AN: Long intro. Bear with me.
This story uses the characters from Optimal Outcome. If you haven't read Optimal Outcome, please do so before attempting to read this. You will otherwise be thoroughly confuzzled.
There will be a total of five original characters in this story. You are free to complain about the characters themselves all you want, but please don't complain about them being there. They are there to drive a story, not to replace any relationships or to become wannabe permanent characters.
Perpetual Probability does not focus as heavily on romance/relationships as Optimal Outcome. It's leaning more towards the action/drama type thing.
Also, this story and its predecessor do not follow Puella Magi Madoka Magica canon to the teeth. In fact, I've done a few adjustments and overhauls along the way and this story adds a lot of made-up shtuff.
As a project started in mid-summer, I've put a lot of work into this story, and I hope you will enjoy it despite its flaws. Reviews are always appreciated, as long as they aren't sarcastic, arrogant, or outright mean. I'm taking the time to tell you these things in a kind manner, and I expect at least a neutral response in return.
As the entire story is complete, I will post a chapter every other day. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: Change
The door swung open without as much a sound. The room was flooded with sunlight, and Kyouko held up her hands to protect her eyes from the golden reflections. The floor was suspiciously shiny, a subtle scent of cleaning products lingering in the air. Other than that, the apartment looked exactly the same. Same couch, same table, same everything. The only thing not particularly familiar was the girl that was snoozing peacefully in said couch.
Holding back a sudden burst of laughter, Kyouko stepped into her old apartment to take a closer look. It was Madoka alright, comfortingly similar to the girl of her memories. The only difference seemed to be slightly longer hair, pulled back into a ponytail instead of two pigtails. The redhead guessed it to have been either Mami or Homura's idea, as it gave the impression of a less childish person. Still retaining the cute factor though, Kyouko noted favorably.
Her attention then turned to the door leading to the kitchen, as she heard the clinking of plates, or at least she thought it was plates. Numerous thoughts ran through her mind, all of them picturing different scenarios to how Homura would react to her arrival. Still now, she could remember their farewell, the crack in Homura's armor as she asked Kyouko to stay. The redhead wouldn't harass her about it. That the former time traveler had become somewhat friendlier and relaxed, wasn't that what she had wanted?
The homely sounds ceased. Kyouko decided that to simply wait until Homura was finished was too much of a hassle and that she didn't care about any specific kind of reaction, and confidently strolled across the room. Hands in her pockets, voice turned up as nonchalant as humanly possible, the Puella Magi walked into the kitchen.
The suave entry came to a sudden end as the cold muzzle of a firearm met Kyouko's forehead. A plain, white plate shattered against the floor with a heavy crash. There was a moment of silence in the room, and Kyouko's crimson eyes blinked in surprise and confusion. The eyes that met them were stern, the amber and the pink both expressing the same dislike.
"Care to explain why you're sneaking around in my apartment, Sakura-san?"
Last time Kyouko had seen the blonde gunslinger, it had been just after she'd been revived by Madoka. Involved in a squabble with Homura, Mami had paid Kyouko no more attention than to call her a few names. Her appearance then had been laughable, as despite some attempts to freshen herself up, she'd still looked like a murderous psychopath. The seriousness of the situation, perhaps.
"Last time I checked, Tomoe-san, this was Homura's apartment. Not yours." Her good mood gone in a flash, Kyouko grabbed the barrel of the silver rifle and pushed it away. It disappeared in puff of gray mist, and Mami smirked knowingly.
"Last time you checked was over a year ago. Things change. Most notably in this case; people change apartments."
"How so?" Kyouko grunted, greatly irritated. She had asked Homura to take care of her apartment. Granted Mami was a person who was going to do a better job at that than her, but still. She quickly reminded herself of why she was there in the first place, which immediately posed another question.
"Different reasons. It was more convenient for the both of us, leave it at that. Why-"
"Mami, who are you talking to?" The girls turned their head towards the door, and they both suddenly felt a lot less hostile at the sight of a drowsy Madoka, rubbing her tired eyes with her wrists. Acknowledging that there was another person in the room, the pinkette squinted at the fuzzy blob.
"K...Kyouko-chan?" A long yawn interrupted the process of waking up, and Madoka shook her head angrily to get rid of the hazy clouds drifting around in her head. "Is that you?"
"The one and the only."
