Kyouko's finishing the last of the demons off when she feels the presence of a new magical girl. There aren't many that hunt for demons in this area - they're either too scared of Kyouko to stay, or they've disappeared. It suits her fine, anyway, she isn't here to make friends, and less competition means there are more demons to hunt.
She turns around, and it's a blonde girl. She looks a bit older than Kyouko, but it's hard to tell, with magical girls. She's wearing a frilly white and yellow outfit, and her hair is twisted into corkscrew curls. She doesn't look like much of a threat, but she's holding a rifle in her hand and staring at Kyouko, so Kyouko decides to test her skills.
"What's your name, newbie?"
"Tomoe Mami." Mami's perceptive enough to detect the shift in the air and prepare herself for battle - most magical girls would assume that they could talk things out, but Mami seems to be perpetually on guard. Good instincts, for someone new. A pity that Mami will have to leave the district after this fight.
"Tomoe Mami, when you lose, you leave this district to me. Got that?"
Mami nods, and Kyouko brings her spear up, splitting it into multiple sections. She deals glancing blows to Mami, but none of them do much damage - Mami's constantly on the move, using her ribbons to prevent the hits from connecting, using her rifles to blunt the force of the impact. Just as Mami brings her rifle up to block the sections of the spear, Kyouko takes advantage of the opportunity, shifting her weapon into its basic spear form, thrusting it through a gap in her defenses.
Mami uses her rifle's body to parry, dodges the hit, and levels the rifle's barrels at Kyouko's face. Kyouko could morph her blade again, but it's a toss-up - she isn't sure if she can get a final hit in before Mami blows her head off. It might not be so bad to die like this, at the hand of a worthy opponent, and it was a decent life, really. She had some fun, but fate caught up.
"I’m quite new to being a magical girl." Mami's finger moves on the trigger, her other hand steadying the rifle, perfectly calm. "Anyway, could we have a little chat about this area?"
"Put the rifle down first."
It vanishes in a flash of yellow light, and Mami smiles innocently. "Your name, please? I gave you mine, but I’m afraid I don't know yours."
"Sakura Kyouko, it's a pleasure to meet you. Would you mind if we went elsewhere to talk? Maybe that bakery nearby." It's a casual mention, she doesn't pause to think about it at all. Mami knows this area well. She either lived here before contracting, or she's studied the area before challenging Kyouko. Either way, she's going to be a major threat if Kyouko doesn't negotiate with her.
"Who's payin'? Don't have any money on me." It's an honest statement, but it's also another way to gauge Mami's personality. Mami looks like the polite-princess type of magical girl, but she doesn't flinch at Kyouko's rough speech, or look disgusted at Kyouko's lack of money. A fair negotiation might be possible, and if Kyouko has to share her area with this new girl, there are worse outcomes.
"I’ll be paying, since I invited you. Their fruit tarts are quite good. We can talk over tea."
Maybe it's Mami's gentle smile, maybe it's her good taste in pastries, but somehow, Kyouko actually wants to listen to what Mami has to say.
When two magical girls have a conversation, the best way to size each other up is to observe how they talk about their wish. Mami boldly proclaims hers, as if she's unashamed, but her fingers grip the handle of her teacup nervously, and her fingertips are shaking.
But really, what does Mami have to be guilty about? Her wish not to die was one of selfish necessity, not selfless stupidity. Also, contracting directly after a horrible accident and head trauma pretty much gives her an inbuilt excuse for whatever wish she made. The conversation turns back to Kyouko, and she provides the basic details of her wish - a selfless one, meant to help her father out - and mentions that it didn't end well. She doesn't mention the gutted shell of the church, or the corpses of her family members. She's not sure she'll ever be ready to talk about it to anyone.
"That was a nice wish, though, you did mean well for your father..." Mami trails off, searching for words.
"Yeah, well, it didn't get me very far."
"It got you here, didn't it?"
When they finally start to work out the terms of their arrangement, Mami suggests that they patrol together. Kyouko opens her mouth, ready to tell Mami that she prefers to work alone and suggest that they rotate duties, but Mami looks at her so sincerely that she can't bring herself to say no. Kyouko decides to give it a few days before she politely suggests the other schedule - by then, Mami should learn that magical girls are completely incapable of working together, and she'll have realised the futility of her plan.
Unfortunately for Kyouko, they do make a good team. Mami handles the long-range attacks, and Kyouko does close-combat - between them, they're able to defeat more demons while expending much less magic, and Mami is scarily accurate with her rifles.
