Disclaimer: Yep… still don't own Princess Resurrection. Wish I did but since I don't I'd prefer not to get sued. Thanks in advance and hope you enjoy the show!
Author Note: Hello all! Raza here and as you've all probably realized… I missed this chapter's week deadline—you know; the one I set for myself? Yeah… Sorry about that guys, I feel bad and all but I don't think I'm going to force these updates from now on—the chapters have to seem ready to me before I feel their ready for you. That said I still want to thank you guys for your comments and support—even though I can't deliver these chapters any faster, having you guys tell me to "update ASAP" and stuff really motivates and inspires me. I'm serious guys, you have no idea how much it means to me, to have my work appreciated, so please, keep that up—it's just another part of my reward as the author! But anyway, more on that and other things at the bottom so without further adieu, let's start this story up right… NOW! Enjoy!
Chapter Three: Bitter Tea for My Honey:
Hiro put the fine china dish in the sink and rinsed some water over it. The food was good despite being left over night, but then again Sawawa's cooking never tasted bad… ever. And that wasn't his concern. What really bothered the young blood warrior was the lie he had just told his princess.
I mean, understandably, even if he said he was at Yumi's house—hell even if he said he was at a friend's house—who the heck was Yumi? A friend? Hime didn't know, and maybe, if we're being honest, Hiro didn't exactly know either … So yeah, perhaps he was doing her a favor by just telling her he was at Bucchi's. It was more convenient and he didn't have to waste her time explaining… Hime had enough things to worry about.
Besides, Bucchi was technically there… hopefully not still passed out in some street corner, but he was there… you know, along the way…
And yet even still, even then, despite that technicality, things still didn't feel right. Hiro felt low, responsible even, and not just because he lied to Hime, no, but because he lied to her… and then got away with it…
Or did he?
That was the thing too. Did he really get away with it? Did Hime, the perceptive genius Hime, his master Hime, really not know he was lying? It sounded less and less likely the more he thought about it and so, in the end, Hiro realized there were only two possible ways to describe his situation. Either Hime knew and just didn't care… which made him feel like crap because she didn't care… or she didn't know and she trusted him… which of course made him feel like shit because she trusted him… For Hiro now to choose between feeling like crap and shit and well… neither was exactly appealing…
And such a decision would have to wait. Hiro looked up and sure enough, just when things couldn't get any worse… cue disaster… with a toothy grin…
"Reiri…" Hiro squeaked as the friendly neighborhood vampire ("Don't you mean bloodsucker?" Riza stop.) did her usual waltzing into the room. Great, GREAT! Is anything else gonna go wrong?! Of course, right as Hiro thought that, Riza just happened to walk in… you kind of asked for that one Hiro… Just perfect…
"Oye Hiro! You're finally back huh?"
"Where were ya last night?" Riza asked with a grin that made Hiro sweat. "You know, I heard you were off somewhere with some gir—*pinch*—OOOOWWWW!" Riza yelped in pain, her cheeks a new shade of red. "REIRI!" The half-breed snapped furiously. "T-T-THE HELL YOU DO T-T-T-THAT FOR?"
"Shhh Bitch! Let me handle this." Reiri whispered quickly as Riza scowled in submission, angrily rubbing her… behind…
"Umm…what was that Riza…?"
"Oh don't mind her Hiro! She's just moody today is all. You know how bitches get!"
"GRRR… don't push me Reiri…"
"But she does bring up a good point. Indeed where were you last night Hiro? You weren't out on… a date or anything were you? FUFU!"
How the hell is that any better than what I was going to say? Riza thought still blushing… and rubbing her bum…
"AH…AH… n-no of course not! T-t-that's just s-s-s-silly!"
"Then where were you Hiro? Come on tell us… we're practically dying to know…"
"…I-I-I was with B-B-Bucchi!"
"Y-y-yes… we ended up staying out late and so I just slept over his h-house…"
"Oh… is that so…"
"Y-yeah… a-anyway, I'm going to head to my room now… so… yeah… sorry to make you all worry h-hehe!" Hiro laughed sheepishly as he practically sprinted out of the kitchen leaving Riza and Reiri standing there in silence.
"Wow…" Riza finally said after a minute or two passed by. "He lied…"
"Yes he did…"
"I almost didn't believe you before but now… I can smell that girl's scent all over him. He reeks of her…"
"Yeah and my bats weren't wrong… Hiro was definitely at that girl's place allnight…"
"All night…" Riza repeated to herself slowly. "Hmmm… hey Reiri… you don't think they…" The half-breed began blushing violently. Reiri took one glance at her and instantly knew what she was thinking.
"Geazz and you call me a pervert!"
"Shut up!" Riza muttered.
"No! I don't think they did anything like that! Sheesh… and that's not what concerns me right now…"
"Fufu… Hiro lied to us. Considering the situation logically that means he must have also lied… to Hime…"
"What? N-no way… WHAT KIND OF MESSED UP LOGIC IS THAT!? Hiro would never lie to Hime!"
"Oh but I think he did. Why don't you use that peanut sized brain of yours for a second and think. Hiro would have no reason to lie to us if he told Hime the truth. That's like lying to one of your parents and not the other when they're both in the same room! It just doesn't make sense! So yeah, he probably fed us the same 'bullshit-Bucchi-excuse' he told her…" Reiri then let slip a smirk as she stared off in the direction Hiro had fled in. "Such a naughty boy… I guess I underestimated you Hiro… My, oh my I wonder how Hime reacted… and what's really going on between that girl and you… fufu…"
Riza just stared solemnly at Reiri letting her words sink in. She hated to admit it but Reiri had a point… Just what exactly was going on Hiro? That was the million dollar question on everybody's mind. Unfortunately answering it would have to wait as a familiar voice consumed the room, a familiar voice that filled the vampire werewolf duo… with terror…
"Reiri, Riza-chan!" Sawawa called as she jogged merrily down the hallway—her wonderful endowments the first thing to come into view (well of course! Have you seen the size of those things! Geazz!).
"S-S-Sawawa?" The pair cringed in unison.
"Where's Hiro? I thought I just heard his voice. Is he back yet?" At this, a sudden shudder ran down both Riza and Reiri's spine. Sawawa's cluelessness was legendary after all… and it didn't help that she had a knack of handling sensitive situations, mainly sensitive situations that involved her younger brother, but sensitive situations nonetheless, with anything but subtlety…
"Sawawa…" Reiri cut in trying her best to speak calmly though a few beads of sweat were already starting to form on her brow. "I actually have something important to discuss with you… It's about Hiro…"
"OHHH?" Sawawa shrilled in glee. "Is he proposing already?" You can imagine the face Riza and Reiri made…
"No no no no! N-nothing like that… I think perhaps you should just act… natural around Hiro is all…"
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"I mean maybe you shouldn't bring up his girlfriend…"
"Reiri we don't know if she's his gir—(Shhhh! Let me handle this! *pinch*)—OWWWW!"
"Well… If we give Hiro some space now, he'll respond better later on. Teens are very rash during this age… just like you said rebellious and all. Give him some time and he'll be more comfortable telling us about it himself…"
Sawawa, then scrunched up her face into thought-filled clueless manner before grinning widely. "Oh… I get it!" The busty maid then winked at Reiri and Riza filling the comical duo with even more fear… "Thanks Reiri-chan!" And with that she was off still calling Hiro's name as if nothing had just happened…
"Ah… Do you have a bad feeling about this?"
"I'm a vampire so I usually don't get feelings…"
"Wonderful… and did you really have to pinch me twice!?"
"Fufu… this is getting really interesting…"
"Hey don't ignore me!"
Meanwhile, at the other end of the mansion…
Hime finally made it to her room with Flandre following close behind her.
"Fuga?" Questioned the sweet little gyniod as she went over to draw down the curtains.
"I'm fine Flandre." Hime said as she wobbled to the foot of her bed. She braced herself against one of the beams, her eye barely open.
"This isn't the first time I've stayed up all night."
"Fuga Fuga Fuga."
"Of course I'm aware he lied. Reiri confirmed it… and I'm his master after all… and Hiro's not suited for lying—his face says it all…"
"Fufu… because I am very merciful… and…" Hime's voice trailed off.
"Fuga?" Flandre questioned after a few moments slipped by.
