[Kannazuki no Miko] Blinded

Blinded - Part I
A Kannazuki no Miko Fanfic
By Jen-chan
July 17 - August 4, 2006

DISCLAIMER: This fanfic was written with knowledge of Kannazuki no Miko derived from the entire twelve episode fansubbed series. The characters from Kannazuki no Miko that appear in this fanfic do not belong to the author and are being used without permission from their owners, who include Kaishaku and TNK.

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for the entire series exist in this fanfic. Do not read on if you don't want to know how the story ends.

LIME WARNING: This fanfic contains strong but non-explicit sexual themes and is intended for an older teen audience. Reader discretion is advised.

CONTINUITY NOTE: This fanfic takes place in the same universe as a previous KnM fic of mine, Finally Healing. No knowledge of that fic is required to understand this one, save for the following plot points:

1) This fic takes place when Chikane and Himeko are in their early twenties, fresh out of college. Chikane has been reborn as Miyahime Chikane. Still coming from a well privileged family, she has a budding career as a pianist. Neither she, nor Himeko (nor anyone else for that matter) retain memories of their previous written-over lives, save for fragmented dreams.

2) Otoha-san was in the employment of the Himemiya family until about the same time that Chikane returned to Japan from studying abroad. She is now employed as Chikane's maid and loving her job.

3) Souma and Makoto have fallen in love and are about to be married.

SYNOPSIS: An accident robs Chikane of her vision temporarily. The disability causes her to push those closest to her away. But they will not be so easily deterred...

Comments and Criticisms are greatly appreciated!

Author's Notes and Omake follow this fanfic.

Miyahime Chikane's screaming - shrilly, painfully - was a sound that Kurusugawa Himeko was never going to be able to forget. Nor would the sight of the usually tall, graceful woman, bent over in shock and searing agony, clutching at her flimsy plastic goggles as toxic chemicals meant for film development dripped through her bangs into her eyes, be a sight that would ever leave Himeko's memory again.

For the millionth time in the last two hours, as she sat shivering and hunched over on the cold, impersonal hospital bench, Himeko wondered how a simple outing to see her new place of employment could have ended so disastrously. Had it been a prank - a cruel trick played out of jealousy and resentment? Even amateur students knew that chemicals were to be kept in the bottom drawers, precisely to prevent what had occurred from ever happening. And, of course, all bottles were to be properly and tightly sealed at all times - that step was even listed on the safety checklist, posted on the darkroom door!

Oh why - why why why why why? - had that bottle of stop bath teetered twice and then fallen directly on top of Chikane's head, when Himeko had idly suggested to her lover to look in an overhead cabinet for paper towels?

Himeko heard Kisaragi Otoha sniff and out of the corner of her eyes, noticed the maid raise a white handkerchief to her face once more, silently weeping. Seeing the older woman's shoulders shaking so made the blonde photographer almost wish that Otoha would scream at her, or slap her again, as she had when she d first gotten to the hospital. The wordless accusations were far less bearable...

"Kurusugawa Himeko?"

Himeko jerked her head up and saw a white coated doctor gazing tiredly down at her.

Otoha leapt to her feet beside Himeko and grabbed the doctor's arm before Himeko even had a chance to stand up. "Doctor! How is Ojou-sama? How is she?"

The doctor gave the woman a slightly perturbed once over as if to ask who she was before sighing. "We were lucky that the safety glasses kept the entire bottle from emptying into her eyes, but as it is, there's still extensive damage. We managed to flush all of it out, and it's looking good for a recovery but you also need to understand that permanent blindness may also be a possibility..."

Otoha's face grew even more ashen. The doctor gave a yelp when she tightened her grip. "How can you say that?" She cried manically, "how can you even say recovery and permanent blindness in the same sentence? It doesn't make sense! You-"

Himeko didn't listen to the rest of Otoha's harsh words at the doctor as she quietly got to her feet and walked quickly passed him, into the room he had just exited.

