Actions

Work Header

Market Fresh Citrics

Chapter Text

Yuzuko Okogi was a drifter, for less of a better term. Her mother found jobs anywhere she could to keep them floating, her father died when she was young, she didn’t stay in one place for long and never really kept any contact with the far and few “friends” she made; The usual tragic backstory stuff, y’know? But she wasn’t like every other greaser who wanted to leave every other deadbeat town, no she wasn’t; She was dubbed “Sunshine” by her gruff and tuff counterparts of the same label, somehow avoiding the aloof stereotype entirely.

Yes,
She wore the beat up leather
And the construction boots
And the Levi’s
And standing at 5’4, she sure as hell looked like a blonde bombshell coming into a school and mysteriously leaving within the month

But she was a ball of sunshine with a neverending shipment of warm smiles supplied by a soft voice; the problem is the flame in her alias matched the rest of her fiery demeanor, making her a little intimidating when it came down to it.

(She’ll swear up and down “It’s just the bitchface!” she doesn’t have)

So when received news that her mom got married to a man of prestigious background, she was a touch floored at the chance of permanence. (“Never woulda thought he was so rich, he sure didn’t look like the heir to an industry with the laundry he called clothes”)

“Hey, Mom?”

“Yes, sweetie?”

“So, this means... no more week long roadtrips every few months, right?”

“Yes, sweetie”

“No more having to pack two weeks after settling?”

“That’s right”

“No more having to pay extra to get our mail because our address didn’t update fast enough!?”

“Exactamundo!”

“Finally!”

She’d yelled, she’d whooped, she’d danced and so did her mother. After a very long time they were finally going to have a home. More than anything she’d finally have time to worry about teen stuff, like fitting into a crowd and prom and dates and math; she’d stop being the new girl and live to have school inside jokes.

That was... until she found out that she had a stepsister.
Who happened to be the Student Council President
of the most uptight, strict and “illustrious” academy in all of their prefecture.

A sister who she found out by means of Dress code violation...

——————————————-

The first day of school came quickly after their initial unpacking. She neared the open gates, ornate and grandiose. Inside of the school was worse, it was filled with aesthetic and high-end technology of the decade flourished with an Elizabethan era theme. She didn’t feel worthy stepping into the school, in fact she felt choked with the shame of having no face value. Not even one step into this flashy joint, Yuzu was already in trouble. She heard the irritated but polite throat clear of a young woman behind her, one with an... armband?

“Wait, I’m violating the dress-code?”

“Yes. The jacket must go or we will confiscate it.” Her voice was light, like a wagtail, and she carried herself with an insecure refinement.

“Listen lady, this old thing is not coming off, okay? Besides I’m already wearing whatever the dress-code is-“

“Underneath that jacket. The full uniform must be visible at all times within school grounds or we will confiscate or replace whatever you’re wearing to match model academy apparel.”

“Whatever, Peepers. You’re gonna have to rip this jacket off my dead carcass, I’d rather escort this thing home than leave it in some office so if you excuse me,”

With a shove, she left the spectacle-clad girl in a daze; She wasn’t joking. Now stomping towards the pompous gate, Yuzu made clear that the mangy old jacket on her shoulders was a treasure she did not intend to hand over. Halfway near the exit, she heard a hush come from the crowd,

“Halt.” rung throughout the flock.
Now, this voice was authoritative, harsh, cold. Nothing like the girl with spectacles.

“I understand you’ve just enrolled but you realize, once you’ve entered the school you cannot leave until the end of the work day.”
Okay this one was different. The blonde was not going to get away as easy as before.
With her Obsidian tresses, the cruel-eyed young woman stared her up and down, as if she was mulch.
That armband glared at her and so did raven-eyes.
Yuzu was weary of the way she stared, but opposed biting her tongue, none the less.

“Listen Missy, all I ask is for one break and I’ll never ask for another one again? Alright?”

“It seems unprofessional to call your Student Council President “Missie” now is it? Now please, cooperate with out rules, you’ve made a big enough mess,”

Yuzu froze. She scratched the back of her neck and found no avail to the awkward situation she’s placed herself in.

“Oh. Ahh. I’m awful sorry Ma’am, listen-“

“I’ve done enough listening. I’ll pardon the ruckus you’ve made but in turn you’ll have to give me your jacket.”

“Well, see, No.”

“My apologies. But what did you say again?”

“I said no. I’ll tell you what I told your other Armband Dandy over there - you’re prying this thing off my cold dead back.”

“Very well. You’ll serve three hours of after school detention. Immediately after class.”

For the first time in ever, the President saw someone laugh at her authority. The blonde in front of her shrugged and scratched her neck in a ‘that’s it?’ sort of attitude, “Sounds fine to me.”

Mei nearly lost her steel at this nitwit’s nonchalance. “Sounds like a complete lack of remorse for idiotic musings.”

Yuzu chuckled a little harder at her seriousness, “This’an old hat to me, doll. No big fussy language’s gonna swerve me anywhere.”

“The audacity!” Another new voice, another bark. This one was scratchy, high, prude. Behind the lithe figure of the President came the spittings of a tiny drill-haired ‘armband dandy’

“Oh bite it,” Growled the blonde. She’s been chastised by two of the dictators already and she was not about to get lectured by a third.

“I’ve got enough flies buzzing around my hair today, I’m full with two.” She barked, a little more light-hearted than its meaning.

Slack-jawed in awe, Drills nearly dropped her clipboard and slunk behind the president like one of those trap-door tarantulas.

“I’ll ice my gourd the rest of the day, alright, Heart? See you when I will.” In an unmeaningly cool manner, Yuzu waved her goodbyes to what she now could guess was the Student Council.

“Hold it.” said that little screw-driver’s voice. “Did you think you could leave without the detention slip?” She marched on up to the blonde and handed her a pink slip.

“Oh I never would’ve dreamed of it,” she retorted, velvet and sweet, “Hey, thanks Gumshoe, I’ll think’f you when I rip this thing in half at the end of my sentence.” There was a snicker at the tail end of that. Immediately afterwards, she continued her route forward, dismissing any insults hurled her way by that little Turn-screw.

Halfway to her first class, she heard someone tromp up behind her, moments before a hand landed on her shoulder.

“Tuff shit, Bearcat!” This voice was carefree and boisterous but by god, who the hell was it this time.

“Ain’t in the mood, Cat. Beat it,”

“Awe c’mon now! You really made the Prez work for her salary now’idn’t ya?”

“Guess I did,” Yuzu was grinning now,

“What’ser handle, sweet pea?”

“Yuzu. Like the fruit,”

“Apple pie it is, name’s Harumi. You, on the other hand, can call me Harumin.”

“Alright, deal.”

“Y’know Yuzucchi? I think we’re gonna make great friends. For gosh’s sake, you swindled the Prez to keep some old leather on your hide, what else can you do?” She tried to reach out towards the old red-brown threads, but made it halfway before the blonde beside her jerked backwards.

“Hey, this is my old man’s jacket, just grew into it. Don’t push your luck, Slick. What are you anyway?”

“What’re you on about? I’m human, female, and a teen!” She tittered, more to herself than anything.

“I mean what’s you click, Sally,” Yuzu huffed, amused none the less.

“Ahhhh, I see where you’re coming from. Little old me’s a closet Greaser! Very much the opposite of you,”

“Greaser my ass, ants, you’re a Grade A Soc!”

“Ah but a Cat can appreciate the struggles, can’t she? Plus, from me to you, the Greaser boys? Much cuter than these Tennis pushers.”

Yuzu bust out laughing, and everyone within a five-foot radius stopped to ogle.

Chapter Text

Who would have guessed neither of them woke up to their new alarm on time? Of course, their schedules were wildly different but that didn’t mean their time of rising was.

“We’ve missed the bus by five minutes,” Mei huffed, already exasperated.

“Who said I ever took busses?” Yuzu smirked as she flew through the kitchen. She sped through her mother, rushing a goodbye.

“Mei! Hurry up!” Yuzu hollered, tearing through the building lobby and into the parking lot. Busting the doors open, she was flooded by rays of sunshine and warmth.
Only on sunny days was it annoying to be late, everyone was smiling, the birds were singing and the car engine had bitched itself inside out.

“Bullshit!” ripped through the serene parking lot, as a car door was slugged shut and a trunk popped.
“You last three-week roadtrips,”
The tailgate slammed closed.
“Hundreds of pounds of furniture,”
A hood flew towards the windshield.
“But you can’t cut your gas the one day I need you? You get enough rest lazing around the parking lots but this is a chore?”

“Yuzu, please manage your temper. It’s just a car, it won’t reply.”

“It’s not just a car, it’s a fourth generation Ford F100! Even if she’s a little beat up she’s still all American muscle my dad fought claw and tooth to even look at! And if my baby pumps a gasket, I’m allowed pump a gasket! I’m the only one who can fix this hunk of scrap!” Yuzu barked,

“Yuzuko-“

“It’s Yuzu. Like. The. Fruit”

“Then, Yuzu,” Mei deadpanned, approaching the angry blonde, “leave our issue with attendance to me, for now, please focus on the car. I’ll be inside to call the principal, I’ll return shortly to assist you if need be, so please, calm your nerves.”

With a small grumble, Yuzu relaxed her tense shoulders. She hovered over the engine to inspect the damage and huffed an unamused “Sure.”
She loosened her tie and stripped her topwear until only a white undershirt was stuck to her skin.
“Let me get to work, Dolly. Best do yours too.”
Firm arms then continued to measure the stability of the stand and rough hands reached for the toolbox.

Damn was this chick a head turner.

Even Mei ogled her for a short while before heading inside and dialing their schoolhouse.
—-
A brief conversation with the school principal had Mei rubbing her temples and sighing in contempt.
An hour of community service each for each class missed.
Pushing her chair backward, she headed towards the parking lot to find a pissed off blonde already carrying oil stains on her shirt.

“Well, they don’t call you greasers for nothing,” Mei’s stoic expression faltered shortly with amusement at the frustrated girl in front of her.

“Blah blah, can it. Hand me the dead blow, the piston kicked the bucket on us after the week drive from Aomori.”

“Pardon me? A dead blow?”

“Yes, a Dead Blow- a Hammer. Unfortunately it’s got no scientific names you Cubes can call it by.”

Mei took her best guess and, by process of elimination/matching, handed her a ridiculous toy-like hammer that was best matched with the name. Though it had signs of rusting it still didn’t look like something that should come out of a toolbox.

Pleased with the younger girl’s observations, Yuzu cracked a small grin, “Rookie luck,”

The blonde hit the side of the engine once before discarding the hammer and switching to her wrench.
“If you’re gonna mess with the pistons, know it’s a difficult process,” she huffed.
The bombshell unwound a strange, four-holed component and placed it to the side of the tires,
“First you remove this thing, it’s called an exhaust manifold. Once it’s off, you go on to disconnect a funny lookin’ thing called-a distributor, it’s in the car’s intake manifold, a different part.”

Without another word, the blonde went back to work, her arms disappearing into the hood once more, “Before you do anything else, you’ve gotta take off the spark plugs-“
She pulled out two tiny components, similar to screws.
“You’ll blow your fingers off if you don’t.”

Mei took in the lesson, slowly but surely getting less and less clueless about the topic.
She was a lady, a jack of all trades, someone who took classes in etiquette, who practically ran a whole school, someone on her way to ivy league duties.
She was modern day nobility, a bloodline of wealth running through her veins
Yet here she was guessing the tools a greaser needed, pausing on occasion to make sure it was the right utensil.

“We’re gonna miss the school day, aren’t we...” Mei murmured while handing Yuzu her wrench for the umpteenth time. Now, she’d practically memorized where the monkey wrench had started to rust. It had been hours since her phone call to the school, and hours more since their tinkering.

“So?” Yuzu mused, she had cut into the blackette’s thoughts, “School isn’t everything, you should know this.”

“You know how it is for me,” Mei replied, soft and unsure. “you of all people already know best.”

“Tell you this, we’ve already taken the day off of school to fix this hunk of ass, right?”

“...Right.”

“Right, so once the pistons are smooth and steady, we’re taking this baby on a spin around the highway,”

“And that’s a good idea?”