"…And Hiro deserves to have a break…" At this Hime couldn't help but crack a smirk. Of course she'd never tell him that… he was her servant after all and she was a princess… these things cannot so casually be cast aside. She had to remain somewhat apathetic… like the need to act professional on the job except, in this case, Hime's career was fulltime and came with the possibility of death during each and every working hour… so yeah it wasn't exactly conducive to making nice…
That didn't mean now that she couldn't show Hiro some affection or leniency from time to time. He'd definitely earned it and what's more, she had never had a blood warrior this pathetic before… no offense to Hiro but he was more of a pet than a warrior… and yet his diligence, his steadfast commitment, he had come along way and so in the end those same shows of affection were done less and less out of pity and more because Hime herself had come to enjoy them…
So what if he was getting close to some girl at school? Just so long as he wasn't getting too close then everything was fine. Wouldn't want him to forget his duties now and perhaps there was more to that thought than Hime let on. But he deserved to have a normal life, even if for just a bit, and even if Hime herself could not. Yes. He of all people deserved that…
His name was the last thought she had before she drifted off peacefully to sleep…
Meanwhile, back in the rest of the mansion, things were pretty much in their normal swing or so it would have appeared if you were exceptionally unobservant… or if you were Hiro—like I said, exceptionally unobservant…
I mean really now, when Hime was in danger, yeah sure Hiro was all there 100 percent. But when you don't notice a vampire and werewolf snatching glances at you from down the hall, not even bothering to be stealthy as they argue over whether or not you're having some sorta… "secret sexual relationship," or when you don't even hear your own sister hollering your name from the room right next to yours and… yeah unobservant…
But it was just as well. When everything was said and done, things were ultimately in their usual state of abnormality. Riza and Reiri were still bickering, Sawawa was still cleaning, Flandre was still "fuga-ing"… so yeah, it was… routine, and that freed Hiro up to get himself together.
Unfortunately, that also gave the poor boy more unnecessary time to think…
He had lied to her… and it was still eating away at him. Not to mention that he'd also just lied to Riza and Reiri though that didn't seem to bother him as much.
I mean with Hime he had panicked… with Riza and Reiri he was just keeping the lie going. Lying to them then was more of an accessory to his mistake with Hime and so it didn't make him feel any worse but then again, it didn't make him feel any better.
*Sigh* Hiro took a deep breath…
He didn't want to say anything against the angel and yet he found it almost impossible not to. She was trouble if ever it had a name and face. Of course right as he went down that train of thought he remembered the rude way he had left her house… how he'd stayed the night over… how he'd imposed upon her… and what of her uncle? What if he came home and saw Hiro… all comfortable on his couch…? Yeah… *gulp*.
But on that note, Hiro soon found himself consumed by yet another thought that'd been eating away at him.
How on earth could I have let this happen?!
Okay sure, Hiro's escapades with Bucchi generally ended up with Hime and the gang having to save them both from some horrible fate… and yes both he and Bucchi would generally stay out late without mentioning a word to anyone… so okay, granted Hiro wasn't exactly the most responsible blood warrior in the world, fine… And yet here, with Yumi, things were indeed very different.
No, for real this time! He just… couldn't control himself when he was with her… like watching an image of yourself from behind a glass as it makes all of the wrong decisions for you… that's what last night felt like, that's what being with Yumi felt like, one more minute turned into an hour and a small snack turned into dinner and soon he was asleep on her couch… it frustrated him to say the least… It also didn't help that he'd promised to hang out with her again today…
Wait… WHAT? OH SHIT! I'M SUPPOSED TO MEET YUMI AT THE PARK AT 5! OH F—
I'll spare you the colorful words that ran through Hiro's mind and just tell you he was pretty upset. There was no way he could do that now, not now… Not after he had lied to Hime, not when they had to go to the Professor's, not at all now… DAMNIT! Hiro angrily grabbed his phone…
It was only 8:30 despite the fact that he'd already lied to his master, taken a shower, and started on his homework (oh what a productive day! Not.)… Geazz… he'd have to wait a little later to call her… to apologize… and cancel…
Won't you stay with me Hiro, just a little longer? Yumi's pleading voice filled his mind…
GODDAMNIT… He'd reschedule… not cancel…
Yet again the poor blood warrior found himself interrupted in some way and he realized that there was no such thing as peace in this house. He turned around and this time he saw his older sister Sawawa… Yep… you have to be really lucky to be this unlucky…
"S-S-Sawawa! I-I-I can explain about last night I—"
"It's okay Hiro… Reiri already told me everything…"
"O-o-o-oh?" Hiro mumbled half wondering what the word everything meant… and half not wanting to know at all.
"Hiro…" Sawawa began again. "I just… I just wanted to tell you I'm very proud of you… you know that don't you?"
"Sawawa what are—?"
"Because of my work and your schooling I don't always get to spend time with you… I'm happy now that we at least see each other every day but I don't always tell you just how proud I am of you. Mother and father would be too…"
"…Thank you Sawawa…" Hiro said dying a bit on the inside. This is hell… I'm in hell… This is hell…
"You're welcome my little brother… you know you'll always be my little brother no matter how big and responsible you get fufu so if there's ever anything you need just let me know Hiro! Nee-san will take care of everything!"
"Thanks… Nee-san…" Hiro practically squeaked doing his best to put on a half-hearted smile till Sawawa left leaving him in agony…
"Oh and before I forget Hiro." Sawawa called rushing back into the room. SHE'S STILL NOT DONE YET?! "I need you to run into town later to get some groceries for me. I'll have a list ready in a few. Thanks a bunch!" The busty maid then walked up to Hiro, gave him a quick snug, and then she left the room—this time for good…. Yeah… Hiro's mood had finally taken the dip into shit… or crap… or both…
And so feeling as if the whole world was conspiring against him (because in effect it kind of was), poor Hiro simply went back to finishing up his homework doing his best to avoid feeling sorry for himself. Later on in the day, in between helping out with the usual Saturday chores and avoiding everyone in the mansion like the plague, Hiro called Yumi… he called and called and yet all he got was the answering machine…
Last Message Recorded.
"Hey Yumi! It's Hiro. I don't know if you got my last few messages or the note I left you but again I just want to thank you for letting me stay over at your place… I'm really sorry about that! I didn't mean to impose on you and your uncle!
Anyway… umm… I can't make our meeting today. Something's come up here at my house. How about tomorrow instead… same place at 10 or so? In the morning? Give me a call back. Thanks bye."
And so Hiro continued about his business wondering where the hell Yumi was. Right when it was about 5 o'clock, the nervous wreck of a boy snuck out of the mansion to go grab Sawawa's supplies… and swing by Sasanaki Park… happily, no one was there…
Oh thank God! Hiro thought… She must have gotten my messages… I wonder why she didn't call me back though… Great… probably mad at me too… just what I need… the poor boy then hurried home… he hurried back to Hime… What a mess…
Of course if Hiro were only slightly more observant, he might have noticed the familiar pair of brown chocolate colored eyes watching him from across the street. A pair of brown eyes so pure, so innocent, so good, they could only belong to an angel… a familiar angel…
By the time Hiro made it back to the house, Hime had already woken up. He came through the front door right as she was coming down the stairs with Flandre by her side.
"Let's go Hiro."
"Yes Hime." Hiro said as he handed over the groceries to Sawawa.
"Sawawa… we will be returning late tonight so you don't need to prepare dinner for us. You may take the rest of the day off as well."
"Thank you Oujo-sama I will!" Sawawa said bowing happily. She then turned to her little brother—much to his dismay. "Goodbye Hiro!" She said winking an eye in his direction.
"Ahh… bye… N-nee-san…" Hiro said hurriedly hoping to avoid another conversation like the last one. He didn't think his heart could handle it…
And with that Hiro, Hime, and Flandre made their way into the garage where both Riza and Reiri were already waiting.
"Hiro come on…" Hime beckoned to her blood warrior. "We'll be taking the truck. Riza and Reiri will be taking the car."
"HUH?" Riza cringed, her wolfish ears twitching. "H-hold up! W-why do I have to drive around with this bat hag?"
"You don't like it…?" Reiri asked throwing Riza a mischievous grin as she edged closer to the half-breed.
"D-don't get so close to me!" Riza squealed blushing madly as Reiri placed her head on the werewolf's shoulder.