Chikane sat in an ugly bed in the middle of the sterile room, her face turned away from the door. Himeko could see a piece of white gauze wrapped several times around her lover's head. Silently, she padded across the room. With a shaking hand, she pulled one of the chairs resting against the wall towards the bed, and sat down on it.

The scrapping of the chair legs against the floor finally prompted Chikane to start in surprise, sitting up straight and hesitantly turning to face the noise.

"Himeko?" Chikane's voice sounded quiet and unsure - uncharacteristic tones that caused Himeko's heart to wrench tightly. She opened her mouth, but as she noticed how Chikane was looking just to the left of where she was sitting, Himeko found that she wasn't able to answer her beloved's trepid call. Instead, as tears came unbidden to Himeko's eyes, she could only reach out, and timidly touch Chikane's hands, resting atop the thin sheets that covered the resting woman. Immediately, Chikane grasped Himeko's hands back, tightly, more than desperately.

The blue-black haired woman smiled gratefully and leaned back against the pillows that were supporting her. "It _is_ you, Himeko."

Words still refusing to come to her, Himeko could only nod, even though she knew the other woman couldn't see the affirmation.

Silence of a not entirely comfortable nature continued to permeate through the room, and though Himeko herself couldn't break it, she wished that Chikane wouldn't feel the need to break it for her. Listening to her lover speak so softly, and watching her try so valiantly to make everything seem all right, only made Himeko feel that much more despair.

"I'll be fine. I need to keep them bandaged and away from light for the next three weeks, and then the chances of a good recovery will be more than eighty percent." Chikane's voice grew ever softer. "It probably won't be a full recovery, but the doctors are confident that most-"

"I'm sorry."

Himeko finally found her voice as those tears in her eyes finally spilt over. They caused her hard found words to break and crack.


"I'm sorry! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" And now that she found her words, she couldn't seem to stop them. "I'm sorry! I shouldn't have... I shouldn't have... oh, gods, Chikane-chan, I'm so sorry...! This is all my... this is all my... fault..."

Himeko felt Chikane reach out for her, and eventually touch fingers against her face. They wiped away the tears that streamed down her cheeks, and then those fingers reached behind her head to pull her into a delicate embrace against Chikane's chest.

"Shh..." Chikane soothed. Himeko felt the warmth of her beloved's cheek atop her head.

"It wasn't your fault. It wasn't anyone's fault. Perhaps... perhaps this is just karma..."

Himeko shook her head furiously. "No! No, Chikane-chan, if karma were working properly, then this would never have happened! For everything... for everything you've done... you deserve nothing but the best. Nothing but happily ever after..."

The blonde photographer felt slight rumbles of mirth in Chikane's chest. "But Himeko, I already have my happily ever after. I have you, don't I?" Here, once again, Chikane's voice grew pensive in that way that made Himeko's heart ache. "You... you'll stay with me through this, won't you?"

Himeko's eyes widened before she squeezed them tightly shut again. She wrapped her arms firmly around Chikane's body. "H-how could you even question that? Of course I will!"

She felt more purr-like chuckles rumble through Chikane's chest. "Then everything will be just fine."

The confidence and security in her lover's voice tugged at the corner of Himeko's lips and she closed her eyes again. She hoped Chikane-chan was right. Dearly so.

In truth, Miyahime Chikane was not as certain as she had let her beloved to believe. Whilst she had listened calmly to the doctors speak about her chances, and had managed to relay the information confidently, almost nonchalantly, back to Himeko and Otoha-san when the maid had come into the room, she felt an acute sense of panic when the nurse shooed her most loved ones out of the room an untraceable length of time later, stating that visiting time was over many, many hours ago, and that the best thing they could do for Chikane was to let her rest.

Unfortunately, the 'rest' that the doctors claimed was so necessary to her recovery, was anything but restful. A myriad of disturbing images taunted and cackled cruelly at her. The most chilling dream was that of a malevolently spiraling maw of dark despair that kept engulfing her over and over whilst a deep booming voice proclaimed she would forever wander in darkness, a creature of the moon, separated from the sun, never to see daybreak again.