“Doll, tonight’s probably the only time you’ve ever missed classes. Since the routine’s a little of the beaten path today, how’s about you and me piss off the gravel for a little while?”

“I’m starting to think it isn’t,”

“You’ll live after today but why wait tomorrow when you can do it now?”

Mei paled a little at her words. The filthy Greaser working in front of her was right and she was hesitant to admit it.

“Will you show me what it’s like to go 90 over the speed limit?”

Yuzu halted her tinkering. With a longing gleam in her eye, a triumphant “Yes.” was her answer

“Show me what it’s like to run out of road?”

“Yes.”

“... Show me what free will is like?”

“Oh trust me, you’ll have a whole mouthful of that, Doll”

“When do we leave?”

“For a golden girl like you, we’ll leave during the golden hour: dusk. I’ll show you what this world is like, just you watch.”

 

————————————————
The start of their cruise was quiet, a comfortable silence they both drowned in. Inside of the old bucket of rust, two lackluster adolescents were wrapped in safety from the blurred slum scenes in the dying light. The interior of the car was in much better shape than the rusting decal; it’s leather was still plush and spotless, courtesy of the driver.
Someone the passenger couldn’t take her eyes off of.
Apparently, she got almost everything she had from her father.
Her looks,
Her belongings,
Her car,
The ball of fire she called her heart.
Secondhand trinkets kept authentic by a quality fresh soul.

As the hues shifted from gold to violet, the only thing lasting between the yaw of tinges was a smile.
A content grin, tender and true held by the driver.

Averting her eyes was not a option in this case. In the first place, she was a passenger, she was allowed to stare, in the second place, how could someone not.
The simple expression was only half of the wonderment, the other was the sincerity in her form. It was too sweet, too genuine, the girl beside her could barely comprehend the surreality.

The city lights soon faded and the country came rushing before them. The engine beneath them purred louder as Mei noticed Yuzu press harder against the metal.

The passenger barely noticed until mischief tugged at the corner of the blonde’s lips.

Mei felt her stomach jump, for more than one reason.
For one, she was watching a Godsend place the first tastes freedom on her tongue
For another, she did not often indulge in adrenaline.
For one more, the mixture of the purring engine and lack of distance between the twosome was not helping with the beating of her heart.

The driver played the game well, she looked unaware of her companion’s fretting but sensed every hitch of breath the other girl released when the throttle hastened.

Soon, the highway became coarse, an even stronger hush falling between the two. Mei trusted Yuzu enough to know she wasn’t in any danger, but the turn she took into the thicket was too sharp. The car stopped by a neat clearing and Yuzu stepped outside.

“Follow me?” her voice was tender, apprehensive. It was uncharacteristic for someone so bold and lively, it was vulnerable.
Mei stepped into the crude autumn cold, joining the angel.
Yuzu stalled, Yuzu hesitated, but she stuck her hand out for Mei to hold none the less.
Rejected or not, it would never kill to be curious.
So when Mei took her hand, she tried hard to keep the warmth from spreading.

The blonde led the raven through some kind of foliage, the older of the two whispering “be careful” every so often.
Yuzu slowed, and broke left, into one more clearing.
Into their destination, he view from the cliffside bushes made the world feel so vibrant, and Yuzu’s lips immediately curled upwards, another display of that surreal contentment. The lights they saw every day flickered with a little more life in this new angle.

Mei’s eyes widened. She felt butterflies swarming her stomach and flower petals threatening to burst from her lips. Once again, Yuzu had showed her something entirely new.

“So, I bribe you into going on a cruise with me, I tear 110 on rubber and I promised to show you our world all in one day, right?”

“You did.”

“Well, is it as glum as you always describe it to be?”

“No, it’s wonderful, it’s so much more different watching it from afar...

... Yuzu?”

“Yeah?”

“I feel alive”

Chapter Text

A smooth contralto voice coasted through the modest apartment space. Muffled but loud, the lyrics carried the musings of a love song, sweet and unrequited.

“Put your head on my shoulder,
hold me in your arms, baby,”

Mei’s thoughts came to an abrupt curb as she turned heel to their room. Although curious to see a wild Yuzu in her rightful habitat, she was weary with her approach; Her presence may fluster the singer and cut her performance short. Tactfully, she crossed the hallway, inching towards their door. Right next to the entrance was her perch; She posted her back against the wall and slid down to sit in a comfortable position, far enough away to be undetected, close enough to see and hear. As a quiet spectator, she held in a 2/3 content and 1/3 surprised sigh as she heard a guitar drown out the sound of Paul Anka’s voice, cancelling the use of the old vinyl player.

“Squeeze me oh-so-tight, show me
That you love me too,”

Miss Performer cooed the last word, a flick of the wrist garnishing the play of the chord. As Mei looked inwards, she saw a saccharine grin plastered on the blonde’s face, alien to her usual hardy nature.

“Put your lips next to mine, dear,
Won’t you kiss me once, baby?
Just a kiss goodnight, maybe,
You and I will fall in love,”

The blonde blushed, it was obvious she was thinking of someone.
Mei, on the other hand, fancied this hidden side of the Greaser, a little more than the rest of her sides. Her lovestruck musings charmed her raven-locked counterpart and watching her fall all over herself when Mei breathed made the girl’s heartbeat skip twos.

“Put your lips next to mine, dear”

The spectator’s cheeks heated up at the earful of that robust high note. She was reminded of their last kiss (wasn’t that long ago) which led to her reaching upwards and touching her lips.

“Won’t you kiss me once, baby,”

Yuzu’s lips curled into a smile halfway through the line as she struck the low note with robust tone.

“You and I will fall in love.”

The guitar hit a sour ending. Yuzu winced, overly animated, and corrected the chord, giggling lightly at the funny sound it created.

“People say,
That love’s a game, a game you just can’t win,”

Yuzu sung with fervor, hitting the bridge of the song, she put every emotion her vocal chords could express,

“If there’s a way, I’ll find it some day,
And then this fool will rush in,”

The crescendo ended in a stout note, a blend of sincerity, adoration and zeal in her recipe. The dramatics of the short pause ended when her fingers graced the strings once more, and in a voice of milk and honey,

“Put your head on my shoulder,“

The chorus was starting again and the audience was attentive enough to remember it. Mei wasn’t much of a singer and at this point, she had been hiding too long, and it was high time she joined in. After a deep breath, another voice piped from outside of the hallway,

“Whisper in my ear, baby,
You and I will fall in love,”

Soprano and sweet and saccharose.

“HOW LONG WERE YOU HERE FOR THAT?” The blonde fumbled and tripped over air, attempting to hide her guitar by practically throwing it into the closet.

“Since you started?”

“Oh my god, ohmy god ohmygod”

“Was I not supposed to hear that?”

“It was a cheesy love tune sung by a blonde mutt, of course you weren’t!”

“Well, I don’t think she’s a mutt. She’s more like... a German Shepherd.”

“Still. It was embarrassing,”

“With a voice like yours, I doubt it ever was... Was that for anyone in particular?”

“I-it was for- IT WAS FOR NO ONE”

“With a face like that, I doubt it was either,”

“Can we never talk about this? Like ever again?”

“It’ll be our secret, just the two of us.”

The Soc and the Greaser stared at each other in silence, both at a mismatch of thoughts.

“Actually, Could-

Could you play another song?
Please?”

Yuzu looked thunderstruck at the question, racing between “yes” and “no”.

“What would you like to hear?” was her answer instead.

“La vie En Rose.

It’s a song I think of every time I see someone certain.”

Yuzu opened her closet door to retrieve her guitar and as Mei watched her return she heard the opening chord of her request.

As Yuzu settled beside her first fan and uttered the first lines,
Mei put her head on the blonde’s shoulder.

Chapter Text

She was never a rule breaker,
In fact she was a rule maker
But when her two best friends get the passcode to a speakeasy and decide to muse teenage recklessness, what other choices does she have?

Now, this hidden tavern was notorious for being obvious; their password never changed and was easy to figure out in the first place, their area of choice was an abandoned house in the middle of a suburb and their bar fights always caused phone calls to the police, seeing as tussles always escalated to the point where it was out of their hands.

As the three teens approached the clumsy cabaret, the drill-haired pinkette of them approached the beetle-browed door,

“Come on snake, let’s rattle.”

The entrance of the hot spot soon came into view and the lively scene wolfed down their peripherals. One of two large muscle-heads guarding the door greeted them in and left them to their vices.

Maruta sauntered to the bartender with her raven-haired companion while the most colorful of the trio had already been whisked away by a pair of drunkards, beckoning her to dance.

“Whiskey on the rocks...
Uhm, please.”

Mei looked at her bespectacled friend, amused at her order. “Do you even know what on the rocks means?” She inquired, giggling at her right-hand. Before her friend could reply, a different voice answered from behind her.

“I reckon she’ll find that out herself, she ordered it after all.”

Mei turned backwards to meet the owner of the coarse, strappy nuisance.

To her surprise, a stocky blonde flashed her a moonlit smile in greeting. Shy but robust, the voice rung out once more,

“Ah, sorry. I didn’t mean to speak out loud like that, I’m Yuzu.”

Mei froze, unable to reply. Shell-shocked by the owner, Maruta covered her up in a quick rebound,

“Oh, it’s nothing to gringle about, besides, it’s always nice to meet someone of wit! I’m Maruta, and this is mute one over here is Mei.”

“Goes the same, you don’t meet a pair of angels in a place like this too often,” The blonde’s remark flustered the spectacled woman, earning her a bashful giggle.

“Oh uh, why thank you! You ain’t so bad yourself,” Maruta shot back, the reception was well and the blonde smiled softly.

“Maruta!”

Before anything else could be said, Momokino hollered at her from the dancefloor.

“One of the boys I was with is over here asking for you, come over and shake something!” The pinkette yelled, “If you don’t, I’ll drag you here!”

Maruta sighed, entertained. She waltzed near the jukebox and attempted the Charleston, immediately forgetting the Greaser she just interacted with.

“They totally don’t look like a handful,” The blonde light-heartedly remarked, averting her attention to Mei. Yuzu eyed her up and down, from her pencil skirt to her loose blue button up.

“Guess she’ll find out about that whiskey thing a little later, huh?”

Yuzu snickered at the girl across from her, “Guess she will, what’s with the pink girl acting all barmy?”

“Her first time to one of these things,” Mei confessed, stifling a giggle, “Are you here alone?”

“My buddy’s in the back, hustlin’ a poor sod. You’ll definitely know who she is once she gets it all done,” Yuzu whispered, playfully leaning towards Mei.

“You’re a strange one,”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“Definitely not. Tell me about yourself, I’m interested,”

——————

“Maruta, you really think it’s okay to leave Mei with that Greaser?” The frilly haired loli inquired, dancing next to her friend.

“Calm your nerves, I would’ve dragged her along if anything didn’t feel right,” the glasses-clad woman retorted, “besides, look at her! She’s having the time of her life,”

Maruta pointed at the raven, who at this point was struggling to hold in laughter as the blonde was now lightly pushed up against her, cracking jokes and softly whispering stories into her ear.

Yuzu was under the influence at this point and held onto the counter for balance. Her sense of censorship evaporated by the time her next shot was downed and she murmured into Mei’s ear,
“You know Doll, I’d take you home and to places you’ve never been to if I had the chance, but, I’m not like that.”

“Then... what are you like?”

“I’m more interested in dates, good old fashion love junk” she snickered, “Lame, I know.”

“Not at all, uhm, in fact-“ Mei took the shot glass from her partner’s hand, placing it on the counter and moving it to the side, “I was wondering if you’d like to go on one, if you didn’t mind spending some of your time with me.” She shifted herself towards the sallow-headed woman, facing her but reluctant to look upwards.

“Oh Doll,” the greaser uttered in a wounded tone, “I’d give all the time in the world to get to know you but, I’m only here because that friend of mine wanted to take me on a last hurrah,

I’m getting shipped off to boot camp tomorrow. I- uh, I’ve just been recruited by the Army.”

Mei’s face visibly sunk, a solemn “oh” was all she could muster.

Yuzu needed to rebound, quick. She jammed her hand into her jacket and fumbled around for a pen, then swooped over Mei to get a napkin from the counter.

