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Chapter Text

It's been over a thousand years, and Ibaraki still doesn't quite know how to handle Shuten. There's just something about her that drives Ibaraki crazy—the way she speaks, the way she smells, even the way she carries herself. Shuten is perfect, and Ibaraki will gladly tell that to anyone who asks. But more often than not, Shuten herself is more than enough to reduce Ibaraki to a flustered mess.

"Ibaraki," she purrs, soft and low, running a finger over Ibaraki's collarbone. "Won't you sit still for me, my love?"

Ibaraki shivers. "It tickles." (And Shuten is so close, Shuten is touching her, and Ibaraki can't help but shake.)

"Hmmm… I'm being as gentle as I possibly can." Her eyebrows slant, taking the smallest dip towards a worried expression. "Just relax…"

They do this every time. After Ooeyama, after Shuten (Ibaraki hates to even think it) died, each time they're reunited is new and special. Each time they're summoned together, they'll spend hours kissing, touching, becoming lovingly familiar with each other's bodies all over again. It's a ritual, one that makes Ibaraki clench her teeth as Shuten's fingers touch her lighter than feathers.

"Here…?" Shuten trails off, slipping her hand under where Ibaraki's obi is tied. Ibaraki grunts in agreement and shrugs off the first layer of her kimono, leaving her half-undressed and practically in Shuten's lap.(Ibaraki doesn't miss how Shuten's eyes light up, of course.)

"You're so beautiful every time, my Ibaraki."

"So are you." Shit, that sounds insincere—not enough to capture the depths of how Ibaraki feels. "Shuten, you're really, really beautiful! I can hardly stand it—aah, I mean… you know!"

Shuten smiles, lazy and adoring. "Ufufu, I'm flattered." As she speaks, she reaches down to cradle one of Ibaraki's hands in both her own. "Have you sharpened your claws here, my love?"

Despite the warmth in the room, the casual intimacy of Shuten's touch has Ibaraki shivering. "I don't think so. Maybe? If it can happen without me noticing, maybe…"

"Oh, sweetie, you don't need to worry yourself about it so much," Shuten murmurs, turning Ibaraki's hand over like a precious gem. Then, to Ibaraki's surprise, she draws Ibaraki's hand up to her mouth and presses a soft kiss to the knuckles. Another, along each finger, warm and gentle. Ibaraki could scream.

"Every part of you is always so lovely, you see," Shuten says, as if there's no one in the world but the two of them. Her lips brush against one of Ibaraki's claws, then slip down to Ibaraki's palm. She moves to the wrist, the jagged line where Ibaraki's hand detaches, for another lingering kiss. Shuten kisses a tantalizingly slow line up Ibaraki's arm, pausing at each red tattoo. Ibaraki is frozen, trembling, electrified. Shuten always knows just what to do to make her lose her mind.

When Shuten's finished with Ibaraki's arm and chest and moved up to her collarbone and neck, Ibaraki finally breaks her self-imposed silence, letting out a squeal as Shuten's sharp teeth brush against her skin. "Shuten," she growls happily, bringing her arms up and gently pressing Shuten's body closer to hers.

"Hmm? What is it?" Shuten breathes against her throat, making Ibaraki shiver anew. She doesn't wait for a response, leaning up and kissing Ibaraki full on the mouth.

Ibaraki forgets whatever it was that she was going to say. Shuten tastes like the sweetest sake, fruity and intoxicating, just as she did on Ooeyama. It's so exquisite that it takes a moment for Ibaraki to realize she should probably be kissing back.

Shuten pushes her down, now, gently guiding her onto the futon. "My love," she whispers against Ibaraki's lips, then dives in for another kiss.

Ibaraki couldn't be happier.

Chapter Text

It's always the little things that get Rin.

She and Luvia, already in formal dresses befitting the Clocktower party they're about to attend, are crammed into their hotel's tiny bathroom together, each vying for their own slice of real estate on the counter and in the mirror. (Luvia's curls are putting up a very good fight.) Rin is brushing her hair to silky perfection, while Luvia is teasing her already-voluminous eyelashes with a mascara wand. Rin tries to ignore her—what is Luvia, now? Rival? Frenemy with benefits? Not-quite-girlfriend? Simple annoyance?—as she fixes her hair, tying it up into a simple but elegant ponytail.

Rin is done and ready before Luvia is, which is hardly a shock. She's got Luvia beat in that department any day. She leaves the bathroom and sits on the hotel bed to wait, letting out a little sigh. There's no telling how long Luvia might take. Rin kind of wishes she'd brought a book or something.