The worst part was that the voice was proved correct, when Chikane awoke to the sensation of someone shaking her arm, telling her to wake up, since it was already morning, and she couldn't make out anything at all save for an unending expanse of inky, lonely, blackness.

She clung desperately to whomever - whatever - it was at her arm, gasping plainly and feeling dizzy. "It's dark!" She cried loudly, her own voice shrill in her ears. "I can't see! Oh god, I can't- I can't...!"

"It's alright. It's alright, Miyahime-san. I'm right here. You're not alone."

Chikane continued to gasp. Gradually, mercifully, her memory came back to her, pushing the roiling horror in her stomach down. It still took several minutes - was it just a few minutes? Gods it was so hard to tell - more for her manically thumping heart to stop trying to leap out of her chest.

There had been an accident. She was in the hospital. Her eyes were bandaged and would remain that way for the next three weeks and six days.

Twenty-seven loooong and agonizing days...

Chikane tried to swallow, but her throat was parched and she ended up coughing. "T-thank you, nurse." She finally managed to place the voice that had awaken her. "I'm sorry. I... I forgot where I was."

"That's alright, it's perfectly understandable. You're doing very well." The voice was kind, but rather impersonal. The nurse must have said this a lot. "It's just a little bit past eight in the morning right now, and I've got some cream for your eyes. After we get you cleaned up a bit, would you like some breakfast?"

"Please, no." Chikane shook her head weakly. "I don't want food at all."

"Hmm... well, alright, but you're going to have to eat eventually, okay?"

Chikane nodded weakly. The nurse undid the bandages around her head, and took off the patches and coverings over Chikane's eyes, telling her to take care not to open them. Even though Chikane followed the nurse's advice, still she felt an almost searing and unbearable brightness through her eyelids. The nurse cleaned around her injury, and redressed her wounds.

"Alright, that should do it. I need to go make my rounds now, but is there anything else I can get for you? Headphones?"

Chikane felt a surge of fear run through her mind, but she refused to let it show. "Headphones would... be nice. Excuse me, Nurse, but how long must I stay here?"

"Hmm, I suspect they'll want to keep you here for observation for a couple more days, but I'll check for you, alright?"

"Yes, thank you..."

In the end, Chikane raised enough of a dignified fuss to convince the doctors to let her go home the next morning. She had never felt more relieved to return home than that day. A very tired sort of relief washed over her when she heard Otoha-san open the front door with a click.

"Welcome home, Chikane-chan!"

Hearing Himeko's unexpected voice caused much of the wariness in Chikane's limbs to dissipate. Her heart leapt happily into her throat.
"Himeko? Is that you?" She reached out blindly, panicking when she couldn't find Himeko right away. But soon, she felt her beloved gently grab her elbow. At the same time, Otoha-san reluctantly released her other one, and she could hear her maid step quietly back.

"Yes it is! I'm sorry I couldn't come with Otoha-san to pick you up from the hospital." Himeko s voice were sorrowful, and Chikane wanted very much to take that sorrow and fling it into the sun.

"It's alright," Chikane replied. She paused. "Shouldn't you be at work now?"

"The company is letting me take a leave of absence," Himeko explained quietly.

Chikane could almost hear what Himeko had left unspoken.

"Chikane-chan, I... is it alright if I stayed with you? Until you got better?"

Chikane felt a warm smile spread on her face. Really, why did Himeko even feel the need to ask! "Of course, Himeko. I would most appreciate it."

Though it wasn't exactly normal for a junior staff member to be able to take so much time off, unpaid or otherwise, Himeko's superiors were still trembling with fear at the prospect of a lawsuit. She moved into the guest bedroom in name, though in practice, she shared Chikane's bed every night.

Chikane spent her days eternally grateful for her lover's patient presence at her side, helping her to re-familiarize herself to her home. She felt an acute sense of helpless frustration when it took her the better part of two days for her to find her way through all the rooms in her home without help - not that Himeko or Otoha-san would let her be by herself for too long.

