A/N: Alright, happy Christmas in advance! I have around 8 chapters, and no idea how I can get these in during Christmas break, let alone on the 25th. Darn. I just hope I can let the 25th have a good break point in these.
A bit of clarifications, mostly for the IRL friends who read the first chapter:
-"Hikari" and "Kyouko" are the original names of Konno-sensei's side characters in the Marimite novels. Since their story meshes so well, I decided to keep the names. No, there is no intentional StoPanic/Madoka references.
-"Chelsea Dagger:" Anyone from Vancouver or Chicago who knows anything about hockey should get the reference, wince, and realize that's how much I care for Kannazuki's inclusion of mecha.
-Speaking of mecha, in the omake, I intended for the "winged angel robot" to be Super Robot Taisen's "Angelg" piloted by Lamia Loveless. Of course I should have realized that Wing Zero would be most people's default.
Anyway, please read and review! Thanks Dezo for the reviews and encouragement, but I'm a bit concerned with the quantity (1) of reviews. I think it's because I'm in a subsection of crossover fanfics which limits the average-Joe browser…but it's really difficult to see how this could be in a purely Kannazuki or purely Marimite setting. Oh well, on with the show…
Her name, called familiarly; was it called so in some forgone time?
"Hikari." More insistent now. Hikari shuddered as her name penetrated her darkness.
Hikari instantly snapped into full consciousness as she sized up her caller...
Facing the bemused dreamer (and most likely the source of her newly-tweaked nose) stood the beaming third-year senior, Satou Sei, Lillian's white rose.
"Haha, that already sounds so auspicious! But really, what say you?"
"What...wha..?" Hikari's daydreaming earned her nose another flick.
"Honestly, what should we do with you, Hikari-chan?" Sei smiled at the flustered 'caught-daydreaming-again' look on Hikari's guileless face. "I said, will you help me in the ceremony?"
That's right. Tomorrow was the opening ceremony and Hikari had been asked to assist Sei, holding blessed Marian medallions in stock as fitting for boutons to do. Of course, Sei had no imouto, so Hikari often acted as placeholder 'Rosa Gigantea en bouton.' The new second-year's face flushed as she recalled the first time ordinary Hikari-chan was summoned to Rose Mansion. Sei's oneesama, like a master shepherdess beckoning a stray and purposeless lamb, invited her to the Rose Mansion Hikari heard about seven years ago in a dream.
It was all a dream. A dream unrealized and swept aside by cold winter reality.
One year ago on yet another disillusioned day for Hikari, something awoken her from her midday daze. Something... rather someone seemed even more lost than her. A distraught someone.
"I told you that you don't need a soeur..."
"...no, oneesama, I told you I need to do this for myself."
"Sei. I didn't force you into doing this. This is something that you decided for yourself. If you take Hikari-chan, then please take responsibility for your actions until the end."
"I understand. Huh, with that encouragement, now I know this is something you wish, and something I must do."
"...ojou-sama, could you come with me for a second?"
"I'm not the best person. And I cannot take a petite soeur right now. But, but could you stay awhile?"
Contact du coeur.
"...I...I like your face."
Two dream-ridden blondes faced each other. Unbeknownst to either, each carried loss; one from a week-old divorce, the other even from someone who never was. And then agreement. First Sei's, then Hikari's hand clasped together and formed a bond not of sisterhood but of solace and friendship.
Then a tentative smirk that grew with each word.
"...Our weakness looks too similar. Lillian can't have two weepy emo ojou-samas around. Let's go, Hikari-chan!"
Hikari hadn't a clue what Sei said or where she was being led. But the next day, Sei cut her princess-length hair and became a completely different person.
"May the Virgin Mary protect you."
Hikari glowed with pride as she took her place beside Rosa Gigantea. Even if she was a mere placeholder, being on the same level as the boutons of her year was an amazing honour. Hikari-chan mentioned in the same breath and on the same pedestal with Sachiko and Rei? Unthinkable reality.