Kyouko never manages to suggest the alternate schedule, but she can't really say that she minds. It's kind of cool to have someone watching your back.
The patrols become a regular thing, and Kyouko doesn't complain when Mami brings two of her schoolmates along. One is quiet enough and doesn't get in the way, and the other seems a bit loudmouthed and pushy, but Mami assures her that they're both good at battle. Homura specialises in ranged combat, so she teams up with Mami, and Mami spends patrols awkwardly trying to make small talk with her. Kyouko wishes Mami all the best - it doesn't seem like Homura wants to talk to anyone at all.
Kyouko's concerned about the loudmouthed one, though. Sayaka Miki claims to be a selfless hero of justice, but she can see the cracks in that facade when they're engaged in close combat. Sayaka throws herself wholeheartedly into battle, paying no heed to how much magic she's using, as if she aspires towards martyrdom. She refuses to replenish her power to safe levels, claiming that she works best under pressure. When Sayaka starts to dedicate her desperate final strikes to Kamijou, Kyouko feels the need to step in before Sayaka destroys herself.
After a particularly heated battle, she calls Sayaka out and has a talk with her about selflessness and sacrifice, and she relates her whole story. It's the first time she's told it to anyone, and it's a torturous process - she's dredging up long-forgotten pain, and she spends most of the story choking back tears, trying to think straight so she can relate it in a linear fashion. She doesn't bring Sayaka back to her former church - the sight of the impromptu graves and the looted church might drive the point home, but some things shouldn't be seen by anyone. She ends up crying a little at the end of the story, but it's fine, because Sayaka comforts her, and it seems like she's really listening to what Kyouko has to say.
"I can't say I’ll be as selfish as you want me to be, but I’ll try to take care of myself. Thanks for your concern."
Kyouko tries to say something, but she's too congested to speak. She blows her nose on her sleeve to unclog it. "Hey, no problem. We're friends, aren't we?"
Sayaka smiles. "Yeah...yeah, we are. See you tomorrow, Kyouko!"
The next day, Sayaka sacrifices herself for the sake of a boy, and his stupid violin, and his stupid, stupid concert.
After Homura leaves the train station, after Mami departs, Kyouko still lingers there, waiting. Her knuckles hurt from punching the metal pillar in rage, but she can't bring herself to care about the pain at the moment.
It's stupid, but...maybe Sayaka didn't disappear, maybe they all got it wrong. Maybe Sayaka's just late, and if Kyouko waits long enough, she'll show up again. Her power was healing, right? Maybe she just needs some time to recover, and she'll show up, laughing at Kyouko for being so worried -
"Hey," and Mami's there, putting a hand on her shoulder. "You should go back, Kyouko."
"Weren't you on the way back?"
"You didn't come along," and Mami says that like it's an explanation. "I was worried." She hauls Kyouko up from her vigil on the station floor, and they sit on the bench. Mami doesn't prompt her to talk, or say anything, she's just there.
And, okay, maybe it's the week for maudlin confessions, because Kyouko ends up spilling the backstory of her wish, plus her conversation with Sayaka yesterday. She's better at controlling the tears now, but her voice still shakes at the bad parts. Mami is courteous enough not to gasp in horror when Kyouko tells her about the death of her family, which Kyouko really appreciates.
Mami draws her into a hug, saying that Sayaka disappeared for a good reason and had a good life, that it was just her time, and Kyouko knows that, but it doesn't fix the way she feels. Kyouko sobs into Mami's shirt, and Mami pats her on the back. After a while, she coaxes Kyouko into standing up, and her legs are a little shaky, so Mami lets Kyouko lean on her as they trudge back to her hotel. She doesn't utter a word of complaint, just silently walks with Kyouko, step by step, clutching Kyouko's hand like she's afraid Kyouko will vanish too.
Mami sits in Kyouko's hotel room for the night, making tea for her, handing her packets of tissues, dabbing her face with a wet towel to wipe away the trail of snot and the residual tears.
Kyouko's not sure how they're going to go on when Sayaka's gone and Homura is drifting away and everything is falling apart.
But when Mami murmurs reassurances over and over, holding her tightly, stroking her hair, she's almost convinced that everything will be okay.
Kyouko shows up at Mami's apartment for their weekly tea session, but this time Homura isn't there. She's always been a bit irregular in her attendance, but Mami is sitting there staring at her slice of cake, and she's only set the table for two.
"Hey, Mami, where's Homura?" Kyouko asks, almost dreading the answer.
