Disclaimer: As per usual, I own nothing.
Author's Notes: Apology for the late post for this; I needed to do some reworking of it compared to the original version posted to Beast's Lair, and I swear the month of February was trying its hardest to murder me. Anyway, end of the road with this one. 'Tis a short story, but I mostly did it for fun anyway, and I enjoyed it. I might even come back to the concept one day, who knows?
It was quick; even if she strained her eyes, Miyuki knew she would never be able to see the movement. In her current condition, it probably wouldn't have helped to see the attack coming, anyway. She was smart enough to know that dodging was beyond her abilities.
A simple flick of the wrist was all it was; a blur of movement, and then it was over. Several Black Keys shot through the night air, completely lost in the darkness as clouds drifted to block out the light of the moon.
Her body ached all over, and sensation had faded from her broken arm a few minutes ago. All the same, Miyuki narrowed her eyes and once more fell back into the defensive stance, even as she knew it was useless.
The next blow would decide the battle, and the decision would not be in her favor.
The Black Keys, slashing through nothing but empty air and utterly silent, were fast.
Satsuki, sprinting so fast that she thought even her newly transformed heart would burst, was faster.
The sound of steel driving into flesh was unmistakable, and Ciel breathed a quiet sigh of relief, relaxing.
The feeling didn't last long.
As the clouds drifted away, blown gently by a breeze, Miyuki blinked against the soft sensation of light, frowning as her muscles relaxed. She… wasn't in any pain. In fact, despite what she had heard—the sound, clearly, of someone being stabbed—she wasn't bleeding, and had no Black Keys sticking out of any part of her body.
Her brain was, admittedly, lagging a bit behind her body at the moment. She blamed that on her general state of exhaustion.
Every snapped back into working order, though, at the pained, shuddering sigh. Blinking again, her eyes finally absorbed the sight before her.
"… Satsuki?" she whispered hoarsely.
At the sound of her name, Satsuki smiled weakly, a small river of blood trailing down her chin as she trembled, trying to stay upright. A single Black Key protruded from her chest, missing her heart by inches, stained with blood and the blade only inches from Miyuki's face; the second one had found its home in her side, and the third was buried in her shoulder, causing her arm to dangle limply beside her.
"Satsuki," Miyuki repeatedly numbly, horrified by the sight in front of her.
"Miyuki-san," Satsuki breathed, and she coughed, bringing her functioning hand to her mouth as more blood seeped out. "Sorry I'm late."
And with that, she fell to her knees, shuddering in pain.
Before, she felt she couldn't move even if she tried; now she felt as if she couldn't move fast enough. Staggering to her feet, ignoring the surge of liquid pain that ran through her body, Miyuki stumbled to Satsuki, falling in front of the younger girl, bringing her good hand up to try and stop the bleeding. "Idiot," she rasped. "I told you to run!"
Satsuki looked at her, red eyes gleaming with amusement. "You sound ready to cry."
"Idiot," Miyuki repeated helplessly, dropping her forehead to Satsuki's good shoulder and trembling. Closing her eyes at the sensation, Satsuki lightly brought a hand up to pat the other girl on the head.
"I'll be all right," she murmured. "I'm a vampire, remember? I'll regenerate eventually. That's how it usually works in the movies."
In spite of herself, Miyuki began to laugh.
Somewhere along the way, Ciel was pretty sure she had miscalculated something.
She watched in silence as the two huddled together, Satsuki bleeding, Miyuki bleeding even worse than she was. She'd seen her fair share of vampires at the receiving end of Black Keys before, but she'd certainly never seen one taking them for another person.
Even when you're a vampire, you're far too nice, Yumizuka-san.
Sighing at the thought, running a hand through her hair, the older woman composed her thoughts and finally decided she needed to move, taking steps towards the worn out pair.
Miyuki saw her first, over Satsuki's shoulder; her eyes widened, then hardened and she got back to her feet, hissing in pain and ignoring Satsuki's murmur of confusion, stepping between the pair again.
Ciel paused, eyebrow lifted. "You're almost dead on your feet."
