Actions

Work Header

The Cards of Fate

Chapter Text

The Tower representing sudden change, upheaval, chaos, revelation, awakening.

 

If Kirari was a hurricane then Ririka was the calm before the storm. At least that was what Mary had thought when she had her first interaction with Ririka. The timidity and self-consciousness evident in Ririka’s personality lead her to believe Kirari had taken all of the control and fire from her twin. Mary never realized how wrong she was until this moment. 

Ririka was just about to begin her gamble with the Obami brothers when she removed her mask. Mary, for a moment, was convinced she was staring at the other twin. The cold determined eyes that were previously hidden behind the mask were filled with a fire she had only ever seen in Kirari’s. 

Mary was wrong, Ririka was not the calm before Kirari’s storm but a storm in of itself lurking just under calm waters waiting to swallow whoever was foolish enough to dive in. And she herself had been swallowed and was now in the eye of the storm watching it begin to rage around her. 

[]

To say Ririka was stressed was an understatement. The knowledge that her twin was putting to use the tower of doors she had created sent a wave of cold fear through her body. Even more so when she learned that Sayaka and Jabami were the ones accompanying her. When Kirari didn’t return home until early that morning, Ririka was pushed off the edge.

It was four o’clock in the morning and she was still sitting on the couch in the glamorous living room waiting for her twin to get home. She had been in the same spot all night and could feel her eyes drooping with a need for sleep. She could not let herself succumb just yet, she desperately needed to make sure Kirari was okay. Knowing her twin Ririka feared the worst, there was no way Kirari hadn’t jumped out of the tower, no matter who won.

Just as sleep was about to consume Ririka she heard the front door open and then very quietly close. Shooting onto her feet Ririka made her way over to the door ready to demand answers when a sound suddenly stopped her. Freezing on the spot she listened, she could hear quiet giggles coming from the entryway. Her brow creased in confusion just as her twin and Sayaka turned the corner. 

Kirari smirked when she saw Ririka rooted to the spot, “Dear sister did you wait up all night just for me. You know you had nothing to worry about. I was just taking care of some after school gambling, I’m sure you saw on the announcements this morning.” Kirari gave an uncharacteristically soft smile directed to the girl at her side. “You would be impressed, Sayaka did very well.” Sayaka blushed a deep shade of red and looked at the floor bashfully.

Ririka could not form any words. She had been so upset and worried about her sister the last several hours. She was not naïve; she knew the purpose of the Tower of Doors and the dire consequences that came with losing a gamble there. She herself had even looked down the dizzying five story drop while the Tower was still under construction. 

God Ririka was so tired, not just physically but mentally too. The stress of worrying about Kirari, the election, and the consequences of the Hundred Devouring Families being at Hyakkaoua Academy. This was really just the final straw, the last push she needed before the weight of everything on her shoulders brought her crashing down. She could feel the tears pricking the corners of her eyes. Kirari just didn’t get it. “STOP. Kirari what the hell!” Tears began to fully stream down her face. “Of course I was worried about you! I knew exactly what you had planned when the Tower of Doors was- “

Kirari cut her off, “Riri, it’s four in the morning. Let’s save this lecture for a better hour, hm? I’ll tell you everything that happened before school. There is no need to worry, nobody was hurt during the gamble.” With that Kirari grabbed Sayaka’s hand and dragged her in the direction of her bedroom. Ririka felt a scream bubble in her throat but was too tired to even try to fight her sister. As frustrated as she was, Kirari was right, it could wait until morning. Ririka dragged her feet until she reached the couch, collapsing in an inelegant heap, too exhausted from the night’s drama to make the walk to her own room.

[]

Much to Ririka’s irritation the house was empty when she awoke. The only explanation on a post-it note stuck to the coffee table. Ririka picked the note up to read with a yawn:

 

Ririka,

I know you wanted an explanation of the events that unfolded last night, unfortunately that will have to wait. Sayaka insisted we stop by her house before school this morning to get a change of uniform and take a proper shower. Lord knows why when I offered for her to borrow mine and take a shower here (without a doubt we have better water pressure I have no idea why she refused). Come stop by the student council room sometime today and I promise we can talk.

 

With love,

Kirari 

 

Of course, she couldn’t just have a simple explanation over morning tea. They’re Momobamis after all, everything must be filled with flair and dramatics. Ririka rolled her eyes, crushing the note in her hand and throwing it back on the coffee table in frustration. 

Ririka took out her phone checking the time. She was already dreadfully late, no need to rush getting ready. She texted Kirari and the rest of the student council her apologizes and informed them she would be late arriving today. Ririka got up with a sigh still tired from the late night. She could hardly think while getting ready for school, the only thing that took up her mind was the stress of everything happening around her. She still couldn’t believe her sister. Why couldn’t she just take something serious for once in her life? These intense gambles she sets up aren’t just games made for her amusement. To be honest Ririka was getting tired of going along with everything. At first it seemed like it all served a purpose and was helping their family and each other. But lately it just seemed like nothing her twin does has a purpose other than to satisfy her curiosity and boredom. Ririka breathed a sigh through her nose while putting her school uniform on. Maybe she should take a vacation after the election.