“Tell you what,”

She scribbled her name down on the mock-piece of paper, along with a bunch of numbers,

“I’ll be back in, say... six months, give or take a few weeks. If you could do me a favor and keep this jacket until then,” she placed the napkin in her jacket and proceeded to remove the brown article of leather.

“I’ll take you on a date as thanks.” She shot Mei a tender grin while holding out the jacket, hoping and praying she would take it.

Mei, on the other hand, looked at this stranger, dumbstruck. “Deal.”

Mei accepted the cowhide, immediately slipping it on.

“You can do me a counter-favor until then, and keep this.” She knew it wasn’t much, but, she reached into the purse she’d almost forgotten about and pulled out a small handkerchief. She took the pen from Yuzu’s jacket and wrote down her number. “Return it to me, and as thanks, I’ll go on that date with you.”

Yuzu accepted the cloth and tied it around her wrist.
She extended her hand for Mei to shake,
“Deal. That suits you, just so you know.”

They stalled for a moment too long, and held hands for a second in eternity. The only thing that broke their bond was the brassy voice screaming for Yuzu.

“CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS JACKASS,” screamed a brunette, whose forehead was curtained by bangs. Her buttoned up denim could barely contain her breasts as she jumped in fury.(I had to I’m sorry)
“FLIRTS WIT’ ME ALL NIGHT, GETS ALL UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, THEN ASKS ME IF I’VE GOT ANY CUTE LASSES TO SET ‘IS SORRY ASS UP WITH,”
A distressed young man behind her hung his head in shame as he pushed through the crowd towards the exit.

Yuzu was hesitant in releasing Mei’s hand, but with all the commotion her friend was making, it was difficult to stay still. She scratched the back of her head and turned to face Mei, “And that’s my cue named Harumin. I’m glad I got to meet you Darlin’, don’t forget our deal okay?”

“I’ll be waiting, Grease.”

Yuzu flashed her one last smile, wide and triumphant. She quickly whisked herself towards Harumin, but not before she could kiss Mei’s nose. “Departure gift,” she beamed in glee.

Mei watched as this beautiful, jacket-less stranger attempted to console her brazen friend, soon escorting her outside as her bull-headed mate huffed and hollered.

The raven clutched her new buffer closer to herself, now realizing how it was stained her new swain’s scent. She smiled, remembering the napkin left in her new threads. Said grin grew wider the longer she looked at the note,

“151543. Ask me about it when I get back.” was written in parentheses under a landline number.

Chapter Text

It had been weeks since their encounter. Mei, for the life of her, could not shake the thought of the stranger she met. None the less, she was determined to meet that Greaser again, wearing her jacket any chance she could get.
Knowing that recruits could send and receive letters during their time in training, she added her address to the handkerchief, hoping for something,
But, it had been weeks. And there was nothing.
Yet.

Even her grandfather was confused at her new behavior.
She had been more anxious lately, more lively, a lack of stoicism inside of her head.

“I should start hiding that mail key, you’ve been hounding that letter-box for god knows how long, whatever are you waiting for?” He’d ask after she’d return from their fromt yard empty handed.

“No reason, just waiting for school forms and such,” she’d attempt at nonchalance, “apparently, some clubs have started mailing us instead of turning it in.”

Her grandfather heaved a hearty chortle, “That’s my girl, we’ll make a chairwoman out of you yet.”

God did she have to make up a story for the jacket.

///

Yuzu’s part of this story was less than savory. She’d been training non-stop at camp. Rain, sleet, snow or shine, it was a 5km run breakfast, lunch and dinner and intensive training for all hours of the day.

The poor blonde was sore constantly, but it payed off at the sight of her name in the top ten.

As for the handkerchief, her trusty little companion rejuvinated her efforts each time she felt drained.
It was racked with sweat, blood and dirt, but the only thing ever affecting it was the progressive fading of the writing.
Once neat and nearly an official font, it now looked like it had been dragged through purgatory.

A particularly hellish day of training wracked even the drill sargeant’s mentality. As for the commanding officer, he called off the next day, a rarity in the ranks. Yuzu, as well as her squadron, dragged their sorry carcasses back to the base, fairly sure they felt their nerve-endings cry uncle.

Yuzu used the next day to her advantage and wrote Mei a quick letter, shipping it away with no proof read.

With her current emotions placed in that letter, she fell into a fitful sleep in preparation for the next day’s routine, which had apparently been switched up.

 

///

Mei decided this was her last day checking the mail box. The blonde most likely forgot about her existence and realized that she was probably given the jacket as an excuse, so its former could get a new one without interrupting any closet space.

Her stoic facade had made a ten-fold comeback, doubling her intimidating aura and putting the school on a never-before-seen edge. Hell, on her way home even the forest animals lollygagging in the nearby bushes seemed to stop and run away at her presence.

With a resigned sigh, she approached the letter-box and opened it to find bills, ads, and a letter addressed to her.

There was a letter addressed to her!

A quick scan of the addresses in the back sent her hopes through the roof, seeing as it came from a military base. She gasped, elated, and sped-walk into their mansion.
“Grandfather, I’m home! I’ll leave the mail and key on the coffee table!” She yelled, not waiting for the empty home’s response.

Halfway down the west wing, she nearly ran into her grandfather in her rush, and he chuckled,
“Young Miss Aihara, please watch your step. Hey-wait where did you get that ja-“

“Good evening grandfather, I have forms I must attend to, the school is needier than usual so if you excuse me,” a door shut.

“Since when were you this boisterous?” He inquired, glad she’d most likely found something that renewed her childishness.

Mei ripped her bag off of her shoulder and greeted her desk, tearing the envelope to shreds.

She feasted her eyes upon loopy writing, one she knew was Yuzu’s.

“Dear Stranger,
I know we met once in a half-baked speakeasy, but I haven’t been able to get you off my mind. I’ve been unable to write you because training really is as hard as the older dogs say it is.
I kept that handkerchief you gave me by the way, it’s been through hell and back but it’s still standing. It’s color kinda reminds me of your eyes, Mei.
I hope that date offer’s still up, I’m itching like a bat out of hell to see you again.
I don’t even know you, but,
I miss you.
I’m awful glad I met you.
I hope we won’t be strangers the next time I write.

Signed,
Yuzu

P.s. Hope you’re treating that old jacket alright.”

 

Mei, for probably the first time in her life, squealed. It was loud, it was joyful, it was her first time acting like a teenage girl. She paced her room, reading it over and over again until she realized,

“Ohmylord I have to right her back.”

Mei burst into her stationary drawer fumbling around for a nice pen and a crisp sheet of paper.

She sat down and cracked her knuckles, ready to reply.

Chapter Text

“Meet me by the third-street dock xx-xx-xx5x half-past noon.

I’ll be there to start our deal.

Signed,
Yuzu

p.s. Didn’t mean for it to sound so ominous”

Mei could hear the chuckle in the girl’s voice as she finished off the note.
Averting her attention to the dock before her, the raven waited for any semblance of blonde to pop out in some corner. She stuffed the letter in her pocket and grabbed the zipper of her cowhide accent, leading it up and down.

It had been an hour after noon and Mei kept reading the note in the hopes to reverve her spirits.
She looked upwards, non-plussed and patient, until she saw a flash of gold.
And the curtained brunette she remembered from the bar.
And an older woman crying tears of joy.

On instinct, she stood up and moved forward. The zipper she fiddled with moved faster as her feet moved her closer, and there it was,

Yuzu caught her eye, and flashed her a trademark smile. The uniformed woman flew forward until she was face to face with her swain. She stalled, but only for a moment since her arms had other ideas and continued to flood the younger woman.
The embrace was long awaited and so very fulfilling

Mei indulged in the warm feeling, all kinds of butterflies swirling in her chest. She soon felt her feet rise from the ground as the woman before her picked her up and swung her around. Delighted giggling filled her ears as she realized the gratified look on her courier, those green eyes beaming at her own.

“Glad you’re so hyper. You’re really that happy to see me?” She inquired, confused.

“See for yourself, I can’t even say ‘Hi’ without falling all over you,” she huffed, smiling at her adorable cargo.

She set her back down on the weathered wood, beckoning her towards the others accepting her arrival.

The salty air slapped her already blushing cheeks, and as she approached the two women, the sun only seemed to overwhelm her on a new level.

“Oh! It’s that lass she met ‘fore she got deployed! The one she was goin’ gaga all over afore I took her off’er hands!”
The brunette whispered excitedly to the woman she assumed was the blonde’s mother.
“Hey there, sweet-pea! I’m Harumin, the idiot you probably saw before Blondie here went and left us!”

“Ah! Very nice to finally meet you,” was the raven’s response, anxious to meet the blonde’s loved ones. “And you must be her mother? Nice to meet you as well, Miss. I’m Mei, I met Yuzu shortly before she left for training-“

“We’ve been exchanging letters while I was in basics,” Yuzu concurred, beaming at her mother.

“This little lady cannot shut her mouth about you! Here I thought you were gonna be some hood she met at a bar, you’re absolutely lovely! I apologize dearly for assuming,” her mother drawled, “I’m Ume, her mom.”

Ume eyed the both of them, a mischievous smirk plastered on her face, “Look at you two, already lookin’ married!” She shined, successfully embarrassing her daughter.

Yuzu removed the arm she around Mei’s waist, while the latter scoot away in the slightest manner.
“Harumin, you brought my truck in one piece, yeah?”

“10-4; She’s in the east parking lot, boss!” Her friend gleamed as she approached the blonde’s back, “y’know, go on without us! We’ll leave you two lovebirds the day, me and dear ol’ mom see you enough anyway!”

Ume slung her arm around Mei’s shoulder, falling into Harumi’s step, “That’s right! Me and Harumin’ll find something else to do, go on and be reckless,” she echoed in the same vein.

The new almost-couple was shoved forward as their two counterparts mingled into the crowd, effectively vanishing.

“Why did one of them say ‘wear protection’?” Mei asked, perplexed.

“Oh, damn it to hell! You heard it too?”

“You never know!” rung through the crowd.

—————

Once Yuzu finally located her old truck, she looked for Mei’s reaction. Not a lot was written on the girl’s face, but she seemed apprehensive now that she realized she had to enter the old, rusted thing.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” the uniformed woman chuckled, “I promise.”

As the younger of the two stepped into the truck, she looked floored at how trim the inside was.

“It what’s on the inside that counts, eh?”

“You’ve been waiting to use that for years, haven’t you?”

The blonde huffed, a resigned “yeah” coming from her lips.

“Hm, they don’t call you Greasers for nothing, huh?” the soc whispered to herself more than anything.

Mei caressed the fine leather, addled by the felt roof and bisso-clad steering wheel. Yuzu, on the other hand, circled around back to grab her requested change of clothes.
In a moment of distraction, Mei peaked at the rearview mirror, only to be greeted by Yuzu who was stripping out of her uniform.
“Wh-what are you- What are you doing!” She squeaked from inside the passenger seat. “That’s indecent!”

Yuzu looked up at her, half-naked. The sallow-header soldier shrugged, her pale, creamy shoulders rolling too smoothly, “Only when people are looking!” She reckoned, presently amused.

Mei glowed red, her eyes “unwillingly” plastered to the rearview. Yuzu made eye contact with her as she wrestled on a white button up, effectively taking several decades off Mei’s lifespan.

As she approached the driver’s seat, she smirked at Mei, “Thank my mom,”

Mei sunk into her seat, not knowing what to say.

Just kidding,

“You have- nicE aRmS.”

Yuzu snorted, “Thanks,”

“And also a stomach.”

“I sure do.”

“I meant it was nice.”

“It is?”

“It’s nice and firm and rugged and ohgoodlordIamtalkingtoomuch,” Mei ended her bashful crescendo in a tint chirp.

“Again, thank my mom.”

—————

The car ride to their destination was smoother than calculated, no small talk, no awkward silences, all chemistry.

(But the way Yuzu backed out of the parking lot was another factor to Mei’s shortened life span.

She held onto the passenger seat with one hand and looked backwards, steering out of their spot in a fluid motion,

“You’re good with your hands,” she had commented.

“You haven’t seen nothin’ yet,” Yuzu winked.)

 

The two jammed a half a year’s worth of conversation into a measly few hours, making up for lost time. Soon enough, the hours felt unbelievably short, as the pulled into one of a few destinations.