Beside Eriko, Rei was nervous. She wasn't overtly fidgeting, but her distant eyes betrayed the dashing bishounen image she fought to maintain. She was worried not about anyone at the ceremony, but about the one not attending. Sachiko, her best friend, easily saw it. Even Hikari, though more through her remarkably simple intuition than knowledge, saw it. Eriko obviously saw it, stifled a chuckle, and settled everything with a sidelong whisper, "What would Yoshino-chan think if she saw you?"
Rei involuntarily deflated and faced her beaming oneesama. Despite herself, a small, wry grin crept up her handsome features.
"..Rei-chan, you idiot... And...thank you."
Closer to Sei and Hikari, Youko and Sachiko had no such nervousness. Sachiko in particular exuded a queenly grace that evoked the solemnity and beauty of the ceremony, of Lillian, of Maria-sama herself. Yet Youko still wasn't satisfied.
"You know, you could at least try to smile, Sa-chan."
It might have been the criticism or the childlike nickname: only Youko knew for certain what drove Sachiko, but it had the desired effect. Sachiko's eyes flashed momentarily with anger and then outraged competitiveness, but finally regained her regal aura as she adjusted her face to meet Youko's demand. Her half-hearted smile fell upon a timid and petite brunette whose awkward sincerity made Sachiko's heart melt and her smile truly genuine.
The first-year's answering smile was radiant.
"Hey, that first-year acts just like you, Hikari-chan,"Sei bantered to her substitute imouto.
"Exactly. That face. Everything shows on that face. I hope I can have some fun with her."
"Oh come on now, I already said I like your face; that's why you're here." Sei's finger reflexively went to tweak Hikari's ear as she began, "Although a sunny smi...ara?"
Sei's train of thought, action and words were derailed and crashed cliff-long as she saw someone across the crowd of new students. Hikari also turned to see what had caused Sei's uncharacteristic reaction.
She never got there.
Looking directly ahead, three beautiful girls assembled to receive their medallions. The first, a mature yet seemingly-fragile brunette first-year stood facing Youko, unaware of Sei's penetrating gaze upon her. The second with cropped jet-black hair and mischievous green eyes moved with a catlike grace. Those eyes coupled with a wide white headband reminded Hikari of Rosa Foetida, and her intuition was proven correct when the newcomer nudged her classmate, sauntered to Eriko and winked, receiving one in return.
"Toudou Shimako. Torii Tsuki. Mita Kyouko."
That left Hikari with the final, fateful newcomer, and her eyes widened. Reality faded as her sight blurred into vision.
It was crowded there too, but she was instantly recognizable. Hikari first saw the cascade of silken blue-black hair dancing in the wind, and then the lithe and perfect body girded in an immaculate white one-piece dress. Again her eyes widened as they travelled up from her toned abdomen, beyond her shapely chest and finally rested on the pink half-shell pendant around her neck.
It's her. Kyouko. It has to be.
Elated, Hikari faced Kyouko, and even amidst the entire background of bustling traffic she instinctively reached to the girl of her dreams for a loving embrace...
The scene changed before they could reach. Hikari first saw the change in her counterpart's clothing: from a pure white dress to a strange and oddly familiar red and white costume. Startled, she looked down and saw herself identically garbed save with violet substituted for red. Both wore swords. Kyouko smirked, and in a single acton drew her blade and slashed across Hikari's…
It wasn't a violence that snapped Hikari out of her reverie, but a tight shoulder squeeze from Sei.
"Oi, Hikari-chan. A newbie can't make you that jumpy. And you're not heavy, but I really don't want to fall holding you like this…" Hikari blinked, looked behind her, and realized she had jumped back into a rather awkward position supported by Sei. Stumbling forward, she wordlessly handed a medallion to Sei and smiled at Kyouko, as if to say that nothing happened. Kyouko smiled back, but in her stormy sapphire eyes, Hikari could see that her previous involuntary flinch had affected her too.
She couldn't remember anything else from that ceremony whatsoever.
Looking at the school registrar's reports after the ceremony, Hikari stumbled upon "Mita Kyouko." She had entered Lillian for high school and was a very talented woman. A quiet and mild person, she herself said it was an accident how she entered Lillian, although it was well known that entering high school was several times more difficult than entering at middle school. Hikari resolved to find more information on this lady.