Ririka arrived at school after a short ride to campus with their chauffeur. The Momobami twins of course owned a luxurious suburban home close to the academy to allow for quick rides to and from school. Just before stepping out of the vehicle Ririka slipped her mask over her face. Today it would be a blessing, hiding the bags under her tired eyes. Once again checking the time she noticed she made it just in time for the end of lunch. She would have classes until the end of the day preventing her from speaking with Kirari anytime soon. She sent a text to her sister letting her know she had finally arrived at school and wished to speak with her after the school day had ended. Ririka received a quick acknowledgement and made her way to class. 

[]

The day dragged on, Ririka’s tiredness only slowing it down even more painfully. Finally, the last bell had rung signaling the end of the day. She could almost collapse in relief. Quickly she made her way down the halls to the familiar room the student council occupied. Taking a quick breath to center herself before opening the door. 

At the sight before her Ririka dropped her briefcase with a dramatic thud . At the head of the table, in the president’s chair of course, sat Kirari with Sayaka in her lap. Their faces were suspiciously close Ririka could venture a begrudging guess as to what they were doing. All things considered, she shouldn’t be shocked at this turn of events. However, making out with Sayaka when Kirari knew Ririka was coming was bold even from the younger twin. 

The two of them separated at the noise, “Ah Ririka that’s right! I forgot we had a meeting scheduled, my apologies.” Sayaka was statue still in her lap, face even redder than Ririka’s at being caught. It would be comical if Ririka wasn’t as frustrated as she was. 

“Yes,” she breathed out through gritted teeth, “I do believe we have a lot to talk about Kirari. Can we get started, just the two of us?” Ririka let her gaze fall on the girl in her sister’s lap.

“Of course,” Kirari looked down at Sayaka who was still frozen, “My dear Sayaka you will have to move eventually so I can speak with my sister. I’m sure you have some student council duties you must attend to.” Sayaka finally jostled by Kirari’s sickeningly sweet words, stood with her gaze directed at the floor.

“Of course, President. My deepest apologies Mrs. Vice President. I was not informed the two of you had a meeting scheduled.” Sayaka briskly made her way toward the door all the while keeping her head down, never meeting either of the twin’s gaze. 

A smirk settled on Kirari’s features. “So, I’m assuming you want an explanation?”

“Yes.” Ririka said as she removed her mask.

“Very well, it’s not very interesting I don't know what you're expecting. Nobody was hurt, Jabami won the gamble against Sayaka and that was that.” Kirari shrugged nonchalantly with a wave of her hand.

“No, I want to hear all of it. I know you are leaving things out.” Ririka pointed an accusatory finger, “You jumped from the tower, didn’t you? You jumped after Sayaka when she lost the gamble.” Kirari frowned at having been read so easily. 

“If you insist.” Just as Kirari was about to begin Sayaka burst back through the doors with an annoyed looking Mary trailing behind her. A light blush still colored the secretary’s face. 

Both girls held identical envelopes, “President this came for you it’s urgent!” Sayaka blurted out as she sped walked through the room to hand the letter over.

Mary strode over to Ririka's side, “I received the same thing in my desk this morning. It’s an invitation to an auction requesting both of us to attend.” Mary told Ririka as she glanced over to Kirari to throw a disdainful look in her direction. Ririka felt a small smile form on her face, the blonde’s antics cutting through the tension that was left in the room. 

“How interesting.” Kirari said with a smirk, “it starts in just a few minutes are you two going?” Ririka met Mary’s determined gaze, the two of them nodding in understanding.

“Yes, we are.” Ririka replied.

“Then I guess we’ll have to put off our conversation once again.” Ririka signed in frustration. A necessary consequence if she wanted to earn more votes it seemed. 

“Are you going?” Mary asked with a sneer.

“No. I think I’ll watch this one play out from the sidelines.” Kirari said with a knowing smirk. 

With that, the Vice President redonned her mask and walked out with her partner. Mary let out a loud groan, “Ugh she obviously knows something we don’t! Don’t you two have some sort of twin telepathy? Can’t you figure out what it is?” 

Ririka chuckled at Mary, “Something like that,” she said with a smile, “but no unfortunately I don’t think anyone can tell what Kirari is thinking, even me.” With that Mary groaned again as they made their way to the auction room.

[]

Mary and Ririka walked out of the auction room, the results, to say the least, were surprising. In the end, no one really lost. Most of them left the auction with more votes than when they had joined. Jabami may have won the gamble against Batsubami but in a way, they both won. Jabami a gamble and Batsubami a new kind of freedom.

“Ugh, everyone at this academy is fucking crazy.” Mary groaned out, “I mean who could’ve seen that coming.” Mary paused for a second, “Actually, I take that back I know exactly who saw that coming.” Mary said disdainfully as she gave Ririka a pointed look. The taller girl raised her arms in defense. “Speak of the devil.” Mary said under her breath as Kirari turned the corner with Sayaka in tow. 

“Perfect timing. I’ll assume you’ve wrapped up with the auction?” Kirari said casually with a knowing smirk on her face.

“Yes. Just a few minutes ago. We had to wait behind to confirm our winnings with the election committee.” Ririka droned out, her mask contorting her voice. 