“Shirapon! I’m back!” Yuzu had hollered, shaking the bones of a little corner bakery.

A tall shadow rose from behind the counter, a smokey demeanor enveloping all she passed as she wisped towards the blonde. She had a small basket in her hands, with Yuzu’s name written on the front.

“It’s good to see you in one piece, Yuzupon.” It uttered,

As she hugged the blonde in greeting, the aura around her dissipated, revealing a green-headed woman with intense eyes and gloved hands. Yuzu broke the contact to pay for the services, aiming for the register.

Left behind were her two companions, one analyzing the other.

“You’re her lover?” The one named Shirapon broke the silence, looking Mei in the face while doing so.

Mei nearly fumbled over her words, “You could say,”

“Ah! How wonderful! That girl is hard-nosed as all get out, you seem steadfast, steely, you make a good match.”

“Opposites attract don’t they? My name is Mei Aihara, I’m glad to meet you.”

“Friends it is. My name is Suzuran Shiraho, my family runs this bakery.”

“Well, you have a new regular,” Mei nodded at her, dutiful.

“You’d have to try our stuff first you know,” the mysterious woman laughed, “people have two comments about our pastries: it’s either shit or heavenly.”

Mei stifled a giggle at her comment, “Hey, I’ll give it to you, you take criticism with grace.”

Shirapon smiled with her eyes, blinking in response, “Anytime that girl is around, the world seems like a better place,” it was out of no where but she wasn’t wrong.

“I’d say so too.”

 

———————-

“I’m glad you and Shirapon get along, you two’d make great pals,” Yuzu commented as she threw her bag in the backseat.

“I am too. She’s a strange one but so are you. The strangest are always the best, it seems.” Mei remarked, looking at her now-official Date, “Where are we going anyway?”

“I’d say you trust me enough to say it’s a surprise.”

“I always prayed to make my killer cute if I got murdered on the side of a highway,”

Yuzu cracked up at her remark. “A little extreme, there huh?”

——————————

“This’ll be our second to last spot, it won’t be hell, I promise.” Yuzu said as she drove through the highway.

“What’s our last spot, then?” Her other half inquired,
Placing a hand on the younger woman’s thigh (Mei’s health gauge is reduced by 10hp) she replied

(‘My bedroom’)
“This little drive-in, I heard it’s a pretty hot plate of cakes,”

Mei giggled, “No one says that.”

Chapter Text

On the side of the highway lay two women, a rusted parked nearby.
They had spread a blanket near their vehicle, the pair were enjoying a picnic, sharing stories, shooting the sh*t, typical newly reunited couple stuff that was innocent enough.

‘HOW THE HELL DO I ASK HER TO STAY THE NIGHT? HOW DO I DO THAT WITHOUT IMPLYING ANYTHING DIRTY, I’M JUST TRYING TO LOVE AND CHERISH HER!’ A rush of thoughts rung through the sallow-headed one’s mind, all ending in the same vein; the fear of losing the girl in front of her had her in a headlock.

This fragile, tender damsel with the weight of an industry on her shoulders, this delicate young woman who only ever had inklings of affection, never too deep, this soft-hearted raven who hid it all under a steely gaze and non-plussed attitude.

Her current displacement greatly contrasted her inner preachings,
In fact, the blonde was multitasking.
Overthinking on one hand
And trying to make Mei laugh on the other.
All the while stressing beyond third-dimension plains.

“Yeah! And so Harumin yells, ‘I dare’t’you have to pick this needle in my meaty little haystack!’” She hollers, splitting open her sides.

Mei let loose stifled laughter, diving into a straight giggling fit.
“There’s no way you would get into a bar fight by hiding a shot glass in your cleavage,”

“Not if you’re Harumi Taniguchi! Hell, I still fee bottle of bud slammed upside my noggin’”

“What other ‘misadventures’ have you been on?”

“Not enough to tell you in one day!” Yuzu mused, hoping to rouse a reaction from her date.

“Well, we’ll have to go on one of these again,”

‘Jackpot!’
“Oh? You askin’ me to go steady, Soc?”

“Maybe I am.”

“Hah! No maybes from me, just a big, swollen yes.”

Mei smiled, a look of gratuity on her face. The blonde gawked at the serene expression, the usual steely-eyed girl had melted, revealing her less-than-hardy exterior.

“Then, steady it is.”

————————

With Mei’s thigh as her new arm-rest,
(The damage lingers! Mei’s HP gauge decreases by the hour) Yuzu sped off to their last spot.
The raven-haired woman was anxious, in a sort of subtlety that’s easily missed.

“Still convinced I’m out to dump you in a body bag on the side of 109?”

“No, just... overthinking.”

“About..?”

“We’re two girls in a relationship, I guess I’m just thinking too far into the future but... the backlash. How, how would we deal with that?”

“There’s really no right answer to that.”

Mei blanked at the response. Letting fear seep into her rather than letting free will reign, how juvenile. She scolded herself for it.
She looked at Yuzu’s face, which had hardened for a mere second,
Her jaw clenched, tense but that moment was quicker than it lasted
She relaxed.
A semblance of a grin fell upon the blonde’s lips,
“We’ll do what we want.”

Deafening silences devoured the rusted truck. Though the blonde’s hand never left the younger girl’s thigh, her grip became hesistant as Mei deadpanned, staring straight ahead.
Their smooth sailing soon felt as if the pavement started roaring.

“151543.”

Yuzu blinked, shaking away the existential dread, “1-5-1-what?”

That earned a giggle from Mei, “You’re telling me you don’t remember your own numbers?”

Now Yuzu’s turn to deadpan, she searched her head for their encounter and recalled certain events,
Mei huffed, amused
“Blondes.”

“Oy! I’d say three months of boot-camp’ll rack your brain of certain memories! All you do is train, train, trai-“

“Really? You’re going grandpa on me, dear. Watch, next you’ll tell me stories about your days in the RAF.”
Mei mused, relentless with her clapbacks.

“I think I might love you.”

They both shut up, Mei struggling to hide her slacked-jaw, blindsided by the blonde’s sudden outburst.
The pavement roared, now filled to its brim with mocking laughter, entertained by the scene it beheld.

“151543, it means ‘I think I might love you’, it’s a play on 143 which is just ‘I love you’” Yuzu squeaked, the metal in her backbone melting like sugar.

Mei swallowed, unable to recover. “1515432”

“Oh!
O H,”

Another damned silence,
Yuzu’s knuckles on the wheel turned white with the weight of the heavy atmosphere grasping them by the necks.

Mei breathed in,
Yuzu huffed a breath of air.

“143”

In one voice, their statements hushed the road’s mockery.

Chapter Text

Blonde mixed with Black at the strike of midnight,
A flurry of nails raking down backs and mouths leaving marks left two sweaty (and horny) beasts to crave each other’s taste the more the seconds passed.

After... variations of carousel rides and dinner etiquette, Mei felt herself edging her boundaries, courtesy of the blonde.

“Yuzuko!” Spilled from her lips, coarse and unfiltered as it arrived with soft and sultry cursing.

The head of sallow hair stopped her work almost immediately, pulling off the source of honey and attacking the blackette’s neck.

Mei yelped, startled and dissatisfied.

“It’s Yuzu.” The blonde growled, velveteen and bassy, “Like the fruit.”

Yuzu switched her tactics and made her fingers finish what her mouth started. She stuffed slender fingers into the girl below her, unrelenting and rough.

Mei, while she could talk, asked “Why not Yuzuko?” between harshening breaths.

Before replying, Yuzu sped up her work, plunging rougher and harder into the blackette.

“The real meaning of it is too poetic, child of gentle harvests, something like that, so I prefer being a fruit.”

During her speech, Mei let out a small scream, signaling her climax.
Yuzu smirked, and crawled towards her ears.
“You didn’t need to know that though, did you? All you need to know is that I am your mistress, right Angel?”

Chapter Text

No Time Skip)

She flinched as the sound of crashing furniture rung through the apartment, her evening wind-down quick to go awry. Without hesitation, she hurried to her daughter’s room, baffled by the commotion.

She arrived to see hands, bloody, scraped and dirtied by wood and walls she’s greeted many times before.
Blonde turned red as splintered fingers gripped onto golden locks, angry. Angry. She was doing it again, she was hurting her again, and god knows how quick she’ll come back to her. She’s hurting her and she’s not even there. Yuzu screamed, angry, red, it was all she felt, but her mother, her protector, her guardian, could not help.
Arms wrapped around her, nurturing, caring. But it was futile.
The red was too powerful.

Yuzu stood up and threw the letter at her mother.
“I love her.” Cold, despaired, empty.

Ume read the paper, slack-jawed in awe. Confused but finally understanding.
She felt sick, they were her daughters, but god knows the heart gets what the heart wants.
She swallowed her pride and stood up, to follow her daughter into the bathroom.

“I’ll be damned to hell if I’m not gonna help get that god-damn girl back.”

Rough jackets, made for fighting, made for protecting, encased the two women. They left in the night’s death, on a quiet ride to get something from someplace she didn’t belong.

Sallow no more as the fire inside her burned through her skin and nipped at the frosted air.
Black as the night, hiding the forbidden, protecting.

The brakes were quiet, far enough to see, close enough to never have been there in the first place.
No car-door was slammed. No engine was cut. Sallow was cloaked by cloth, to hide her where the night should guide.
Guided, she was guided over the garden wall, she was guided into the nearest window and from then on she went forward herself.

She realized Mansions have reason to be named so. Only the still night assured her that her searching had only been hours, not days.
No nook was left unseen, no cranny remained to discover, until the light of a door spoke to her.
Sobbed for her.
The West wing of all places was where she was pulled towards.
She felt it call to her, cry for her, each little hic and sniff told her a hidden story she never heard,
Not from her voice
Definitely not from the letter.

“I regret it all.” a tear.
“Why did I have to love you?” a sniff
“I hurt you, again, and I hate myself for it.” a soft groan.
“You’ll never forgive me, won’t you?” a hic
“I never wanted to leave.” a small sigh
“I will love you more than you’ll ever know.” a sob.

Sallow stepped forward, the cloth was gone.
Raven, no - Sable, looked upward.
Lost, despaired, regretful, she looked to the Sallow for guidance, she looked to her sunrise, her breath of life to escape the death of night. To escape.

A hand, reached forward, bruised-knuckle, weary, uncertain.

“Come with me.”

No response.

The maw of silence clawed at them both. Hollow room but nor for long, hollow because she did not belong there, hollow because she’s chained herself to the bed frame, hollow because she left her heart when she stepped out a former door.

Shuffling, a faltering reach,

“This is your last chance. Your last choice. If you love me prove it. For once, for god’s sakes, just prove it. Come with me,”

Hesitation, but none the less Sable was jolted upwards, and grasped the outstretched hand.

“We’ll figure it out? Okay? We always will.”

A soft caress, brow-beaten but sweet.

There was barely any time for changing. The Sun cloaked rough hide over the Moon, to protect her from the death of night. Through the same window, over the same garden wall, they traversed to freedom.

To the car-door that was never slammed they entered and into the streetlight they stole.

The Sun, rested against the Moon, relieved but not for long.
Hell was coming and this might be the only moment they could share before uncertainty comes to vacate their future.

This may be the only moment the Moon could revere her Sun, and for once, in the time they knew each other, was every locked, chained and bound emotion inside of her poured into her star.

They glow. And they will continue to glow. Now more than ever, as long as they have each other, for the Sun could never blaze if the Moon never gleamed.

If the sun could never blaze, the moon would refuse to gleam. This neither hell nor heaven could decide, for fear is they heart of love, for they would follow each other into the dark and wander aimlessly for as long as they wish.

Chapter Text

It had been a very grueling 19 hours.

First, the car ride. What was supposed to be a peaceful trip home plummeted into the pits when a head of sallow hair decided to crash-land into her night.

Second, the near death experience in which said blonde, literally, almost crash landed and broke her neck. Said blonde was on top of a medieval billboard, knocking on the castle doors.

Third, having to guide this blonde, Yuzuko, or whatever her name was, around the streetlight of the City while her grandfather watched nearby, both Aiharas perplexed by the sheer dimwittedness of the maiden.