"Hey you clueless bitch!" Reiri whispered. "Hime and Hiro need some time alone so calm down or I'll pinch you!" At this, all poor Riza could do was grumble to herself as Reiri giggled triumphantly. They both then got into Hime's car, and that was that, they were off…
And so indeed the odd little convoy made their way out of the mansion gates heading as they were to the Professor's complex.
And, for better or for worse…Hiro realized that he was stuck with Hime, his own personal hell… Sure, Flandre was there with him but that didn't really count. No. It was just him and her… and a two hour drive to the Professor's.
And it was silent, of course, why wouldn't it be? If there was going to be a conversation… he was going to have to start it. That's just how Hime was… how she always was… But what on earth could he say?
Maybe… maybe he could just come out with it? Yeah… Hime… I-I lied… or Hime… I'm sorry but I lied to you earlier… DAMNIT! No… he'd sound like a complete ass… he couldn't tell her he lied… B-besides… it was something so stupid… Hime probably already forgot about it… I mean who the hell cared who Hiro spent his time with… maybe he should just apologize again for staying out late… that was the real mistake he'd made… and yet he still didn't feel right… the lie, it seemed, consumed him… more than just screwing up as her blood warrior it was a betrayal no matter how insignificant… and being half-hearted about it and letting it pass even if Hime herself didn't care didn't feel right to him. So now it was time to set things right… it was time to tell Hime the truth, the whole truth… okay… here we go… Hiro took a deep breath.
TWO HOURS LATER…
"We're here." Hiro said doing his best to hold back the comical river of tears welling up in his eyes… yeah… two hours and he couldn't do it. He couldn't tell his master a damn thing…
"…Yeah." Hime said without even opening her eyes as Flandre pulled up in front of the massive castle. There the professor's personal gyniod waited patiently near the massive front doors, smiling warmly, ready to assist, truly a welcome worthy of any king.
"Welcome your majesty and company to the main castle!"
"WRONG!" The professor's voice boomed from the intercom as his camera looked down to them. "How many times must I correct you? This is the research laboratory; the other complex is the main castle!"
"You're right again! My apologies sir!"
"BAH!" The professor scowled before he turned his attention to Hime. "Greetings second Princess! It's been awhile!"
"Professor, good to see you in fine health."
"The same too you. But enough with the formalities, tell me now, why are you here?"
"Grrr…" Riza growled as she got out of the car. "Hime this brain gets stupider every time we come over here!"
"WHAT WAS THAT WEREWOLF DAUGHTER?"
"Hey Professor Fool… Hime called ahead last night. We're here for Flandre's maintenance. Remember now?"
So that's what we're here for! Hiro thought feeling like an idiot for not asking.
"Well excuse me werewolf daughter! I have a great many things going on right now so I tend to be forgetful. 'Tis the nature of all things that think. Anyway, barring your rudeness—"
"GRRR! DON'T PUSH ME BRAIN!"
"—please proceed into the facility. Second Princess meet me in my chamber so that we may discuss matters in private. The rest of you, as always, feel free to look around the complex. Just don't touch anything… And don't break anything… and don't wander anywhere you aren't supposed to… come to think of it perhaps you shouldn't wander at all… I—"
"Professor our talk?"
"Oh right! Yes Second Princess. I will be waiting for you in my chamber. *Click*." And with that the intercom went silent.
"Nice one Hime… Geazz another second of that Brain's bullshit and I might have ended up clawing out my own brain…"
"Well bitch… I'd certainly like to see you manage that considering how air filled your skull is…"
"You want to start with me too Reiri?!"
"Fufu… just relax bitch. We managed to survive the car ride over here… how about you not ruin the atmosphere for once with that boorish nature of yours (or do I have to pinch you-know-where again fufu)."
"Oh you're asking for it (and just try to)."
"Riza, Reiri… keep it done."
"Tsst… whatever… *pinch* YOOOWWCH!"
And so the odd little group made their way into the Professor's laboratory. And no matter how many times they went in, it always got to Hiro, that is the sheer grandeur of the facility (and this wasn't even the main castle!).
Indeed, the Professor wasn't royalty but he sure knew how to live like it. Not that he needed much comfort… you know being a disembodied brain and all but still, if nothing else, it at least said something about the man he used to be… and maybe that sentimentality wasn't a bad thing… even if his taste hinted at an ego the size of the moon…
"Hey Hiro! This way!" Riza said calling him into the lounge.
"Okay!" Hiro smiled as he went over to Riza. He took one last glance over his shoulder as he watched his princess and Flandre head off down the hall.
Hime… Hiro gazed after his lovely master…
He'd tell her tonight… yes. He definitely would…
Hime and Flandre made their way to the Professor's chamber. There as they went forth approaching the Professor's tank at the center of the room, Hime was slightly surprised to see Gilliam and Sherwood there.
"Ah Second Princess! There you are." The Professor said as Hime approached and Flandre went over to the maintenance and recharge bay.
"Lillianne…" Gilliam said turning to her giving a quick nod. "It's been awhile."
"It has brother… but as always I will not permit you to call me by that name…"
"Sorry! I forgot… seriously everytime Li—sister…"
"Onee-sama!" Sherwood called as she rushed toward Hime.
"Sherwood… Professor… I wasn't aware that you called a meeting."
"I didn't. Actually it seems you and most of the remaining royal family all just decided to service your androids at the same time. The coincidence is eerie but convenient. At least now I can give you all a status update on him…"
"Stow it Professor! Or at least wait until I leave the room. I don't care what Fuhito is doing."
"Prince Gilliam… You seemed interested before… and I figured you of all people would wish to know of Fuhito's activities… aren't you planning an attack?"
"Hmpf… you may be a little too smart for your own good brain…"
"Gilliam…" The Professor said as his tank began to bubble. "Even despite my warnings, my blatant warnings on how powerful Fuhito is, you still plan to fight him? I understood all of your decisions to remain independent despite how foolish such a decision will prove to be but you… you Gilliam… you plan to go even further along with this madness and directly attack such a man? CHALLENGE HIM AND HOPE TO WIN?"
"I don't see why I have to answer you. I may be planning to attack Fuhito and I may not be. The royal family is currently engaged in a civil war, so why wouldn't I prepare assaults on my enemies? And anyway, discussing battle plans with a seemingly neutral party in his quasi-demilitarized zone is just foolish."
And with that silence took the room, the Professor didn't say a word and neither did Hime or Sherwood… not a word among them…
"Well that's rude Gilliam fufu…" A familiar voice called breaking the silence with the sound of shattering innocence…
"Onee-sama…" Gilliam said with only a passing glance as Sylvia entered the chamber. "I see your back from your walk."
"You know any direct attacks now would be most unwise… fufu."
"You too I see… Hmpf… As I've said before, I maybe preparing an attack and may not be. Anything more and all I will say is this… if you can't beat your opponent on your own skill then you don't deserve to fight them… in other words… you don't deserve to rule over them… That isn't a call for brute force but rather control…"
"Fufu… well said Gilliam. You always did take pride in your battle instincts… in fact many in the kingdom actually acknowledge you as the one who killed Emil… not his illness. However…" Sylvia said as her innocent smile began to contort into a sadistic one. "Here I think you may be mistaking pride with over-confidence… a foolish error when setting a trap fufu!"
"Hmpf… always so straight forward Sylvia… In time all things will become clear. Anyway, I've had enough of this talk… I'm leaving now. Professor… I'd like to… request that you finish up the Mark II's maintenance as soon as possible…"
"One does not simply rush science prince Gilliam…" At this the prince merely scuffed muttering something underneath his breath before disappearing out of the room.
"Hime-chan and Sherwood-chan…" Sylvia said as she turned toward her younger sisters, her face as innocent and gorgeous and kind as ever… "How have you two been?"
"BE QUIET CROOK!" Sherwood raged as she seized Hime's arm. "We haven't heard from you in awhile and we want to keep it that way… "Let's go Onee-sama!" Sherwood said as she more or less tugged poor Hime out of the room.
"My, my I see but I guess it can't be helped… fufu…" And with that Sherwood and Hime too left the room without so much as a second glance to their worst enemy.
"…Sherwood…" Hime finally said as they made their way down the hall. "When did you get here?"