Miyuki simply reached for her sword again; Satsuki reached down, gently touching her hand, and stilled the other woman. She smiled shakily at Miyuki's confused look, before she stepped forward, placing herself between her friend and the approaching executioner.
Even with the Black Keys still in her body, the message was clear.
"Satsuki." It came out as another hiss, Miyuki's eyes darting from her to Ciel and back again.
Satsuki glanced back at her. "You helped me, Miyuki-san. I'm going to help you now." She turned back to Ciel, hesitated, then spoke again. "Ciel-senpai?"
Ciel sighed. "I'm not your senpai anymore, Yumizuka-san."
That threw her off, as Ciel knew it would; but Satsuki shook it off and took another tentative step forward. "Senpai," she said, "I know you want to kill me. That's your… job. I don't mind that. But let Miyuki-san go. She's only human, and she just got involved because…" Her voice softened. "Because she wanted to help me. It isn't fair for her to get hurt because of that."
… Far, far too nice, Yumizuka-san.
It seemed the change hadn't altered her nature nearly as much as Ciel had feared; she was still very much the kind, shy girl she had been in school, the person who always watched Shiki from a distance but rarely tried to approach him. How much of that was due to interacting with Miyuki and how much of it was due to her own humanity, Ciel wasn't sure, but she did know for a fact: Satsuki wasn't the threat she had once thought she was.
She sighed; her shoulders slumped. "Well, great," she muttered. "Now I look like the bad guy."
Satsuki blinked, baffled. "Senpai?"
"I'm not your… never mind." Ciel grimaced, scratching the back of her neck, then turned her gaze to Miyuki. "Hey, you."
Miyuki scowled. "What?"
"You have a place for Yumizuka-san?" At Miyuki's blank look, Ciel sighed. "I was spying on your conversation. Answer me, please, this is important."
"Uh… yes. I do. There's someone back home who could help her, and my family wouldn't mind taking her in…"
"Good. She's your responsibility now. If she kills anyone, it's on your head." Ciel scratched the back of her neck, wincing. "This is going to make for an interesting report to the Church. I'd say my bosses will be upset with me, but they don't like me much anyway." She laughed softly. "I think they'd be upset to hear from me even if I brought them good news."
Satsuki winced. "Will you get in trouble, Senpai?"
Ciel smiled gently. "I'll be all right, Yumizuka-san. I've managed before." She closed one eye, bringing up a finger. "Just do me a favor and try to stay out of trouble at your new home, okay?"
The younger girl smiled; weakly, uncertainly, but it was a warm smile all the same. "I'll try."
It was a sweet moment between the two former students, a touching realization and a scene all around meant to give one warm and fuzzy feelings…
"So, um, about those swords…"
"Ah, right. Um… Yumizuka-san? This is going to hurt."
"What if they don't like me?"
Miyuki laughed softly, adjusting her grip on her bag and carefully slinging the strap over her good shoulder; moving around, it turned out, was far more difficult when one of her arms was broken, but with Satsuki's help she had managed so far. "It's kind of late to worry about that, don't you think?"
Satsuki squirmed, trotting after Miyuki to keep pace with her and absently tugging her hat down to keep the rays of sunlight out of her eyes; the day was blazingly bright. "I was worried on the plane, too."
"Were you? I didn't notice."
Satsuki snorted at Miyuki's innocent tone, resisting the urge to shoot back that the only reason she hadn't noticed on the plane was because she'd been holding on to the other girl's hand so tightly she'd gone numb. Who knew Miyuki was afraid of heights?
"In all seriousness, though, you'll be fine." Miyuki smiled at her. "Really. I'm pretty sure Mom's all set to adopt you."
The other girl smiled weakly. "She seemed to like me."
Chuckling, Miyuki reached out with her good hand and patted Satsuki on the head, making the girl squawk as her hat was dislodged. "You're pretty easy to like."
Satsuki readjusted her hat, and couldn't quite hide her forming blush, or fight back the gathering warmth she felt in her center. This was a new city, with new people, but if she felt like this, it didn't seem so bad.