Fourth, following her on her way home from school, bringing destruction near every corner. And somehow, finding out her place of attendance.
No doubt she snooped around in her grandfather’s study.

Fifth the musical she now found herself in, once she explained that she was betrothed.
How did they even get to that topic anyway?
Something about her wishing she was betrothed, trying to find the sorry bastard she was stuck to for ever after and some more fairy tale delusions layed on the table by someone who was barely paying attention to all the childish little stories.
The most Mei got was that she’s not of this world or something like that. Blah blah, teleportation, blah blah, evil mother blah blah bla-

“....-specially when he defends you from goblins found in the Forbidden Groves. Then again, he made me pay him twenty sovereigns after he rescued me, hehe. But that’s not the point, the point is that’s how you know he loves you!”

I guess they were talking about true love now.
The maiden broke into a little two-step, humming and dancing, obviously enamored by the thought of Prince What’s-his-Name.
She urged the uniformed girl to join in, her eyes expectant.

“I don’t dance.”

“Oh hush, just get into the rhythm!”

“I don’t sing either.”

The blonde stopped, overly crestfallen at her lack of response.
She puffed out her cheeks, still in that outrageous pink dress she was found in, attempting to guilt-trip the well dressed young woman she accompanied. It proved no avail - acting was not her forte, as was many things.

“That’s... that’s not gonna convince me-“

“Well, how do you know he loves you~?”

Mei rubbed her temples. Was she going to break into a song?
Oh please n-

“How do you know~ He’s yours~?”

A throat clear, “People, Yuzuko - they’re looking?”

The maiden giggled, halfway perplexed at how jaded and young the girl in front of her was.
Mei gripped her hand, urging her to leave the busy marketplace courtyard before people decided she was a cosplayer and asked for pic-

“How do you know that he loves you?” Bongos and accented music rung through the crowd and into the blonde’s ears.
She gasped, elated. Without losing the grip on Mei’s hand, she halted, whipped around and turned to face street performers.

“Wait, they know this song too?” Mei interrupted, idle behind the singing maiden.

“How does he show her he loves her?”

Mei, with her free hand, was tempted to dig into her rucksack for an Advil or ibuprofen-

“How does she know that he really, really truly loves her~?” The blonde harmonized with the dread-locked lead in the band.

Okay, sounded kinda nice, actually.
Yuzuko stormed forward, a second wind entering her lungs.
Mei three loose change and a bill, maybe two, into the performer’s hats, preparing herself for an entire musical number.
Was she really going to start a musical?

 

————————————

 

The answer was yes.
She was absolutely going broadway.

Mei was slung along a ring of dancers, with Yuzu in the lead, singing as loud as her lungs would let her.
The blackette stumbled and crashed into the dancers, who somehow also knew the dance and song.
By the grace of the cosmos, she slipped away from the growing line-jig, opting to jog forward in the hopes of keeping up with the ring-leader.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to burn the image of the blonde into her mind.
The maiden’s smile, all of a sudden, mesmerized her, the sun seeming to shine brighter the more her lips curved upward.
Her steps were elegant, as if she’d danced the line a thousand times before.
For a moment, she really did look like a princess.

Crash.

Mei fell forward, a small mob of people running her over.

“Sorry, Miss Manager! We just wanna get some pictures with the cosplayer! She’s a riot!”

In that moment, her worst nightmares were realized.
Mei got to her feet in record time.
They were in danger, now for sure.
The pictures might never stop.

She broke into a dead sprint, straight for the blonde, who she soon whisked away from the crowd.
With the maiden’s absence, the whole kingdom conga was left askew, with everyone tumbling into each other.

Mei shoved Yuzu forward, furthering her from the discombobulated musical. The nut was still giggling,
“This isn’t part of the dance, Mei!”
There was a hearty laugh coming from the girl, amused at the sudden change of pace.
But then she stopped, a slow look of concern gracing her brow.
“Your arm.”

“Pardon me?”

“Y-your arm. It’s bleeding.” She was almost at a whisper, she most certainly sounded guilty.

The blackette looked down to find a gnarly scrape, which gushed a hefty lot of blood.
She sighed, exasperated, before she moved forward and said
“All the more reason to get home as soon as possible.”

Of course, the blonde protested.

“No no no! It’ll get infected! There’s a fountain nearby, right? Give me five minutes and I’ll be able to make you a bandage made of leaves!”

Before the blackette could counter her, she was already getting dragged around the patches of foliage.

Again.

 

———————-

Soaked leaves wrapped around the bottom part of her wrist, a stark contrast to the propriety of her uniform.
The blonde, who sat near the fountain-side, continued to fuss over her wounds.

“I’m sorry,” she said in a half whisper.

Mei huffed, amused.
“You have nothing to apologize for, it was not your fault.”

Yuzu puffed her cheeks out again,
“It kinda was! I started the line dance, didn’t I? And if I payed more attention to you, you wouldn’t have busted your arm.”

“Were you the one who pushed me down?”

“Uhm. No.”

“Were you the skin cells that decided to tear?”

“No...”

“Then don’t worry about it.”
Mei flashed her a grin, for assurance.
Yuzu stared at her, mesmerized.
She was dashing in the first place, and she had a refined aura around her everywhere she went, a perfect form.

That grin only made it worse.

“You’ve been nothing short of wonderful to me and I had to let that happen, guess I just feel... clumsy.”

Mei sighed, and grabbed her by the face.

“Don’t worry about it.”
Firm but warm.

Yuzu gazed into purple eyes, realizing the blackette had done right about everything she sang about, hell, right down to saving the “damsel in distress” part.
Everything that showed she was in love.

Impossible,
She chanted the word to drown out the thought.

“Your... betrothed. You’ve never met him before, have you?”

“Not exactly. I’d like to marry for love, but I have my priorities.”

“Priorities only matter so much, what about happiness! Flourishing in life! How’re you gonna do that if all you do’s give yourself away for priorities.”

Mei replied with a dismissive “never gave it a thought”

Yuzu puffed out her cheeks,
“Well you’ll be thinking more than twice after I’m done with you!”

Chapter Text

“Who d’you think you’re kidding? She’s the Earth and Heaven to you!” Pink hair bolstered from the other side of the desk, halfway outraged.

“You try to keep it hidden, but darling we can see right through you,” Purple joined, smug but comforting.

“Face it like a grown-up, are you ever gonna own up that you’ve got it bad?” Drills bounced cautiously, aware of both the wrath of the President and the contagious mischief of hometown miscreants.

“Really? Right in front of my documents?” Mei looked up from her nest of papers, slighted to say the least.
Two weeks in a row had they been trying to get closer to her, and though she appreciated the effort, (and their persistence) she’d have preferred to spend time with them after she was done with work.
From napping in her guest chairs, to lip-sync concerts and jam sessions, their little gang was comfortable enough to make her office their hangout. Keyword office.(Though, she had to admit, Harumi and Matsuri’s heated rants and tangents about random topics amused her.)
But today was different, they were there with a different topic at hand.

“Yes! Just admit that you love her!” The Pinkette’s voice pierced her eardrums, paying special attention to the crack in her words when she screamed the L word.

Mei, stood up from her desk and left for the halls,
“If there’s a prize for rotten judgement, I guess I’ve already won that.
No one is worth the aggravation, love is ancient history, never been there and I don’t want to be.”

“Oh that’s the biggest lie!” Harumin doubled over, leaning against the doorway and absolutely spilling her guts in the process, “We know how you’re feeling!”

Black hair jutted from behind Matsuri, both hot on Mei’s heels.
“We know who you’re thinking of!”

Annoyance was bubbling in her gut. God knew she appreciated them but God also knew how they pushed her buttons until they got jammed.

“No chance,” she pointed at Harumi, “No way,” she pointed to Nene, “I won’t say it.”

“But you swoon and sigh, why deny it?” Suzuran crept up behind Himeko and Harumin, joining the mob that hounded Mei.
The President in question rubbed her temples, walking at a near jog - they were charging at her from all angles, after all, coming out of the crevices and crannies she never knew existed.

“I am not dying to cry my heart out!” She barked back at the five of them, who all looked like little puppies and kittens following her around the school.

“Girl, you can’t deny it!” Purple.
“Who you are is how you’re feeling.” Green.
“Oho, Baby we ain’t buyin’!” Pink.
“We kinda saw you hit the ceiling,” Twin-tails.
“Face it like a grown-up!” Pink (again)
“C’mon! Just own up ‘coz you’ve got it bad!” Drills.

By this point they reached the courtyard.

“No chance!” She was irritated now and they knew it, “No way, I won’t say it!”

“Give up!” Drills.
“Give in!” Twin-Tails.
“Check the grin, sister! You’re in love!” Purple.

“This scene won’t play, I won’t say I’m in love!”

“It seems like we’ll be doing this until you admit you’re in love.” Green.

“Oh get off my case!” Right now, there was no hiding her annoyance. Or shaking the five muses that followed her throughout the entire campus.
They followed her to the row of sakura trees for christ’s sake, the bigger question is what would shake them.
As she approached the gates of the academy, she saw a flash of blonde, one that probably had been waiting for her since classes ended.

Then she stopped.
Mei’s shoulders fell, and her steps were lighter.
And it was her automatic response to melt; the Breakfast Club behind her followed suit and halted immediately.

Nene grabbed onto Matsuri and proceeded to vibrate uncontrollably,
Himeko’s tense shoulders vanished while Harumi slung her arm beneath her frills, Suzuran, of course, assumed her signature pose.

She made her way over to Yuzu, heart much lighter than moments before. As she left the gates, she made sure the hounds that had hunt her could hear,

“At least out loud,
I won’t say I’m in love”

Chapter Text

“If you fumble with that bracelet anymore than you already have been, you’re gonna break it, you know that right?” Shou threw a mighty chuckle at his daughter’s direction.
The joyful laughter did little to warm sanitized seats or drown out the drawl of heavy luggage.

“Oh stop making fun of her, ya hippie,” a voice broke through the busy crowd and Ume emerged from the terminal corridor alone,
For the third time.
It had been hours since their supposed “landing” and though their luggage was with the receiving end of the family, the carry-ons and family members were no where to be seen.

Shou sighed and slung his head back onto his seat as Ume took the one next to him, both of their patiences running thin.
Mei, on the other hand, switched to biting her fingernails, her nerves running where the wild things were.
She was nervous, hunched over her knees with a record-high blood pressure, nervous to see that trademark smile again yet ecstatic for her homecoming.

It had been a month and two weeks since her departure and her promise to return from that short trip turned vacation... turned temporary stay.
After all, Mei’s side of the family wasn’t the only side,
And when Yuzu was sent to care for her ill grandfather, it was more than they bargained for.
Fortunately, with the grandparents’ renewed health, they’d decided to return with Yuzu as a display of thanks.
Still, it didn’t matter if she was alone or with someone else, what mattered was that she was back.
And technically she was, stuck in her seat as airport traffic dragged on,
But since she wasn’t holding her in her arms, it didn’t count.

Mei blocked out her parents chatter, blurring everything and everyone around her, hoping that if she focused enough, time would speed up and bring the blonde home just a little bit faster. Unfortunately, none of it worked and she was forced to stay anxious and restless until she got who she needed.

“Mom! Mom! Over here!”
Mei snapped out of her daze to the meet eyes of an older woman, graying at the roots.
Ume was the one to have hollered at this strange lady, who had barely exited the terminal.

“Ah! My darling Ume!” The older woman lunged towards her daughter as another new voice boomed through the crowd,

“Huh? That’s our daughter? I thought she was younger!” Bearded and worse than strange, this green eyed mountain-man who matched the age of Ume’s Mother approached the two women, chortling at his daughter’s expense.

The last of the three was the woman of honor in the flesh, who was somehow out of breath.
“Some help would be nice, ya know?” She hollered from the exit, over encumbered by three hefty carry-ons.

Shou giggled and helped his daughter, “Oi at least flex your muscles first,”

Yuzu heaved a sigh of relief as her father relieved her of the weight, not yet noticing Mei’s gaze.
The raven-haired young woman was at a loss for words and was filled with overflowing joy, even if the blonde looked like a tired pack mule.
Hell, she was the most stunning thing Mei had seen in weeks,
Weeks of waking up alone in a quiet apartment,
Weeks of losing a train of conversation with their friends and having no idea of picking the mood back up without her,
Weeks worth of seething loneliness picking at her core.
Mei ran rampant with emotions and ext thing Yuzu knew, she was caught having to stop a 115-pound little sister dashing at her at 29 miles per hour.