"Tohsaka Rin. Not that I trust your opinion, but how does this look?" Luvia turns toward her, pouting to show off her lipstick. It's a soft coral pink, just enough to pop against her pale skin without being gaudy. Rin's first thought is that it looks amazing on her, but she won't say that outright.

The idea presents itself: simple, selfish. She shouldn't. It could make the both of them late, depending on Luvia's reaction, and it's petty. But the temptation to mess with Luvia is so very strong.

Rin gives in, stands up, and goes for the kiss. It's just a quick peck, but it does the job: Luvia makes a noise of surprise against her mouth. The lipstick is tacky, still slightly wet. Rin's never worn lipstick before, and this isn't making her want to start, but it's certainly pleasant to knock Luvia off her feet.

When Rin pulls back, Luvia's frowning, and her lipstick is smudged slightly. "And what exactly was the meaning of that?"

"Oh, nothing." Rin smiles and leans over to check her reflection. There's an uneven pink print of Luvia's mouth against her own. Worth it. "It looks fine."

"Your gorilla-like behavior does not amuse me." Luvia turns back to the mirror and begins to dab at her mouth with a tissue. "I was ready, but I suppose commoners take no interest in being punctual."

Rin presses her lips together firmly, trying to smooth out the lipstick. "I'm not the one who just spent forty minutes caking myself in makeup. It's not my fault if we're late."

"I see. And to think I had decided to be seen with you tonight." Luvia liberally douses her face in setting spray before continuing. "Once we arrive at the venue I expect you to leave my sight immediately."

"Gladly! Nothing would make me happier than not having to spend another party with Miss Rich Bitch."

Luvia huffs loudly and snatches her purse off the bed. "We are leaving now."

"Finally," Rin mutters, and Luvia nearly suplexes her.

Two hours later, Rin is straddling Luvia's lap in some back room of a mansion. "I hope you know I still hate you," Rin murmurs between kisses.

"Yet you cannot stay away." Luvia's holding her firmly in lace-gloved hands, keeping their bodies pressed flush together. "Like some beast determined to set upon me."

"You want to do this too," Rin argues, nearly biting her tongue at the admission. "You're worse than me."

"I have never thrown myself at you, Miss Tohsaka."

"You might as well be!"

"Ohohoho!" Luvia laughs, clear and loud. "Then what of it? Shall we return to our hotel, instead of exchanging pleasantries in someone's… ehem… study, it appears?"

Rin hates to admit it, but that doesn't sound like a bad option. She doesn't really know anyone else at this party, aside from her professor and Luvia, and she's beginning to get tired of small talk. (Or, rather, she had been before she and Luvia had ducked away from all the commotion.) "Fine."

"I shall call my chauffeur right away," Luvia says smugly. "In the meantime, do clean yourself up. It would be such a shame for the entire Mages' Association to find out about our affair in such a manner, don't you think?" She punctuates her words with a kiss to Rin's lips, so soft that Rin forgets how to breathe for a moment, then shoves Rin unceremoniously off her lap.

Luvia may have gotten her this time, Rin thinks. But Rin will get her back. Rin will get her back.

Chapter Text

When Nobunaga wakes up each morning, the first thing she does is reach for Okita.

Sometimes Okita is there, curled up by her side. It seems like Okita sleeps soundly more often these days, though her sickness will never heal. Sometimes Okita wakes up first, and leaves Nobunaga to go and prepare tea and breakfast. Nobunaga prefers when her partner is there, and her blind grasping is met with warmth rather than simply blankets and sheets.

Before she even opens her eyes, Nobunaga paws in front of her. Ah, that's the edge of the futon, and the floor beyond. No luck. She rolls over, eyes still glued shut with sleep, directly into a tangle of limbs and soft skin and silky hair.

"Morning, Souji," Nobunaga croaks.

"Mmrhh," comes the reply. "Nobu."

Nobunaga tries to force her eyes open, but it's hard to shake off the grip of unconsciousness. Her face is pressed against Okita's chest, she thinks. She purses her lips and blindly lays a kiss to Okita's bare skin.

"Mmm," Okita groans, and slings one arm over Nobunaga's waist.

Nobunaga tries to move up to Okita's face, but it's no easy task with her eyes shut and her senses still muddled. Her lips press against Okita's cheek, her chin, her nose—then, finally, Okita's mouth. When Nobunaga forces her eyes open, the first thing she sees is Okita. Tired, and bleary, and messy, and still the most beautiful woman Nobunaga's ever seen.

"You're drooling," Nobunaga points out.

"Huh? Oh… I guess so," Okita mumbles, and drags her hand up to wipe her mouth. She shifts slightly, pulling Nobunaga closer to her, then goes quiet again.

Nobunaga gazes fondly at Okita's sleeping face for a moment. How sweet it is, she thinks, how lucky she is to have Okita. Okita… whose arm is pinning her down, leaving her unable to get up.

