Sonata in the Slums
Author's note: I got this fun little idea last weekend and, me being someone with an appreciation for non-canon pairings, I just had to write it out. This story takes place sometime after most of Episode 12, later in the day after the Naturals Election has taken place. Future episodes may contradict some of the circumstances surrounding this story, in which case you can just consider this as something that deviates from the main plot a bit. Depending on how the rest of the series plays out, I may follow up on this story at a later date. We'll see.
Disclaimer: Kill la Kill is not my idea and I don't own it or any of the characters, obviously.
*chirp, chirp, chirp…*
Amidst the sounds of crickets hiding out in the nighttime darkness, a battered and sore Ryuko Matoi stood alone outside the rundown shack in the Honnouji slums that the Mankanshoku family called home.
It was hard to believe what all had gone on just hours earlier during the Naturals Election at Honnouji Academy. Ryuko had fought and defeated three of the school's Elite Four and was about to fight the fourth when what would turn out to be her father's killer showed up in the form of the cute-looking, blonde-haired girl named Nui Harime. Despite her looks, the girl was anything but sweet and innocent, and fighting with her had led Ryuko to completely lose control of both herself and Senketsu. Much of what had happened after that was nothing more than a blur in Ryuko's mind. What she did know, however, was that she and Senketsu had thankfully come away from it all in one piece. That, and Nui Harime was still out there, yet to be punished for what she'd done.
Only half an hour ago had Ryuko awakened in the Mankanshoku household after passing out in the afternoon. Someone had taken the liberty of hanging up Senketsu and changing Ryuko into her pajamas—either Mako or Mako's mother, she hoped. That was fine by her, though. Even if it was just a piece of clothing, Ryuko felt Senketsu could use the rest after the sort of day they'd had. As for Ryuko herself, the shuteye she'd gotten after the incident hadn't done much good in putting her mind at ease. She was still seething after crossing paths with the Grand Couturier of Revocs Corporation, so much so that she had now taken to the night air to cool off rather than going back to sleep or enjoying the company of the Mankanshokus.
"That bitch," Ryuko growled, cursing the bearer of the other half of her Scissor Blade. "If she thinks I'm gonna let her walk around with that stupid smile on her face after what she did, she's got another thing coming. I'll make sure she pays if it's the last thing I ever do!"
One thing was for sure: exhausted or not, Ryuko was going to have a hell of a time getting to sleep tonight with so much running through her mind.
Just then, Ryuko's ears suddenly picked up on something. Besides the noise the crickets were making, there was another distinct sound echoing throughout the night. Mystifying, yet soothing in a way, it was the sound of someone playing a flute.
"A flute?" Ryuko wondered aloud. "I've never heard anyone around here playing a flute before."
It was definitely a strange thing to hear in these parts of the city. And it wasn't as if it was some amateur botching notes left and right, either. This person was good. The tune they played had a sad sort of feel to it, but it flowed beautifully.
"It's…kind of nice," Ryuko had to admit.
Now Ryuko was curious. Who in the slums could possibly be talented enough of a musician to play such a piece so flawlessly? Even if it meant going for a stroll in her pajamas, she wanted to know.
Wandering out from the alley, Ryuko followed the tune, navigating her way through the maze of dilapidated homes. Up a hill she went, making her way past a short flight of stairs at the top. She climbed up onto the roof of a home to her right, using it to jump over to the adjacent roof, and then the next. Hearing the music more clearly now, she scaled her way up a power pole and crawled onto the roof of another home up above.
As she looked to her left, Ryuko was finally able to see the silhouette of the one she'd been looking for on the elevated rooftop of the next home over. Appearing to be wearing a hat of some sort, the individual had long locks of hair hanging down on either side of their head. A girl, maybe? Ryuko couldn't be sure. She supposed it didn't matter, though.
Ryuko stepped closer to the musician, trying as best she could to not make a sound. Once she was next to the adjacent home, she placed her arms atop the edge of the roof and rested her chin on them as she stood and listened to the melody. Whoever this person was, Ryuko was glad to be able to enjoy a front row seat for their performance. It was…calming, especially after what had gone on today.