Night quickly became Chikane's favorite time. The darkness of night allowed her to forget that everything in her world was now dark, and as she laid together with Himeko, bodies lightly touching and voices low in quiet conversation, Chikane could almost feel like everything was alright again.

The incessantly upbeat and cheerful tone from Himeko's cell phone woke both she and Chikane up the next morning. Normally slow to rise, Himeko gave a murmur of protest when her lover rolled away from her, robbing her of that blissful, secure warmth only Chikane's arms could give. Cracking her eyes open just a smidge, it took a few moments for Himeko to recognize the other woman's form, blindly but patiently patting at one of the night tables for the black eye mask that rested there.

Himeko began to reach over to help the other woman, but the cell phone demanded instant attention. With a sigh, Himeko rolled over herself, swinging her legs reluctantly off the bed into a sitting position. She picked the annoying device off the night table on her side of the bed and sleepily silenced it with a flick.

"Mmmm?" Himeko asked as intelligently as possible at such an ungodly hour.

"Oh. My. God. Himeko, call that chorus of angels and let the trumpets of triumph blare! My life's journey is finally complete - I have found the _perfect_ centerpieces!"

Himeko crinkled her nose. "M-Mako-chan?" She croaked.

"D'uh! Who else gets away with waking you this early in the morning! For which I apologize! Erm, well, not really, but oh, Himeko, these little flower glaze glass thingies are just the cutest things I've ever laid eyes on! God, I wish you were here now, so you could tell me if I should go with the froggies or the dragonflies!"

Frogs? Dragonflies? Wish she were where now?

The last traces of sleep suddenly blinked clear from Himeko's eyes as her best friend's words finally registered in her mind. "Ohmigod, Mako-
chan! Your wedding!"

There was a pregnant pause over the line and Himeko could just _hear_ the ellipses of exasperation in Saotome (soon to be Oogami) Makoto's silence.

"Aaaalright, Himeko, this had _better_ be good. What. Do. You. Mean, 'omigod Mako-chan your wedding'?" There was a very dangerous halting in the normally cheerful brunette's words.

Himeko swallowed, hastily looking over her shoulder. Chikane had affixed the eye mask over the white gauze wrapped around her head, which had loosened precariously throughout the night. The pretty woman was looking in Himeko's general direction, head cocked cutely to one side, gorgeous hair in a sexy muss.

A pang of heartache flared briefly in Himeko's chest and she turned away from her lover. Cupping a hand over the microphone on her cell, Himeko spoke softly.

"Mako-chan, I... I don't know if I'll be able to make it..."


Himeko winced as she held the phone away from her ear. But before she could bring it back, she felt a familiar hand touch a shoulder blade timidly, then glide carefully up her shoulder and down her arm before grabbing the phone from her outstretched hand. "Chikane-chan!" Himeko turned to face her beloved who was already speaking into the device smoothly.

"Good morning, is this Saotome Makoto-san?" Chikane asked politely. "It's very nice to finally hear your voice, Saotome-san. My name is Miyahime Chika- " She paused and chuckled softly. "Y-yes, I suppose I am the infamous lover... yes, I've been looking forward to meeting you in person too, but, unfortunately, I was in an accident a few days ago and I don't think... oh, no, I'll be fine. I must be careful for the next few weeks, but I'll be fine... right. Yes, no, it's alright, I'd prefer not to go into the details but the point of the matter is that Himeko is worrying needlessly over me which is why she said what she did... no, you're perfectly right, as the Maid of Honor, she really must be there... yes... yes, that's right... Please take my most humble regrets at not being able to attend your most important day... oh, of course! Of course... yes, you take care now too, thank you. I'm going to hand you back. It was nice to speak with you, Makoto-san."

Chikane held the phone back in Himeko's direction silently.

The blonde stared at the phone and then at her lover and then back at the phone. Finally, she took it and placed it to her lips. "Mako-chan?" The brunette began speaking at a thousand words a minute, such that Himeko could only catch two in seven and wasn't able to interject with even one of her own. As she struggled to get Makoto's attention, she looked despairingly over at Chikane, whom had already carefully fingered her way out of bed, found a wall, and was following it with slow, precise steps to her ensuite bathroom.

