Author's Note: Thought or Emphasis; Flashback or English; Thought or Emphasis in Flashback
Hello again, readers! For those who know my username, you probably didn't expect me to jump into this genre. I'm originally a writer in the Teen Titans animated series fandom.
However, I was inspired by the supernatural K-ON! fanfictions on Fanfiction dot Net. Like Tastychainsaws' "The Dead Music Club", some show the girls in a zombie apocalypse, but others feature elements like ghosts, immortality, and monsters both famous and lesser-known. For example, the story "Whatever it may be" has Ritsu having a new perspective, while "Another K-On?" features the Light Music Club having magical secrets I won't spoil here. Sadly, "Another K-On?" was never finished.
Anyway, here's the worm that wouldn't leave my head until it hit the digital page. Remember that I don't own K-ON!, Naruto, or any other anime I reference, and feel free to read and review.
Part I: The Evening Before
"...and that last Rasengan with Hinata was so cool! I didn't even know she could do that, but wow!" A Japanese girl burst into the front door of her house, still giddy from her latest trip to the movies. Her clothes were a T-shirt with "QUICK" on the front and a pair of jeans, a jean jacket to match. Her short brown hair sat under a sun-yellow headband.
Her friend, also Japanese, wore dark capri pants, a printless T-shirt, and a jacket of thinner synthetic fabric; long black hair flowed down her back. Her reaction to the film was a bit more reserved. "Come on, Ritsu. He had to use it with someone. He always does a Rasengan at the end."
"Yeah, Mio, but it doesn't make it any less awesome! I still remember the one he did with his dad in the movie before last. He went all Gurren Lagann-drill on that puppet guy." Ritsu chuckled at the reaction the villain gave; they never expect the Leaf Village ninja to win, do they?
Mio held her tongue, since even she remembered how impressive the attack was on the big screen. Yet she asked, and not for the first time, "I still don't know why you love those kinds of shows. They're all yelling and explosions-"
"Yeah, the best part!"
"And then there's Naruto's obsession-"
"Don't knock Naruto! You know he's gonna get Sasuke back 'cause he never gives up! He's the guy who comes in swinging," the tomboy's fists flew in a mock battle with an invisible ninja, "takes a hit," she clutched her chest and dramatically fell against the nearest chair, "gets back up," she shot from her seat, "and blasts right through the enemy!" She lunged forth with an imaginary ball of spiraling energy, Naruto's "Rasengan!"
She relaxed with a casual smile, patting a fist to her chest. "Just like how I do things."
Mio semi-playfully raised an important fact: "Sure, after you ask me to help."
The smile faltered, but just barely. "Yeah..."
The long-haired ravenette put a finger to her chin. "But I can see why you like him. You're both so alike!" She decided to play with her friend a bit. "You're both high-energy, you both talk too much, you're both pretty dense..."
"..and you both have those big hearts."
"Oh." Ritsu's pout faded; she replaced it by scratching the back of her head in mild embarrassment. "Heh heh, thanks." She took Mio's jacket (to toss onto the couch anyway rather than hang in the closet), a thought coming to her. "But you know, you're kinda like Hinata."
"Yep. You got that long hair going on, you're kinda shy and quiet, and when we were little, you were always blushing and hiding behind everything—usually me!" She jumped behind her familiar friend the chair to imitate her other companion. "'Ricchan! Ricchan! Spider!' Hahahaha-"
The "dangerous queen" let her scepter descend. Her regal judgment: "That's enough comparing!"
The royal fool tapped the rapidly forming lump on her head, wincing at every touch. "Now you're more like Sakura..."
That earned Ritsu another punch.
Her fury subsided, Mio thought back on the afternoon. It had been a while since the two of them just... hung out. Sure, Mugi, Azusa, and Yui were good friends and—with everyone's quirks considered—fun to be around, like at Ritsu's birthday party a little over a month ago.
But a Mio-and-Ritsu day? Those were golden. They just felt... right.
Still, Mio found herself a little disturbed by Mugi's face when she explained she and Ritsu wanted to go out alone this weekend. There were no words from the blonde, just her sapphire eyes sparkling with a faraway look, a faint blush on her cheeks...
Oh well. That was a question to answer another day.
Ritsu too felt a day like this was just what she was missing, considering the last few weekends were occupied.
Last week, they tried a live-house concert, but the response was weak. It truly hit them that not everyone liked their brand of music. Mugi's consolation cake, though, made the bitter day's end a little sweeter.
The weekend before that just happened to be followed by a history exam. Mio, the diligent student she was, would not let Toyotomi Hideyoshi's time as ruler be forgotten, and as the good friend she was, she took Ritsu and the others along for a journey through time. By the end of that "summer camp", the amber-eyed drummer was pretty sure she could draw her textbook's pages by hand.