"Just a few minutes ago. I had planned to call you but I didn't think I'd be staying here very long… now it looks like we'll all be here a bit longer…"
"It's just as well now that you're here. I wanted to get Francesca in top shape just in case we get attacked again. I image the same goes for you and Flandre? And it looks like we aren't the only ones… This fear of Fuhito… and he hasn't even made a move… we all know he's powerful… for the Professor to even compare him to Emil is enough to let us know we aren't dealing with just another royal… but still, he hasn't done anything yet, no attacks, no appearances… save for your encounter with him. Everyone's just trying to get ready… but still, those attacks two weeks ago… they don't seem like the kind of attacks he'd use… he's powerful enough for a direct conflict, by himself even. That complicates our situation… it means someone else is trying to attack us here… maybe weaken our forces… indirect conflict… perhaps weaken a lamb to draw out the wolf."
"That's one possibility."
"It definitely sounds like Sylvia! That sort of sadistic thinking is right up her alley… and after seeing Gilliam and her again… I'm almost sure of it… While he's off preparing for war, she's in her own little bubble… secretly plotting like the crook that she is! It definitely fits her MO… this chaos and uncertainty… it's her playground…"
"Seems like it." Hime said not really paying attention.
"You're so apathetic!" Sherwood sighed just as Hiro walked into the hallway.
"Hime? I heard the meeting with the Professor was over. I—Oh… I-I'm sorry. I didn't see you there Princess Sherwood."
"No it's fine Hiro. It's good to see you."
"It's good to see you too."
"I was just on my way to get some tea. Onee-sama we'll catch up later. Goodbye Hiro!"
"Goodbye princess Sherwood."
And just like that, as Sherwood left the hall, Hiro and Hime were alone… again… okay… it's time to do this Hiro… it's time to come clean…
Hiro was about to open his mouth and then, literally out of nowhere… Prince Gilliam just happened to show up… Geazz… was it always this hard to speak to Hime?
"Ah sister… I see you are done talking with that treacherous Brain…"
"Brother…" Hime said nodding at him. "…What the Professor said… are you really planning to attack Fuhito?"
At this the hallway went oddly silent. Hiro was quite surprised in fact by Hime's question, she wasn't exactly the most forthcoming person—even among the royals, and she had a tendency to answer her own questions such that she didn't need to ask them in the first place but here… it seemed Fuhito was a bigger concern than Hiro realized… and of course that made sense… his telekinetic powers all but dwarfed Emil's not to mention there was a coldness to him… Hiro remembered all too well that cruelty… there would be no mercy to the fool that got in his way…
"… This war…" Gilliam finally said breaking the silence. "…has gone on long enough… hasn't it my sister? How long has it been since we've had a decisive battle? Since you and Severin? Me and Emil? You and Duken? We're so close to ending this war… so close… but then along comes Fuhito like some boogieman from an old age… and everything stops. We can't move forward, attacking one another now is pointless. He'd end up winning. He is the biggest concern but once he's gone… things will be settled quite quickly between the rest of us… of course that means we will eventually have to fight one another… and soon we will have our rightful king…"
"I understand Gilliam niisama but again I'm not interested in the throne."
"Yes… I know that little sister. Which is why our battle will be all the more unfortunate… but such is our fate. Barring special situations, the Phoenixes will never accept a partial victory and they shouldn't. In this war for immortality, no, in any war for that matter, if you haven't crushed your opponent completely, they can always try again… In the end there can be only one immortal king. Fuhito's generation had their chance… Now it's our turn. And we must face that destiny even if our paths cross and our swords clash… Anyway, I will take my leave now sister. Blood warrior." Gilliam said as he nodded walking past Hiro.
"Prince Gilliam…" Hiro said bowing slightly.
Well that conversation was… heavy… it kind of made Hiro feel like a fool to be bothering Hime with his stupid concerns about last night. Oh well, at least now he could set his mind at rest. Okay… time to tell her…
"Oh Gilliam I didn't know you here…." Oh no… Hiro's spine shivered at the sound of that voice… that sadistically innocent female voice (yeah I don't know if he's ever going talk to Hime at this rate)…
"I was just leaving…" And sure enough as the pitter-patter of Gilliam's footsteps disappeared, the "monster queen" herself, Sylvia, made her way into the hall.
"Hime-chan! I was hoping to catch up to you before our little sister dragged you off!"
"Sylvia neesama…" Hime said as a small smirk began to grow on her face. "I believe Sherwood has made our position clear."
"Goodness, I guess I'm getting that a lot lately fufu!" Sylvia smiled and, oh god, it was so innocent… Hiro had to keep telling himself she was the enemy. "Well… if that's really how you feel I'll go… but… fufu… let me just say one thing." Sylvia said waiting for some form of conformation from Hime who in turn simply blinked and continued staring. "Be careful. Be careful Hime-chan… fufu…"
"Hmpf… you came all this way just to tell me that? To warn me? I don't think so."
"Fufu…" That laugh always scared the hell out of Hiro—like a great veil had been lifted and a monster revealed. "What's the matter Hime-chan? Don't you believe me? If I recall I saved you from an attack not too long ago… an attack by Gilliam himself. Come now, I only have your best interests at heart fufu, and right now, with all the tension mounting because of Fuhito, one must be extra careful… you've never been like us… to wage war and attack your opponents… but here… simply turtling up won't cut it this time around, though, admittedly, neither will direct attacks… If only our brother could see that… but he's just a soldier… too stuck in his ways about battle glory and skill that he can't see the other methods right in front of him… he'd much rather take through force and strength. That's the control he's talking about. That's the decree he'd rule by… An endless battlefield…"
"So you have another method?" Hime asked still smiling, humoring the devil in front of her…
"Fufu! Now, now Hime-chan… that would be telling! But let's just say I like… efficiency. And taking out two opponents at once often suits me. I dare say Gilliam should watch himself! I may not be able to help it if he does attack Fuhito and they both wear each other out fufu! The same goes for you Hime, and that little child you insist on babysitting. If you just keep waiting on the sidelines, only attacking after you've been attacked… you may end up becoming a pawn in someone else's strategy fufu… take care Hime-chan and Hiyorimi Hiro! You never know what dangers are lurking… in the most obvious of places… Farewell…"
And just like that Hiro felt he could breathe again as Sylvia vanished down the hall. Geazz… what a frightening woman… Hiro glanced over his shoulder and noticed that Hime's back was doing that subtle thing it always did whenever a conversation with one of her siblings went bad… of course, even if said conversation didn't exactly sound bad, slight disagreements, scuffing at the wrong time or coughing in mid sentence, that sort of aristocratic bullshit, that was the noble way of arguing, insulting, and ridiculing… in other words, almost all conversations with her siblings ended poorly, though Hiro had to admit Hime always looked far more "beat up" whenever it was Sylvia that she was talking too… he was beginning to think that he should just drop the idea of telling her he lied… he didn't want to cause her any more distress…
"Hiro…" And there went his retreat, his master had called his name, for better or for worse, he was locked in conversation with her. "It seems we always get interrupted… fufu… you wanted to speak to me?"
"…Hime…" Come on Hiro… you can do this… "I wanted to tell you… about last night I—"
"It's fine Hiro. I know…"
That shut him up. Oh god that shut him up.
"What's done is done… I know you didn't mean to stay out late… but right now, I need you Hiro…" His heart nearly exploded there. "Things are getting more dangerous, and I understand you need to take a break… but you're a blood warrior. And I'm afraid neither of us will be getting a break till this war is over…"
Hiro just stared at Hime… was she trying to cover for him? Tell him it was okay… did she know he lied? It didn't seem like it… but then again it didn't exactly seem like any of that was her concern right now…
"Is everything alright Hime?"
"It seems everyone's a little antsy. I had no idea Fuhito's arrival was such a huge deal…"
"This war is coming to end Hiro…"
"So many have died. And not just royals. The conflict is boiling down to just a few. It may seem like Fuhito is our biggest concern but in reality he's just the biggest threat. So this tension… this lull in the war… it's just the eye of the hurricane… And that anxious feeling… the meaning behind it… that's the understanding that it's all coming down… that's what everyone's feeling… Fuhito… he is the end of everything…"
"…*Gulp*…" Wow… when Hime put it like that… it was hard to image any sort of hope left… "Is that what you're feeling too… right now…?"