And as long as Miyuki was there, she knew she'd be okay.
All too soon, though, she was distracted from her thoughts by a gentle tap on the shoulder; looking up, she caught Miyuki's eye, and the other girl gestured towards a house. Curious, she followed her hand.
Her eyes widened.
The door was already open, several people sprawled across the lawn; several girls whispering and giggling, only in elementary school by the look of them, and two snuggling wolfish looking puppies, though the blonde stayed particularly close to the brunette. Leaning against the doorway, Miyuki's brother chatted easily with a purple-haired woman, and an older group seemed gathered around the girls as Momoko and Shiro moved from group to group.
Taped to the window was a simple sign; minimal decorations, and the handwriting was a little sloppy, but it didn't take away from the message at all.
Welcome to our home, Satsuki!
"Ah," Satsuki managed; it was the best she could do with the warm lump in her throat and the rising wetness in her eyes. Shaking her head, swallowing hard, she swiped furiously at her eyes with her sleeve, sniffling.
"… Are you crying?"
"I… I…" It was all she could manage. She wanted to say something meaningful, but in the end, she couldn't think of anything that fit. She settled for turning a radiant smile to Miyuki, even as tears continued to stream down her face. "Um… it's not too bad, is it?"
Miyuki gazed at her for a moment; her eyes softened, and she gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Not too bad at all. Ready?"
Satsuki nodded. "As I'll ever be.
She stepped into the yard, Miyuki by her side, and waved, tentatively, when all eyes focused on her.
The reaction was instantaneous.
No sooner did she lower her hand, Satsuki found herself swarmed by people, people all around her. The loudest, by far, was the brown-haired girl wearing the pig tails, in sharp contrast to the silent but still curious blonde that was at her heels. A million and one questions were being fired from the blonde with blazing green eyes, and Satsuki could barely keep track of the whole group as they closed around her. The only two men she could see hung quietly in the back, watching the whole thing with amused, small smiles
Then, mercifully, they parted the way for an older woman; the mother, she assumed, of the loud brunette, judging by her appearance, even if her overall demeanor seemed much quieter and far calmer than her daughter. Her blue eyes gleaming, she offered her hand. "I'm Momoko," she said. "Welcome to our home."
Satsuki made a small, strangled sound that might have been a greeting or might have just been some noise of shock; she wasn't completely sure. Hesitantly, she accepted the older woman's hand and found herself pulled into a warm, tight, easy hug.
When she clung to Momoko and began to weep again, the other woman simply smiled.
Miyuki hung back and watched as her family and friends gathered around Satsuki, utterly accepting her into the fold. She had expected nothing less, but it was still a relief to see how naturally the younger girl was being pulled into the family.
It also kept everyone distracted from her rather banged up appearance, so she also appreciated it for that.
"What happened to your arm, Onee-chan?"
… Almost everyone, at least.
"Hi, Nanoha," she sighed.
"Hello." Nanoha smiled up at her, the perfect picture of calm maturity at almost ten years old. "What happened to your arm?"
"I fell down the stairs."
Nanoha gave her a look, the kind that clearly stated she didn't believe a word her older sister had said. Miyuki simply shrugged. Finally, the younger girl sighed. "You don't want to talk about it."
"Don't worry yourself." Miyuki smiled slightly. "The stairs didn't follow me home."
Nanoha rolled her eyes at that, but to Miyuki's relief she dropped the subject; no doubt she would bring it up again later, when she thought her older sister's guard was down, but at least she recognized that for now nothing would come of pushing the matter. "Your friend seems like a good person," she said instead, deciding Satsuki would be a good change in topic as the girl introduced herself to Shiro and Kyouya.
Miyuki's smile softened at that. "She is. She's had a rough time, but she'll be all right now."
"Mmm." Nanoha paused for a moment, thinking, before she glanced up at the other girl, eyes gleaming with faint humor. "So, when did you become me, Onee-chan?"
Miyuki blinked at that. "Excuse me?"