Well, this kind of thing is nice too, Nobunaga supposes. She pulls the blankets up around them and gives Okita another soft kiss, then closes her eyes and lets herself drift off to sleep again.

Chapter Text

At first Rider would stand like a statue in Sakura's room at night. Silent, protective. She had been content to stay simply like that, as long as Sakura wanted her to.

"You don't have to just stand there," Sakura told her one night. Rider protested, something about wanting to be prepared should anyone threaten Sakura. "You'd feel it coming, though, right?" she'd replied to that, big violet eyes staring up at Rider, and, well, it's not like Rider can say no to Sakura.

Sakura's bed isn't fit for two, especially with someone as tall as Rider is. But they manage. They sleep back-to-back, pressed against each other, and it seems to make Sakura happy. If Sakura is calm, if Sakura is content, then Rider supposes she can allow it. Sakura has been through so much. It's the least she can do.

They spend countless nights together like this. When Sakura is afraid, wracked by inconsolable terror and memories of insects and hands on her body, Rider is comforting, calm. She strokes Sakura's hair, murmurs to her in Greek. She tells Sakura of the Shapeless Isle and Pegasus and reassures her that it is over, it is all over. "You are safe," she says.

"Thank you," Sakura whispers, choked, and rests her head against Rider's shoulder until she falls asleep.

 

It is raining, thunder rumbling low and lightning flashing in the night sky. Sakura's awake; Rider can feel it. "Sakura," she says, soft as velvet.

"Yes?" Sakura stirs, then rolls over to face Rider. In the dark, Rider can just barely make out the lines and curves of her face.

"Are you having trouble falling asleep?"

"Oh, no, it's nothing." Sakura has a faraway look in her eyes that Rider knows far too well. "It's nice to listen to the rain."

"I agree," Rider says. "If there is anything I can do…"

Sakura shakes her head, a little nudging movement against the pillow. "Just being here with me is fine. Thank you, Rider."

"There is no need for thanks." Rider shifts slightly closer, placing her hand against Sakura's head in what she hopes is a comforting gesture. When Sakura leans into her touch, Rider reaches out, presses her lips to the top of Sakura's head.

In the still darkness, Sakura whispers Rider's true name.

"Yes, I am here. You are safe."

"It's hard to know how I should feel." Sakura's voice is barely a murmur.

"I know," Rider says, and begins to stroke her hair. "Would you like to talk about it?"

Sakura is quiet for a moment. "I think… I would rather hear about Greece, if that's okay."

Rider knows how hard it is to ask, and warmth fills her heart. "Certainly," she says. As the rain beats down over their heads, Rider speaks of the ocean, of feathered horses, of men turned to stone, until Sakura is sound asleep in her arms.

Chapter Text

Letting Ritsuka Rayshift alone was a mistake.

Mash has spent the past day and a half wishing she could do something. Something, anything besides sitting in a control room so far away in space and time and watching Ritsuka suffer. Next time, she swears, she'll make sure another Servant goes along. Even if she has to… to…

The Coffin explodes in light, and Ritsuka's body coalesces inside it. Whole, and safe, to Mash's relief. "Welcome back," da Vinci says.

"Senpai, are you alright?" Mash runs over to the Coffin, helping Ritsuka regain her bearings.

"Thanks. Um, yeah, I'm okay. I just… I don't want to talk about it. I'm gonna go back to my room." Ritsuka smiles like she always does, but there's a hint of bitterness in it. With that, she's gone.

"Well, she's back in one piece," da Vinci says. "So we did our jobs as well as we could. Right?"

"I still feel bad for Senpai." Mash bites her lip.

"Yeah. That's to be expected. Sitting here, not being able to jump in and shield her like you used to… You must feel awful." Da Vinci gives her the look—the one and only Mona Lisa smile. "You should probably get some rest, Mash. Ritsuka will be okay."

Mash hopes that's true. Her Senpai has been through so much, and still come out smiling.

…It couldn't hurt to check.

 

"Senpai?" Mash stands in the doorway, tentative, unsure. Ritsuka is already curled up in bed. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay… I know you said you didn't want to talk, but—"

"No, it's fine if it's you," Ritsuka says, and Mash's heart leaps. "Come in." Mash makes to sit on the bed, but Ritsuka pulls the covers back and says, "Do you wanna lay down with me?"

"U-um! If it wouldn't be too much…"

"No, I feel safer with you here."

Mash squeaks. "Senpai—"

"I guess that was really cheesy, sorry." Ritsuka smiles weakly. "But it does help. You being here."

"Oh… If it's okay, then here I go." Mash slips off her shoes and her jacket, then lies down at Ritsuka's side. "Senpai?"