She hadn't been wanting to disturb the individual, but, as Ryuko continued to put the weight of her upper body on the roof, the shoddy material shifted beneath her. The resulting clang was loud enough that the one playing the flute picked up on it and immediately stopped to see what had happened.
"What the…?" the mysterious musician spoke, turning their head.
"Ah! Sorry, sorry!" Ryuko apologized for the interruption. "I was just…err…"
Ryuko stopped, batting her eyes at what she saw before her. With the help of the moonlight shining down from above, she was able to make out the facial features of the one she'd been listening to. It was, indeed, a girl—one that Ryuko was more familiar with than she would have liked. "You...!"
Looking down at Ryuko with annoyance, the girl was just as unpleasantly surprised to see the delinquent as Ryuko was with her. Still wearing her track suit from earlier today, she was the pink-haired former Non-Athletic Committee Chair of the Student Council, Nonon Jakuzure.
"Geh! The transfer student? That's great. That's just great," Nonon muttered. "What, did you feel like rubbing what's become of me in my face?"
"Seriously? I'm not that mean-spirited. I just heard the music and wanted to know who was playing it," Ryuko explained to her. "What are you even doing here?"
"Isn't it obvious? Thanks to you chopping up my precious Symphony Regalia, I'm a no-star like all of this city's good-for-nothings! Obviously, I got sent to live here just like the rest of them," Nonon snorted in response. "I got assigned some crummy shack around here someplace. Maybe tomorrow I'll actually be able to find the stupid thing."
"Tomorrow?" Ryuko blinked. "Wait, you mean you can't find it?"
"Of course not! Why would I ever know my way around this dump? It's a freaking labyrinth!" the shorter girl snapped back at her with contempt.
Ryuko was starting to wish she hadn't sought out the source of that flute tune now. This girl had a serious attitude problem. "Man, I can't believe it was you playing that music," she sighed. "I thought you were all about cheery stuff. Never would've guessed you could play something subdued like that."
"It's Debussy's Syrinx, a classic. Not that you would know anything about it," Nonon gave Ryuko a condescending look. "And I can play plenty of different things. Syrinx just happened to fit my mood right now."
Ryuko could see why Nonon may have chosen a piece like that. The girl had gone from near the top of Honnouji's pecking order all the way to the bottom of it in a single day.
"Oh, really? So, what're you gonna do tonight with no place to sleep, Ms. Queen of the Sky?" Ryuko asked her.
A shiver running through her body as a cool breeze passed by, Nonon rubbed her hands against her arms to try to generate some heat. "What do you mean 'no place to sleep'? I'll just curl up and sleep somewhere around here. Not like it'll kill me," she stubbornly declared.
Somehow, even with Nonon being the abrasive sort of person she was, Ryuko didn't like the sound of that. Sleeping out here might not kill the musician, sure, but it would suck regardless. Ryuko had spent nights sleeping out in the cold herself, so she knew that feeling well.
It wasn't as if Ryuko completely despised the girl, either. On the contrary, she had been impressed earlier today at just how much effort it had taken her to finally bring Nonon down. Nonon had fought her with as much passion, if not more, than any of the other Elite Four members. Maybe Ryuko didn't like her a whole lot personally, but she still sort of respected Nonon's will to fight.
Ryuko knew what she had to do. Sleeping was going to be tough enough as it was without having a hypothermic Nonon on her conscience. Reaching out, she grabbed the pink-haired girl by the wrist and tugged her forward.
"H-hey! What're you-!"
"Just shut up and come on. Don't make me regret this."
"You little…! Let go of…uwah!"
Nonon had to concentrate on sticking a landing as Ryuko jumped down from the roof she stood upon and pulled the other girl down right along with her.
"Be careful, you brute!" Nonon chided the one gripping her by the arm. "Where do you think you're taking me?"
"Someplace warm. Stop struggling already," Ryuko instructed her.
"Why, you…! I didn't ask for your help! You hear me?"
"Who cares? It's just for one night. Quit blabbering."
Naturally, the blabbering continued as Ryuko retraced her way back to the Mankanshoku residence. Nonon was a real pain, through and through—not that Ryuko expected much differently considering who she was dealing with. By the time Ryuko had gotten the girl home, she literally had to throw her inside the door to get her to cooperate.