Watching the newly awoken girl's expression go from confused and unsure to pleasantly surprised was like watching the sun rise. As fast as Mami had been to point a gun at her head, Madoka was to run up and give her friend a hug.
Albeit taken aback by the gesture, Kyouko gladly returned the brief embrace. The year had made Madoka gain a few inches on her, something she hadn't noticed while observing the sleeping girl.
"It's been so long!"
"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry for not staying in touch or anything, I just needed to get away..." Kyouko mumbled, her usual assertive demeanor toned down by Madoka's enthusiasm. It actually made her feel bad, the feeling clashing with the joy over knowing that someone was happy she was back. She got enough hostility as it was.
"I understand, we all did. Right, Mami-chan?" The want for confirmation was forgotten instantly, and the pink-haired girl kept going without so much as a pause. "So don't worry about it. Have you seen any of the others yet?"
Mami stayed to clean up the porcelain shards while Madoka walked out of the kitchen and gestured for Kyouko to take a seat. The redhead was beginning to like this new side of her, in contrast to the quiet and frail thing she'd been when they'd met. She wasn't aware of the fact that Madoka had always acted like she did now when enthusiastic, even if the year gone by had granted her more confidence.
"Nope, I came here to see Homura. I didn't know she and Mami had switched apartments." Kyouko sat down in the far end of the caramel-colored couch, while Madoka settled down with her legs crossed behind the low table.
"It was a while ago now. Homura-chan had her promise not to change anything about the interior, and to keep everything nice and clean."
"How thoughtful of her. Should I take it that Mami and Homura aren't going at each other's throats anymore?"
At this, Madoka's cheeks glowed pink with embarrassment. She averted her eyes and drew idles circle on the wooden surface, clearly uncomfortable with the question.
"No, no...not at all. They...tolerate each other. It's been a year, and you can almost confuse the animosity for familiarity. There has only been the occasional...argument."
Kyouko immediately regretted bringing it up. She would ask the details from Homura later anyways, and there was no need to torment Madoka with things she didn't want to talk about.
"And the others? Hitomi and Sayaka?" The mentioning of Hitomi's name was obligatory, nothing else. It left a sour taste in the redhead's mouth, and brought back memories of a dark, oily room. "How is my old student doing?"
"You'd be proud of her, Kyouko-chan." As expected, Madoka's uneasiness went away in a second flat. "They do a great job hunting witches."
"What about the rest of you? I know this city has a lot of them, but is there really enough Grief Seeds to satisfy five Puella Magi?"
"Of course there isn't." The voice was Mami's, who now came out of the kitchen carrying a tray. Kyouko's first assumption was smashed to pieces by the drifting scent of tea. It wasn't that she was hungry...but she wasn't not hungry either. "We who aren't actively fighting use equalization to keep the amount of corruption on respectable levels."
Mami sat down next to Madoka and put the tray on the table. To the redhead's delight, a plate in the corner of the tray was filled with different types of cakes and pastries. The blonde poured the steaming liquid into three cups, and took a small cupcake-looking object from the plate. Madoka helped herself to half a quarter circle of strawberry shortcake. Mami took one glance at Kyouko, sighed reproachfully, and didn't only give her guest the third cup, but the entire plate as well.
"Don't you remember things that have saved your life? What Hitomi did for you?"
Even without the painfully serious accusation, Kyouko remembered. The slight tingle of a Grief Seed's touch, magnified by a thousand until her entire soul had shook. The last minute save. The heroic act.
"Oh, that. What, you do that to each other?"
"When it's necessary, yes. I know what you're thinking, but it's actually quite the pleasant experience under the right conditions."
"I'm sure it is." Kyouko's eyebrows dove into a concentrated frown as she realized that she'd forgotten something important. The realization came with a strange tug in her chest. And then she remembered.
The two girls looked up at their visitor.
"What is it?"
The question received no answer, as Kyouko broke down in laughter for seemingly no reason. To the annoyance and amusement of Mami and Madoka, respectively, she shook uncontrollably in futile attempts to calm herself. Twenty second of continuous laughter later, Kyouko finally got a hold of herself. Still having trouble breathing, she tried to explain the situation to the other two.
"I forgot...I...totally forgot about her...oh my god..." With those fragmented words, the redhead got up and staggered out of the apartment. Mami and Madoka could after a moment of silence hear two voices, only one of them familiar. Kyouko soon returned, but with someone else right behind her.