"Yeah?"

"Um… Are you okay?"

Ritsuka presses her lips together tightly. "I guess. I will be. I've seen worse."

"I just wish I could've been there to help," Mash says, like she's pouring out all the anxiety and uselessness she's felt in the past few days.

"I mean, it's fine now, I'm back." Ritsuka half-props herself up on her elbow and stretches her legs under the blankets. "I guess it was kinda like… you know, in America, when everybody almost died fighting the Demon God Pillars? It felt like that." Ritsuka sniffles, and Mash notices her eyes are getting wet, threatening to overflow. "Just, you know, really hopeless."

"I understand. I know, I'm so sorry…"

"It's not your fault," Ritsuka says, and then the tears do spill. Ritsuka is not crying; rather, the teardrops simply roll away from her eyes as if she can't control them. "Oh, jeez, sorry. I'm a mess."

"It's okay, Senpai." Timidly, Mash leans up and kisses Ritsuka's cheek, right where the wet line of her tears had run.

Instead of replying, Ritsuka simply closes her eyes and tilts her head, presenting her other cheek to Mash.

"Senpai?"

"That was nice," Ritsuka says. "I mean, if you want to… do it again?"

Mash's face is hot, and her heart is threatening to beat out of her chest. But she does, and follows it with one on Ritsuka's lips.

(And then one more, for good measure.)

Chapter Text

All things considered, Chaldea is nice. It's certainly not what Marie was used to during her life, by any means, but she's treated well enough. She's never lonely—heavens, no! Amadeus is nearly always by her side, and Jeanne d'Arc is there as well. There are queens and kings from other nations, royals who adore their subjects just as Marie does.

Marie isn't lonely. But she sometimes finds herself wishing for something selfish: that a Servant from her lifetime would appear. Someone who knew, and adored, the very same France as she did.

And then, all too suddenly, someone does.

 

"I am the Chevalier d'Éon. I am the knight who will protect you and—Lady Marie?" D'Éon is visibly taken aback before they've even left the summoning circle.

"Yes, yes, here I am! I was waiting for you!" Marie says, skipping up to the circle. "It's so nice to see you again."

"Oh, you two know each other?" Ritsuka says.

"Yes, we do!" Marie beams. She's so overjoyed that she can't help herself—she reaches out to touch d'Éon. Then, she throws her arms around their neck, pressing her body close to theirs. She lays a quick kiss to each of their cheeks, then surprises even herself by punctuating it with one on the lips. (Ah, they always were her favorite; such a pretty knight.)

"Lady Marie, I had not thought… that you would be here," d'Éon says, stumbling over the words. Their face is bright pink.

"I've been here for quite some time. Oh, it's so nice to see someone I know again! Vive la France!"

"I see. Yes, Vive la France." D'Éon's regained their balance, it seems. "In that case, thank you for welcoming me. I shall do my best as my Master's sword." They give a small curtsy.

"No, thank you," Ritsuka says, stretching her arms. "Hey, Marie, I was going to show d'Éon around Chaldea, but if you want to, then be my guest."

"That is fine by me," d'Éon says.

"I'd love to!" Marie echoes.

As soon as they're alone in the hall, Marie sighs a little. "My apologies if I was too forward," she says in French, knowing that the chance of someone who speaks the language overhearing is slim. "I was very excited, you see."

"No, I apologize. I was just caught off guard." D'Éon adjusts their hat, then the sword that rests at their hip. "It is… nice to be welcomed so fervently by my queen."

Marie smiles and offers her hand. "Shall we, then?"

To her relief, d'Éon takes it. "I'm in your care, Lady Marie."

Chapter Text

It's easier in the dark.

Not to abandon the rivalry—goodness, Luvia's sure neither of them wants that—but to soften it. There's no need to look into each other's eyes or decipher the meaning behind practiced, guarded facial expressions. It is easier for Rin to crawl into her bed, facing away from Luvia at first. It's easier for Luvia to not turn her away, to not mock her for being so unbearably pathetic.

Luvia's room is nicer, after all: little things that come with wealth and status. But she is not about to fool herself into thinking that softer sheets and pillows are the reason Rin is here, nor will she believe that Rin is "too tired" to walk back to her own dorm, or whatever half-baked excuse Rin has attempted this time.

Rin rolls over, shifting the blankets. Luvia is all too aware that, in the darkness, Rin must be watching her.

Luvia has always liked to think she's been good at concealing her true feelings. Sometimes she hides them even from herself. Tohsaka Rin certainly inspires feelings in her, though she's hard pressed to put names to them. But they are raw, and passionate, and violent, and exciting. Luvia had never experienced such a cavalcade of emotions before Rin arrived at the Clocktower.