"She didn't want to come," Mami replies. "She said it was unnecessary, and that she had better things to do - "
Mami's voice breaks off at that part, and her shoulders are shaking as tears roll down her face. Kyouko drops her things on the floor, slams the door shut, and rushes over to Mami's side. Mami's sobs are interspersed with words, she's gasping that everyone just leaves her, Sayaka and Homura and her family, and she'll always be the one left behind. It hurts to realise that Mami was always just as lonely as Kyouko was, but much better at hiding it, and Kyouko wishes that she'd seen through it sooner.
"And I keep thinking - god, I wish I’d turned back time instead, so I could save my family - why am I the only one left here? Why can't I bring myself to disappear?" Mami wails.
Kyouko says, "We’ll all disappear eventually, there's no need to speed it up," which turns out to be an utterly wrong thing to say, because Mami starts to shake with the force of her weeping. Kyouko wraps an arm around her, steadying her, and tries to think of what won't hurt her further.
"I know, oh god, I know - I just want to live a little longer. I know it's selfish and wrong, and that I shouldn't, but...just a little longer."
"I know the feeling, Mami, it's not selfish at all," and Mami's so fragile then, Kyouko has to hold her, it feels like she'll fall apart at the slightest touch, just with a breath, and she's practically howling with grief.
"God, you're not alone, okay? You're not. I’m not gonna leave." She kisses Mami on the forehead, a chaste kiss, and wipes her tears away with her hand.
Kyouko moves in the next day, she can't stand the thought of Mami being alone in the house, just waiting for the moment where her magic runs out and she disappears. She fabricates another reason for Mami's benefit - Mami's house is nearer to the mall, and Kyouko doesn't really like living in hotels. Mami's perceptive enough to pick up on the truth, but she doesn't call Kyouko on it. Good thing, too, because Kyouko has no idea what she'd say to Mami. She's never been good with words - that was all her father - and she can't think of a way to politely say that she just wants to protect Mami, because she's too selfish to let go of someone as incredible as her.
Kyouko leaves a trail of destruction and dirty dishes in the house, and Mami's constantly after her to pick up after herself and wear actual clothes in the house, but Mami's eyes seem a bit brighter, less empty, and that's good.
She'll gladly tolerate all the tongue-lashings if she can keep Mami with her, just for a little longer.
Mami is tired of Kyouko's indolent lifestyle. She actually says it, in those exact words, and suggests that Kyouko attend school so that she doesn't spend her days complaining about how she has absolutely nothing to do. Kyouko had no idea that people could talk like that in daily life, but Mami is...unique.
"What about the school fees," Kyouko says, stuffing a potato chip into her mouth. "Can’t afford them, even with pickpocketing." She struggles to think of more excuses not to go to school, because Mami is impeccable at rebutting everything she says. Probably comes from experience.
"Have you been picking people's pockets again, Kyouko?" Mami asks, and her voice takes on a threatening tone. "I certainly hope you haven't. You told me you quit!"
"Nahhh, just an example...but yeah, how the hell am I gonna pay the fees for your swanky school?"
"I’ll pay for it - the insurance package was very comprehensive, and I have my inheritance - I can cover another person's school fees. Just give it a try, at least for a week? I've already forged the documents, all you have to do is show up." Mami sounds so plaintive that Kyouko nods, ignoring the fact that document forging is probably more illegal than picking people's pockets. She'd normally start an argument, but now doesn't seem like the time.
"Uh...maybe, I guess, I could do that. But why?"
"You’re bored practically all the time...I thought maybe it'd help you, and I’d love to have you in my class, but I’ll understand if you say no."
"Geez, I didn't know school could suck so bad. I can't imagine my presence actually brightening up anyone's day."
"Trust me, it will," and Mami smiles at her. "It’ll be fantastic to have my best friend in my class."
Kyouko doesn't mention that she hasn't ever been to school. Sure, she can read and write, but that's because her father taught them how to read the bible in Japanese. Her knowledge of mathematics, literature and science is abysmal, and she'll probably only be good at physical education.
If she mentions it to Mami, she'll be horrified and say that having a friend in school isn't worth troubling Kyouko, and apologise repeatedly for her selfish desires. Kyouko can't stand it when Mami looks guilty for wanting something, as if she's not allowed to enjoy herself after all she's been through. It's not entirely selfless, of course, Kyouko really enjoys Mami's company, and it sucks not to see her on weekdays. Maybe they can pass notes in class, or whatever it is that students do nowadays.