I think I know how Yui felt in that study session...
The weekend before that demanded a history paper be done (it was quickly becoming her least favorite subject). The research probably would have gone faster if the library did not have a manga section recently added...
And the weekend before that... well, Ritsu was still reeling from... that. Even after coming back to school, her mind was still trying to accept—endure?—the knowledge of having the worst belated birthday gift ever given.
The present was not something she could leave buried in the closet like her mother's old sweater, or return like those horrible movies from cousin Aki. No, she had a feeling that it was not going to go away that easily.
So, Ritsu would try to hide it. She didn't want to take the risk of it being out in the open, especially in front of the girls. As long as they did not know, she would be fine, and they would be fine.
For now, she would enjoy the day. Besides, she was pretty sure she had one more day before it popped out of its box again. She looked to the one grumbling "stupid Ritsu..." to herself, and any worry she had washed away.
Yeah, I got one more day.
The friends of nearly a decade soon saw themselves in Ritsu's room once again. The Tainaka household was empty, since her parents were away on business and because Satoshi didn't want to be around when the girls did... whatever they did, he didn't care (well, he did at times, but after Ritsu paid him back for spying the last time with a wrestling move she learned from TV, he kept his curiosity in check).
Their talks continued, slipping from tests (yes, Mio would help her with Tuesday's English exam), to Azusa's ever-growing cat theme (Yui put cat stickers on her kouhai's schoolbag, for gods' sake!), to Naruto again (the fuwa-fuwa lyricist Mio wanted more romance in it, of course, but after thinking about that day's comparison, decided not to mention that she liked the NarutoxHinata pairing).
The afternoon became the evening, and the bassist looked up from her friend's borrowed manga as the light in the room changed. "Looks like it's sundown." A closer look out the window proved it; soft yellows and reds began to bring a calming end to the Mio-and-Ritsu day.
"Yeah." A manga laying on the dozing drummer's face muffled her already lazy response. Reading Ganta Igarashi's story of endurance would have to wait until morning.
"It's gonna be a beautiful full moon tonight."
"Yeah, a beautiful..." Ritsu's body snapped awake, the words a thunderbolt to the brain. "Say that again?"
The ravenette raised an eyebrow at the response, but answered. "I said, a full moon is coming out tonight."
"WHAT!?" Much like her heart from her chest, the brunette leaped to her dresser, digging past the junk she left there over the weeks. "It can't be tonight. I know I had at least 'til tomorrow!"
Mio's single eyebrow was accompanied by its twin in worry. "What's going on?"
Dangit dangit dangit—"Nothing, I'm just looking for something."
"Maybe I can help."
"NO, no, I'm fine. Just, um, just give me a minute, kay?" Ritsu's voice gave a weak attempt to be calm, instead resembling that of a child hiding a parent's broken possession. She knew the object was there, however; she just needed to-
"Found what?" The gray-eyed girl edged off the bed and looked over her frantic friend's shoulder to find- "A calendar? That's why you're so riled up?" She huffed at the false threat. "I thought nothing was on tonight. Wasn't that the point of picking today instead of tomorrow for the movie?"
That was not Ritsu's true reason, but Mio did not know that. She also did not see Ritsu's face as she saw the date, but more importantly, a certain shape in the top-right corner.
Of all the days, it was the one with that stupid American superstition tied to it, Friday the 13th. Of all the days she thought she was lucky, it was on the unluckiest day of the year. She might have laughed at the irony, were it not for the fear of what was going to happen next, the fear that sparked in twin amber orbs as she rushed to grab Mio. "You are not supposed to be here right now."
"What?" The bassist finally spotted that fear, just as she was being pushed to the bedroom door. "What's wrong, Ritsu?"
"Y-you gotta go, okay?"
That feeling began to stir in the drummer's gut as the sun dropped ever lower.
She hated it.
No, it was not the feeling itself that truly distressed the drummer. That was but a small, fleeting strike, a sort of warm pulse from the inside.
It was knowing what it meant, what came after it, that made her begging fiercer and her shove harder. "It doesn't matter! Just..." Another push, "GO!"
"NO!" Now angry at Ritsu's brusqueness, the guest dragged her feet in resistance. "We promised, remember? No secrets!"
"But..." The room grew darker, the shadows growing with Ritsu's nervousness. "But this is different! If you don't get out of here, I don't know-"
"What are you so afraid of?" Tapping into her own aggressive side, the ravenette quickly stopped and spun, smacking the other girl's hands away. "There's no one here but you and me!"
Not for long, one thought as another pulse hit her.
"I know I'm not the bravest person around, but I'm still your friend! Let me help you!"
