A/N: Hello all. Before I go on, let me just say one thing: no, the M rating is not a guarantee of lemons. It's more or less a precaution; romantic situations are going to get a bit spicier than they did in OSW. That doesn't mean lemons absolutely won't happen, though; we'll just have to see.
Speaking of which, these drabbles aren't necessarily romantic in nature, either. Yes, the majority of them will lean that way, but don't be surprised if some have Ragna and Tsubaki at each other's throats. In fact, you can pretty much expect a few like that.
Some of these drabbles will have 'OSW' as part of their name. As you might guess, these take place in the same continuity as On Strange Wings. If you haven't read it, you might be somewhat confused as to what's going. Okay, I think that's enough talking for now. On to the drabbles.
For the third day in a row, she sat beside his comatose figure, gripping his hand. Still as a corpse, she observed every detail; the tapestry of pain carved into his face, the bend at the bridge of his nose, and the great trench ripped into his belly, the crown jewel of his wounds. Most would refuse to look at such a gash; she had no qualms directing her gaze at it anymore.
With a sigh, Tsubaki closed her eyes in thought. Three days ago, she had awoken with a splitting headache to the news that in spite of her efforts, in spite of Makoto and Tager arriving, Ragna's chances of survival were miniscule. At best. Litchi's words had been the emotional equivalent to a wrecking ball slamming into her. Without waiting to hear her own prognosis, Tsubaki had headed straight for Ragna's side, tearing up when she saw him. She had refused Litchi's demands to leave, to let the doctor operate on him without interference. Instead, she had remained at his side in silence, watching as Litchi stitched up the deepest cut.
Litchi had gone outside afterward; no one had seen her since, and a distraught Linhua was left to finish treating Ragna. And through it all, Tsubaki didn't budge, his hand in her iron grip. The only times she had left were to eat and sleep, a fact Makoto teased her about every time she stepped out. "Just admit you're totally crushing on him already; it's even more obvious than with Jin."
Her instinctive denials did nothing to dissuade Makoto, nor did she expect them to. But once she was away from her friend and had time to internalize the jibes, she couldn't help but admit there was truth to Makoto's words. Even now, despite Ragna's state, she could feel the same pull that once called her towards Jin in her academy days.
She sighed at the thought of Jin, the first sound she'd made since coming to Ragna's bedside that morning. Probably the first time she'd moved, too. What she'd felt towards Jin...it had gone well beyond simple friendship. Of course, nothing ever came out of it. There had been many times when something could have if either of them had willed it. So, if they were so close to love, why couldn't she have told him? Was it due to her reserved nature, a product of noble upbringing? A certain brand of shyness? Perhaps a subconscious desire to always see him as a brother, and nothing more? She doubted she could ever be sure. Over and over, as she lay waiting for sleep, she convinced herself that she would kick her whatever was holding her back tomorrow. And then, with minimal warning, Jin was gone, swept up by the Ikaruga Civil War to become a hero, leaving her behind. That mythic 'tomorrow' eternally on her mind disappeared forever.
And now, here she was, faced with the same dilemma. Tsubaki knew damn well that she cared for Ragna, that her feelings for this man she met less than a week ago ran deeper than they had any right to. He'd shown care towards her even when she was convinced she could never not hate him, and she'd responded by risking her life to save his. There was no doubt in her mind that what she felt was shared by Ragna. She wanted to find out for herself to what exact depth they rooted themselves, to see if there was any chance Ragna would reciprocate. But...what if I can't bring myself to tell him? What if it's Jin all over again? After all, a woman of her social stature shouldn't just throw herself at a guy she had met days earlier. And besides, what if he rebuked her advances? What if doing so damaged the friendship they had built in such little time? What if...
The door opened, and Tsubaki didn't have to look to know who had just entered. Makoto strolled up to her, concerned for her friend. "Hey, Tsubaki? Um, just thought I'd let you know it's after two."
Tsubaki blinked. "Already?"
The comforting touch of Makoto's hand on her shoulder preceded the beastkin's response. "Yep. You've been in here all day. Again. Why can't you admit you like him?"
"Well, of course I like him..."
"No, I mean like him like him. You know, like with Jin."
"I...don't like him like that..." A bold-faced lie, and Tsubaki knew she wasn't fooling Makoto in the slightest. "He's just a friend."
"Uh-huh. Sure. A friend you'll get yourself killed for."
"He's the best hope we have. I couldn't just let him die..."
"Okay, so you have a case of hero worship towards him."
"That doesn't explain why you won't leave his side. Won't let go of his hand." She smirked. "Admit it~."
Tsubaki sighed, knowing she was defeated. "Why are you being so pushy about this?"
"Look, Tsubaki. I just want you to be happy, and I remember how devastated you were when Jin was sent to Ikaruga."
"...It was that obvious?"
"Eh...to me, yeah. I don't think anyone else, except maybe Noel, really noticed. But anyways. I don't want to see you go through that again, so here's what you're gonna do when he wakes up. You're gonna take him in your arms and tell him just how you feel about him. Oh, and then smooch him. Right on the mouth."
The suggestion left Tsubaki's entire face burning. "What? No! I'm not about to do something like...that."
"Well, that's what I would do..." Makoto shrugged. "But anyways. I'm gonna keep being pushy about this until you realize that if you don't make a move, it'll be your schoolgirl crush on Jin all over again. Just give it a shot before it's too late."
"...I'm going to get lunch." Tsubaki stood up and headed towards the door, her mind not too concerned with food. "...I suppose I should bring something back for Ragna. You know, in case he wakes up while I'm out."
"Cool. Just remember to hold the pickles this time; I don't really care for them."
"It's not for...never mind." Tsubaki smirked as she left the clinic. Might as well get a sandwich tailored to Makoto's taste; there was little chance Ragna would awaken, after all. Without warning, without thinking about what she was doing, she came to a stop in the middle of the street. Makoto was right; she had to let Ragna know how she felt. This was more than an academy-days crush. She had stood at the gates of Hell with him, had protected him from the devil made flesh. She had put her life on the line, going beyond what was reasonable.
Whenever Ragna woke—as he would, no way he could die on her now—she would show him, in private intimacy, that her feelings for him went beyond friendship. Whether they had become romantic in nature, she needed to find for herself. And she would not cast her hopes on a phantom tomorrow, for it was not guaranteed that such a thing existed.
A/N: For some reason, I'm not too sure about this one...