Then Rin's mouth finds Luvia's, and Luvia forgets every one of her thoughts for a blissful moment.

This is not the first time they've kissed. But it is usually such a vicious affair; they tear into each other with teeth and fingernails and sharp words. It's never been like this—soft, gentle. Luvia captures Rin's bottom lip between her own and lightly pulls at it, and Rin leans in just a bit closer, even laying one arm across Luvia's waist. Well, Luvia supposes she can accept it, just this once.

They pull apart naturally after a moment, and Luvia has to catch her breath. Neither of them says anything for a long while. Luvia is almost certain Rin has fallen asleep, until she murmurs, "Luvia."

"Rin."

"Tell anyone about this and I'll seriously kill you."

"For what reason would I ever go around announcing that I willfully shared a bed with someone no better than a common maid?" Luvia yawns back.

Rin groans and swats at Luvia, but it's halfhearted. Neither of them moves. In the dark, it's something almost pleasant: the feeling of human touch, closeness, warmth. They will hold each other through the night, both unsure of what the morning could bring. But in the darkness, this suspended moment is enough.

Chapter Text

The first time, it's a stupid impulse. Mash is helping Ritsuka get situated before a training simulation, trying her best not to be so nervous. The simulator is perhaps the least dangerous thing either of them could ever encounter, but Mash still worries about things going wrong. This is humanity's last Master, after all. She's important to the world, to the survival of the human race, and… and she's special, more than anyone, to Mash Kyrielight.

"I'm about ready to go," Ritsuka says, lifting up the VR headset.

"Oh, Senpai—" Mash, fueled by a sudden burst of affection for Ritsuka, leans in and gives Ritsuka a quick peck on the cheek.

Ritsuka's eyes go wide. "Whoa."

"Um," Mash says, her whole body freezing up. "S-sorry! I don't know why I did that…"

"No, it's fine! I mean, we're dating, right? It's okay, you just took me by surprise." Ritsuka relaxes, softens. "I guess I'm just not used to you doing that when we're outside my room."

"Ah, um, well, there's nobody else around…"

"It's okay," Ritsuka repeats. "It was nice."

"Okay," Mash says, feeling like she's on fire. "We should start, then, if you're ready."

"Yep, I'm good when you are." Ritsuka winks at her and slides the headset on.

And it's not like Mash is staring, but Ritsuka grins the whole simulation through.

 

Since then it's become something of a routine. Before each Rayshift, Mash takes it upon herself to ensure Ritsuka is safe in the Coffin. (There hasn't really been a problem since before the Grand Order started, but, well, it can't hurt.) And, each time, Mash kisses her. "For luck," da Vinci always says, "not like you'll need it."

"Are you feeling alright in there, Senpai?" Mash asks, just as always.

Ritsuka wiggles her fingers inside the orange plugsuit she's wearing. "Yeah, all good in here."

Mash smiles, leans up, and gives her senpai a quick kiss on the lips. "Take care, Ritsuka," she says.

"I will," Ritsuka says. "See you soon, Mash."

Chapter Text

Here are the things Shuten likes best: pretty boys, pretty girls, sweet sake. She's holding two of them in her hands right now, and two is much more than enough: Ibaraki, half drunk already, and Shuten's own ever-full sake gourd. "Yes, Ibaraki, have your fill," Shuten coos as Ibaraki sips from the red lacquer dish they're sharing.

Ibaraki looks up at her adoringly, dizzy golden eyes wide. Her face turns so adorably pink when she's been drinking. "Shuten," she says, and leans in. Ibaraki's mouth tastes just as sweet, tinged with the same wine that's on Shuten's own lips.

Shuten murmurs Ibaraki's name and pulls her closer. Their bodies fit together as always: familiar, comfortable.

It's Ibaraki who deepens the kiss, dragging her teeth across Shuten's lower lip. Shuten hardly minds the pain that springs forward, followed by the sharp sting of alcohol in an open wound. It is then that they both realize, in sync, that Shuten is bleeding.

Ibaraki pulls back unsteadily, confusion on her face. "Shuten?" she says, lifting a hand up to her own mouth to find Shuten's blood there.

"Oh, Ibaraki," Shuten sighs back. She's not upset, not in the slightest; it would never cross her mind to be upset at Ibaraki in the first place for something like this. Oni are oni, and some roughness is what they're both used to. Yet Ibaraki is so delightful to tease.

Shuten slowly draws her tongue across the wound, lapping up her own blood. Ibaraki stares at her unblinking, mouth hanging slightly open, almost reverent. 

