldn't think of how to coax anything else out of her. They just sat together.
Eventually however the taller girl did speak, with a confused sound to her voice.
"Did you know Kusakabe was..." She paused again, taking a breath and repeating herself. "Did you know Kusakabe was gay?"
"No, I didn't." Rapidly pieces were coming together in Konata's mind. Suddenly the crime was being narrowed down and she felt herself filled up with dread. Not to mention guilt at the fact she wasn't just worried for Tsukasa now, she was worried at what this could mean for herself.
"When I walked into Tsukasa's room Kusakabe was on top of her. Holding her down." Kagami's tone was artificially calm. Konata had to wonder how hard her best friend was working to keep from breaking down.
"I don't really know what to say..." Konata said truthfully. "H-How far..." She didnt want to finish, but it seemed like her best friend had understood.
"I think i got there before anything too bad could happen..." She said, and joy flooded into Konata's heart to hear some positive emotion injected into her friend's voice if only for a brief moment."But if I'd have been just five minutes later then..." She trailed off, gritting her teeth.
Konata watched as Kagami's hands clenched into fists. She was beginning to understand the violent reaction, and wonder how she might have reacted given the same situation.
"Is Tsukasa okay?" It was hard to hide the worry in her voice, though she tried. Maybe she didn't have the sisterly bond going, but she loved all her friends and even she felt protectiveness when it came to the youngest in their group. '
"I-I think so..." The purple haired girl sighed. "I don't think she fully understood what Misao was going to do. So that's probably good at least."
"How do you know she wanted to go so far?"
"She... she said something to me. Something I don't think Tsukasa would have understood."
Konata didn't ask what that something was. The simplicity of that sentence was enough to tell her there was no way Kagami was repeating it. Neither did she point out that Tsukasa knew a lot more about mature things than anyone would expect – because there was no way in hell she was prepared to take the one piece of comfort Kagami had away. Or admit to her that she had been privately educating her sister in naughty lingo. 'I'll have to talk to Tsukasa-chan when I can though. This is important."
"So what happens now?" Konata asked.
The taller girl shrugged.
"I don't know really. Tsukasa made it clear she didn't want me calling the police, but I can't just forget about it." Kagami punched her bed apparently on reflex, growling under her breath. "It just doesn't make any sense. I've known Kusakabe for years! She's never shown any signs of being like this!"
"Like what? A rapist or a lesbian?" Konata questioned.
"Both!" Her friend shouted back, feeling her grip on her emotions slip. "I've never even seen her look at another girl before!"
"Well have you ever seen her look at a guy?"
"No..." Kagami seemed to trail off, but in truth she was running through her memories of her friend. "I... I don't really know her that well if I'm honest... I don't even know if she's ever dated anyone." Her voice was pathetic, it just made Konata want to hug her. In other times she would have made a comment about Kagami acting like a Tsundere, switching from angry to sweet so quickly. She sensed now was no the time however.
"I thought you've known her for years though." The otaku asked, frowning a little with confusion.
The awkward silence that followed was Konata figuring out that the years had probably been Kagami ignoring the fanged girl as best she could. 'No wonder she missed something this big. Hell, for all I know this might have been what Misao sees as revenge.'
"Do... Do you even like her?" Konata asked incredulously.
The awkward silence came back. Konata still wasn't sure what the answer was, somehow she didn't even think Kagami was.
"Maybe we should talk to someone who does know her then?" The smaller girl offered.
"You mean Minegishi?"
"I don't think she'd even believe me." Kagami told her, putting one hand on her now beginning to ache head. "The two of them have been best friends since they could speak. How do you tell someone their best friend is capable of something like that?"
"It depends on if they already know or not."
Konata watched as realisation dawned on Kagami's face and the Tsundere turned to look at her.
"You don't think Minegishi knows she can do this? Do you?"
"I don't have a clue, but its always possible." Konata shrugged, leaning back on the bed to think. "Knowing someone for that long you've gotta get a good enough idea of what they're prepared to do."
"I'm... I'm going to call her..." The schoolgirl reached to her drawer and looked through it before pulling out her mobile phone.
"You might want to start with the lesbianism. That's the less shocking of the two at least."
"Well, she did say 'who needs boys' last night. That's kind of an indicator that someone isn't into penis." Konata laughed aloud as her friend turned strawberry red in front of her at the crude language, then dodged at the fist aimed at smacking her head. "Ooh. Still in the violent mood eh Kagamin?" Konata was glad though. That reaction was a sign they were returning to the normality she craved – and back to the Kagamin that she loved to tease.