"Oof! What the hell is your deal?" Nonon snarled up at her after hitting the floor.
"Do you ever quit squawking? Jeez!" Ryuko complained. "Just give it a rest for one minute and-"
Hearing the door to the living area slide open all of a sudden, Ryuko and Nonon turned to see the always-smiling mother of the Mankanshoku family, Sukuyo, peeking into the entrance way.
"Ah, Ryuko-chan, you're back," the woman greeted her. "And what's this? You've brought a friend?"
In an instant, Barazo and Mataro, the father and son duo of the family, had gathered at the door along with their excitable dog, Guts.
"What? Ryuko-chan? A friend?" Barazo asked, not believing his ears.
"Really?" Mataro gasped. He'd never heard of anyone other than Mako hanging around with Ryuko before. As he quickly noticed, however, this new friend of Ryuko's was no normal individual. "H-hey, wait…isn't that…?"
Nonon was borderline disgusted as she looked over the bizarre family. "What's with these people?" she groaned.
By now, the Mankanshokus had all recognized their guest. Perhaps fearing for their well-being, all of them dropped to their knees and bowed down before her.
"W-w-we're not worthy!" Barazo respectfully greeted the girl. "I don't know what brings one of the Elite Four to our humble home, but please, use it in any way you'd like!"
Ryuko had to slap a hand against her forehead over the behavior of the others. "What are you doing? Get up already," she told them, pointing a finger over at Nonon. "Look, she doesn't have her uniform anymore. What's she going to do? Nag you to death? She's as powerless as an ant."
"Cram it! Whose fault do you think that is, anyway?" Nonon barked back at her.
"Yeah, yeah," Ryuko brushed off the comment. She again turned her attention to the family. "Sorry, but she's not really used to living around here. Would it be okay if she stayed here for just one night?"
Ryuko wasn't sure how the Mankanshokus would feel about offering hospitality to someone who had played such a large part in oppressing those in the slums. Surprisingly, though, they didn't seem to bear any ill will over it.
"Oh, is that all? Of course she can stay," Sukuyo smiled brightly.
"I…I can?" Nonon looked at the woman as if she were crazy.
"I approve!" Barazo agreed.
"Me, too!" Mataro gave the decision a thumbs up, as did Guts—as well as he could with his paw at least.
"Really? That's great. Thanks, you guys," Ryuko said to them. The fact that Sukuyo didn't mind wasn't all that surprising considering how nice she was, but the eagerness of the others left Ryuko feeling suspicious.
At that moment, the final member of the family, Mako, burst into the entrance way in her usual boisterous fashion. "Wooo! I'm done! The bath is free, Ryuko-cha-" she began to say, but abruptly stopped herself when the presence of a certain Elite Four member caught her attention. "J-Jakuzure-senpai! What are you doing here?"
"Oh good, it's this idiot," Nonon grumbled under her breath. "This just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?"
Not happy with the insult to Mako, Ryuko took her fist and rapped Nonon once atop her head. "Behave."
"OWWW!" Nonon yelped, clutching at the affected area. "What was that for, you bitch?"
Exhaling deeply, Ryuko looked to her friend, Mako. "Long story short, she'll be staying here for the night," she said. Reaching back, she grabbed Nonon by the wrist again. "I'm gonna get her cleaned up. Be back in a bit."
With that, Ryuko tugged Nonon along again, this time with the outdoor bath as their destination.
"Damn it! Let go of me! Why do you keep dragging me everywhere like this?" Nonon griped at the taller girl, but to no avail. "Are you listening to me? Hey!"
Typical of Mako, she didn't question what was going on one iota as she waved her hand in the air to send the two of them off. "Okay! Good luck, Ryuko-chan!" she cheered her friend on.
While the girls disappeared, Barazo, Mataro and Guts had a certain gleam in their eyes. The boys were up to no good.
Outside, Ryuko swung Nonon into the bathing area and closed the worn-down curtain behind them.
"You damn gorilla! Just hauling me around wherever you feel like," Nonon snorted at the black-haired girl. Now surveying the spot she'd been brought to, she got her first look at the bath, or rather the simple barrel filled with heated water. "What is this supposed to be?"