"Mako-chan, please, I can't talk now," Himeko finally managed to break into the conversation. "I'm sorry, but I'll call you back, alright?" Not waiting for an answer, Himeko hung up and swiftly made her way over to the bathroom.

Chikane had already taken off the temporary eye mask and was attempting to unwind the gauze. Fresh protective coverings, gauze and a white blindfold were sitting on the sink. Wordlessly, Himeko reached up to help her lover, touching Chikane's fingers gently. Chikane gave a soft murmur of disapproval.

"It's alright, Himeko. I want to be able to do this myself."

The blonde woman warred with herself internally, refusing to retract her hand. "... but you don't have to." She lowered her eyes sadly. "You didn't have to do that for Mako-chan either..."

"You've been helping her with wedding plans for over a year now, Himeko." Chikane replied softly. "And you're her Maid of Honor. She needs you there. You'll regret it if you don't go."

"I'll regret it more if I'm not here for you when you most need me!" Himeko cried.

The awkward silence made the room feel thick and stuffy. Himeko could feel Chikane being to tremble. Suddenly, the tall woman whirled around, pulling her into a tight embrace. Himeko felt a moment of disorientation at the sudden movement.

"Please, Himeko. Let me be selfish? If I... If I never... I couldn't bare the thought of holding you back. Go. For me?"

And even though the strong, proud woman hadn't said it, Himeko could understand Chikane's deep fear through her trembling frame.

Himeko closed her eyes, and wished she could be as strong as her Chikane-chan was.

It was best this way. That was what Chikane kept telling herself as she sat at her piano bench, back ram-rod straight, fingers intertwined together and resting in her lap. The clock in the room bonged ten o'clock in the evening.

Five hours since Himeko had left to catch her train. Sixty one more until she'd come back.

What if her vision never returned? What if she was fated to a life of permanent blindness? Would she tether Himeko to her side forever? Doom her beloved to a life chained to an invalid?

As much as the thought haunted her, hurt her head and sent waves of nausea to her stomach, still Chikane forced herself to deal with the possibility. The risk and likelihood were far too high for her to put off planning for the eventuality until it arrived on her doorstep.

There was a quiet knock at the door, followed by the tell-tale click of it opening and closing. The soft sounds of slippered feet then padded across the room, stopping a few feet away from her. Chikane could feel the presence of her maid and turned to face her direction.

"Ojou-sama... it's really past time for dinner..."

"Thank you, Otoha-san, but I'm still not very hungry. Could you please give Chef my regrets?"

There was an awkward pause before Otoha spoke again, tone unsure. "Are you sure that's wise, Ojou-sama? I mean, you barely touched your lunch, and your afternoon tea is still sitting beside you..."

"I appreciate your concern, Otoha-san, but yes, I am fine." Chikane gave what she hoped was a soothing smile.

"If... you insist, Ojou-sama."

A moment later, and Chikane could hear the brief clatter of the untouched tray on the stand beside her being picked up.

"There were a couple of telephone calls earlier. Your agent would like to pass on the message to you that he is deeply regretful of your injury and would like to wish for your most rapid recovery. He will speak with the rest of the Fateful Night staff on Monday and the concert will be canceled."

Chikane nodded, turning back to face her piano. She wondered how agitated her agent was. Fateful Night was supposed to have been her first solo performance in Japan. Tickets had been sold out for several weeks already, and the buzz on the scene had been palpable. It was a pity; Chikane would have liked very much to have Himeko finally come to her debut.

"The second call was from Goshuujin-sama. Your agent felt it was pertinent to inform your parents of the situation and they will be returning as soon as they can."

Chikane frowned. That was rather odd. "I see. Do they know when they will return?"

"No. It seems that Goshuujin-sama is unable to leave negotiations with the Ogasawara Zaibatsu without suffering significant setbacks, so..."