“Right. I already took care of things with Rei Batsubami so I am done for the day. Ready to head home Ririka? I can finally tell you what happened last night on the way to the car.” There was a taunting edge to her voice.

Ririka gave a stiff nod in response stepping away from Mary. The blonde girl shot her a curious glance, Ririka only waved and said her goodbyes in return. The trio left Mary in the hall, heading for the front exit of the academy. “Okay, Kirari, tell me what really happened yesterday. I want to know all of it.”

So Kirari finally told her twin. The whole story starting from when Jabami challenged Kirari and ending with Kirari and Sayaka in a pool of lilies after jumping from the tower. When the story had ended, they had already reached the exit. All of them stepped out together into the cool afternoon air. Ririka had yet to say anything to Kirari’s story when Sayaka bid her goodbyes to the twins. Kirari pulled her secretary in for a chaste kiss causing Sayaka to light up red as she walked away.

“Are you two together now?” Ririka asked.

“Yes.” Kirari had a soft serene smile on her face, nothing like the cold knowing smirk she usually wore.

“I’m happy for you Kirari," she began carefully, "But what would you have done if she had chosen the wrong door? Would you really have let her jump?”

“Those were the stakes of the gamble. Sayaka knew the risk.”

Ririka frowned, “Do you not care if she lives or dies?” 

Kirari looked almost shocked at the accusation, “And here I thought you knew me better dear sister.” Her smirk returned on her face clearly amused, “Of course I care about Sayaka. I love her after all. Besides, Sayaka chose the right answer in the end so what’s there to worry about?”

Ririka’s face grew cold, “I’m asking, what if she hadn’t? The risks were always there. She could’ve died Kirari!" There was a growing edge to her voice, something boarding on hysterical, "You say you love her but you put her in a position where she could die. That doesn’t sound like real love. Or do you just not understand? These gambles have real consequences Kirari! Like that gamble, you had a while ago with Jabami. What if she had won and you had to leave the academy? What would you have done huh? What would I have done if you had lost?” Her voice was starting to get thick with tears. “We share the same face Kirari, sometimes that means we share the same consequences.”

“What’s there to worry about? None of that happened so why are you upset?”

“Because I don’t know what’s next! I don’t know what risks you’re going to take and if you’ll win! Even you’re never guaranteed to win every gamble!” Ririka was almost yelling at this point, her frustration finally boiling over. Kirari just stared at her curiously, providing no answers as was typical. “I can’t be around you right now.” Ririka turned around back towards the entry doors.

“What?” Kirari said incredulously.

“Go home without me. I’m going to stay somewhere else tonight. I’ll call another driver.”

“If that is your wish Ririka.” Kirari said with a frown already deep in thought. Ririka walked away from her sister, without a goodbye. She walked back to the entrance of Hyakkaoua and sat on one of the benches in front of the school. She could feel the tears streaming down her face behind her mask. Balling her shaking hands into fists in her lap before relaxing and reaching into her pocket to get her phone to call another driver. Just as she was about to tap the call button she paused, hearing someone walk out of the academy’s entrance freezing at the sound.

“Ririka?” Mary asked as she walked over to the girl on the bench, “I thought you had already gone home for the day. Wait are you crying?” 

Ririka squeezed her fists again, willing the tears away, “I- “ she tried to start but couldn’t hold the tears in any longer as quiet sobs wracked through her body. “I’m sorry I know you don’t like when I cry.”

Mary was frozen in front of the girl debating on what to do or say. She sat down close to the crying girl. Tentatively she reached out and held her hand, careful to keep her grip loose in case the other girl wanted to pull away. The grip tightened securely around her hand. “Do you want to stay at my house tonight?”

Chapter Text

The Fool representing beginnings, innocence, spontaneity, and a free spirit.

 

Mary watched as the twins and Sayaka Igarashi disappeared down the hallway. She hesitated not sure what to do, she wanted to go home but she also wanted to know what Kirari was talking about. What had she meant by taking care of things with Rei Batsubami? And what happened last night? She made a decision and followed the other girls to the doors of the academy. Making sure they were already a ways away she opened the door just enough to be able to hear the conversation.

Mary strained her ears but couldn’t hear anything, at least until Ririka started yelling. Mary recoiled; she had never heard the other girl so angry. She let the door close, hesitating to open it again. Waiting a minute or two after hearing only silence, she decided the twins had probably gone home for the day.

She opened up the doors ready to start her walk home when she froze. “Ririka?” The older girl looked up seemingly startled, expression covered by her mask. Mary walked over to the bench and sat down, “I thought you had gone home for the day.” Mary could hear faint sniffling coming from the other girl, “Wait are you crying?”

The blonde wasn’t sure what to do. She had a feeling this was Kirari’s doing but she couldn’t say anything as it would give away her listening in. Mary slowly and gently reached out grasping Ririka’s hand, gaining confidence only when the other girl squeezed her hand tightly. “Do you want to stay at my house tonight?” She blurted out. The blonde began to panic at what she had said pulling her hand back, already regretting her stupid words. 

But Ririka held tight to her hand and relaxed next to her, “I would love to.” Mary breathed a sigh of relief maybe her words weren’t so stupid, “But what about your parents? I don’t want to impose.” 