"This isn't the time to joke." She growled, advancing on the small girl as she play-cowered.
"Look, you need to calm down." Konata advised from her foetal position. "You protected Tsukasa, and from what you've told me she's fine. You need to stop worrying about what could have happened and start just making sure it wont happen again." A blue-haired heard popped up with a gentle smile for her. "You've been a good sister today. A little over the top, but good. You don't need to be this stressed out."
"You really don't think it's that bad?"
"Of course not! Tsukasa will be over this in a few days, promise." Konata said confidently, hoping she was right.
Kagami's angry expression fought to remain, but eventually it lost. Instead being replaced with a grudging smile back at her.
"Thanks... I guess you are right. No permanent damage was done..."
"Well, except to Misao herself. Remind me never to get on your bad side." It wasn't a very good joke, and in reality Konata was hoping the fanged girl wasn't too badly injured even if she did attack Tsukasa. But maybe it would be a good lesson for her too.
"You're lucky I like you, or I'd be hitting you instead." The pigtailed girl told her. "And I'm calling Minegishi before you try to turn that into an innuendo."
Kagami pressed the quick dial and lifted the mobile to her ear, standing against the wall as it rang.
Konata got up as well, seeming to wander aimlessly round the room but in reality slowly approaching the window, opening the curtain to glance through whilst Kagami was looking the other way and preoccupied.
Relief flooded into her when she saw that Misao was no longer on the lawn. Wherever she was presumably she still had the brains left in her head to walk.
She moved away before her best friend saw what she was doing.
"Hello? Minegishi?" She asked, her voice obviously nervous. "Sorry to bother you, but Konata and I... well we've found something out about Kusakabe." Pause. "Yeah, you probably wont believe us but... it's definitely true." Another pause. "No, she didn't mention you. Should she have? Are you involved?" This pause was much shorter than the others had been. "Minegishi?"
"She hung up?" Konata guessed from the look of utter surprise on her friends face.
"Yeah." Kagami replied, confused. "I'm redialling." She pressed the button, and waited for a result. "It says she cant be reached."
"Then she panicked and turned her phone off." The shorter girl deduced. Not very smart really, since it would only make her look more suspicious.
"She must have." Kagami agreed, though hardly believing it herself. "This is getting really strange."
"It all points to one conclusion though."
"Ayano knows something. I'm going to guess its either about Misao liking girls or her having an evil side. We just don't know which one."
"I really can't imagine Minegishi would be such a good friend with her if she knew Kusakabe could do this sort of thing."
"Yeah, you're probably right. So that means she knows she's a lesbian." Konata concluded – looking intensely pleased with herself. It looked like playing detective visual novels was paying off. And if they were erotic detective visual novels, then that was fine too. "Not that surprising. I think a person should be able to tell when their best friend likes girls."
"I can't believe they both hid that from me..." Alright, it was understandable if Misao was going to keep it from her, but to tell one friend and not tell the other? That was just hurtful. Okay, so it was Ayano, so the two had been best friends since their first day of school, and she was the first to admit that perhaps she wasn't the best friend she could be to Misao, but still…
"You um... you did hear me right?"
And how had Ayano kept this from her? Ayano was a terrible liar. Beyond terrible in fact. It wasn't that she couldn't make them up, it was that she couldn't maintain them. Even with the smallest lies, after a day she would be fidgeting so much that it was obvious she was hiding something, and just talking to her was enough to make her jump. Just like Tsukasa. Kagami could read either of them like a book, or so she had thought.
Konata sighed. "No? Alright then." No use, she was too deep in thought to pay anything but fleeting attention to her.
"Sorry, did you say something?"
"Forget it, it doesn't matter."
"Alright then..." Kagami frowned, absolutely sure she had heard something. In the end she dismissed it however, there were more important things than another one of her best friend's stupid background comments. "So what do I do now?"
Konata looked at her and shrugged meaningfully.
"Do what you always do."
"What do you mean?" Kagami asked.
Konata smiled at her warmly. "Just be a good sister."
Now, I hope that get's you interested for more. Don't worry everyone, this fiction is not going to be all dark drama. Im hoping for some interesting constrasts between fluffy-wuffy-ness and dramatic friendship and relationship tension.
And of course, we'll get to see how Misao's short term plan begins to spiral beyond her own control. All this and more, in the next episode of this thing!