Anyway, she's doing this with Mami, so it probably won't be terrible, as long as she's there.
They both aren't in top form, and they need to replenish their magic before they're at risk. Their attempt at a simple rooftop ambush turns into a knock-down-drag-out fight with five more demons involved, and by the time they finally beat the demons they're both in serious danger of disappearing. They're panting in exhaustion, and Mami's face is pale and drawn as she uses the cubes to purify her soul gem. Kyouko's better at concealing her relief, but her hands are shaking and she hopes she can at least drain the darkness from her gem before she breaks down.
Kyubey shows up on the rooftop, and Kyouko manages to walk over to him and hand the cubes over. Once he vanishes, her legs give out, and she collapses on the roof, staring up at the sky. Mami sits down beside her.
"That...that was hell. Let's never do that again."
"I thought you might die, I thought you were gone," and Mami's voice is breaking, and Kyouko instinctively kisses Mami's cheek before realising that the adrenalin rush has caused her self-censorship to utterly fail her. Mami presses her hand to her cheek in shock, her eyes widening, and Kyouko prepares herself for a slap and the breakdown of a friendship,
Instead, Mami kisses her on the lips, a long and passionate kiss, slipping her tongue into Kyouko's mouth, only breaking the kiss to draw breath. Mami's saying something about how she's wanted this for months, and she's liked Kyouko for a very long time, and okay, this wasn't how Kyouko expected that confession to go at all. She always figured that she'd break it to Mami with cake and flowers or something, and she's never pictured the confession happening on top of a rooftop in a frenzy of desperation.
Mami's pulling back, hesitating, and Kyouko starts reassuring her, tells Mami how much she wants it, how much she likes her. She reaches over so she can take Mami's clothes off, which is hard to do when Mami is touching every inch of Kyouko's bare skin, reaffirming that Kyouko's still there, that her body's still intact, she didn't vanish.
Mami's pressing her body down on Kyouko's, telling Kyouko to hurry up, practically tearing her clothes off, and it's an act of desperate, clumsy frottage, both of them grinding against each other, reassuring each other that they're still alive. There's nothing delicate about the way Mami's touching her, she's possessive and demanding and there will probably be bruises in the morning, but right now, Kyouko's glad she actually matters to someone.
In the haze of the afterglow, Kyouko reaches over to run her fingers through Mami's hair, combing it into loose waves, and Mami makes a little purring noise as she presses Kyouko closer to her.
Kyouko has a ton of homework, and between the magical-girl duties and school, absolutely zero free time.
But she has to take a break or she'll go insane, which is why she's at the arcade stomping away on the Dog Drug Reinforcement machine, occasionally grabbing the safety bar so she can do the trickier steps - left, left, right, up - and she notices that Mami's standing behind her, reading a book and carrying a bag of groceries.
"Oi, Mami, thought you went home. What're you doing here, miss model student? And in your school uniform too!"
"Didn’t you say you needed to catch up on school work?"
"Yeah, I can do that later, it's Friday. Wanna play?"
"No, I’m wearing a skirt, it would be..."
"Come on, you're wearing tights, ain't ya? Give it a go. Live a little."
Kyouko doesn't expect her invitation to actually have an effect, but she nearly falters in mid-step when Mami agrees to give Dog Drug Reinforcement a try.
Mami puts her book near the machine, sets her groceries down, and steps onto the other platform. Kyouko starts off slow - Mami probably can't do too many modifiers for now, but she should be fine with a more up-tempo song, and she picks accordingly.
Mami's too concerned about her skirt flipping up to go all-out. Her movements are far more controlled than Kyouko's, but no less forceful. She even works in a few unnecessary movements that don't serve any purpose, but make her dance look smoother, instead of a random assortment of stomps on the platform. She isn't perfect on her first try, but it's impressive to see how fast Mami picks things up.
And it's good that Kyouko picked a song she knew well, because the up-down movement of Mami's chest is so distracting that she can't help staring.
"Eyes on the screen, Sakura Kyouko."
"Geez, I’m sorry for staring."
"You can look at them all you want later."
"After I try out that game - what's it called - Time Crisis? I know you have tokens."
"Fine. Making up for all your lost fun, huh? You're gonna let me have first kill on Sunday."
After the arcade, Mami complains that her chest hurts, and honestly, it's partially her own fault for not wearing a sports bra. When they're home, Kyouko helps her out with a chest massage, because she's nice that way, and she really likes hearing Mami's little moans when she puts her mouth on her nipples, licking them till they harden, then teasing their tips with her tongue. Mami leans over and slips Kyouko's stretchy tank top down her shoulders, attempting to return the favour, and her hands are cool against Kyouko's chest as she cups Kyouko's breasts in her hands.