“Don’t worry they’re both away on business trips right now,” Mary replied with a small smile and shrug. 

“Are you really sure Mary? It’s no trouble to get a hotel room for tonight. Or if I really wish I could go to another one of the other estates.”

“Other estates? You have multiple?” Mary looked at the older girl exasperatedly, “Of course you do.” She sighed and slipped her hand out from the other girl's, “I’m sure you’d be more comfortable at one of your homes but if you want to have company, you’re more than welcome to stay with me. Honestly, I wouldn’t really mind the company myself.” Mary got up with a shrug, “Though there’s no fancy transportation, it’s just a short walk from here.” She began walking towards the gates of the academy turning when she didn’t hear Ririka following. “So, are you coming or what?” 

Ririka looked down at her feet, nervously fiddling her hands, “I can’t just walk down the street, Mary.” 

“What are you too good for it?” Mary sneered.

Ririka flinched at the comment, “No, it’s just dangerous. At least for a Momobami, there are a lot of people who want to hurt us. I’m sorry Mary please don’t be angry.”

Mary let out a large sigh, “Of course I’m not angry. I guess it wouldn’t be too bad to indulge in your Momobami privileges and get a ride home for once.” She said with a wave of her hand. The blonde walked over and sat back down next to the masked girl.

Ririka took her phone out to text her driver and reached out to squeeze Mary’s hand appreciatively. The blonde girl blushed and looked away. Almost immediately after sending the text, Mary heard the phone buzz in response. “Oh,” Ririka breathed in surprise, “the car is going to be here in just a minute. Apparently, Kirari already called one.”

“What’s up with you and Kirari anyways? Are you two in a fight or something?” 

Ririka whipped her head around to look at Mary at the sudden question. “I- I mean no. I’m just a bit upset with her at the moment.”

Mary scoffed, “Jeez, you Momobamis. Almost getting a hotel room just because you’re upset tch.” 

The older girl looked away in embarrassment not knowing what to say. Thankfully she was spared when the sleek black vehicle pulled up to the front of the school. Mary got up stretching her hands above her head with a sigh, Ririka wordlessly got up and followed her. Mary silently glanced at Ririka studying the side of her face, the mask giving no emotion away, except a slight blush that peeked out the side. The driver opened the door for the girls to get in, Ririka gesturing for Mary to go first. Mary scoffed in disbelief as she sat down, sliding to the other end of the bench. The back of the sleek car was furnished with an assortment of drinks and small snacks. “So, this is how the rich live.” Mary said with a whistle. Ririka looked down in embarrassment as Mary told the driver her address. As the car began to pull away her attention shifted back to the masked girl, “How many times do I have to tell you not to wear that thing when it’s just the two of us.” The blonde girl leaned over into Ririka’s space ready to snatch the mask away.

Ririka leaned as far back as she could from Mary, back pressed against the car door, already sensing what Mary was about to do. 

“Just take it off yourself!” Mary grumbled, stretching her arm up to Ririka’s face as the other girl tried to lean away further. Ririka brought a hand up in a half-hearted attempt to push Mary away. Finally, Mary's hand found its destination and she plucked the mask off in triumph. Holding up her prize Mary finally surveyed Ririka’s face. She couldn’t tell if her face was red from blushing or crying. Dark circles rimmed her eyes, she looked exhausted. “Jeez, is your twin keeping you up all night or something? Is that why you’re upset?”

“Something like that,” Ririka murmured quietly, staring at her lap.

Mary glanced around awkwardly, “Don’t worry, even though I don’t live in a palace my bed’s pretty comfortable, I’ll let you have it tonight.” Mary said with a flick of her wrist.

“Mary, it’s quite alright you can have your own bed. I’m already inconveniencing you enough as it is.”

“Hey, I already told you I wanted the company anyway. If it bothers you that much how about we gamble for it? If I win, I get the bed, if you win you get the bed?”

Ririka looked at her skeptically, “Fine, but if I win, I’m buying us dinner tonight.”

Mary grinned like a Cheshire cat, “Deal, coin toss?” Ririka nodded, producing a coin from a pocket in her blazer. With a dramatic flourish, she snapped the coin in the air. The two girls watched as it spun fluidly through the air, waiting for their fate to be decided for tonight. Ririka moved her arm out ready to catch it when suddenly both girls gently rocked forward. They had finally made it to Mary’s house, the quick stop causing Ririka to lose concentration and miss the coin. Both girls bent over, looking for the coin on the floor, “Oh…” Mary found the coin first.

“Where is- oh.” Both girls looked at the coin stuck in the carpet perfectly on its side between the two faces.

“Well I guess that means we’re sharing and you’re buying dinner,” Mary said with a shrug causing Ririka’s face to light up like a tomato. 

“Sharing?”

“Yea you do know what that is right? I’m sure it’s a hard concept for a Momobami to grasp." She paused for a beat then added more gently, "You don’t have to if you don’t want to though, I can still sleep on the couch.”

“No!” Ririka’s blush intensified at her outburst, “I- I mean it’s fine I don’t mind sharing a bed if you don’t mind.” The older girl couldn’t even look the blonde in the eyes out of embarrassment.