Yuzu heaved once more and was sent toppling over at Mei’s sudden outburst, giggling to herself as she fell backwards.
“You missed me that much?” Her voice was gentle but mocking, enough to soothe and to annoy. Mei who, lay against her front, nodded, pressing herself as close to the blonde as she could.
As she attempted to get into an upright position, she noticed the scattered beads around her and Mei,
“Aw Man! We busted our distance bracelets!”

Mei smiled against Yuzu’s chest, still bathing in the liberty of each other’s embrace, specifically on the filthy airport floor,
“We broke the distance.”

Chapter Text

The Sallow Beast looked onward as the maiden left her estate. Through the front window, solemn emeralds refused to stray a longing gaze that would not be returned. When the last semblance of violet disappeared into the listless wood, a hefty crash shook the manor, low and painful moans following its footsteps.

The Beast growled and desecrated what was left of the West Wing, tearing apart already worn furniture and finishing off the last of peeled paint. Her rose remained untouched, but it mocked her, oh how it mocked her.

“The Mistress isn’t taking this so well...” Himeko ticked, anxious as the sounds of destruction grew in intensity.

“You don’t say? She’s her first love, of course she wouldn’t take this well!” Drawers flew out in a flurry of frustration, Harumi was more than worried. If the manor survived, would Mei be in one piece to even be able to return? More importantly, would Yuzu be in a human enough state to face Mei again.

“Shut up. All of you. Let her... let her grieve.” The dim light of Matsuri’s candles threatened to extinguish themselves as she sulked, more distraught than she’d let on. Nene, with soft caresses of her chipped porcelain, attempted to comfort the fading light.

Suzuran cleared her throat, most likely to voice reason,
“Matsuri’s right, it’s best we leave her be for a while. She’ll need time to-“

“What she needs is Mei!” Harumi cut off the coatrack, who in turn retreated into her shadowy disposition, “We need to get her back! Yuzu needs her, you saw those looks they gave each other! They’re in love! They need each other! She left because she had to, God knows it was because she had to. She would never just abandon Yuzu, you saw the way she looked when she left!”

As minutes turned to hours, the Furniture’s worried chatter coasted from roaring arguments to wistful lamentations. In turn, they failed to notice the deathly quiet in the Western Wing, and the Boorish shadow that watched over their negations.

“Lovers are demented.” Graveled by melancholy, Yuzu’s usually robust voice rung through the lobby, “I... I want you all to hide. None of you deserve this.”

Matsuri’s flames perked upwards, renewed by the same dole, “What are you talking about.”

“Just listen. While you all were... conversing, the villagers have decided to pay visit, a siege I’m guessing. What they do with me does not matter, I order you all to seek refuge, to leave the manor.”

“Idiot.” Himeko’s ticking intensified, “Just because you don’t care, doesn’t mean we agree with you! This curse has only kept us here because we are indebted to you for bringing us life before the curse! You’re our Mistress!”

“We won’t leave!” Nene chirped, “We’ll fight for you! We’ll always have your back, Yuzu, you’re fami-“

“Silence.
No more protests. Just... go.”

Without another word, Yuzu turned tail and disappeared into her wing.

Nene burst into tears, anguished at The Beast’s response, one reaction of the many shocked or choked faces expresses by wooden or metal.

“Idiot.” Candle flames burned brighter, fueled by irritation, “Idiot! If you think we’re that easy to sway you’re dead wrong!”

—————————————

“Listen to me! All that my father says is true, but the Beast is not as evil as the tales say!”

The villagers gasped. They knew she wasn’t the same as the other girls in the village, but they didn’t know she was ludicrous.

“Blasphemy!” The village idol, Amemiya hollered through the crowd, “Beasts are defined as monsters for a reason!”

“No! This Beast, she’s kind-hearted, she’s the light in this world we lack so much! Please listen! Let my father out of thag cage, he is animal, and neither is the Beast!” Mei felt panic sit on her bones, but she did not relent, she would defend her love and her father for as long as might would let her.

“A She-Devil? You let yourself speak of a She-Devil the same caliber you would a lover? Heresy! I say burn the Beast!”

The village people roared in agreement, making the Idol’s assistant, Udagawa, flinch. Before any of their eyes, a mob of the townsfolk formed, chanting prayers for the kill and curses for the to-be killed.

Mei was terrified, for lack of a better term, but stoned her will, she had to be ready. If the Beast saved her from herself, the least she could do was save the Beast from them.

 

But first, she had to release her father of course. They needed his blessings after all.

Chapter Text

“Ow!” The Sallow Beast groaned at the blue-clad young woman, the one tending to her wounds.

“Well if you’d just hold still, maybe it wouldn’t sting as bad.” She huffed in return.

“Maybe it never would have happened if you’d’ve just stayed in your cell...” Taken aback, the young woman softened her steel, rueful.

“Yes... well. You didn’t have to go after me, you know that right?”

“And let you be devoured by monsters worse than I? Dilly-dally!” The She-Beast chortled, being humble was something that was not going to sway her.

Mei, on the other hand, was thoroughly impressed by the Beast’s joviality, how could someone so cursed still be full of life and kindness?
A ninth wonder of the world she guessed.

The raven-locked belle finished her work as her patient dozed off and into sleep.

“You know, before you ask, she’s always like this,” the drawers behind her came to life, assisting the young woman with tidying the beautifully decorated room. Mei gasped, but her interest was peaked, curious eyes urged the armoire to continue whatever she had to say, “Yuzu, the dumb broad, is always leaving the manor to stalk the woods. Scares the ever-loving hell out of the travelers but she always means well. Inquires with bright-green eyes and a voice lower than the depths of hell: ‘do you need lodging?’”

“How long has she been like this?” She chuckled, just a little. Mei inquired further as she gazed at the parts of the Beast’s face that remained human, the outlines of her face (the pudge, canine snout removed from the human illusion). She could have been beautiful- maybe she is, just under all of the hair.

“About five years,” Harumi huffed, “When her father died, her mother, an enchantress, set a curse upon the castle. In the process, it killed her and wiped the memory of all that had made contact with the mansion but the brunt of the spell bounced off of her Darling Daughter. A cruel fate, but she’s made peace with it.”

“What about you? What’s your story?”

“Ah! I’m flattered! I’m sufficed to say that I’m the mistress’s best friend! I was one of the servants’ children, my sister and I, to be exact. We took over once our parents retired- kinda. They just... turned inanimate one day, never replied. We presumed the worst and make what we can, life’ll be life, yes?”

“I suppose,” the Raven soaked in all of the unfortunate information, “Is this curse... is it reversible, is there a cure?”

“Aaaahahaha, yeah. It’s a shallow one though. Because the Enchantress died with a broken heart, she made sure the curse was something along the lines of love. In her last moments, she cast an extra spell that had the potential to over-ride the accident that hit Yuzu. She enchanted a rose from her husband’s ceremonial wreath and left it with the dumb broad on that bed right there, the catch was to find true love before the petals ran out and the Manor would be cured.”

“Magnificent, you all are... magnificent.” Mei looked at Harumi in awe, unable to believe her ears. No book could have beat the Armoire’s stories.

“Awe, shucks. What about you Missie? What’s your story?” Harumi’s turn.

“I come from Paris. Well, it’s been a very long time since I’ve been there, but the small provincial village not so long from here is where I live. I don’t quite fit in but, life will be life.”

The two shared a laugh before the Sallow block of fur behind them groaned, “sHHhhut.”
The t was exaggerated.

Ticking soon scurried from the hallway and burst into the room, panicked but annoyed,
“Alright ladies, end the chit-chat and dilly-dally, this is no saloon. The Mistress needs her beauty rest-“

“S..hUt Up... I’ll shohw you byooty.”

“Yes, yes, that’s nice Mistress Yuzu, off we go now, goodnight, sweet dreams and such.”

The Armoire stomped outside with Mei between one of her drawers, behind them, a tiny Victorian clock ushered them forward.

“Madam! Nice to meet you, pip-pip and cheerio and what-not. Our dearest apologies for the Mistress’s temper, she gets rambunctious when her head is hot.”

Harumi, payed the clock no mind, “Mind your ticking, Turn-screw, and cut the formalities, she’s our guest not royalty.”

“Miss Harumi is right, treat me as one of your own, I implore it.” Mei was quiet in her statement.

“Ah, a woman of few words! Well, we’ll see that your room is fit to your liking and we’ll see you off. It has been a long day, but, the morning is always anew, yes? Goodnight, Madam! We’ll see you at sunrise.” Himeko did a quick curtsy, quick in everything she did.

“Hey, what she said. Have sweet dreams, hon’ we’ll see you in the morning!” The Armoire flapped her drawers in a bid of farewell as the Raven slipped into the confines of her room.

As the furniture left to tend to their nightly duties, rapid tapping soon enveloped the long hallway.

“hOLy SHiT.” Bright flames threatened to infect the carpet floor, “MOTHER MARY OF MERCIFUL TITS SHE’S THE ONE!”

“The one?” Ticks of confusion.

“What are yo- oh my god. THE ONE, SHE COULD BE THE ONE!” Drawers shot out cloth and buttons, elated.

“The spell’s condition is one of true love, it had no other terms, just love! She could free us! She could free Yuzu!” The flames flickered in fury, the excitement in Matsuri’s eyes were evident.

“What are you up to?”

———————————————

“I heard you visited our library,” the Beast dropped from one of the ledges and next to the Raven, graceful in her step.

“It’s wonderful, all of you are. I’ve helped tend the garden if it’s of any use, and inquired to assist with the mechanical assets of your manor, my father’s an engineer- uhm, I’d like to relieve as much work as I can in turn for your kindness.” Her speech was composed but on the verge of a stutter, nervous, like a schoolgirl asking for a kiss on the play-set.

The Beast chuckled, “You’re too sweet! If you wish, assist as much as you’d like, but you’re not our servant, you’re our guest- our-ah, our friend if you’d prefer.”

Mei smiled, “I’d really like that.”

The pair made their way across a small stream and into a clearing, the bridge they crossed was well in maintenance and matched theme with the tree they approached,
“It’s beautiful, all of this and all of you. It’s amazing too, it’s as if I’m in the fairy tales I’ve always read.”

“You flatter us.” A giggle, “What are we up to now? I’ve been meaning to ask,”

“Matsuri showed me the tree birds tend to flock towards, I’m off to feed them in her place.”

“That sleazy little quickling, shirking away from her duties,” Yuzu huffed, but she was amused.

“I don’t mind much, they work hard enough as it is.” As they reached their destination, Mei felt the inside of her cloak for the bag of seeds and continued to throw out a handful on the grass. Songbirds flocked towards the pile of food and feasted.

“Here,” Mei held out the seeds for the Beast. Yuzu bent forward, nearly two heads higher than her counter-part, and heaved a clawful of food towards the more fragile creatures. Frightened by her movements, the birds jumped backwards, unsure of the Beast’s motives.

“It seems as if it isn’t working,” she chuckled, “I’ll leave it to you.”

Before Yuzu could turn tail and leave, Mei grabbed her by the wrist, “Let me show you,” she whispered. The Raven refilled the claw with seeds, guiding the hand forward. This time, it was slow and gentle. A blue bird took the first peck, a red one soon joined, no more than three minutes later, the Mongrol was immobilized by a flurry of small creatures, feeding off gargantuan palms.

Mei’s heart skipped a beat, and she realized how much brightness this Beast brought her. In the short time they’d spent with each other, she realized the world was a little brighter with Yuzu around.

With her nerves getting the best of her, she hurried behind the tree to still her beating heart, leaving the Beast with her avian vices.

————————————-

“Well bless my soul,” Green birchwood emerged from the side of the balcony, joining the rest of the furniture in their eaves-dropping.

“Wow, she really is the one huh?” The chipped tea-cup looked towards the feather duster, Sara.

“The way they look at each other... their fates are aligned there’s no doubt about it! Isn’t that right, Nina?”