"In a way… But that's why I need you… Hiro… If you haven't figured it out yet then I'll just say it bluntly…I forgive you, but we're still not through this yet. Keep your head up… stay by my side."
I forgive you… stay by my side… Hiro smiled to himself. What a fool he'd been. And thus, in a fit of grandeur and pure devotion, inspired happily by the power and sincerity of the woman in front of him, Hiro put his hand to his heart prompting a questioning look from Hime. "Master…" he said with all the tenderness and strength and pride he could muster. "I'll stand at your side… till the very end…"
And so it seemed the mood was contagious for no sooner did he present his resolve that Hime herself couldn't help but smile as she called to him again. "Good my blood warrior." She then bit her hand and let drip her blood. "I believe it's about time you drank…"
And just like that their conversation ended. It wasn't anything extraordinarily flashy or fancy. It was short and to the point but above all it was meaningful. There was a significance to it, hidden away in the plainness of the words, their words…
Hiro still didn't tell Hime that he lied but even then, he knew that Hime had forgiven him… in more ways than one and that was good. Everything was alright.
Moments after he'd finished sipping her blood, licking her finger clean for it was an elegant task to trace the fair warmth of such a supple hand, Hiro looked his master in the eyes… "Hime…"
"Hiro…" she called back and despite the toneless nature of her voice, there was indeed affection in it… and a deep fondness, endearment. Yes. An understanding had been reached…
I forgive you…
Stay by my side…
Till the very end…
"HIRO get up! You shouldn't sleep so late silly, you're breakfast is gonna get cold!"
"HUH?" Once again, poor Hiro Hiyorimi awoke to find himself in yet another unusual albeit somehow familiar situation with no recollections of how he got there. Of course, having just flown out of his bed and colliding with his sister's… floatation devices, it all came rushing back to him (yeah probably because his life just flashed before his eyes).
"A-ah… N-nee-san… W-what time is it?"
"It's ten o'clock Hiro. I'm surprised… you never sleep this late. What time did you guys get home last night?"
Hiro didn't even hear her question… the only words he heard was ten o'clock… ten o'clock… "AHHH! LATER SAWAWA! I'VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!"
And with that Hiro stripped down to his boxers and collided with his dresser creating an avalanche of clothing that exploded everywhere. And despite the eerie sense of irony or déjà vu, Hiro paid it no mind, he had something to do, something named Yumi.
"I'm leaving now!"
"Oh but Hiro it's raining! And what about…"
But Sawawa could barely finish her sentence as Hiro jumped into his sneakers, opened his bedroom door, and rushed up the basement stairs out into the darkness of the day.
"See you later Nee-saaaaan!" Hiro called from the lobby before disappearing into the abyss.
And for a time, Sawawa just gazed after him, her little brother… Ah young love… she thought… if only it wasn't raining I'd go pick out my dress for the wedding right now! Oh that's right! I need to invite people! Let's see… there's Reiri-chan, Riza, Nakua, Flandre, oh and of course Oujo-sama! Goodness, goodness… so much to do fufu! (sweat bubble)…
Hiro rushed out of the mansion only to be smacked by bullet sized rain and whip like wind. He pushed forward, sprinting past the mansion gate but that was almost as far as he'd gotten. It was ridiculous outside! No one in their right mind would be out today… granted it wasn't as bad as the typhoon incident (for you non-manga folks—it's a long story, don't go there) but still, this was insane! Hiro wondered if he should've called Yumi… or if he even needed to call… it seemed pretty obvious that today was a stay at home kind of day. And yet he just couldn't… there was something that kept pushing him forward, he had to go see. Just to make sure, call it an inclination but he had the time. Hime didn't need him, he had finished up his homework, and even if Yumi was there, he'd just tell her to go home… hanging out now was out of the question… and they'd see each other tomorrow in school anyway.
And so Hiro rushed off toward Sasanaki Park while the few residents that were out ran the other way, fleeing in terror as the rain seemed to pelt down even harder. It only reaffirmed Hiro's doubt…There's no way Yumi would be out here… in this… And yet, as he rushed down the street, the now empty street, rounding a bend past the metal gate of the park, he stopped and so did time.
There, a lone figure stood, near the park's entrance, soaked to the bone.
"Yumi…" Hiro whispered… "YUMI!" Hiro called. He rushed over to his friend but she didn't move nor did she look up. She just stood there, umbrella in hand but not in use, her short bangs now long enough, drenched by the rain, covering up her eyes and all that could be seen was the shadow of a frown…
"YUMI!" Hiro exclaimed as he got right up to her. He grabbed her umbrella and opened it quickly covering them both from the storm. "W-what's the matter? Huh? Are you okay? Come on let's get out of the rain."
"Hiro…" Yumi said, her voice barely above a whisper. "Answer me something…"
"Who's that girl you live with… the blonde haired one…"
"Ahhh…" Oh no… "W-w-what?"
"She's not your sister… Who is she?"
"Y-Yumi… how… how do you know about her?"
"I… I saw you come to the park yesterday…" Hiro's face went white… "I had to go drop off some spare clothes at my uncle's job… he stayed the night again—he does that a lot on the weekends… fu-fu… When I got back you were already gone. I… I'd brought you breakfast and everything…" Hiro melted…
"I saw you're note… figured we might still be on at 5… so I went about my day, doing chores and running around town. I finished a little late… 5:10 or so. I didn't have time to go back home so I just rushed to the park. Just in case you were there… in case we were still own…" Hiro's mind was racing… how… how could everything be conspiring in just the right way to screw him?
"I saw you leaving. I called out your name but I guess you didn't hear me. I tried to catch up and before I knew it we were up that private road on the far side of town… up near that mansion… that gorgeous mansion…" Hiro's heart was pounding… it just… it just wasn't real… it wasn't possible… the noise from the rain and the thunder seemed muted and this moment was completely defined by the all consuming angel that was Yumi…
"You were still way ahead of me. By the time I got to the gates I saw you and that girl walking out together… she was beautiful… And I mean beautiful… there was a strength about her… and a melancholy. If… fufu… it's silly… but if I didn't know better… I'd say she was a princess… fufu… And then… I saw you walking right behind her…" This can't be happening… this can't be… "I've never seen that look on someone's face before… like you were more than just in love… like you were complete… and you'd do anything for her… like she was your heart…"
"No!" Hiro shouted as the sound of thunder echoed throughout the world—he had to make this right… he had to fix this… what he had to fix he didn't know but he had to fix this… this situation. "You got it all wrong! Hime… is…"
"Ah… yeah it's her n-n-nickname…"
"You're nickname for her?"
"N-N-N-NO! It's just her nickname in general… everyone calls her that… ah…" Hiro looked at Yumi as she stared at him, eyes puffy, tears streaming, hair soaked, his heart was burning… "She's just… the mistress of the house. My sister and I serve her."
"Y-you serve her?" Again it seemed he was doing a bad job at this whole explaining thing. For some reason everything just sounded wrong when Yumi said it (not in sexual way, but in a judgmental kind of way)… like it was a crime… a degradation…
"AH! Yes. I mean no. I mean I just help her with odd jobs and stuff…" Hiro muttered (well that's one way to describe being a blood warrior). "I'm just a servant…"
"That's a horrible story Hiro! You mean to tell me after your parents died you ended up having to work with your sister as this lady's servants!?"
"Ah… well… it's not a bad thing." Hiro cringed feeling slightly offended and yet finding it harder and harder to justify himself. "Hime's really nice and she let us stay in her house. My sister and I had nowhere else to go… we'd long run out of relatives willing and able to accept us…she… Hime… saved us…"
"You're too kind Hiro… that's so sad… you deserve better… goddammit it's like slavery!"
"I-I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I don't know the whole situation… and it isn't my place to judge. I'm so, so sorry." She said bowing… good lord she was bowing… Hiro was about ready to cry.
"Yumi please…" Hiro was begging her now… "Stop apologizing…"
But as if God himself wished to pierce the fragile heart of the young blood warrior, Yumi just smiled warmly before apologizing again. She apologized… again.