“Of course,” Mary blushed her heart beating faster in her chest, “Yea it’s totally fine.” 

It wasn’t fine.  

[]

“Welcome to my humble abode,” Mary said with a wave of her hand as she unlocked the door to her apartment. “I know it’s no Momobami palace but it’s still pretty nice.” Mary shrugged.

“Is the whole floor your apartment?”

“The whole what?! No! It’s just this!”

“Oh,” Ririka blushed with her error, “It’s really cute Mary. It feels… Like a home.” 

Mary frowned and squinted her eyes at Ririka mumbling, “Momobamis are so weird.” Mary and Ririka slipped their shoes off, both leaving their briefcases by the door. Mary sighed walking into the open concept living room connected to the kitchen. She unceremoniously tossed Ririka’s mask behind her onto the couch much to Ririka’s panic. “You won’t be needing that for a while,” Mary smirked, “Go ahead and get comfortable, I’ll get us some drinks, what do you want?”

“Just water please,” Ririka asked politely.

Mary grunted in response leaving Ririka to sit daintily on the couch in the living room. Mary paused in the kitchen to unbutton her blazer leaving it over a chair, then rolling up the sleeves of her shirt and taking off her bow to open up the top button. Mary sighed finally more comfortable. She returned with the two glasses of water in her hands. Ririka blushed when she took her glass from the blonde. “Th-Thank you.” 

Mary scowled as she sat down next to the older girl, “What are you blushing at this time? I swear you blush so much your face is going to turn permanently red.”

Ririka’s blush deepened, reaching all the way to the tips of her ears, “N-Nothing.”

Mary rolled her eyes, “Okay whatever. Did you want to order take-out tonight? Or I can cook for us?”

“You can cook?” Ririka asked wide-eyed.

“Of course I can! Can’t everyone?”

“Oh. Kirari and I were never allowed to go into the kitchen as kids and we’ve never needed to really.”

“Of course you have chefs cooking for you every night, why wouldn’t you,” Mary said sarcastically with a roll of her eyes, flopping onto the back of the couch and slouching. Ririka looked down unable to look the blonde in the eye. The state of Mary's uniform was more than a little distracting. “Listen, I’ll show you to cook sometime, okay? We seriously gotta teach you how to do normal people stuff.”

Ririka’s eyes lit up with excitement, “Really? Thank you, Mary.” A sweet smile broke out across her face.

Mary blushed, Ririka really was beautiful especially with her eyes practically sparkling with excitement. Whenever Ririka looked at her like that she always had this warm feeling spreading through her body. Jeez, she couldn’t be wrapped around a Momobami’s finger, they all lived up to their family name. They were the Devourers and Mary feared she too would one day be devoured by these feelings or maybe by the girl herself. But Ririka was different right? She was sweet and shy, and even though she shared a face with her twin, the two couldn’t possibly be any more different. Kirari was all hard edges and haughty smirks while Ririka was all soft edges and sad neutral expressions. “Mary?” Ririka giggled her hand coming up to cover her mouth, “What are you thinking about? You just had the sweetest smile on your face.”

Mary blushed deeply, “Nothing! J- Just thinking about the food we’re gonna have tonight! What do you want since it’s on you?”

Ririka paused for a moment looking thoughtful, “What about pizza?” Her eyes lit up brightly at the thought.

Mary laughed, “I didn’t take you as someone who enjoys fast food. Or are you thinking of some fancy kind of pizza I don’t know about?”

Ririka giggled in return smiling happily, “Nope just some good old-fashioned greasy pizza!” 

Mary blushed, why did she think the older girl’s giggle was so cute? She had the same face as Kirari, nothing about that was cute. But somehow with her hair down and without that signature smirk that came with the other twin her features managed to be softened. Not to mention the light blush that seemed to constantly inhabit her cheeks took away all the sharpness that was Kirari, leaving only Ririka behind. In theory, they shared the same face, but if you looked at each long enough you could see they were completely different.

Mary jumped to her feet suddenly, causing the girl next to her to flinch, “Okay! It’s settled then! I’ll call for pizza and you can take a quick bath. I’ll take mine before school tomorrow morning. I’ll go grab some clothes for you to borrow.” With that, she quickly darted over to her room without waiting for a response.

Mary shut the door behind her with a bang leaning back against it breathing heavily. What was wrong with her, why did she have all of these thoughts all of the sudden? No. It wasn’t all of the sudden. Those feelings had always been there. She had just ignored them because in her mind since the twins shared the same face, she related all of Kirari’s actions to Ririka as well. But now having Ririka around all the time she was beginning to see the twin as her own person without her sister. And wow, she was really starting to like that person. 

[]

Mary had been sitting at the kitchen table for a few minutes now. She had already finished calling for the pizza and was now waiting for Ririka to get out of the bath. If she listened hard enough, she could hear the faint humming of the girl in the other room. Mary sighed and dropped her head on the table. She had no idea what she was going to do, she had all of these sudden feelings coming to the surface for the other girl. What a confusing headache, Mary huffed in annoyance. She stood up to grab her briefcase from the entryway. She might as well get some work done while waiting. 