"The bath," Ryuko nonchalantly answered. "Hurry up and get in. It'll warm you up."
"You're kidding, right?" Nonon eyed her sharply, not sure if she was joking or not. "We're outside! I'm not taking my clothes off out here!"
"Says the one who puts herself on display in all her nude glory whenever she activates her uniform," Ryuko called her out on her hypocrisy. Not waiting for Nonon, Ryuko began pulling off her own attire.
"That's totally different!" Nonon argued. "And why are you stripping down? Stop that!"
"I'm getting in, too. Normally I'd wait and go in solo, but I don't trust you to get in on your own," Ryuko said to her as she shed the last of her garments. "Come 'ere."
Nonon let out a loud shriek as Ryuko suddenly began yanking at her track suit. "W-wait a minute! Knock that off, you pervert! Hey!"
"Enough with the fussing! You're going into that barrel whether you like it or not."
Ryuko wasn't showing any patience with the difficult girl. Piece by piece, she forcefully removed every shred of Nonon's clothing, picked her up, and dunked her down into the toasty water before climbing in herself. Luckily, Nonon had such a petite body that the both of them squeezing into the bath at the same time wasn't much of a problem.
"Oh, man, that feels good," Ryuko purred. The hot water was just what her aching body needed.
While Ryuko settled in, the upper portion of Nonon's head finally emerged from the water. As bubbles rose from her mouth to the water's surface, she shot Ryuko a nasty look. "I hope Satsuki-sama tears you to pieces," she hissed, her voice muddled but still understandable.
"I bet you do," Ryuko replied dryly.
As if she wasn't peeved enough already, Nonon's gaze soon focused in on the other girl's chest.
"What?" Ryuko quirked an eyebrow at her.
Studying the bosoms in her view for a moment, Nonon peeked down at her own chest, then turned an envious glare on Ryuko.
If Ryuko didn't understand before, she certainly did now. "Don't look at me like that! It's not my fault! It's just genetics!" she said in her defense.
With an annoyed huff, Nonon dropped the issue without ever uttering a word.
"Jeez," Ryuko grumbled to herself. This had the makings of being one hell of a stressful bath, she realized. It was probably best to figure out something for them to talk about. "So, you really like that Kiryuin, huh?"
"You're damn right I do! Satsuki-sama is the best! I've been by her side forever!" Nonon answered with gusto. That passion faded in a hurry, though. A solemn look coming over her, Nonon slinked back down into the bath. "I was supposed to stand by Satsuki-sama, watching as she conquered the world. But now look at me. What use can I be to her when I can't even defeat her enemies?"
Enemy or not, hearing those words coming from Nonon didn't sit right with Ryuko. "Man, listening to you is depressing."
"What was that?"
"You heard me! You lost. So what? Are you gonna quit just like that? What happened to all that resolve you showed when you were fighting me today? If you want to stand by Kiryuin's side then get your ass moving again and claw your way back up there!"
Of all the people Nonon could imagine hearing a pep talk from, Ryuko may have been the last. Not that it wasn't effective, though.
"Yeah, you bet your ass I will!" Nonon shouted with determination. "I'll retake my rightful position, and then Satsuki-sama and I will smash you into the ground! Count on it!"
Ryuko laid back, a smirk crossing her face. It was oddly comforting to see some fire from Nonon again. Still, the idea of fighting her or even Satsuki at this point…she wasn't so sure about that.
"That…there's probably no need for it now, right?" Ryuko spoke, a distant look in her eyes as she stared up at the sky. "I was only fighting you guys so that Kiryuin would tell me who killed my father. But now…I know who did it."
Nonon hadn't thought of that. It was true; Ryuko had found the murderer she sought in Nui Harime. In reality, Nonon didn't care for that girl much more than Ryuko did. With what she'd done at the Naturals Election, she had managed to upstage every member of the Elite Four. Suffice to say, Nonon didn't appreciate people drawing attention away from her—not Nui Harime, not anyone with the sole exception of Satsuki Kiryuin.
"That Harime girl…she really got to you, huh?" Nonon asked.