"But I must Hiro… I'm sorry… so sorry… I shouldn't have been peering into your private life it's just that… I… I really enjoy spending time with you…" Hiro had never seen this before. Part of him was terrified, part of him was angry, part of him was sad, and still part of him was going crazy. No girl… that's right no girl had ever reacted this way to something that he'd done. No one. Not Sherwood. Not Reiri. Not Riza. Not Hime. No one. No girl. He knew having the sense of a kind boy that he was clearly doing something wrong and yet for the life of him he didn't know how to make it right. He also knew, having the sense of a young man, that Yumi wasn't only interested in friendship…
And yet even still…
I really enjoy spending time with you…
Those words echoed like a poison in his mind infecting every corner as it went. He couldn't breathe and yet he couldn't die. If it were possible then it was true, Hiro's heart was split in two.
"I guess I felt… I felt… happy when you were around… like I wasn't alone anymore… I hate being alone… but you Hiro, you were different. You stood out from the very beginning… it was always… you—"
Yumi went silent, unable to speak, as two slender arms wrapped themselves around her waist and back pressing her further into the smothering albeit soothing warmth of the young man in front of her. Hiro had heard enough, he had had enough. And so with his instincts guiding him, he dropped the umbrella and seized the young girl allowing her head to fall into the crux of his neck. Gently, with a certain grace unlike his usual self, the boy spoke.
"Yumi." It was tender. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I..." He thought hard about what he was about to do. What he was about to say. He clenched his eyes shut. "I can't give you that…"
He felt a stir near his neck as Yumi shifted her head further down. That was it… the long awaited say… a conversation two weeks in the making… everything was out in the open now.
I-I-It's as Hime said… she needs me... I-I… I'm sorry Yumi…she needs me…
"I will however stay with you now…" Yumi tore herself from Hiro's comfortable neck to find the boy smiling warmly underneath the mess of his soaking bangs. "You're not alone."
And so the two figures stayed locked in each other's embrace ignoring the rain. They went off, happily in each other's company and everything was right… everything was alright…
"*Sniff, sniff* ah… by the way Hiro… you really do have horrible handwriting… fufu…"
"Yea… haha… I told you…"
Meanwhile, several hours later back at the mansion.
"Hiro's not back… again…" Hime practically sighed the entire sentence as she looked up at Sawawa.
"No Ouja-sama." Sawawa said as she served Hime her dinner. Hime noticed the mistiness that clouded the busty maid's eyes and instantly knew what she was thinking. Needless to say, it did not impress her. I mean, it wasn't like she cared who Hiro was spending his time with, boy or girl or whatever—because she didn't—she just figured after their conversation at the Professors they were clear on a few things. Good grief… she thought. She'd definitely have to have another little chat with him later…
Alas her musings—and Hiro—would have to wait.
"What is it Riza?"
"Bad news we've got trouble!"
"You may take the rest of the evening off."
"Oh but Oujo-sama, aren't you going to eat?"
"Later. Now head to your room and lock your door. Refrain from leaving tonight."
"As you wish Oujo-sama." Sawawa said with a smile as she left the room.
"What's the trouble Riza?"
"It's the mansion! We've got enemies moving up the hill."
"Any word on the enemy?" Hime asked as she got up to look out the window, still keeping her cool, she sipped her tea from a coaster as she watched.
"Reiri is taking care of that." Riza said and sure enough as if on cue, Reiri's bats rushed into the room and the beautiful vampiric vixen manifested herself.
"Greetings Hime-sama! Sorry to interrupt your dinner… fufu—"
"Just hurry up will ya! What's going on!?"
"My, my what a noisy bitch, are you that worried about the situation…? And here I thought werewolves are supposed to be fearless!"
"Stow it Reiri! Why don't you use that peanut-sized brain of yours for a change?! Hiro's out there! If we're under attack he could be in danger! Maybe even kidnapped… or if he's on his way home right now, he's going to be in for one hell of a fight!"
"Hmpf… it's low class demons…"
"DEMONS AGAIN!? I knew those attacks were far from over! This is serious! What should we do Hime?"
"Fufu isn't it obvious?" Hime said smirking, a chainsaw already in hand (yeah I don't know where she keeps getting those). "We're going to go greet our guests… fufu…"
"But Hime-sama! Why are we going outsi—*mumble mumble mumble*—!"
"Be quiet Reiri and let's go." Riza said, her hands already transformed into her wolfish claws… which she was currently using to cover Reiri's mouth—you can image the vampire was hardly pleased…
Regardless, a few moments later and they were all racing down the lobby stairs, with Hime in the lead.
"I still don't know why we're going outside…" Reiri complained. "What if it starts raining again?! I don't want to be caught in that! Yuck!"
"Tsst! You have no guts!"
"Listen bitch! Vampires absolutely hate water—rain included! You know this… and besides things are very different from the last three times we were attacked…."
"Hmmm? What does that mean?"
"I mean normally demons like evil gods are nearly impossible to detect yet here we were able to pick them up instantly…"
"So that means they wanted us to detect them… and not to mention they're attacking far earlier in the day too… even if because of the weather it's dark out, it's still not nighttime…"
"…And that means…?"
"That means it's most likely a trap! God you're an idiot!"
"Haha! GOOD!" Riza yelled with a toothy grin while Reiri just shook her head.
She wanted to say something more but soon they were out onto a battlefield just midway down the walk toward the mansion's gate… and that's when they saw them… indeed that's when they saw six nightmarish creatures standing two by two in three rows, neatly organized and yet eerily unpredictable…
The creatures did not speak for they had no mouths but there was a mad thrilling sound in the air, a midnight hum or perhaps a deranged lullaby…
And there was more to them than that but also less…
They were fearsome gangly creatures yet they hardly had any other features save for the color gray. They had arms and legs all the same length with claws at the end of each but nothing quite summed them up as well as the word gray. They had eyes which were colorless and blind, they had no odor and yet there was a stench of blood and fear but no, simply gray described it all, like shadows of the devil whispering through the wind, their comprehension different to each person, but all unanimously gray.
"Reiri… you sure this is it?"
"This is a joke! The last three times they sent a ton of these bastards after us! Well whatever…"
"Riza… hang on… something doesn't seem right…" Hime said eying the suspicious demons as they stood motionless like statues… But still Riza continued…
"…I'd introduce myself but again I don't think you low class demons would understand so let's just get to the part where I KICK YOUR ASS!"
"RIZA! WAIT!" Hime called but it was too late. Riza had already charged the set of creatures closest to her. She swung her wolfish claws hard and fast cutting through the wind with the sound of a whistle… It was such a magnificent attack capable of tearing down a mountain… truly a feat worthy of a werewolf warrior…
And yet there was nothing there. No corpse or body in front of her, no blood on her claws, or some ripped up remains. There was nothing there in front of her… And that's when she felt it.
"GAHH!" Riza screamed as blood exploded from her shoulder. She spun her head around and there they were… the two demons she'd just attacked now somehow behind her, their claws bloody with scraped bits of her flesh…
"Oh my…" Reiri said in hushed voice…
Riza just smiled before bellowing at the top of her lungs and lunging again at the vicious creatures behind her. "It's a good day to die!" And so the battle commenced…
Reiri took to the skies as was her forte. She flew up some twenty meters hoping to gain the aerial advantage but no sooner did she take off that one of the demons jumped toward her, the power in its muscles far surpassing what she expected, the demon matched her height coming face to face for a instant before slashing at her side and sending her back down to earth.
"REIRI!" Riza called as she continued to struggle with her own demons.
Reiri just kept falling as blood dripped from her side and her mouth, and as she fell from the stormy skies above she noticed out of the corner of her eye, the second demon in her pair had already made its move. And there directly blew her it lay with its claws directed upward ready to finish her. She turned into her bats just before that and manifested a few feet away… "HMPF!" She scuffed with a slight smirk as she licked the blood that ran down her lips.
"Riza! Reiri!" Hime called. "Be careful… these demons are still low class but they're stronger than last time…" Of course right as Hime turned to say that, the two demons closest to her attacked. Hime slashed at one of them with her chainsaw while Flandre swatted at the other with a tree trunk…
And so the battle raged on like this for a good ten minutes…
Reiri, having examined the demons jumping abilities realized they still couldn't fly and so once she dodged their initial attacks, she could easily return a few of her own, bashing them back toward the ground.