Ah. The sounded more right. Whilst her parents had ensured that she received the best education and opportunities money could buy, their presence was one thing they could never seem to afford. She hadn't seen them in years. So, 'soon' was a very relative word.

"Thank you, Otoha-san." Chikane politely intoned. "If there's nothing else, then you may retire for the evening."

"Yes, Ojou-sama. Thank you." The slight clinking of the cutlery told Chikane that Otoha-san had turned around, but when the clinking continued, and the maid's presence continued to make itself known, Chikane turned to the other woman's general direction once more.


"Ojou-sama," there was more than a hint of nervousness in Otoha's voice. "Since... since you have so graciously offered me an early retirement this evening, may... may I request that I spent it in the accompaniment of yourself and perhaps a few ballads?"

Chikane lifted her eyebrows in surprise. "You'd like me to play for you?"

"If you wouldn't mind too terribly much..." Now Otoha's voice was almost gushing.

Chikane considered this before nodding. "Alright, I think I can manage that much. What would you have me play?"

The clinking sounds signified that Otoha had put down the dishes once more. There was a brief pause before Chikane heard her maid's voice again, this time further away, and to her other side, where she knew several comfortable armchairs were arranged. "Anything you desire, Ojou-sama, from your own repertoire, please."

The young pianist felt a small smile crack the face. "I've been practicing those for weeks on end, for the concert. Are you sure you're not sick of them?"

"Never, Ojou-sama." Otoha's voice was oddly vehement. "Never."

So Chikane accommodated, putting her fingers to the ivories. She began with the songs she'd first penned while in adolescence, the ones that had first gotten her noticed from amongst all the other faces, the ones that spoke of a haunting loneliness while trapped for an eternity of solitude, of a confused longing for an unrequited time that never was, of the ache of a painfully familiar face caught perfectly in a dream, yet rendered _just_ blurrily beyond recognition in life.

These songs were hit and miss. While some listeners found them brimming with delicious agony, others found the intensity too plain a force to contemplate. She hadn't played these songs in a while - ever since Himeko had walked into her life. She hadn't needed to, until now.

Her fingers took on lives of their own, dancing down unfamiliar paths, composing a requiem of regret by ear. Solemn notes chased fleeting moments of happiness through the wind, until they dissipated into emptiness. Strains of melancholy blew at candles of hope that struggled once, twice, and then were no more.

And as her fingers hit the final keys, and those notes sounded mournfully and faded to nothing, Chikane became aware of labored, forced breathing in the room.


Her maid made some hasty noises to try to calm herself but not before Chikane could tell she was crying.

"Otoha-san, are you alright?" Standing up from her seat, Chikane took several uncertain steps towards the sounds before stopping.

"That... that was beautiful, Ojou-sama." Otoha said hiccupped - her voice growing closer. And then Chikane could feel her maid grasp her elbow uncertainly. "It was new, wasn't it? I didn't recognize it."

Chikane nodded, suddenly feeling drained. She let her maid guide her out of the music room, feeling a small comfort that Otoha-san would know her desire to retire to her chambers. "Yes, I suppose it was."

"What do you call it?"

The pianist considered this silently for a moment.

Happiness followed by regret. Hope followed by loss. Wholeness turned to lonely dust.

There was only one appropriate name for this piece.

"Yahari." Chikane finally decided.

Yahari. As expected.

Silently, faithfully, Kisaragi Otoha helped her Ojou-sama to re-dress wounds, and undress clothing. Tenderly, she smoothed the healing cream that could mean the difference between future and death over swollen flesh, before ensuring that the gauze was tight enough to protect damaged eyes, while loose enough to allow her Ojou-sama a reasonably comfortable rest.

She brushed out Chikane's long hair lovingly, stroke by maddeningly careful stroke, until the blue-black curtain shimmered softly, seeming to dance in the dim glow of the room.

She put her charge to bed, pulling the covers up and whispering a soft goodnight.