Mary opened up her schoolwork with a sigh. All this gambling had her so behind on her schoolwork she didn’t know what to do. She looked at the math equations swimming on the page. They were in a different language, she decided. She dropped her head back down onto the table in defeat. She needed to do this work to bring up her grade so she could keep her scholarship; but it was hopeless, this was impossible. Maybe she could pay tuition if she gambled more, she thought, no then she would have even less time for school and would just get kicked out for her low grades. She closed her eyes letting her misery consume her for the moment. 

Mary jumped when she felt a warm hand on her back. “Hey,” Ririka said warmly, “Working on homework?”

Mary sighed a deep sigh she didn’t even hear the other girl’s approach, “Trying to at least. I’m really behind in my classes. I have no idea what’s going on.” Mary sighed, laying her forehead on the table again. Ririka rubbed soothing circles on her back only making her more flustered. Mary sat up abruptly causing Ririka to flinch back and snatch her hand back. 

“Do you want some help studying?” Ririka asked gently.

“Psh, I don’t need any help, it's fine!” Mary stubbornly replied.

“Mary,” Ririka gave her a pointed look, neutral expression back on her face, “Let me help you.”

Mary looked up into Ririka’s crystalline blue eyes. She could look into those eyes every day and never get tired of them. She could see the sincerity in them, relenting with a sigh and slight blush, “Yea okay fine.”

Ririka cracked a small smile still standing behind her, “Okay what are you going over in class now?”

Mary explained what the lessons had gone over and what she needed to do for her work. “I swear this stuff is in a different language! I don’t understand it at all!” Throwing her hands out in defeat.

Ririka giggled, “No it’s not, it’s easy don’t worry.” Ririka leaned over Mary resting an arm on the back of her chair. Ririka pointed at something on the worksheet, strands of hair falling forward onto Mary’s arm. The blonde blushed, the older girl’s hair really was as soft as it looked. “Mary?” Ririka tapped on the table to get her attention back, “Are paying attention?”

Mary blushed, “Yes! Of course!”

“Okay then show me how you do the problem.”

“Um, you just,” Mary blushed even harder and sighed, “Okay fine I missed what you said.”

Ririka smiled and put a hand on Mary’s back so she could lean down farther to look her in the eyes. The older girl took the pencil out of her hand so she could explain the problem again. This time Mary actually listened or at least tried to anyway.

By the time Mary had finished all of her work, the doorbell rang signaling their food had arrived. Surprisingly, through the whole ordeal, Ririka was actually a really good teacher. She was patient and was able to explain things easily. The only problem was Mary was constantly distracted by her close proximity. She could practically feel the warmth of her body next to her and she struggled to pay attention to the older girl’s words. 

Mary watched her leave the room to go pay for the food, finally getting a clear look at the older girl. Ririka was wearing the clothes she left her, she never paid attention to the height difference before but Ririka’s legs were definitely too long for her shorts. Mary blushed at the sight, tearing her eyes away as she disappeared around the corner to the entryway. A few minutes later she appeared again, a large grin splitting her face and holding the pizza box up as if it was Simba. Mary laughed at the sight, “Well someone’s excited.” An endearing smile slowly made its way onto her face. 

“Of course, I have two of my favorite things now!” Ririka blushed at her own comment, realizing what she said.

“Sh- Shut up.” Mary mirrored the other girls blush, “Whatever let’s just dig in.”

[]

They had finished dinner a while ago and already cleaned up, both girls eating their fill of pizza. Ririka ate more than enough, practically scaring Mary with her appetite. Both now in Mary’s room getting ready for bed. The blonde had forgotten the gamble earlier that day until now, panicking at the thought of sharing a bed. Especially when it seemed she was developing a small crush on the other girl. “Hey,” Mary started, “I’m just going to sleep on the couch tonight. I don’t want to make you share a bed. You’re my guest I don’t think my parents would ever forgive me if they found out I didn’t insist.” 

Ririka had a thoughtful look in her eye, “Oh, okay.” The blonde turned around for the door, about to say goodnight when she felt the other girl grab her hand, “Wait, Mary, you told me I should do what I want more.” Ririka blushed, quickly losing her nerve, “I want you to stay.”

Mary blushed a deep red looking downward while scratching the back of her neck nervously, “I mean I guess if you want me to...” Mary trailed off with a blush. Ririka smiled timidly tugging Mary towards the bed. The two of them got under the covers facing each other on their sides. The older girl still held the blonde’s hand. 

“Hey, Mary?”

“Hm?”

The older girl was quiet for a minute, “I- I would never hurt you.”

“What?” Mary’s eyebrows scrunched together in confusion, “What made you say that?”

Ririka paused again, “Sometimes,” she breathed out barely a whisper, “I just need to make sure I’m not my sister.”

Chapter Text

The Magician representing manifestation, resourcefulness, power, and inspired action.

 

Ririka awoke to the gentle caress of air on her face. The first thing she noticed was how warm she was, she had never felt so full with it before. The second thing she noticed, were the legs that were intertwined with her own. The third thing she noticed as she felt the slight puff of air again, were her hands lightly fisted in a soft material. Slowly her eyes finally fluttered awake, squinting in the morning sunlight, temporarily blinded. Ririka realized, her heart fluttering in her chest and blush blooming on her face, the source of her warmth.