Riza on the other hand had taken a few deep slashes and wounds but she had soon come to realize the speed and power of her enemies and began to match them, capitalizing on her werewolf pride and strength to one-up their ferocity…
And so the tide seemed to turn… that is until one of the demons slipped past Riza's attack. She jumped back expecting to avoid a counter but none ever came for the demon had long since left her for a much sweeter prey, its sight set fully on the princess herself… And in that instant time seemed to stop… Riza saw it all… as did Reiri and Flandre and Hime as well…
Hiro… Hime thought as her blood warrior jumped behind her and took the blow intended for her… of course… that's what he would have done… if he were there… but Hiro was not there… and the demon's claw found its way into Hime's upper left shoulder… The fair princess did not scream… nor did she shout… but the pain was clear to all who looked upon her flawless face… Hiro… and so the moment passed.
"HIME!" Riza roared as she finally managed to slash into the other demon cleaving its head off before rushing toward the princess.
"HIME-SAMA!" Reiri called too as she used all of her strength (and her long legs) to kick both of the demons attacking her sending them from the air colliding into the ground and this time they stayed down… the force of the impact capable of shattering steel… never mind bone…
"I'm fine…" Hime called out of breath pressing her chainsaw into the claws of the demon she'd already been fighting while Flandre threw her tree trunk crushing the other demon that had flanked her. Unfortunately, the damage had been done and Hime felt her strength begin to wane but she also saw blood gushing from the root of the other demon's claws, and so, calling on her body's last bit of strength, she pushed her chainsaw further into the demon and this time its claws snapped. The last sight the demon saw was the serrated slash that cleaved its body in two…
Riza then rushed past Hime toward Flandre and slammed her claws deep into the final demon and just like that the day was won…
And soon they all rushed toward Hime asking her if she was alright and if she needed aid but her wound had already started to heal while Riza's and Reiri's wounds had already disappeared. In the end, it wasn't a deep cut, in fact it was barely anything more than a flesh wound…
It was enough of a wound to make her realize, a few more inches further down and she'd have been dead and Hiro… despite everything they'd said, that they'd talked about, despite their mutual understanding, despite all their words, Hiro was not there. She could have died and he wouldn't have even noticed. Hiro wouldn't have even noticed. Her blood, if ever, was boiling…
A good two hours or so later and it started raining again. Hiro opened the door, soaked to the bone. His bangs covered his eyes dripping drops of rain like tears down his cheeks. He wanted to shower, to wash away his failures and frustrations, that's what he wanted but this wasn't about what he wanted… it rarely ever was…
"Hiro." A flat, emotionless voice instantly called his name and he realized he was developing a strong sense of Déjà Vu...
There he was in the sorriest state he'd been in for a long, long while and yet, from the toneless voice belonging to none other than his master, it didn't seem to matter. He was not excused… there would be no more excuses… no more breaks… no more chances to just break down and cry or deal with his teen drama, oh and excuse me if he thought his problems were important enough to muse over… yes… because a war for some obscure throne that Hime didn't even want was so much more important than his own life… absolutely… so please, Hime… take it away.
"The dining room…"
Excellent... Hiro didn't make a sound. He didn't even look up for he knew his master was perched in the same way, giving that same order on her same chair, with Flandre pouring the same Earl Grey into her same cup. Everything was the same… habitual, like a habit of disappointment (one that he couldn't break), and yet it was all different.
All Hiro could do was nod and hope that that was enough. He knew it was disrespectful… not looking his master in the eye or acknowledging her with words, but right now he didn't really care and he prayed that Hime wasn't going to pour salt in his wounds for it… at least not yet…
But as fortune would have it, she seemed to get the hint, another show of her kindness, Hiro heard scuffling and then two sets of footsteps going up the rest of the stairs. He sighed in relief but he knew the worst was yet to come. He was in for one hell of a night… he could feel it…
And so he trudged leaving small puddles in his wake and sure enough by the time he got to the dining room, Hime and Flandre were set up in the same way as they were last time. Irony seemed to be the definition of Hiro's pathetic life.
"Hiro…" she began. "Where were you?"
Hiro didn't respond. He thought the small time it took to make his way from the lobby to the dining room would be enough to clear his head but he was wrong. He was more frustrated and more torn than he ever was before.
"Hiro… look at me when I'm talking to you…"
Hiro finally looked up at Hime and despite her blank face, he saw in her eyes that she too was frustrated… well of course… why wouldn't she be? Barely over a day ago they'd all but reached an understanding and yet here Hiro was proving himself a complete ass and anything but all that he had vowed to be…
"I'll ask you again… Hiro…" Time seemed to speed up and Hime was coasting right along with it. "Where were you? What were you doing that was so important that you didn't notice you're master was under attack? And please don't lie again…"
There it was. The swing and the follow-through, all the cards were on the table, the cat was out of the bag, and Hiro was in the frying pan. Hime had been attacked when he wasn't around to protect her, one of his worst fears come true. Add to that the fact that Hime had known all along—all along—that he'd lied to her and well yes it stung, but Hiro's mood was so far gone that it didn't make him feel any worse…
"I was… just… meeting a friend…" He should have said more, he should've. But he didn't. He didn't want to.
"That's all?" Hime asked briskly. It only served to compound the chilly atmosphere that was slowly spreading throughout the room.
"Yea… that's all."
"You have nothing else to say?"
"I don't… what do you want me to say?"
Yumi… was what he should have said. No… was what he wanted to say. "Does it matter?" Was what he actually said.
"Who's that girl you've been hanging out with lately?"
"…How do you know?"
"Is that really your question Hiro?" Ouch…
"…You had Reiri spying on me…"
"Hardly… I have Reiri keeping tabs on everyone in the house but you especially Hiro…with the amount of trouble you cause me, I have to keep an eye on you. I was protecting you…"
"Protecting. Me." Hiro repeated. That's all he heard. That's all he wanted to hear. The irony seemed mocking…
"Yes… What if this girl, Yumi, is an assassin? What if she's using you to get to me? It wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened. Or do you really think it's coincidental that you just happened to be out while we were attacked?"
Hiro was silent. He knew Hime, in her usual grand fashion, was not only making a very valid point but also, in the process, making him look like a complete ass. And yet, he didn't seem to care. He didn't care if she was right or not. There was a new disdain in him, a nagging sort of dissatisfaction, frustration, he felt compelled to disobey, that he was right and she was wrong… he was angry at her… and he had no idea why but he was, he simply was, and you know what? He felt justified…
"You can't tell me this didn't cross your mind Hiro. I would have assumed even you would have approached this encounter with more caution given you're past mistakes…" Yet again… Ouch… she was pushing him. "You have to consider that Yumi…" He was slipping. "… might be…" Don't say it. "…a monster…"
A monster… A monster… A monster… A monster… A monster… A monster…
"YUMI IS NOT A MONSTER!"
"Why is that your first thought? Why is that how it has to be?"
"Is it always about war? Is that how it's going to be until we kill Fuhito or he kills us?"
"Are you really that paranoid? Is the situation really that depressing? That white or black, THAT HOPELESS?" Hiro panted as he finished. That was it… he had finally snapped. It was just him and Hime now staring at each other both filled with rage, his more obvious, Hime's far less so perhaps due to shock, but both were undeniable angry at the other. And the scary part was… Hiro still felt justified. He knew he was wrong… and yet he knew he was right…
"Hiro. Calm. Down… listen to yourself… this isn't like you. Until we know exactly what we're dealing with I won't permit you to leave the mansion."
"No. No arguing Hiro. That's an order. We have been attacked over the last two weeks and I fear we haven't truly escaped our assailant's crosshairs. By the looks of things you may be there next target and so until we are absolutely sure everything is alright you are to stay here."
Again they'd reached an impasse. He had made his position clear and now Hime had made hers. "…So that's it then…?"
"Hiro this isn't the tim—"
"Yeah… I know… that's what you would say…"
Hiro turned to leave. "Hiro! Do plan on disobeying your master?"