"Guys...this is Rin. She's my traveling companion, and she hates Incubators." The boisterous girl's tone was distinctly apologetic, even if it clashed with her grinning expression. The last part was mainly added to specify the fact that Rin knew about magical girls, even if the statement was true.
The girl who came into the room was young, around the age of ten. She looked about as friendly as a thundercloud, and only stopped glaring at her guardian to look at the people she was being introduced to. Her clothes were, much like Kyouko's current outift, very boyish and practical, if cleaner. The baggy, sand-colored pants had a vague military feel to them, with an array of pockets running up and down the legs.
Rin's hair was short and meticulously neat, where the skew fringe just almost obscured the vision of the left eye. Despite it sounding like quite the stylized look, she made it look as messy as the rest of her. Her eyes were an icy blue color, the sunlight turning them borderline white.
"Madoka Kaname and Mami...Tomoe." Rin said, with a slight delay to remember Mami's last name. She bowed her head almost unnoticeably, and took another step in Kyouko's direction. It was evident that the girl was shy, or at the very least uncomfortable with the two.
The redhead could almost see stars light up in Madoka's eyes. She even tilted her head to side, like she was looking at some sort of adorable animal. Kyouko could feel Rin grab the hem of her T-shirt.
"Nice to meet you. It's the first time I've met a friend of Kyouko's." Madoka smiled with the usual soft expression, now complimented by a perfect row of white teeth.
"N-nice to meet you too."
This was not what she was expecting. People she's not familiar with, and two at that. Kyouko thought, pondering if she should be leaving. She still needed to talk to Homura, chit-chatting with these two would accomplish nothing.
"Are you okay?" Mami chimed in, the earlier hostility in her voice now swapped with concern. "Kyouko, she looks a little flustered."
The redhead glanced questioningly at the younger girl. Rin blinked, as if she hadn't even understood the question, but then shook her head.
"Would you like a glass of water?"
"I'd like that." Rin mumbled. The blonde smiled and exited the room, whereupon the girl sighed shakily. She twirled her index and middle finger around a tuft of hair the color of coal, and tugged on it.
"How're ya holding up?" Kyouko asked, trying to not sound condescending. Madoka brought her cup of tea to her lips and looked down, politely distancing herself from the guests' conversation.
"What is wrong with her eyes?" Rin were referring to the differently colored eyes that had been a result of Madoka's wish, as a part of Madoka's soul had been used in the resurrection of Mami. Of course, there was no way to explain all of this in a brief manner.
"I'll explain that later. After we see Homura."
"I don't want to see her."
"Just calm down. You promised me to get through this. I went through hell to get you here. The least you can do is try to be a little more compliant. Understand?"
Rin just nodded. Madoka, who felt quite misplaced where she sat, was reminded of a carsick person when she saw the child's pained expression. An unexpected stab of anger poked her midsection, directed towards Kyouko. It seemed like Rin was her responsibility, after all.
Mami returned with a glass filled with ice cold tap water, the swirling content casting glittering shapes across the room when struck with the sun's rays. With a last, shivering exhale, Rin took a step out from behind Kyouko. She took the chilling glass from Mami, meeting her multicolored eyes.
"Thanks. Sorry for the trouble." As soon as the sentence ended, the girl tilted her head back and drank. A single drop ran down her chin as she greedily gulped down the freezing liquid. It spread its icy tendrils through her head, chasing away the faint nausea.
"No problem." Mami stated cheerfully. "Kyouko, you wanted to come in contact with Homura, right? I can give you my, er, her address."
"Great. The sooner I can be out of here, the better. Not that I don't absolutely love spending time with you, Mami." The smile the redhead received could best be described as poisonous.
"Um, Kyouko?" Madoka spoke up hesitantly, getting up on her feet and brushing herself off before continuing. "Are you going to stay here? I mean...stay as in live. Or are you just visiting?"
Kyouko assumed that the answer to the question mattered very little to Madoka, at least personally. Though friends, the two had never spent any real time together. It was more like a friend-of-a-friend relationship that they had going. No, the redhead suspected that she had Sayaka and Homura in mind. And even though Kyouko had promised to lay off the emotional stuff, she couldn't help but wonder about the relationship between Sayaka and Hitomi.
"Well...embarrassing as it is, I have no place to stay. And as I'm sure you've figured, neither does she." A thumb was pointed in Rin's direction. "As much as I love being an urban nomad, I was thinking about asking Homura if we can stay there. For a while, at least."