The stool underneath her sighed in agreement, “Those googoo eyes tell no lies!”

“Better yet,” Matsuri interrupted,
“There may be something there that wasn’t there before.”

Chapter Text

“For as long as we live, let us live!” A tall cupboard stood in front of an army of the manor’s furniture, having just finished a preparatory speech about death and glory to hype up the once-people’s morale.

Right as the villagers wrought down the front entryway, the furniture took their position, leaving the mob unaware of what lies beneath.

“Heh, some interior design!” One of them scoffed as said cupboard was placed beside the fireplace, absurdly out of place. The mob trudged forward, Amemiya was already up the stairs, hunting for the She-Beast.

As the mob cheered him on, Mitsuko, the cupboard, took this opportunity to take and heat poker from the side of the fire-place. As the villager that mocked her turned around, she whipped him upside the rear with the hot brass.

“Avast, you scurvy hacks!”

The furniture rose to prominence in the surrounding lobby, brandishing fellow friends as weapons or armor. An all pit brawl broke loose between former comrades, albeit unknown to their memory.

In the midst of the action, Harumi jabbed forward, one of her drawers bringing down a gruff-looking freeman in a single strike. A hard smack was heard behind her, where Mistuko downed an axe-wielding lumberjack with a harsh tackle.
“Nice work, Imouto!”
Inoppurtune with her optimism, the small and rare smile she flashed her sister filled the younger girl-er,closet with determination. Himeko, the new poker wielder, served as support and was saddled on top of pucchi, a foot-stool. They hoveled forward, mercilessly attacking the burghers’ knees and ankles with an embered tool.

“Mei cometh!” Nina, in full battle-paint, thrashed her pegs and screamed against handfuls of angered villagers. Udagawa, surprisingly, assisted her sister in terms in defense.

The woman in mention dodged and weaved through brawling furniture and denizens, hot on Amemiya’s tail.

Up towards the stairs, a meddling freewoman grabbed her by the wrist, rough.
“Halt, you swine! You’ve disgraced us enough with your Sapphic heresy!”

Mei had enough. Unbeknownst to Matsuri, she climbed on top of Pucchi, and had him buck, launching her towards a situation she thought was out of control.
Upon a graceful landing, she witnessed the glory of Mei, who reeled back and connected her devastating fist with the front of the meddling maiden’s face, caving in her nose.

Mei rolled her shoulders backwards and spat on the woman that writhed in pain in front of her. As she turned to chase Amemiya, she gave Matsuri a playful wink.

“Yuzu better fucking marry that kick-ass bitch!” She hollered as she dropped onto the head of an unknowing freeman.

—————————————-

Mei pushed onward, barely looking back as Shou dismounted their steed. She ran forward, and almost missed as her father ran to Himeko’s defense, the unknowing clock was nearly stomped on before her attakcer was clotheslined by the engineer.

After the whole ordeal by the stairs, she sprinted double-time to make up for lost minutes. Flying through the West Wing, she saw the painting that started her journey, the one of the torn blonde damsel she could only see half of.
One she would see soon.

“Come out, Devil!”

She heard the booming narcissism of the town idol nearby, and followed the stench of pride.

“She never loved you!”
“What made you think she ever would!”
“You’ll die by my hand and my legacy will tell the tale of a pathetic, wretched mongrel!”
“You perverted Succubus!”

His insults assaulted both of their ears.

While Mei bulldozed through every door, a gunshot sounded through the manor. Mei’s breath hitched in her throat as she screamed Yuzu’s name.

“Mei. Mei has never done that before.” Shou stopped mid-parry and finished off the swordswoman he was up against. Himeko, who was on his shoulders, cringed at the worry that overflowed in his words.

The maiden in question tripled her movements, clumsy and frantic now. She heard more gunshots and a roar, the sound of Yuzu’s voice clear and in pain.

The Beast crawled around the bend and into the row of dilapidated Gargoyles, guising herself as one of them. As Amemiya rounded the corner, he spat at each of the statues, lacking obliviousness.

Beneath them, Mei kicked in the last door. In a state of panic, she opened the window and yelled from the ledge,
“Yuzu, the distance wilted none of my love!”

Amemiya scoffed at that remark, “Crazy broad.” He retorted.

“The heart wants what it wants, you pigeon-livered scum!”
Yuzu rose from the the hedge of gargoyles and brought a mighty paw against the Idol’s flank. In consequence, he dropped his rifle and scrambled for his dagger. Yuzu wrought her claws forward and parried the stab with a hefty swat, and lunged for the man’s neck. She lifted the unfortunate soul off the roof and held him over the ledge, an unspeakable anger in her eyes.

“Don’t-don’t kill a man in cold blood. That would be beastly,” He jived.

As Yuzu’s eyes lightened, he took the opportunity to spear his dagger into her flank.
The Beast fell backward, along with the idol, and saved his sorry carcass. Before the man could finish off the Mongrel, Mei lunged forward and sent him toppling. Although his head hit the ledge and effectively sent him to sleep, Mei stomped on his chest, for good measure.

“Yuzu, come on, stay with me,” she begged. From her pocket, she removed the wilted rose, the bane Yuzu protected for so long.
“I picked it up on the way here, took too long huh?” she whispered as Yuzu struggled to keep her eyes open.

“It was too late anyways, see?” The Beast held the flower upwards, its single petal barely attached, “Thank you. For coming back.”
The Sallow Beast’s eyes fluttered shut, a smile graced her lips.

“Yuzu?” Mei shut down. An iron cold coursed through her body and she felt nothing.
She pressed her nose against the fallen Beast’s forehead and placed a small kiss on the still-warm flesh.

With nothing else to lose, she kissed downward and graced the Beast’s lips, a more human feature.

Yuzu lurched forward, effectively startling Mei. The Raven scrambled backwards as light wrapped around The Beast.
The shape of a woman, made of radiance, graced the Mongrel with a sign of the cross. Yuzu floated upward, as the figure whispered in her ear and vanished. Said brightness enveloped the creature for a moment in time and burst outward, leaving a blonde damsel whose hair matched the hue of the brightness that healed her.

Mei didn’t notice how the touch of light changed the statues, or the change of color that livened the whole manor, the shouts of surprise below her did nothing either. She was too fixated on the woman in front of her.

“Hmrrk” Yuzu rose from the balcony floor, a little less graceful than intended. She rubbed her face but felt no fur, and was effectively surprised.
“Mei? Did you break the spell?”

Mei warmed, a small smile placed itself on her face, “We did.” She replied.
Yuzu lifted herself off the ground and spun Mei around, bellowing from the depths of her stomach.
Mei took this time to analyze the woman’s face.
By god, she was beautiful.
Mei placed a hand against the woman’s cheek, a bruised thumb caressing the Blonde’s cheek, and in turn, very, very sharp cheekbones.
Mei took the European by her equally carved jaw and raised plush lips against her own, reveling in the new sensation.

“Glad I was conscious to finally experience that!” The Blonde beamed.

————————————-

The new-formed couple decided to grace the crowd with their presence, all aghast at Yuzu’s transformation.

“DAAAAAAAAYUM CHECK THIS BADDIE!” Harumi slapped Yuzu across the back, a hefty blow across the smooth surface of skin.
Yuzu nearly toppled forward, until Matsuri caught her.

“You’re back!” The little sister screamed, “Great! Dibs on Maid Of Honor!” She hollered, catching Harumi’s attention.

“I’m sorry, Tanicoochie-senpai, your breasts have a high probability of never even fitting the dress!” The Gremlin sped off, Harumi in tow.

Himeko approached the Mistress of the castle, bowing in respect, “Madame! Welcome home.” She beamed, her drills finally in place.

Mitsuko nearby has been tackled by Maruta and was busy catching up with her dear friend, Suzuran hovered by and watched as Nina and Sara embraced their friend, Ichika.

Mei took in the scenery, amazed.

“Hey, Yuzu.”
She whispered.
“Thanks.”

“For what?”

“Bringing me along on this fairy tale. Only in my dreams could this have happened.”

“Heh, well believe it. I’ve been living in a fairy tale for the longest time, so thanks. For bringing me back to reality.”

Chapter Text

“Meiii~ this is the second week in a row! It’s even less healthy to be coming home later than you usually do!” Yuzu slammed her palms on the dinner table, overdramatizing her display of concern.

“You know how it is when competition season starts,” was Mei’s reply. Some spiel about duty, as per usual.

“Grah!” Yuzu ragdolled the top half of her body into crossing her arms, frustrated at the younger woman’s passivity - sickness is exempt from no one, even Miss Perfect!

“Alright, alright,” Ume poked her head from the fridge, “When you gals are done arguing, there are dishes to be done, copy?”

Yuzu sighed.

“Not it.”

“Wha- Mei! That’s not fair!”

“You said yourself, I need my rest.”

—————————-

Bright and early the next morning, the sun had been shining, the birds were singing,
And how absolutely annoying it was.

Yuzu grumbled and heaved herself off the bed.
“First, she makes me worry non-stop while she hums along signing papers, next she makes me was all the dishes - by myself! - third, she leaves the next day without even a good-morning! ‘the hell does she think she is? The love of my life?”
Blonde locks were scratched by polished nails, frustrated.
the Raven left earlier, nowadays, to attend the ‘newly scheduled perimeter checks’. Yuzu on the other hand, got up, did her hair, put on her trademark uniform and dragged herself to class, crestfallen. Again.

Upon entering home-room, she slammed her bag onto her desk, effectively gaining Harumi’s attention,
“Wife problems?”

“wHAT IS NEW!” Yuzu placed herself in the seat, her cool no where to be seen. “I wish this passive-aggressive crap wasn’t her forte- but hey! - Newsflash! It’s her proffession!”

“That’s what you get when Emotionally Clogged is your type,” Harumin chuckled, “Oh boohoo, Yuzucchi! The girl works her ass off, alright? This is a bitch of a school she’s gotta run, but she’ll make time for you soon, she always does, right?”

Yuzu groaned in agreement, splaying the top half of her body across the desk.
“Happy Wife, happy life,” she huffed.

—————————

“Miss President, please! I know we’ve already asked for much, but this is the only year where we have an actual shot of even competing!”
The Alto pleaded with the president, practically on her knees, “It’s a 30-second solo, it’s all we ask!”

Mei pinched the bridge of her nose, “Kogoe-san, I will lend you as much assistance as I can but I can offer no promises. My duty is to substitute, not to join.”

Unfortunatelt, a fellow soprano chimed in on the begging, “She’s right this has been our only year where we can even dream of Nationals! Miss President, please! Your voice is the only one with enough range when it comes to the fluctuation in octaves!”

Soon, the rest of the club joined in on the pity party, urging and urking their esteemed guess into something more.

“Alright.”
Kogoe blinked at Wakana, who in turn yipped at the agreement, “Three cheers for the president!”

“No. Hand me the sheet-music.”

——

Chapter Text

The soldier dashed through the tunnels, hot on the fabled Raven’s trail. Cursing under her nose, she stopped at a screeching halt, catching her breath.

“Damn.” She huffed, visibly frustrated at her lack of competence. Before an internal beating, she straightened her back and marched forward, annoyed but undeterred, “You can’t arrest what you can’t take alive.” She whispered, before giving her soldiers a signal that would cause them to flood the canal-routes.

—————————————-

Mei trudged forward, hot behind the blonde’s trail, “If you’d just cut your hair and all that singing, maybe we wouldn’t have been stalled.” She barked, catching the attention of the young woman in front of her.

“I can’t!” She yelled back, hesitation evident in her voice.
In a screeching halt, the blonde stopped to check her surroundings.
Something was amiss and she could not put her finger on it.

As Yuzu hollered an excuse about having fun for the first time, an eerie silence engulfed the already gloomy cave. A faint rumbling shook the earth, but what had been stable turned to trembling in mere seconds and Mei realized the fault in their disposition.

“Run.” The Raven surged forward, faster than before, yanking the blonde along with a pool of her hair in her arms.

“Wait wait! Not so fast!” Yuzu voiced ahead, but it was to no avail. The blonde tripped over her own feet and hair, unable to discern nerves from confusion.
Before she could fall forward full frontal, Mei caught her by the shoulders, hoisting her upwards and onto her shoulders.