She walked to the bedroom door, turned off the light, opened the door... and then shut it again. Then she silently waited for her eyes to adjust to the dark - wondering if this was what Ojou-sama's world was like - before sitting in one of the chairs that dotted Ojou-sama's room, and silently watched the beautiful woman sleep.

Chikane fell into a very deep sleep very shortly thereafter, and Otoha felt the knots in her chest relax ever so slightly as she gazed longingly at the peaceful expression on the younger woman's face.

One hour, two hours, Otoha couldn't tell how many hours had passed but she deemed it cruelly not enough before that peaceful expression she treasured so much was lost to groans of fitfulness and gasps of struggle.

Alarmed, Otoha headed over to her Ojou-sama's bedside immediately, feeling a great piercing in her chest that she could not sooth her most loved one's hurt beyond gingerly brushing aside Chikane's hair and cooing softly and wordlessly, without giving away her presence.

Otoha watched helplessly as Chikane tossed, hands clenching and unclenching, the nightmares relentlessly seizing her until all her horrors welled up into a tiny, child-like voice, begging, "Himeko... please... don't leave me..."

Otoha felt her heart crash into her stomach as she heard her Ojou-sama's plea. 'She's not here', she wanted to say. 'That foolish woman listened to your words, Ojou-sama, not your heart...'

But Otoha... Otoha knew how to listen to her Ojou-sama's heart.

Silently, she moved away from the bed, out the room and down the hall, careful to open and close the door with not a lick of sound.

She walked quickly to Kurusugawa-sama's room, went straight to the drawers and pulled out a pair of the blonde woman's pajamas. Moving purposefully, she went to the bathroom and undressed. Spying her Ojou-sama's most beloved's shampoos, body washes and perfumes, she carefully picked one up, and began to wash...

Himeko was dressed in a beige sweater and a teal blue pleated skirt. A string of pearls rested around her neck and her hair was done up in twin braids. It was a Himeko whom Chikane knew she hadn't met in this life. The girl was far younger than even when they had first met. But she was still unmistakably, irrevocably, her beloved.

Himeko's voice was soft, sweet, lovetorn. "You told me the story of the seashells before, right, Chikane-chan? How there's just one person waiting for me..."

Chikane smiled a bittersweet smile, glad the other girl was not looking at her, and yet also aching with the wish that the one Himeko saw in the distance was herself. "Yes, I remember..."

The corners of Himeko's mouth turned up shyly, heart-breakingly so. "I think that unique person waiting for me... might be Souma-kun. When I'm with Souma-kun, my heart races, so rapidly..."

And as Himeko's voice trailed off, Chikane felt her own shrivel up and die in her throat. Unbidden, unwanted, a cruel voice echoed through her head.

Your love, will never be requited...

Chikane swallowed. She impulsively grabbed Himeko and pulled her into a tight embrace against her chest.

Himeko made a noise of surprise. "Chikane-chan?"

"I'm happy for you," Chikane whispered. She kept her head lifted, gazing forlornly upwards as tears welled up in her eyes. "I'm happy for you..."

And then, suddenly, Himeko disappeared from her arms. Alarmed, Chikane looked wildly all around the room, before she saw her beloved standing a few feet from her.

Himeko's hair was shorter now; she was a few years older. She was *her* Himeko. She wore a regretful expression as she held onto her suitcase. She looked over her shoulder once, and then turned back to regard Chikane, eyes brimming with unshed tears. "Well then... if this is what you really want..." This was what Himeko had said before she'd left for the wedding. "Goodbye..."

Chikane clenched her fists.

No. Of course that wasn't what she wanted! How could it be?

"Himeko!" Chikane leapt forward, trying to grasp her beloved in her arms. Instead, she fell headlong into a spiraling, never-ending tunnel of black. There was nothing. Nothing at all but lonely, lonely darkness.

A dark, deep, cruel voice laughed at her as she fell.

You will never be with her again! Never! You threw away your chance and now, you will know nothing but despair!

Chikane lashed out desperately. "No! I will! I will! Himeko! HIMEKO!"

"Shh... Shhhh..."