"You can't, Mio..." The brunette could only watch in despair as the sun dipped under the horizon. As the noirette predicted, the night sky was indeed beautiful, but like a poisonous flower, its beauty only condemned both girls to their fate.
"...it's too late."
Mio dropped her hand from the door to a shocking sight.
Ritsu always held them back when she got hurt, except for that time she fell from the monkey bars and had to get her shoulder reset. Even in the face of failure, she preferred to either laugh things off or get plain angry. Yet, there they were.
For the first time in years, Mio saw Ritsu's eyes wet with tears...
...tears reflecting the light of the full moon.
The brunette clutched her stomach, the mild ache from before now a fire spreading through her form. She began to twitch from the pain, but she could not contain it much more. Her body moved of its own accord now, a scream tearing out.
She fell onto her dresser, her fingers tearing up the calendar and clawing into the wood. Her legs, muscles morphing under the skin, were too unstable to keep her upright, and she fell from the desk, small furrows by her dragging fingers left behind.
An uncertain shape rolled and writhed on the floor, the room's only other occupant forcing a broken thought through.
Mio wished she could have followed the strained instructions coming out of a shifting mouth; her usual response was flight over fight, after all. However, the part of her brain in charge of the most basic of instincts, the part screaming at her to run, to hide, to survive, was now frozen. All of her was frozen, in fact—her feet rooted to the wooden floor, her arms slack at the sides of her body, unblinking globes staring at the sight before her, and most of all, vocal cords paralyzed. She could not call for help, she could not scream in shock, she could not even cry out her friend's name.
The ice on the girl in the doorway did not begin to thaw until the figure in the darkened corner of the room began to stand. Whatever replaced Ritsu sniffed about, eyes lidded as if something caught its attention. Pointed ears on the sides of its head twitched a bit, seeking out a sound.
The... whatever it was turned to the source of the voice, stepping fully into the light peering from the window. The human noticed through this that it walked on all fours, but soon came to notice the figure's other attributes.
(Yet, she still did not run.)
Pushing out from under the ex-Ritsu's remaining rags, fur ran down the beast's arms, legs, and back, the same light brown as its hair. While said hair was messy even with the headband, the small restraint was broken in two by its wearer's thrashing, allowing the former captive to fall freely. Yet, the style Mio once thought made her friend look a bit boyish did not spill over the monster's face as it should; other than two large trails draping the sides of the face, the mess spiked out in all directions with feral energy.
Of course, feral was exactly the ex-Ritsu's nature, also shown by the fangs in its mouth, the claws on its hands and feet, and those eyes... The gems shined as they captured the moonlight, almost beautiful if not for their stare, boring into the noirette's very spirit and causing her lips to still themselves again.
Mio did not find Ritsu in their amber glow. She could not find the unbridled, infectious energy, the sometimes unfounded yet ultimately validated certainty, the sad warmth at seeing her hurt or frightened, or the furious flame when turning towards the source of the problem. Instead was... some thing, scanning her from head to foot; noting her ample chest rise and fall with each minute breath; watching each bead of sweat form and roll down her skin; counting each pound her heart made against her ribcage.
Were these the eyes of a predator?
Am I... prey?
When the creature pounced and tackled her into the hall, the answer to both questions appeared to be a resounding, life-ending yes.
The reactions of one facing death are myriad, unique to each ending and each person. Some accept it—they know they have done enough along the way; or they know their death was the price for doing the right thing; or they have faith their loved ones and an eternal peace wait for them. Others are scared—they did not do enough to make their next existence a good one; or they know there is only one life, and only oblivion awaits; or they did not accomplish a certain goal in this life; or they simply fear to encounter the universe's greatest unknown. Still others are confident they can escape their fate, only for their efforts to fall short.
The girl in the hallway, however, only felt confusion, because the beast did not rend her flesh asunder, nor feast on her blood... but barked happily and licked her face.
The beast pulled back, just enough for it and the human to make eye contact again.
And then she found her.
Death did not take the overwhelmed Mio Akiyama that night.
Instead, she was taken by the well-known blackness of a faint.
To be continued...
When I was writing this, I had NO IDEA someone had a slightly similar idea in a fanfiction titled "Ritsu's Spirit Animal." I chose not to read it, for fear of accidental plagiarism. We may not get paid for this, but we fanfic authors have honor! ...At least, I try to have it, anyway.
Oh, kouhai means "underclassman" or "junior", the opposite of senpai, "upperclassman" or "senior". Don't expect senpai to be italicized after this instance, though; I'd probably have to check a third of Azusa's speech with a fine-toothed comb if I did that.
So: Kore wa dou desu ka? How was it? Too short? Too long? Needing copious amounts of yuri? Let me know in a review.