"More than you could ever know. I hadn't been able to settle down at all after that. All I'd been thinking about was what I was going to do when I got my hands on her again," Ryuko admitted. It was brief, but Ryuko managed a light chuckle as she thought about it. "It's funny now that I know it was you, of all people. Before, when I heard that flute, it actually cooled me off a little."
"It did?" Nonon looked at her with surprise.
"Yeah," Ryuko smiled. "When it's not so loud that it's blowing my eardrums out, your music can be kind of relaxing."
"Oh, shut up," Nonon grumbled, not keen on the reference to their battle earlier in the day.
Deep down, Nonon was starting to notice something changing. Before, she had nothing but dislike for this girl that she'd fought tooth and nail to try to take down. But now…was she starting to feel sorry for her? She couldn't tell for sure, but somehow, looking into Ryuko's eyes, Nonon got a sense of the sort of struggle Ryuko had been dealing with.
Nonon bit down on her bottom lip. She was about to do something she couldn't believe she was going to do. Reaching out over the rim of the barrel, she took hold of a loose board that had been propped up against the outside of the Mankanshoku home.
"What are you doing?" Ryuko curiously inquired.
Silently, Nonon used the tip of the board to lift the top portion of her track suit off the ground and bring it over to the bath. Once she had it in her hands, she reached inside the jacket, pulling out the very flute she'd been playing before.
"Bach's Partita, Third Movement: Sarabande," Nonon spoke the name of a tune she had in mind. "And just so we're clear, I'm not doing this for you! I'm just doing it because I feel like it. Every great performance needs an encore, right?"
And so, bringing the flute to her lips, Nonon began to play the piece she'd named.
Ryuko hadn't been expecting this, but it was a nice surprise. This was one encore she didn't mind at all. Even better, it wasn't as much of a sad-sounding piece as the first tune she'd heard from the musician tonight. This one had a little more of that characteristic Nonon cheeriness to it.
Taking in the sound of the music, Ryuko settled back and closed her eyes. If there was a better way to enjoy a bath, she would have a hard time thinking of it right now. For the next few minutes, Ryuko was able to set aside everything that troubled her and just be at peace until, eventually, the music began to fade.
With her piece finished, Nonon took a deep breath to replenish her oxygen.
"That was nice," Ryuko complimented the performance as she opened her eyes again. "Thank you."
Nonon turned away from the other girl and sunk back down into the water. She could feel her cheeks turning a light shade of red and she didn't want Ryuko to see it. "Be quiet," she said, embarrassed. "I told you I wasn't doing it for you. What the hell."
Ryuko had to giggle at Nonon's behavior. She may have had her issues with the girl up until now, but Nonon really wasn't all that bad, Ryuko thought.
"I agree! That was beautiful!"
A loud voice had interrupted the girls—one that Ryuko immediately identified as the voice of a perverted old man. All at once, the curtain covering up the bathing area came crashing down, and there standing with tearful eyes were the men of the Mankanshoku family.
"That was really great! I'm touched!" Mataro wept, sharing his father's sentiment.
Even Guts howled to plead for another encore.
Unfortunately for the boys, they had forgotten one tiny thing: they had been peeping, and peeping toms weren't supposed to reveal the fact that they were…well, peeping.
"I should've known!"
"Get lost, you stinking pigs!"
Through the combined efforts of Ryuko and Nonon, the boys were sent flying high into the sky as punishment for their doings. At least the weather would be decent while they endured their long trek back home. It was the Mankanshoku way to always look at the bright side of things.
After the girls had finished their bath, Sukuyo expressed concern over what Nonon would be wearing to bed. Nonon insisted that she was fine with her track suit, but Mako's mother was having none of it. Thus, she had fetched what was apparently another of Mako's hand-me-down pajamas for her family's guest to sleep in for the night.
"I haven't seen those pajamas since I was little! I wonder how Jakuzure-senpai will look in them," Mako eagerly awaited the unveiling.
"Since you were little?" Ryuko asked, having doubts about how well this was going to work out. Even the bunny-print pajamas she wore were a tight fit. Would Nonon really be okay?
Ryuko would see for herself soon enough. The door to the room slid open, and in stepped Nonon looking absolutely mortified. "This…is…humiliating!"