"Well, you go away from home for several days, come back all banged up and bruised, and you have a new friend with you."
"…. It was only a recent thing?" Miyuki tried weakly, not entirely sure where her sister was planning to go with this conversation. "And to be fair, Satsuki wasn't the one who did it. It was someone else."
"I figured. She seems too nice."
Baffled as to what, exactly, her sister was trying to get at, Miyuki fell silent. Nanoha, for her part, seemed content to stay with the older woman and let her figure her thoughts out, obviously waiting for her to figure it out on her own.
Evidently, she hadn't figured it out fast enough, because Nanoha spoke up again. "Did you find what you were looking for?"
Miyuki fell silent at that, not sure how she was supposed to respond. Trust Nanoha to pick up on the mild inner conflict she'd been experiencing when she'd left home for her job. Kid was damn perceptive for still being so young.
Did you find what you were looking for?
Without even being aware of it, her eyes drifted over to Satsuki. The young vampire was still sticking to Momoko's side as glue, even as she tentatively introduced herself to Hayate and her knights, one of Suzuka's kittens cradled in her arms.
Her lips quirked upward, slightly.
"Not sure what I found, honestly," she admitted. "But it was a pretty good thing all the same."
Nanoha chuckled. "We all have to start somewhere, Onee-chan."
Miyuki sighed and stretched, enjoying the warmth of the day. She didn't usually linger after school, but Satsuki had wanted to check out a new club, and so she had decided to wait for the girl before heading home. Leaning back against a school window, she slid her glasses up her nose and closed her eyes, sighing in contentment.
The time had passed peacefully, in the several months that had gone by since bringing Satsuki home. She had settled into the Takamachi family as if she belonged nowhere else, and she'd taken to the new school environment shockingly well. And in the months that had gone by, Miyuki's arm was almost completely healed, even if it wasn't yet back to its full capacity.
It didn't matter, she mused, opening her eyes. It was all over now; Satsuki was happy, and she was healed. Nothing could go wrong now.
And then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a flash of blue.
"… Oh, goddammit."
The girl approaching her jolted and stepped back, light blue eyes wide with shock and hurt; she clasped her hands in front of her chest as if Miyuki's words had wounded her. "Miyuki-chan! How rude! I was simply going to ask if you'd be interested in joining the tea club!"
"How the hell did you learn my name?" Miyuki growled.
The other girl blinked, adjusting her glasses (since when did she wear glasses?) as she smiled nervously. "What do you mean? I'm in your class, Miyuki-chan, don't you remember? We're friends!"
"No, we're not. You tried to kill Satsuki and the last time we spoke, you broke my arm!"
The smile held for a single instant before it fell completely; now she scowled. "Wonderful. Not only are you stubborn as a rock, but you have some magical resistance."
"I'd hope so, by now," Miyuki muttered, and sighed. "What are you doing here?"
The other girl shrugged. "My name is Ciel, by the way, not just you." She crossed her arms over her chest. "And for the record, I'm no happier about it than you are. My bosses assigned me here after things wrapped up in Misaki. I'm supposed to monitor Yumizuka-san."
"And when you say 'monitor'…"
"Exactly that. Nothing more, nothing less." Ciel met Miyuki's gaze. "I'm not a threat to her, so long as she isn't a threat to anyone else."
There was a long moment of silence as Miyuki searched Ciel's eyes, looking for some kind of lie; not seeing it, her shoulders slumped as the other girl leaned against the wall beside her. "Fine. I can accept that."
Ciel nodded, and they fell silent after that. Miyuki could almost forget she was there, except she felt her eyes on her. "What now?"
"Are you sure you don't remember us being good friends, Miyuki-chan?" She smiled, in a sickeningly sweet school girl way that Miyuki found intensely disturbing. "Because I've always been here, you know."
"You broke my arm."
"…" Ciel slumped. "Drat. I was really hoping you'd forgotten about that by now."
"And stop calling me Miyuki-chan. It's creepy."
The smile became absolutely wicked, now. "But it suits you so perfectly, Miyuki-chan."
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