Hiro stopped in his tracks then and there… his master had pulled out her trump card. If at that point there was any doubt in his mind he didn't show it when he said "…You may be my master… But I am not your slave…" And with that Hiro left the room letting the door slam shut behind him all the while Hime just looked on in silence…
"Yes I think you're right Flandre… maybe I could have handled that better…" Hime said with a subtle frown…
Meanwhile, just outside the dining room, Hiro stood for a moment letting the door collide shut behind him. He wanted to think… almost like a second thought just after a mistake, some bit of doubt finally seeping in but of course, with his luck, things were never so easy… and he noticed Riza and Reiri out of the corner of his eye as they attempted to hide… and fail at it… they must have been there the entire time… Great… Everything was perfect…
"Hiro!" Called Riza but he didn't even glance at her. She got a little pissed by that. "Oye Hiro! I'm t—"
"SHH!" Hissed Reiri as she covered up Riza's "dog" mouth and otherwise restrained the clueless half-breed. Of course this prompted a small struggle, a lot more hair pulling that actual fighting but it was gearing up to that.
Hiro finally turned toward the rabble as if to say something but instead all he did was glare causing both Riza and Reiri to freeze in place, the icy grip of the his cold stare completely unexpected and completely unlike him. And that was it… no words were spoken; he just turned on his heel and walked away leaving the two stupefied in the aftermath of his wake.
"Wow…" Riza said after a few seconds passed by. "I've never seen Hiro act that way… he was so tense… Hell, first he yells at Hime, then he doesn't even say anything to us… We should go see if she wants us to do something about him."
"Actually Riza… I think Hime-sama… and Hiro need some time alone… and keep you voice down would you!"
"Reiri. Riza. Come in here."
"URK!" The vampire and werewolf duo cringed practically jumping out of their skins
"Damn it bitch do you even know what the word 'stealth' means!?"
"How about screw you?"
"Yes Hime-sama!" The comical pair cried in unison. They walked into the dining room side-by-side practically glaring at one another.
"I'm sorry Hime. It's unbecoming for a warrior to sneak around." Riza said as she bowed her head shamefully throwing Reiri a dirty glance in the process.
"Hmpf!" retailed Reiri before she also bowed. "Yes well, I too am sorry Hime-sama, we didn't mean to eavesdrop. We just—"
"That's enough… It's fine." Hime said distantly as she stared out of the dining room window. "I called you two in here because I'm concerned about Hiro. It seems things are far worse than I feared…"
"Yes. That certainly wasn't like Hiro…"
"No… it wasn't…"
"B-but... with all due respect Hime-sama, Hiro is a teenager… and he's been under a lot of stress lately, we all have… it's probably just hormones…"
"Hormones or not… what do you what to do about this Hime? Do you want us to stop him? I think he's leaving the mansion…"
"No. That's fine, let him be for now. And no Reiri, I don't think this is something as simple as human puberty… no… if my suspicions are correct then all of us, Hiro included, are in great danger…"
"Danger?" perked Riza her eyes now lit up again with the same glint of blood lust she had early.
"Suspicions." Questioned Reiri still not all that convinced that something was amiss. "But Hime-sama! It really might just be that simple. I checked that girl out myself and my bats didn't detect a thing!"
"Yes… and that's exactly why I am suspicious..." Hime said deep in thought. "FLANDRE!"
"Contact Sherwood immediately. Tell her to meet us at that girl's place."
"Wait please Hime-sama! Forgive me for speaking out on this but I have the most experience with humans here. I walk among them. I hide among them! And right now I'm telling you that, if you're wrong here, acting now would certainly do more harm than good!"
"And I agree with you Reiri. That's why I want you to send your bats ahead of us… follow Hiro. He will lead us to that girl's house. If nothing is amiss… we won't attack… go now. We must prepare quickly."
"…Yes Hime-sama." And with that both Riza and Reiri left Hime alone and for a second the flawless princess just sat silently… thinking as she watched the world from her window, the rain trying to come in, and she saw Hiro sprinting through it all… "He's still such a fool…" she said coldly… but he's my fool.
"Fuga." Flandre called letting her master know she was back.
"Flandre… Have you contacted Sherwood?"
"Good. We might need the extra support… this situation is very volatile… and I don't know what will happen… it's been a long time since I've truly been in the dark… I guess this war really is ending fufu…"
"Yes Flandre… I'm fine…"
"No… I don't want more tea…"
"Yes I'm well aware it's Sawawa's Earl Grey… fufu… It's the same Earl Grey as always… but it taste slightly bitter today…" And with that silence consumed the room.
"Fuga…?" The blonde maid asked sadly…
"Yes… I'm… really fine…" Hime said as she continued to look out the window, the rain splattering and pelting at it threatening to get in, and above the clouds a stormy sky lay ready, and war seemed nigh as Hiro vanished from her sight…
Meanwhile, near the mansion's entrance…
"Well… ah… Hime seems to have taken that well." Riza finally said as she walked down the lobby stairs with Reiri.
"You really are clueless aren't you bitch?" sighed Reiri shaking her head in disappointment.
"GRRR… What'd you say!"
"Hime-sama was extremely upset!"
"Geazz… you didn't realize? You're more hopeless than Hiro... Or did you really not notice how Hime didn't even take a sip of her tea after Hiro left. How she didn't even look either of us in the eye when she spoke… Or how she practically kicked us out of the dining room… Hmpf… took it well… that was Hime and Hiro's first fight… ever! And by the looks of things, Hime was devastated…"
Riza just stared silently at Reiri as the melancholy of the night set in.
"Fufu… it really is a dismal night…" said Reiri unhappily as she opened the mansion's front door and let loose a few of her bats into the stormy skies of the crying world.
Meanwhile, down the hillside road leading up to the mansion, Hiro sprinted… He sprinted and sprinted. He sprinted till his bones cracked and his lungs popped, and then he sprinted some more, his legs smashing into the ground kicking up puddles and bits of asphalt as tears streamed down his tormented face. He couldn't believe he had just exploded… at Hime of all people. It had finally sunk in, whatever justification he felt before had long since melted…That was it. The last straw… the last in a long line of lasts, of failures.
Oh sure, he wanted to go back… and yet he wanted to runaway… so far the latter wasn't making him feel any better but then what would going back accomplish? How many times had he failed Hime? How many times had he proven that he was just a human in a war he couldn't possibly understand? How many times had he shown that he couldn't even save himself let alone the woman he had come to admire most? The answer was too many…
You may be my master… but I'm not your slave…
How could he have said that?
And so he sprinted away… he didn't know where he was going… he didn't care. And he half wondered if he was overreacting… and yet he felt like he wasn't… He was fighting… in his own way… in his own one man war… and he was losing.
He needed some justification, not to justify protecting Hime now… but a justification of his life… was he really just a shield? Was he going somewhere? Was… was this war really going to have a happy ending if he just tried hard enough and Hime said so? Or was this it, constantly feeling sorry for himself trying his best to protect his master and failing each time… like a sick joke that only makes people laugh only after they cry.
And sure enough the answer it seemed manifested itself in physical form as Hiro rounded a familiar bend dully lit by a battered old light post, the rain and the clouds and the darkness threatening to consume the world and all sense of direction upon it. But then Hiro looked up and that's when saw it, that's when he knew, he was in front of none other than Yumi's house… Irony seemed to be the definition of Hiro's sad, pathetic, miserable, little life… and you know what… maybe that's how it was meant to be. He rushed toward her house… he rushed away from Hime… The rain seemed to get harsher… the world seemed to get colder…
NEXT TIME: We've followed Hiro along on this journey for quite a while now but things are finally coming to an end. Hiro and Hime have just had a falling out and now our favorite little blood warrior is at Yumi's place. Secrets are revealed, allegiances are questioned, Hime and Yumi finally meet, and is a war brewing? All that and more culminates into a decision by Hiro… a decision two weeks in the making or perhaps even longer… Find out all the answers, next time on Princess Jealousy!
End Note: Alright guys! This chapter finally set things up for the grand spanking conclusion! I swear I honestly never thought I'd finish this fanfic or get close to finishing it—still not finished yet! Again I couldn't have done it without you guys constantly pushing me forward and for that I am truly thankful. Thanks guys honestly thank you all for your support. Oh and before I forget, as you probably noticed by now this is the largest chapter thus far… I mean honestly… it was nearly impossible to edit so again, as for the delays… after seeing the size of this update… I think you can image what was keeping me. Anyway… please comment and favorite maybe even follow me, I have another princess resurrection fanfic already in the works so much more to come. Thanks guys! Till next time, Raza out.