Youko Mizuho, Rosa Chinensis and widely-accepted student leader, repeated the name, troubled. She looked at Hikari with a peculiar, sad expression.
"Mita Kyouko-san. Kyouko... Hey, Kyouko is the name of your dream oneesama, no?"
"I see." Youko seemed to age ten years at a moment's pause, before giving a cryptic reply,
"I don't want to see you get hurt."
Hikari was startled, and was about to ask Youko what she meant, but was interrupted by a merry band of Roses and newcomers. Sei, Eriko and the lithe newcomer sauntered in, followed by a serene but slightly abashed Kyouko.
"My, but Kyouko-ojouchan is pretty, like a Japanese doll, I had to bring her in here."
"I'm sorry my face looks too childlike."
Sei then looked amusedly, then self-mockingly at Hikari and her rather out-of-character response before tweaking her nose.
"Oh come now, Hikari-chan. You're here because I like your face, remember? You just can't monopolize me."
"So, this is the famous yamayurikai dynamic?" The headbanded girl nudged Eriko and snickered. "Oh, Torii Tsuki at your service. Eriko-chan's younger cousin twice removed, but better known as Mita-sama's shadow."
"Kyouko...chan..." Try as she did, Hikari couldn't suppress that name.
Tsuki jokingly placed herself in front of Kyouko as she bantered with the dreamer, "My, not 'Mita-sama,' but 'Kyouko-chan?' What nerve of the girl!" But her eyes betrayed her mirth.
Kyouko on the whole seemed comfortable with "Kyouko-chan" after her initial surprise. Hikari had no idea why, but it just seemed fitting.
"Is Kyouko-sempai here?" It was nice when the underclassmen came by, the first year students gathering around the idol roses, or more recently, the two mystery newcomer secondformers. Tsuki, probably because of her affinity with Rosa Foetida, quickly became the president of drama and the environmental protection committee. On the other hand, Kyouko, though Tsuki kept saying she could be captain and president of any club she chose, only was in the flower-arranging club. Kyouko seemed to be trying to demure - Tsuki wasn't buying it, and neither were many first year fangirls...
"Kyouko-san, aren't you going to choose a soeur?" Afterschool after the ceremony and Roses' cleanup, one of the tagalong classmates asked Kyouko-san something that Hikari had always wondered. A foursome were walking to the school entrance along with Kyouko and Hikari.
"Hey, you should ask Hikari-san."
Rei ran up from the path leading to the hospital. Aside from Rei, Kyouko and Hikari, they were all onee-sama and imouto.
"There's already someone Hikari-san has her heart set on. Other than that person, she won't become anyone's soeur," Rei explained, teasingly.
"You know the person you've got your heart set on?"
"Yes. They met in a dream."
Once again, it was Rei who answered Kyouko's question. But Hikari, faced with a potential "Kyouko-chan," had to pipe up,
"It's all right if you laugh. I've always believed that we'd meet. After ten years, twelve years, in a dream again, it's okay. When we meet, I want to see the grown-up me. If it's at all possible, I want to become her favourite."
Kyouko didn't laugh. "Mm. Somehow, I understand. ...I understand." Kyouko slowly nodded with a look on her face which Hikari wanted to see most.
The foursome took off in a different direction to get home, while Hikari and Kyouko trod alongside Rei – Rei's house was next door to her cousin's and on the same JR line which both Hikari and Kyouko took. Oddly enough, Rei seemed even more fidgety than beforehand during the Entrance Ceremony. Right before Rei would normally turn into her address, she stopped, faced the two and made a declaration.
"Hikari-chan, Kyouko-san. I know Hikari as a great friend, and that Kyouko is Hikari's friend, and I cannot hold this in anymore. Please keep my secret." Rei unbuttoned the first set of her blouse, and Hikari instantly noticed the lack of Rei's conspicuous green rosary." So that's why she was so nervous.
"I'm sure onee-sama and your friend Torii-san will find out anyway."