Mary’s hands were lightly grasped around her own. Her face was so close to Ririka, their noses were nearly touching. Every so often she would feel a gentle puff of breath on her face. Ririka, frozen in wonder, studied Mary’s sleeping face. She had never seen Mary look so soft before, in the glow of the morning light and nearly wrapped up in Ririka’s embrace, she had a contentness she had never seen on her face before. Ririka ran her eyes over soft skin and dark gold eyelashes, all the while feeling herself fill up with a new kind of warmth. The kind that brought an adoring smile onto her face and made her heart beat just a little bit faster. 

As if pulled by the string of fate, Ririka could hardly resist bringing one of her hands up to lightly allow the pads of her fingers to caress the soft skin of Mary’s cheek. Ririka’s breath hitched at the light touch, the overwhelming feeling of home taking her breath away. Ririka breathed out a tension in her body she didn’t know she had been holding as she lightly rested her palm on Mary's cheek. 

Ririka watched Mary’s eyelids flutter lightly, mesmerized by the movement. She rubbed a soft thumb lightly over her cheek, “Good morning Mary.” She gently whispered.

A crease formed between the blonde’s eyebrows and her eyes fluttered open. They blinked slowly as a soft smile formed on her face. The smile slowly faded as the crease became deeper as realization began to dawn in her eyes and a deep blush bloomed on her face. Mary unceremoniously shot out of bed only to fall immediately off due to their intertwined legs which pulled Ririka with her. Both girls landed in a heap on the floor. Ririka flushed a deep crimson as her arms planted on either side of Mary's head due to the fall, faces once again only inches from each other. The older girl’s hair curtained the two girls for those few precious seconds creating their own world. At least until it was broken, “Will you get off of me?!” Anger laced her voice but it held none of the usual bite. Mary’s cheeks turned impossibly redder. 

“I’m sorry!” Ririka quickly scrambled off of Mary’s lap cheeks burning, running over to check the time on her phone and change the subject. “I have to go in early for a student council meeting but I can leave without you so you can go back to sleep.”

“Well I don’t think I’ll be able to get back to sleep so I guess I’ll get a ride with you,” she grumbled a light blush still coating her face, avoiding Ririka’s eye. “I’m going to get ready. You can use the bathroom after me. Just like, hang out or something I don’t know.” Mary left awkwardly refusing to let her eyes wander anywhere near Ririka. 

Ririka laid back down on the bed, turning over thinking about what happened. She ran her hand down the slightly warm spot Mary left stuck in her thoughts. She pressed her face into the pillow, she could still smell the lingering comforting scent of Mary. She sighed feeling more content than she had in a long time, even after the awkwardness when they woke up. Being wrapped up in Mary’s presence like this brought on an air of serenity that made it feel like everything would be okay. 

[]

For once Mary was glad Ririka was wearing her mask. The blonde girl couldn’t help but blush when trying to meet her eyes this morning, especially after everything that happened this morning. As soon as both girls finished getting ready the younger girl had dragged them outside to wait for the car. Ririka had put her mask back on after leaving the apartment sparing Mary from having to make eye contact with her piercing blue eyes. Mary shivered at the memory of this morning, waking up to those eyes that seemed to be almost looking in her soul. The ride to school was quiet, both girls not quite knowing how to interact with each other. 

They arrived at the same time as Kirari and Sayaka, the twins seemed to be in sync even when upset with each other. Kirari wore a signature smirk on her face when she noticed Ririka getting out of the car, but seemed to hesitate before she said something. “Ah there you are Ririka, did you have a good night?” Mary followed the older girl out of the car sending the younger twin a glare. “Oh,” Kirari chuckled, “So that’s where you’ve been! How delightful, I didn’t expect that.” 

“Hey! We aren’t just fish in your aquarium to watch for entertainment!” Ririka snapped around to look at Mary in surprise.

“Oh, really is that right?” Smirk still in place. “Come along dear sister, I do believe we have a meeting to get to.”

Ririka, still staring at Mary, slowly turned and went dutifully to her twin’s side. Mary glared even harder at the younger twin; disdain obvious on her face. “You really just do everything she says huh? Do you even have your own thoughts?! Or is just her,” she pointed angrily at the President, “Behind everything?” Mary nearly yelled. Kirari always managed to stroke her anger no matter the situation. The President felt as if she could walk on everyone without a care in the world, she treated everyone as if they were just a toy for her amusement, just another fish in her aquarium to quell her curiosity. 

Both the twins paused in their walk turning in sync, “Mary…” Ririka began softly.

Kirari narrowed her eyes at Mary, “Do not pretend to know my relationship with my sister.”

“I think the mask says enough about your relationship.” Mary spit back voice full of spite. 

Kirari cocked her head to the side in thought, “So that’s what you think. Interesting.” She turned and started walking away leaving her sister behind, “I’ll talk my leave now.” She smirked at Mary over her shoulder, “this conversation has been very enlightening.” She turned back to her sister, “I’ll see you in the meeting Ririka, do not be late.”