"I'm glad. We've missed you, Kyouko-chan." The 'we' sounded a little forced, understandable considering who was in the room with them. "I'm looking forward to spending more time with you and Rin-chan."
"I'll be sure to make time for you." Kyouko said, partly as a joke, but not entirely. She had honestly missed the few people that she could call her friends. Kyouko had lacked both the time and the will to care about Madoka before, but just like everyone else had presumably changed over the year, so had she. Imagine that.
It was the late evening of a Saturday. Kyouko Sakura was back in Mitakihara. This time would eventually come to be just as eventful as the last. The year long vacation had definitely been in order.
"Something like that."
"Hi. Mami called, said you were coming."
"Damn. Wanted it to be a surprise."
"You wanted to surprise me?
"You want to dwell on it?"
Their conversation was like a ping-pong ball, the way it bounced back and forth. None of them had expected anything but this when they would reunite again, so this was what they received. Yet on the inside, they were both very glad to see each other again. This was Kyouko and Homura, two completely different girls that had a surprising amount of misfortune in common.
Homura stood in the doorway, a silky mane of long, raven hair cascading down her back. Of course she had let it grow out again. Anything else would just been out of character.
Other than that, Homura looked exactly the same as when they had parted. The oh-so-stern expression, but with that hint of a smirk that Kyouko prided herself on. She was convinced that she single-handedly had saved the obsessed girl from the brink of the abyss in giving her support in the strife to protect Madoka. This wasn't the case, but it wasn't too far from the truth either.
Kyouko on the other hand looked mildly different. Having been without a home most of her time away, her appearance was tired and worn. Black marks below her eyes, born from stress and lack of sleep, took the edge of her crimson lasers. Her beloved hair was tangled and ruffled, her clothes on the brink of being rags. Despite this and quite the prominent odor, the girl radiated vivacity.
"I've missed you too."
"Who's your friend?" Homura asked, even if she'd gotten a general idea from Mami on the phone. A blue eye stuck to half a head on top of half a body glared at her, and one couldn't help but think that she stood hidden behind Kyouko like that for that very effect.
"You're Homura Akemi." The child took a step out from her guardian's shadow, but her eyes no longer met Homura's. "Sis has told me about you."
The time traveler was physically incapable of suppressing the smirk that tugged at the corner of her mouth.
"...sis? Anything you want to tell me, Kyouko?"
"It's an honorary title, I assure you. Are we just going to stand here all day?"
"You're welcome inside."
Homura stepped away from the doorway and walked into the apartment. Her guests followed her, entering the dimly lit space. The living area was in no way as radical as her last apartment, in fact, Mami's choice of furniture was unchanged apart from the familiar colored pads.
"Mami and I switched apartments for the sake of convenience. I'm not much for redecorating."
Kyouko took a seat, taking a deep breath. She felt relieved. She had thought that arriving at her old apartment would've granted her the same feeling, but Mami's presence had effectively ruined that chance. The last few days had been hectic to say the least, but she and Rin was finally safe. Because what safer place was there, then a district with five other Puella Magi?
Rin stuck to standing, uneasily shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Her head craned around like a searchlight, inspecting every corner of the apartment. The girl was shy, but a trait of curiosity was stronger.
"I suppose you have some questions to ask me."
"Not tonight I don't." Kyouko could feel a headache coming on. Mental exhaustion was a bitch. "All I want to ask for is a good night's sleep."
"I'm guessing you two came here for a place to stay."
"Nah, Mami said she could sleep on the street for the night. Just so we could have the apartment to ourselves. Very kind of her."
"Like she'd do something like that to Madoka. I might've believed you otherwise." Homura muttered in a deadpan manner.
"How did you know Madoka was there?" The question made Homura sigh sadly. The raven-haired girl stood up and put her hands in her pockets.
"Tomorrow, Kyouko, tomorrow. Then I'll have some questions for you too. Come help me get you something to sleep on, unless you and your friend prefer the floor. Will she be okay?"
Rin, who was just about done studying her temporary home, felt their eyes on her back and turned around. The curious look turned shy and flickering, and Homura didn't know what to make of the reaction.
"Yeah, don't worry." Kyouko yawned and stretched her tired limbs. "She's like that with everyone. Not the most social person on the planet."
"A shy one, is she?"
A loud snap was heard as Kyouko most likely dislocated her arm a tad. It felt nice.
"You could say that."