"To Yoshino-chan!" Hikari. "How marvellous! Congratulations! Ano…how is this a secret?"
Kyouko glanced at Rei's downcast eyes and arms around her chest as if she was freezing, trying to intuit the tomboy's outlook: fulfillment? Acceptance? Guilt?
Rei spoke haltingly, as if recounting a dream. "We had an unspoken understanding that we would become soeurs when Yoshino became a high-schooler. So it wasn't any big thing. She couldn't be at the ceremony, and when I got to her in the infirmary, she was asleep. I put my rosary into her hand while she was in bed."
"How beautiful." The two listeners had different expressions: speaking Hikari thought it was a beautiful story, while silent Kyouko still scrutinized Rei's face, trying to see the problem.
"That's not it. While she was asleep," Pause.
"In that intimate moment." Pause.
"Completely vulnerable." Pause. Hikari's look became puzzled.
"Without her permission, I.." Pause. Kyouko turned away, not from Rei, but from Hikari.
"I kissed her."
With that admission, Rei stood facing towards her house's gate, away from her two friends. For a moment, silence reigned. Then one, and gradually two hands descended on Rei's shoulder.
"You really love her, don't you, Rei? We'll always be friends."
"Your secret is safe with us, Hasekura-san."
Rei gave a wan smile, said nothing else, then retreated into her house. By then, it was already past 4:00, and the JR line would be quite busy. Hikari then smiled at Kyouko. "Shall we go?"
Kyouko, oddly enough to Hikari, seemed to let her guard down and was staring at the door through which Rei disappeared. Hikari grasped at her friend.
From the first person she'd been called that. Startled, Kyouko stared at Hikari's outstretched hand and smile.
"Let's go, together. Comrade."
Kyouko took her hand.
A/N: Sloooow pacing. But I guess that's what I get if I try making half a light novel chapter into a multi-chapter fanfic. Thanks to all my editors, readers and reviewers, and God willing more will be up soon. Oh, and I guess we need to close off lightly, ne?
Omake: What's in a name?
*Break time in between reading scripts, Himeko and Chikane behind the main group of Rei, Youko, Eriko and Tsuki*
HIMEKO: "ano...Chikane-chan? Why are you called "Kyouko" this time?"
HIMEKO: "Have you noticed how different your names are in these cycles? I mean, see the difference: Kurusugawa Himeko. Kurusu Himeko. Kurusu Hikari. Himiko. Azuma Hatsumi. Asamiya Hikari. Hikari. Kurusu. Hiori. But Chikane-chan? Himemiya, Manemiya, Kaon, Mita Kyouko, Azuma Hazuki, Asamiya Tsukuyo, Yaya, Kihara, Sunao, I think even Sachiko somewhere and don't even jokingly say Homura...mou, why the name changes?
CHIKANE: *whispering to Himeko closely* "It's because Himeko is my number one, a true princess, and the gentle sun which the moon dedicates herself to. A warmth and light that calls me 'Chikane-chan;' you have such a fitting name.
HIMEKO: "...And your own?"
CHIKANE: *distancing herself* "Chikane...Chikan...I think refers to my...other...side, a dark name, the one I cannot confront without you. Sometimes I used to think it was a typecast; a typecast of how the anime or manga or fanfic would play through. Even where I am not Chikane in the main storyline, I am in the lemons and limes. Kyosora and Shinai are benign, Amnesian and Moving Day are not. When I am 'Chikane,' I know somehow...I would...Himeko..." *cut off*
HIMEKO: *closing the distance* "No! I told you not to speak like that! And, *blushes* I like when you are Chikane-chan...in word, name and deed."
HIMEKO: *beaming* "So, Chikan-nee-chan, do you think Scaian-zenjin will call us Himeko and Chikane in the final chapter?
HIMEKO: *As seductively as she can manage (which somehow works)*...Will you be my Chikane?"
Heh, fanfic writers have so much room to have Himeko grow into, and also so much ammunition to tease Chikane with. I can see how the more one writes, the more perfect Himeko gets in their eyes. Anyway, cheers, and until next time I update (after exams, probably like 5 days before Christmas)! Gokigenyou!