Nonon's pajamas, which were plain white with pink kitty cat designs, just barely fit on her. In fact, the only reason they fit at all was because of her body's smaller size. It likely wasn't the tightness of the clothes that bothered her, though. Rather, it was probably the fuzzy white tail that hung down from the pajamas' back side.
"A tail? Do I look like I'm still in kindergarten or something? Huh?" Nonon fumed.
"Oh, don't you look just precious!" Sukuyo gushed over the adorable sight.
Even a dazzled Mako jumped up from where she sat to get a closer look. "Wow, you look so cute, Jakuzure-senpai!"
The vision too much for her to take, Ryuko couldn't stop herself from bursting out laughing. "Ahahahahahahahaaaa! That's the greatest thing I've ever seen!"
Steaming, Nonon stomped over to Ryuko and grabbed two handfuls of her pajama top. "Shut up or I'll kill you!" she warned her.
"Ahahahaha! Does the kitty want someone to pet her? Hmm?"
"Don't push me, transfer student! I swear I'll do it!"
At that moment, the door that led in from the home's entrance was suddenly thrust open.
"We're back! And really tired!" Barazo announced, having returned from his flight at the hands of Ryuko and Nonon.
"That was a long walk back!" Mataro panted. Guts dragged himself in behind the boy.
Once inside, Barazo wasted no time going for the bedding. "Lights out, family!"
"Man, I'm beat!" Mataro said, plopping himself down onto a blanket.
"Really? Bedtime it is, then!" Sukuyo quickly joined the boys.
"Hooray! Bedtime!" Mako cheered. "Ryuko-chan, Jakuzure-senpai, we need to get some sleep before school tomorrow! I'll go on ahead!"
Mako dove into the pile of bedding, as did Guts, and just like that the Mankanshoku family was snoozing the night away.
Nonon stood with her mouth hanging open, speechless at what she'd just witnessed. "What the…? That fast?"
"Yeah, they do that," Ryuko chuckled. She wasn't so sure Mako was right about school, though. Would they even have classes tomorrow after Honnouji Academy was torn up so badly during the Naturals Election? She supposed they would just have to wait and see. "I actually feel like I can get some sleep now. Come on, you can sleep next to me."
"E-eh?" Nonon retreated a step, taken aback by the suggestion.
"What's wrong?" Ryuko asked as she climbed under her blanket. "I know it's a little cramped, but try to put up with it for tonight. Oh, the blanket is kind of small, so you might have to scrunch in close to me."
Nonon really wasn't sure about this, but what else was she going to do? Sleep without a blanket? That wouldn't be a lot better than staying the night outdoors. Doing her best to put her reservations aside, she slowly slid herself in next to Ryuko and laid back against the pillow.
"How's that? Better than sleeping on someone's roof, isn't it?" Ryuko smiled.
Not willing to admit Ryuko was right, Nonon turned her body so that it was facing away from her. "Whatever."
"Still gonna be like that, huh? Well, that's fine," Ryuko shrugged. Several seconds of silence would pass before Ryuko spoke up again. "Hey…"
"Mmm?" Nonon peeked back over her shoulder at the girl.
Ryuko thought for a moment about saying something, but in the end she decided against it. "Nah, never mind," she said, closing her eyes. " 'Night."
Quietly, Nonon shifted herself around so that she was facing Ryuko. This girl had the expression of a devil when she was fighting her earlier today, Nonon thought. But now, as she was drifting off to sleep, Ryuko looked surprisingly serene.
What was with her, Nonon wondered? Bringing home an enemy just so they could have a warm place to sleep for the night? Who in their right mind did something like that? Nonon didn't get it. She didn't understand Ryuko at all. But…there was just something about her.
Moving gingerly so as not to make it too obvious, Nonon inched herself a bit nearer to Ryuko as she, too, closed her eyes.
Ryuko had destroyed her Symphony Regalia, taking everything from her in the process. Furthermore, she was a threat to Satsuki. Knowing that, Nonon had every reason to hate Ryuko's guts.
And yet…maybe, just maybe, she didn't hate her as much as she thought she did.
"I know you just scooted closer to me."
"I did not! Go to sleep!"
Scratch that, she still hated her plenty.