"Hey, if you squeeze mine, they might honk."
Kyouko never knew that Mami could look so annoyed, and she suspects that the kiss that follows is meant to shut her up. She moans into Mami's mouth, partially in defiance, partially because she really likes it when Mami uses her tongue, and Mami's hands wander down to Kyouko's shorts, slipping them off her legs inch by inch. She eases Kyouko's panties off, and gently teases Kyouko with her fingers, until Kyouko's too desperate to make any smart-ass remarks, futilely trying to grind down on Mami's hand. Mami seems to be in the mood for long and slow, and takes her hand away, moving Kyouko's thighs further apart so she can use her tongue. Her warm breath is on Kyouko's crotch, and Kyouko's getting wetter by the second, as Mami's tongue delves into her, rhythmically licking. Kyouko's body feels suffused with warmth and her thighs tighten around Mami, and Mami speeds up, doing everything just the way Kyouko likes, until Kyouko's body is shaking with desire and she can't hold back her climax any longer, and she gasps as she comes.
Kyouko's oversensitised and shaky, and honestly, she just wants to revel in the blissful afterglow, but she thinks she can probably manage to get Mami off before she collapses with exhaustion. She leans forward, towards Mami, but Mami gently coaxes her into lying down again.
"I wanted to do something nice for you tonight, Kyouko. Please rest."
"What, but you haven't - "
"You’ve forgotten what day it is, haven't you," and Kyouko nods, since Mami seems like she's expecting a better answer than "Friday".
"It’s the six-month anniversary of the day you moved in," Mami says, and it's a sign of Kyouko's restraint that she refrains from blurting out something like "who the hell would remember that". She feels oddly flattered, actually, that Mami cared enough about the date to note it down somewhere. Mami pushes Kyouko's fringe away, and kisses her on the forehead. "Thank you for all you've done for me. I don't think I can ever repay you, but I’ll try."
"You’re welcome," Kyouko says, as her eyes drift shut. "Thanks for being there."
The next morning - well, afternoon - Kyouko wakes up to find Mami in the kitchen, anxiously watching the oven timer. Kyouko blearily stumbles over to the kitchen sink, brushes her teeth, and then gives Mami a good-morning kiss. She's learnt not to do it the other way around after countless lectures about morning breath. Mami tastes like chocolate, and Kyouko looks at Mami suspiciously.
"Were you...eating cake batter?"
Mami looks mildly guilty. "Magical girls can't get salmonella."
"Well, you better have saved some for me."
Mami gestures to the small mixing bowl on the table, and Kyouko doesn't bother with niceties, she just licks the bowl clean until Mami takes it away and hands her a damp towel. Kyouko roughly towels her face off, muttering "thanks" to Mami, and Mami smiles.
The cake is almost done, but Mami refuses to let Kyouko frost the cake until it's fully cooled and the oven timer goes off. They end up sitting at the kitchen table and chatting.
"What are we doing after we graduate?" Mami asks. It's the middle of the school year, but the teachers are already pressuring them to think about their choices for high school and what they want to do in future.
"High school and university? But we might disappear before getting our degree," and it's the first time in recent months that Kyouko dares to mention the tenuous state of their future. She glances at Mami, ready to lunge for the box of tissues and pull her into a hug if necessary.
Mami chuckles. "That’s true, how about going overseas during the break? I've always wanted to see Italy before I...well. Disappear."
"Hey, it'll work out," Kyouko says, just as Mami's about to glance at the calendar in the kitchen and start worrying about how much time they have, and Mami looks at her instead.
Kyouko doesn't really care how much time they have left, actually. It's Mami who counts the days, who looks at her watch when Kyouko's late, Mami who celebrates weird-ass anniversaries that Kyouko doesn't even remember.
What she really cares about is spending her future with Mami, and she doesn't know how to say this without sounding stupid and offensive, but she tries anyway. "When you disappear...you won't be alone, okay? I have no idea how this sh - stuff - works, but I won't let you be alone."
Happy tears are welling up in Mami's eyes, and she's lunging over to hug Kyouko, and Kyouko falls off the chair and hits the floor.
Kyouko's head hurts from hitting the tile, their cake is probably drying out in the oven, and there's snot all over her top because Mami is completely unladylike when she cries.