And suddenly, Himeko was there. In the horror and the confusion and the dark, dark nothingness, she could feel her beloved holding her sweating, pitiful body. Himeko's scent filled her nose, powerful and sweet, smelling of summer and sunlight. Chikane could feel her lover's hands gently stroking her hair.

Chikane tried to swallow, throat dry. "H-Himeko?"

Her beloved continued to make soft, soothing noises.

Chikane choked back a sob. Oh gods, how pitiful she was. How could she ever have contemplating going on without her beloved? There was no life without Himeko! She buried her head into Himeko's ample bosom, wrapping her arms tightly around the other woman, inhaling her beloved's familiar,
signature perfume.

She could never let Himeko go. No. Never.

With trembling hands, she reached up, felt the side of Himeko's face and pulled her lover down into a deep, demanding kiss. The intensity of her need surprised the other woman - it was surprising even to Chikane herself.

Himeko resisted, jerking backwards, but when Chikane refused to let her go, she began to melt into the kiss, responding back.

With trembling fingers, Chikane pulled open Himeko's pajamas, causing stubborn buttons to pop. Her mouth and hands roamed over a body made almost unfamiliar by the trauma of her dreams.

She heard Himeko gasp, voice raspy and almost unrecognizable with throaty arousal. "W-wait! Chi-Chikannngh...!"

But Chikane could not wait. She silenced her lover with another kiss. She had to make Himeko hers. Hers and only hers.

To Be Continued

AUTHOR'S NOTES (Jan 2011 update) & OMAKE

Hi! Thanks for reading! This story was originally released in the summer of 2006 in 3.5 parts (3 full chapters, and one 0.5 lemony extract chapter). I'm just cleaning up some various typos, and putting it here for archive purposes. The rest of the chapters will be up over the next few weeks. Sorry, Muse-chan has sort of moved on to other fandoms, so I'm not sure if any more KnM ideas will be coming to me any time soon...

Thanks for reading!

And here are omake, because this fic, and KnM in general, have a lot of omake worthy moments...



OMAKE I - Someone's in a Good Mood...

[It is the morning after, and Chikane and Himeko are sitting at the dinner table waiting for breakfast. Whaddaya mean it doesn t make sense and Himeko's left for Mako-chan s wedding? Just ignore that for now. Chikane keeps trying to hide behind a massive newspaper.]

OTOHA: [rolls in on the morning breakfast dolly like a kid on a shopping cart] Goooood Morning! Isn't it a beeeeeaaaauuuuutiful day?

CHIKANE: [sweatdropping massively. Murmurs] Ohayo...

HIMEKO: [Surprised] Otoha-san... you're positively glowing!

OTOHA: [Puts a hand up to her cheek coyly] Aaaaaaaam I?

HIMEKO: [Slightly frightened smile] Y-yes? What's put you in such a good mood?

OTOHA: Ohohohoho! That, Kurusugawa-sama, is a secret! [Turns to grab food to put on table]

HIMEKO: [sweatdropping] Eheh... pwhispers to CHIKANE] I think someone got laid last night...

CHIKANE: [rips the paper in two with nervous energy] Itwasn'tmeiswear!

OMAKE II - Why They were in the Dark Room in the First Place...

HIMEKO: Chikane-chan... are you sure we should be doing this...? [putting print into developer with tongs]

CHIKANE: Well... would you rather we got these done by some teenager at Walmart?

HIMEKO: [wrinkles her nose] No... but... [pauses] Saay, you're fabulously rich! Why haven't you given me a digital camera yet?

CHIKANE: Uh... [sweatdrops]

HIMEKO: [Distracted] Oh! It's coming! It's...! [Looks at picture blushes profusely] ...

CHIKANE: ... wow. [grins stupidly at HIMEKO] See, I told you the handcuffs would be more dramatic than the whip!

HIMEKO: [continues to blush profusely] ...

CHIKANE: Hmm..., I shouldn't have zoomed in so much. I cut off your stilettos. Rats. And they were so cute on you too...