"'M sorry, Shuten, I didn't mean to—"

"Shh, shh," Shuten replies, reaching out to pull Ibaraki close to her again. She runs her fingers through Ibaraki's long hair (so soft, despite the rest of her). "I'm not angry, my love." She returns her attention to the sake dish, taking a long sip before offering it to Ibaraki. "Here…"

Shuten watches Ibaraki drink, watches the muscles of her throat working to keep up, watches the way Ibaraki's great claws have begun to tremble. Ibaraki's lips are touching the place on the dish that Shuten's had been just a moment before: an indirect kiss.

A direct one would be better, Shuten decides. Once Ibaraki sets the dish back down, Shuten wastes no time in leaning back into Ibaraki. This time, her mouth tastes of the same sweet wine, and iron, and something affectionate.

(Shuten likes it best like this. Oni are oni, after all.)

 

Chapter Text

Jeanne doesn't like to think of herself as a stubborn person. In truth, she isn't. Oh, there's something there, the tenacity God bestowed upon her to save her beloved homeland. Jeanne isn't obstinate, though—she's kind, and humble, and saintly. Really, she never would have doubted this if not for… the Alter who shares her likeness.

"Um, Alter? Are you in pain, or…?"

Her Alter is sitting on Jeanne's own bed, pointedly making a face at Jeanne that could only be described as strained. Even as close as they've grown, Jeanne still finds herself absolutely perplexed by her Alter from time to time.

"Isn't it obvious?" The Alter presses her palms into her bare thighs. (Really, that dress is too short; Jeanne keeps meaning to talk to her about it.)

"I'm sorry, I'm just… not sure I understand."

"Well, come over here, then. I'm not gonna spell everything out for you." Jeanne Alter drops the face, her eyes closing for a moment in a rare stroke of gentleness. For emphasis, she pats the space next to her on the bed.

Jeanne takes the proffered seat, settling in next to her Alter. Up close, she always smells like faint smoke and charred skin and something like home. "What is it?"

Her Alter says nothing, just pushes out her bottom lip and looks Jeanne in the eye. She raises her eyebrows slightly, as if that's supposed to help Jeanne understand.

"…I'm sorry, I really don't think I know what you're trying to tell me."

"God, you're so fucking dense," her Alter says, and kisses her.

It takes Jeanne a second to process what's happening, to kiss her Alter back. Jeanne Alter hums, lightly rolls Jeanne's lip between her teeth. Jeanne finds herself leaning closer like she's drawn to her Alter. If this were not all so sudden, and if Jeanne didn't still have questions to ask, she would be perfectly content to crawl into her Alter's lap and spend the rest of the day there.

When they break apart, the Alter's face is red. "Are you happy now?"

"I'm sorry I didn't understand at first," Jeanne says, ignoring the question. "You wanted me to kiss you?"

The Alter scoffs and glances at the wall, away from Jeanne's eyes. "Jesus, anybody could figure that out now."

"Please don't take the Lord's name in vain," Jeanne says reflexively, then softens her tone. "You know you can always just ask."

"Yeah, yeah."

"Alter?"

"What?"

"May I kiss you? Again?"

"Whatever," Jeanne Alter says, but she tilts her head toward Jeanne and closes her eyes softly in anticipation. Jeanne likes this look on her: the reminder that, somewhere deep inside her Alter, there's still a holy maiden's heart.

And this time, when their lips meet—Jeanne could be imagining it, but she's almost sure she can feel her Alter smiling, just the slightest bit.

Chapter Text

It is the peak of summer, blue sky meeting blue ocean meeting white sand, and Okita is stuck lying down again.

Okita doesn't care much for summer, but a beach trip with her Master and a handful of other Servants is at least something besides sleeping all day in the hot Chaldea room she and Nobunaga share. And she was enjoying it. She had been out with the rest of the group for a little bit—splashing around in the waves and generally roughhousing with Nobunaga. But she pushed herself the slightest bit too far, and started coughing blood, and that was the end of that. Try as she might to keep going, her legs are shaky and weak, and Ritsuka had gently suggested that maybe she sit this one out.

Now she's confined herself to a beach chair, lounging under a large umbrella and picking at a cup of shaved ice. It's no strawberry ice cream, but it's cold and sweet, and it'll do.

"Man, I'm tired!" Nobunaga surprises Okita by flopping down next to her, sprawling out on the chair. "Master won't let us use Noble Phantasms anymore, but still! It's not fair that Artoria and all of them can still have their water guns." True to her word, Nobunaga's t-shirt is soaked in several patches. "So how's my favorite manslayer doing? Not having too much fun without me?" (Nobunaga cackles so loudly that Ritsuka, several hundred feet away, turns around to face them for a brief moment.)

"I guess. I haven't really moved since I got here."