“Just hold onto your hair.” Mei huffed, nonplussed. The Raven sprinted forward, burdened but unceasing.

Hopping over rocks and stalagmites, the blonde on her back only ever bounced at every jump and jerk. Rough rocks scratched and ripped at Mei’s clothing but she made damn sure the damsel on her haunches stayed untouched. A dead-end was in sight, a cave in, but as long as there was a will, there was a way. She let Yuzu off her back, only to drag her into something more ludicrous.

“Brace yourself.” Mei grumbled, and she took a wide-leg stance, ready to take on the floodwater. Yuzu followed suit copying Mei’s move.

Blonde and Black locks took on a hush of water, full frontal. Mei had been smacked backwards, her shoulder thrown into jagged rocks. Yuzu’s back made contact with the harsh pebbles, her hair cushioning only a fraction of the blow.

The cave grew darker as the shoreline rose, and with Mei injured, she struggled to swim upward. Noticing her strife, Yuzu swam towards her, worry evident in the leftover light that illuminated her face.
On her way towards the raven, she hooked her arms under the bloody girl’s shoulders, and heaved her upwards. Chest to chest, they kicked upward for whatever was left of the closing air pocket.

Two gasps.

“We’re done.” Mei maintained her cool demeanor, but her voice leaked with partial grief, “I’d love to say there’s a way out, but it’s too dark to even think of swimming down.”
Violet eyes scanned whatever she could of the blacked out cave, her eyes landing on emerald irises that only ever seemed to glimmer.

Yuzu only smiled, “Where there’s a will there’s a way, isn’t there?”

Singing. A strange song reminiscent of a lullaby graced the tops of the rising water.
Light. Light that leaked into that said water lit the walls of the dark cave.

Two more gasps.

With the air pocket gone, under they went. Mei swam forward, immediately going to work on a weak joint in the caved wall.
Mangling her hands, she kicked, grabbed, pulled and shoved whatever rocks that dared to be disposed. Yuzu happily assisted.
Through toil, trouble and blood, a break in the water presented itself, and the pair were thrust forward and into blinding sunlight.

“We’re alive!”
“Your hair glows?”

One puzzled and one ecstatic, before she get her answer, Yuzu hopped upward and broke into a small dance.

“We’re alive! We’re alive!” A small but pink lizard climbed outward from her bra, dazed.

“Matsuri! We made it!” She screamed in glee even if the chameleon was in obvious need of a drink.

Mei trudged upward, from the curve of the plain, echoing herself, “You’re hair. It glows?”

“It heals too!” Yuzu looked towards her, a flimsy but saccharine grin plastered on her face.
She dashed towards Mei and grabbed her by the hand, “You look a little tired. Here, let me help.”
Even with her apprehension evident, Mei let herself be lead, a clumsy trust forming between them. The blonde was magically disarming.

She was sat on a log while the sallow-headed maiden wrapped her hair around certain parts of Mei’s body. She found that light locks were wrapped around her thighs, hands and rawed left shoulder, where injuries were most evident.

Mei looked at the blonde puzzled, but before she could open her mouth, she was cut off by the same exact lullaby that saved them both.

“Flower, gleam and glow
Let your power shine
Make the clock reverse
Bring back what once was mine
Heal what has been hurt
Change the Fates' design
Save what has been lost
Bring back what once was mine”

The locks came to life, luminescent as the incantation went on, glowing brighter with each high note and fading softly with each low. As Mei removed the hair from her person, she found that her injuries had vanished.
Her grip on the hair lingered, obviously perplexed.
“Thank you.” She looked upwards as that confusion turned to amazement and a smile graced her face, genuine and thankful.
Yuzu blushed, “N-no problem.” A bashful whisper.

Mere moments afterwards, Mei stood up, effectively ruining the moment. “It’s only high noon,” she stuck her hand out for Yuzu to grab hold of, “Shall we?”

It was Yuzu’s turn to smile, and she sprung at the opportunity. As she stood, her hold lingered and the two held hands.
Mei hesitated, her grip faltered but in the end, it stayed.

Quick in their journeyed onward, hoof-steps came into hearing.
Yuzu stopped, “It’s that weird guard again.”
Her grip on Mei’s hand tightened, and the lizard on her shoulders surveyed the landscape.

“If an old nag needs bucking, I’ll bring it a whole damn rodeo.” Mei huffed, monotone. Effectively, Yuzu giggled, but that ceased when a drilled mane charged at the trio.

Without missing a beat, Mei parried backwards, shifting forward to reach and quickly equip Yuzu’s trusty pan. With a professional stance, she blocked the horse’s devastating kick.

“Block lower! She’s a pony!” Yuzu hollered, and in that moment, she realized that the horse was eye level to her, much smaller than her mind’s eye. With this new information in mind, Mei was still unable to block the pony’s movements, which resulted in her defeat.

Now on her back in the grass, Mei stared the drill-maned pony in the face, eyes daring her to make a move.

Of course, Yuzu had to intervene.
“Woah! Woah there! I know you’re trying to do your job, but please, reconsider biting her face!”

Mei blinked, partially surprised. The drill-maned equine stared Yuzu down as the small blonde hovered over the criminal,
“Is her face really that good to eat? Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean you should go through with it... Himeko?” She reached towards the reigns of the Pony, where a tag hung from one of the rope.

Now that her hand was on the reign, Yuzu brought her hand upward to pet Himeko’s nuzzle. “You’re very beautiful, don’t you think? I bet those smelly soldiers probably don’t even see it,”

Himeko huffed happily, ruffling her chestnut fur, “Awww! When’s the last time my pretty girl got a compliment?” The drill-maned pony butted Yuzu’s midsection, her mood lightened by the blonde’s kindness. “All she needed was love! Look!”

Mei, still on the grass, pushed herself upward and behind Yuzu, who was busy kidding with her new friend.

“I’ll tell you this, if you don’t end up killing each other by the time we get to the kingdom, I’ll ask the guards to crown you as the royal pony.” Himeko nodded and whinnied, forgetting that Yuzu wasn’t even royal, at least yet.

With a clap of her hands, the journey continued, and with the help of Himeko, the castle was soon to be in sight.

Upon crossing the drawbridge, Yuzu gasped, amazed by the decorations and crowds. It was her first time seeing them after all.
The blonde surged forward, only to be halted by the villagers and their lack of regard for her hair. She piled as much as she could up to her chest and was followed by Mei and Himeko’s assistance.

Mei scanned the area and landed upon a trio of school girls. Coincidentally, the trio had been braiding each other’s hair. She whistled, grabbing their attention. The raven shrugged, piles of hair in her arms and the school girls stormed her and the owner.

As Yuzu enjoyed making flower crowns for the trio, the most excited was the pigtailed brunette that was barely her junior. At this point, Matsuri had switched onto Mei’s shoulders where she could rest at ease.

“She seems to be a handful.” Mei smirked, and the pink chameleon nodded, vigorously.

Now that her hair was no longer a burden, Yuzu ran free, and straight into Mei’s arms.
“What are we off to do now?” She inquired, and the Raven scratched her jaw.
“For one, we could go and see what the town has to offer.”

“Do they offer new clothes?”

“Hm. I’d hope so. May I ask why? You look perfect in your dress.”

Yuzu blushed at the remark and giggled, “The clothes aren’t for me. While you played hero and got all scratched up, so did your clothes, see?” The blonde pulled on the raven’s sleeve. Patched in several places and newly ripped in several more, Mei looked as if she dressed in rags with the muddled white shirt.

The raven smiled

“Oh come on!” Yuzu interjected her thoughts and bent forward, “Would it kill you to play model for a few minutes?”

“I guess not.”

And so the two paraded the streets, looking for the linen shoppes.
On their way to fashion, Mei passed a small bakery stand, filled to the brim with pastries and sugar.
Mei made sure Himeko was looking away when she brushed her sleeve against a pile of the cakes, dropping two of the same kind through one of the patches in her cloth. Her face showed no sign of change but her eyes glimmered triumphant.

“Yuzu,” she cooed, and grabbed one of the girl’s hands.
As Himeko trotted forward, Mei yanked the blonde into one of the alleyways and pressed their bodies together, blending behind the thick column.
Yuzu gave Mei a questioning look, until the Raven held up the stolen pastries she kept in her sleeve.
Smooth.
Yuzu giggled and accepted the borrowed treat. Two bites in and the pair could hear Himeko snarling and neighing at each passerby, attempting to pick up their trail.

Mei finished faster than she stole, and stepped into the sunlight, “Hey, woah. Down, Horsey.”
Himeko huffed at her, evident in her want for an explanation.
“We needed to take some leaks, lady stuff. Okay?”
The pony huffed at Mei, but believed her none the less. The Raven smiled at the sallow-headed maiden, who wasn’t so sly in hiding behind the arch.

—————————-

“Really? You don’t like green?”
Yuzu held up a basic buttoned up top, fit for the average commoner.

“Doesn’t match my eyes, unlike you.”

Smooth.

“How about... ah! White. No wait, it would get dirty too quick. Um... black! No, weather’s too hot for black. Huh. Nothin’...”
The blonde thought hard and long, until something screamed out to her.
The maiden plucked a peculiar article from the rack, not necessarily tan, but off-white enough to be so.

“Try this on! Now!”

Knowing that protests were futile, Mei stepped into the dressing room. Living the life of a vagrant has its perks so she was able to slip in and out of the shirts with ease.
With the new, off-white shirt on her person, Mei did a once-over before putting her vest back on. That is, before she heard a hefty “Lemme see!” Behind the changing quarters.

She opened the door and presented herself, her arms limp but raised.
“Am I everything you ever dreamed of?” She mused, much to Yuzu’s expense. The sallow maiden blushed.

“Heh- you look very pretty.” She replied, and Mei looked to the side, a little less than suave.

“That’ll be ten gold.” The cashier rung up their purchase and the pair left without a trace or receipt.

“Hey, it’s getting pretty dark.” Mei said to herself more than anyone as she left her vest with Himeko. Her blouse moved with the ruffle of the breeze. She looked enchanted.

“I guess it is! Our journey’s at it’s end...” Yuzu played off her gloom, but the feeling reflected in Mei.

“Maybe so. Let’s focus on right now, alright? If it does end, well, might as well make it memorable.”

Mei grabbed Yuzu by the hips and hoisted her onto her back, both of them giggling like little children. She brought her to the docks as they were to rent a canoe. Apparently the lake was the best place to view the lanterns, and now, all of Mei’s focus was spent on seeing Yuzu having the best time possible.
Because the only thing possible for a Raven after this joyride is jail or the gallows.

Now, in the dingy little boat, Mei put all of her attention on the woman in front of her. As she rowed towards the middle of the lake, Yuzu looked uneasy, almost anxious.
“I.. have something for you.”
Mei was perplexed. This blonde was always a surprise. Yuzu pulled out a little satchel, the stolen crown gently placed in its contents.
“I was... hesitant to trust you. To trust a stranger, and now I think I’m willing to trust you with more than just this little crown.”

Mei took the satchel and tossed it to the side, not even checking the inside.
“I’m starting to think that too.”

Before Yuzu could say anything else, Mei pulled out a pair of lanterns, matching doodles of a small gecko inside of a horseshoe clumsily marked on the sides.
Mei placed one lantern on each hand, complemented with a warm gaze for Yuzu.

As the first pair of lanterns flew upward, she waited for Yuzu to soak in the sights. Thousands of paper fireflies flew into the lake and in that moment, Mei raised their palms upward.
The pair of lanterns mingled with the colors of their counterparts. Yuzu soaked in the wonders that enveloped her, but Mei only held onto her soft palms. Calloused and scarred, she never imagined she could hold something so delicate. She never imagined to be in such a delicate situation. The light in front of her fidgeted and held back chuckles, absolutely in love with the sights.

Yuzu giggled at the paper beauties skimming the waters and Mei’s heart melted. The raven leaned forward and caught Yuzu off guard with a chaste kiss, shy but assured. The blonde stared back at her wide-eyed, which caused Mei to slip out a sincere chuckle. Yuzu could only blush harder, but she knew the Raven awaited her response.

“Aren’t you interested in sight-seeing?” Yuzu stammered.

“I’m already amazed at what’s right in front of me.”