disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: ginger tea and lemon cake.
notes: I wanted them to have a happy ending, is that so wrong.
notes2: Hinata means sunflower. so. yeah.

title: bend towards the sun
summary: Hinata and Tsukiko, on the other side. — Tsukiko/Hinata.






Her last breath was impossibly slow.

Tsukiko had lived such a very, very long time. She had seen—and done—things that no ordinary human had ever had the chance to try out. She had manipulated the world around her' lived and loved and bent and broke, all bedraggled butterfly wings damp with morning due.

It was a weak, the pounding of her heart weaker with every beat.

She was exactly as she had been the morning that her other half had gone up in a pillar of flame. Choked up. Couldn't breathe.

And on, it hurt.

Tsukiko pulled air into her lungs yet again.

The heart monitor beeped, a steady rhythm to echo in the almost-empty room. All had gone, even the twins. The only one left was Bailey, sprawled uncomfortable in an ugly hospital chair. He stayed (out of what was probably a misguided sense of duty), and Tsukiko did not know whether to be incensed or grateful. Rather, she was simply bemused.

After all, no one wanted to die alone.




On the exhale, she thought of smoke.

/ / /

The light burned brightly in her eyes, white as the bonfire she did so love. Tsukiko rubbed away the lingering darkness, and found herself in a homeland she had long forsworn.

It was perfectly silent.

She was absolutely alone.

Up to her ankles in water, the disorientation ebbed away at last. Tsukiko knew her mother's rice fields; would always, always know them. It was a misty, pastel place, something that had long hid in her dreams.

She shivered.

It had been in a field very much like this where she had won the sickest game of all.

"I was wondering how long you were going to make me wait."

The voice was soft as silk, warm as the embers that voice had so loved and Tsukiko had so feared; it was not a voice she should have ever heard again. Breath caught in her throat, she whirled, and stared, wide-eyed.

The beautiful girl wore a white kimono, soaking up the water from the field, and she stood there with her arms crossed and a twinkle in her dark eyes.

"What?" she asked, almost laughing. "Don't you have anything to say to me?"

"You're dead," Tsukiko said. Flatly. Without emotion. I love you and you're dead.

"So are you," the girl replied, as though it was the easiest thing she had ever said. She brushed her loose hair over her shoulder, a curtain of darkness. The hunger that Tsukiko had repressed for so long reared its ugly head.

"Is this real?"

"I don't know. Is it?"

Hinata had always asked questions in response to questions. The arc of water reaching up towards her was long-forgotten instinct.

And then they were fighting; snap crackle pop of fire, hiss as it turned to steam, the lights and the glow and the power. Oh, the power. It had been so long since they'd played that way—and Tsukiko loved her. Tsukiko loved her.

They tangled together on a crash course, lips fused and burning, and sunk into the watery ground together. Pressed this close, Tsukiko wondered how she had ever lived on without this. Ginger and cream, and it had been so long.

"I love you," she mumbled into the woman's throat.

"I know," Hinata whispered in reply, eyes shining. "I know.