"Details! Anyway, gimme a kiss." Nobunaga puckers her lips, leaning practically on top of Okita.

Okita knows how Nobunaga operates. She'd bet her haori that Nobunaga is only trying to divert herself from being completely decimated at… whatever it is she and the other Servants had been doing. Which is fine. Okita doesn't mind being her girlfriend's distraction. But, and she's pretty sure Nobunaga hasn't considered this, two can play at that game.

She lets Nobunaga lean down to kiss her, welcoming the soft warmth of Nobunaga's mouth on hers. Okita reaches up to pull her closer, then quickly slides her hands, chilled from holding her cup of shaved ice, up the back of Nobunaga's shirt.

"Aah! Cold! Cold! Souji!" Nobunaga squirms away from Okita, flailing wildly. "What was that for?!"

"Payback for yesterday." Okita smiles up at Nobunaga in clear satisfaction.

"Awww, come on! I thought you were over that." Nobunaga rights herself, sitting up next to Okita. "At least let me have some of that shaved ice."

"It's mine! You can get your own."

"I don't want to walk all the way over there! Come on, I'm your girlfriend! Your girlfriend!"

Okita presses her palm firmly against one of Nobunaga's bare thighs in response, just to hear Nobunaga scream again. While Nobunaga is distracted, Okita quickly shoves the rest of the shaved ice into her mouth. "Come an' get it," she says, her words barely coherent around the ice in her mouth.

"Oho," Nobunaga says with a grin, and crushes her lips against Okita's.

 

Chapter Text

At the start of the war Irisviel never would have considered that during its course she would end up cuddling with her Servant. It's a curious thing, the Grail War, in and of itself. Irisviel supposes there is no way she could have predicted anything that's happened, this included.

The two of them are lying in Irisviel's king-sized canopy bed, their faces nearly touching despite all the space the bed offers. Irisviel has hooked her arm across Saber's waist, and Saber had simply sighed and relaxed into her touch, so Irisviel will take it as a yes. There's no light save for a small lamp on the nightstand, basking Saber in a golden glow.

Irisviel has dearly missed this: sharing her bed, the warmth of sleeping by someone's side. It is temporary, but so is everything in Irisviel's life, so she will take what she can and enjoy the few precious moments.

Saber has been unusually quiet, lying here. Her breaths are steady; Irisviel knows she is on high alert even now. Caster is still alive. Kotomine is still Kotomine. Irisviel can't blame her, really, but still…

Irisviel tilts her head slightly so she can press her lips against Saber's forehead. If anything, she decides, she would like for Saber to feel safe here.

"Irisviel," Saber murmurs. "Please do not worry about me."

"Someone has to." Irisviel realizes that she's somewhat absently been stroking Saber's hair, the same way she did for Illya before they'd separated for the war.

"If anything, I am the one who should be worried about you." Saber shifts, leans in closer to press herself against Irisviel. "I am still a knight, no matter what."

"You've been doing just fine," Irisviel reassures her. "Much better than fine, actually. I couldn't ask for a better knight."

"You flatter me."

"It's the truth."

Saber doesn't reply to that, and they lie in silence for a few moments. There's the quiet electric hum of the lamp, and the wind outside, and (if Irisviel listens closely) her own heartbeat.

"Saber?" she asks.

"What is it?"

"May I kiss you?" It sounds silly—pedantic, even, asking for permission when they are both grown adults. Irisviel doesn't care. Better to ask than risk breaking Saber's carefully-gained trust.

Saber looks up at her now. She seems softer than usual, lying there, cheek pressed into white pillows. "Yes," she says, and it's half shy woman, half bold King of Knights.

Irisviel can't resist her. She presses her lips to Saber's, quick, warm. She catches the corner of Saber's mouth, then her lips again. Her cheeks, her chin, the tip of her nose. Irisviel gently rolls Saber so she's on her back, with Irisviel pinning her down. Saber makes a pleased humming noise at this, and wraps her arms around Irisviel's shoulders.

There is no method to Irisviel's kisses; she simply lays them all over Saber's face at random. Once the adrenaline has started to pass, she punctuates it with one final, lingering kiss to Saber's lips. When she draws back, Saber is smiling tenderly up at her.

It occurs to Irisviel that she's never seen Saber like this, and that she may never again after tonight. Saber's smiles are rare, once in a lifetime. Saber's happiness is no guarantee.

Irisviel wants to treasure it even more, then. Irisviel will keep this moment safe.

Chapter Text

It was a pain, at first, having to share a room with Jeanne. Now it's a convenience, not that the Alter will readily admit it. There's no need for her to sneak off to meet up with Jeanne in secret, no covert searching for secluded corners to make out in. But, then, that raises the question of whether Jeanne would want anything to do with her in the first place had they not been housed in the same room, and Jeanne Alter is not about to readily devote any thought to what could have been. Jeanne is with her now, and that's that.

Realistically, yes, their beds are identical, but the Alter always finds herself thinking that Jeanne's is just a bit softer. (All the better to be pushed down into.) Jeanne's body is warm beneath hers, a comforting pressure. They've laid together like this, simply holding each other, at least a dozen times, but the Alter never stops finding it more enjoyable than nearly every other use of her time. Kissing Jeanne is nice, and the Alter hasn't had very much of that in her short existence.

The Alter threads her fingers into Jeanne's hair, tugging small sections out of Jeanne's braid in the process. She grabs, pulls, anything to get Jeanne closer to her. 

Jeanne does the same thing, of course. Her hands roam her Alter's body, lingering at her waist. Some saint she is, the Alter thinks. (The Alter knows that a lack of kisses and touches is not what makes a saint. Jeanne will remain pure no matter what her Alter does to or with her.)

The Alter murmurs wordlessly into Jeanne's mouth, then lightly sweeps her tongue along the points of Jeanne's teeth. Jeanne responds just as her Alter knew she would—she whimpers, and she hugs her Alter tighter. It pulls at the heart that the Alter never knew she had before Jeanne.

Oh, Jeanne, Jeanne must be what Heaven feels like. Jeanne squeezes her tight and kisses her soft, and it makes the Alter's senses do flips. Jeanne knows exactly how to touch her, where to kiss her, how to make her Alter melt.

She'd never tell anyone this, particularly not Jeanne herself. It's disgusting how emotional Jeanne Alter can actually be, how all she wants is to spend a lifetime in Jeanne d'Arc's arms.

God, she wishes she could never let go.

Chapter Text

The Grand Order is finally over. Ritsuka floats in a state of semi-awareness, half-consciousness. Her thoughts come in little waves, washing over her and disappearing as quickly as they come. Solomon is gone. It's over. Humanity's future is restored. Chaldea… herself… her Servants.

And, most importantly, Mash. When Ritsuka opens her eyes and the Coffin opens, Mash is the first thing she sees.

"Senpai? Senpai!"

"Mash!" Ritsuka suddenly feels her eyes brimming over as she's pulled out of the Coffin and into Mash's arms. Mash is so alive, warm and strong and hugging her so tightly that Ritsuka can hardly breathe. Ritsuka hugs her too, squeezing Mash just as tight. "Mash, I'm back," she says.

"I was so worried that you'd failed to transport back from the Singularity."

"I'm here, I'm here. Oh my God, we did it!" Ritsuka pulls back so she and Mash are face to face, though she's still half-embracing Mash. Mash, who's become her best friend during the past year. Mash, the only other person who will understand the full weight of humanity's history like Ritsuka does. Mash, who Ritsuka now cannot bear to be without. The slight part of her lips, the way the corners of her eyes scrunch up, the slight pink tint of her cheeks, her hair falling messily in front of her face—Ritsuka's overjoyed. She just saved the world with the smiling girl in front of her, and now is as good of a time as ever.

Before she can even consider what she's doing, she kisses Mash, fast and messy. It's not perfect by any means, but it's right. Mash squeaks in surprise, muffled against Ritsuka's lips, then hugs Ritsuka even more tightly than before.

When they pull apart, they're both out of breath. Ritsuka would like to keep this moment safe forever: Mash looking up at her, wide-eyed and hopeful, just-kissed lips, the beginnings of a smile. "Mash," she says, because her name is as good of a place to start as any. Ritsuka is definitely going to cry; she can feel it. And yet, it doesn't matter.

"Oh, Senpai, you…" Mash says, blinking her own tears away.

"Aha, I didn't really think my confession was going to go this way, but I guess this is how it is." Ritsuka finds herself unable to stop grinning, even as tears roll down her face. "Mash, I really like you!"

"Senpai!" Mash sobs, diving forward and pulling Ritsuka into another hug. "Senpai, I've, I've liked you so long—so much, Senpai—"

"I know, Mash. I know! Me too!" Joy, pure joy and elation.

"Hey, you two, that's enough PDA for now! You're embarrassing the staff." Da Vinci's voice is warm, with something like pride in it.

"Da Vinci!"

Ritsuka and Mash untangle themselves from each other's arms to listen to da Vinci's briefing, but they remain standing close together. Halfway through, Ritsuka grabs Mash's hand, and to her delight Mash laces their fingers together.

It is over. It's over, and neither of them are sure of what's to come. There is still so much to sort out, so much to grieve for, so much to explain. But Ritsuka doesn't mind, as long as she can face the future just like this: hand in hand with her beloved kouhai.