Ririka made her way back to where Mary was standing. She sighed when she got to her side, “Mary,” the blonde girl imagined her voice would’ve been soft if she hadn’t been wearing her mask, “Thank you for defending me.” Ririka slowly brought her hand up, hesitating before resting it on Mary’s shoulder. “Kirari really isn’t as bad as she seems.” Mary looked up at her face, mask concealing any emotion making it difficult to read her. “I have to go but if you want, we can talk more about this later.” 

Mary deflated, all of her anger leaving her posture. “Yea, okay.” Ririka squeezed her arm, leaving Mary to stand alone in front of the academy.

There never ended up being a later.

[]

When Mary finally reached her class after milling around the Academy to kill time, she found Ibara Obami waiting for her. She could hear the hushed voices of her classmates already gossiping about why he was there. 

“Ah! There you are Saotome, I’ve been waiting for you.” He held up a letter between his fingers, “My brother wanted me to deliver this.” He handed it over to her without another word and left leaving her with a menacing smile. 

Mary opened up the note. Inside was an invitation to an election gamble after school, Ririka and Mary against the Obami brothers. No other information was given. 

At the same time in another location, Rin Obami gave the same invitation to a certain masked girl. Interesting, both girls thought simultaneously. 

The day went by slowly after that, Mary stuck in her thoughts about the day. She felt overwhelmed by her feelings. Waking up with Ririka gently whispering her good morning and being able to see every hue of blue in Ririka’s eyes stole her breath away and made her heart skip a beat. Then she had felt her soft warm palm on her cheek and she couldn’t help but launch herself away in a panic. In the end Ririka was a Momobami. That would never change. As sweet and wonderful as she was, she still shared a face and family with Kirari, and Mary still couldn’t be sure the more sinister twin wasn’t pulling strings in the background. Even after everything she still doubted Ririka’s actions were solely her own. Yet this morning made things seem entirely different. Mary shook her head in confusion, there were more pressing things to worry about. 

The bell finally rang for lunch, allowing Mary to set off in search of Ririka. Traveling through the halls she came to the tearoom they usually met at. She walked in to find a familiar masked girl alone waiting for her. Mary shut the door behind her, the other girl turned to her taking off her mask. “I’ll assume you received the invitation too?”

Mary nodded and sat down next to her, “Ibara Obami was waiting for me in my class this morning, he gave me this.” She held up the invitation. “Did they really have to be all mysterious about the gamble?” She sighed annoyed. 

Ririka looked away in thought, “Even so they have nearly one hundred votes between the two of them.”

The blonde sighed again, “I guess that means it’s worth checking out at least.”

Ririka nodded, “Mary?”

“Yea?”

Ririka nervously fiddled with her mask, “I want to prove myself to you. Let me win this for us by myself.”

“Eh?! What do you mean by yourself?! But that’s two against one! We don’t even know what the gamble is!”

“I know. But I know I can beat them.” Mary saw a rare steel in her eyes, a hard determination that the other girl so rarely displayed. 

“You don’t have to prove yourself, ya know.” Mary sighed out, rubbing the back of her neck. 

Ririka looked at her with an unreadable expression, no emotion shown on her face almost as if she had put her mask back on, “I want to. I know you still don’t fully trust me.” Her mask fell blush covering her cheeks, “Especially after this morning.”

Mary mirrored her blush mumbling, “Let’s just forget about this morning, okay?”

Ririka dropped her gaze with a small whispered, “Okay .”

[]

Mary stretched popping her back, the final bell rang signaling the end of the day. But for her it was merely the beginning. She walked out of her class finding her partner waiting for her. Both silently falling into step with each other walking to the designated meeting place for the coming gamble. Ririka’s silence was not unusual but, in this silence, the older girl radiated an intensity Mary had only felt in Kirari’s presence. The blonde shivered at the feeling of the girl next to her, the backs of their hands gently grazing as they walked into the room together. 

They were met by the Obami brothers and a member of the election committee, Inaho Yamato. The room had two couches facing each other and on the other side of the room a round gambling table with four chairs was set up. Inaho greeted the girls with a salute, “Glad to see you’ve made it. Please take a seat and allow me to explain the rules.” The girls sat opposite of the brother settling silently. “The Obami brothers have challenged you two to a game of Bluff. The rules are simple, you will each take turns placing down a card in order, ace, two, three, etc. You will be playing with a fifty-two-card deck and each player will receive eleven cards leaving eight to be in the pile. You will add each card you must play onto to the pile, however, if you do not have the correct card you will have to bluff and hope nobody suspects you. If somebody does, they will have a chance to call your bluff. If you had put down the wrong card then you will have to take the entire pile, however, if you had put down the right card the person calling your bluff must take the pile. The first person to put down all of their cards wins all of the other team’s votes. The Obami brothers will be one team and you two will be the other. Any questions?”

Ibara spoke up first, “Yea! Is she allowed to wear that mask? It kinda seems unfair ya know.” He pointed and squinted his eyes at Ririka. 

Ririka spoke up before Inaho had the chance to answer, “I will remove my mask for this game. If you allow me to gamble against the both of you alone.”

Both brothers' eyebrows shot up at the statement, Ibara grinning mischievously, “Two against one? I mean I won’t complain!”

Rin cocked his head at Ririka with an easy smile on his face, “If that is what you want then of course.”

“Okay!” Inaho exclaimed enthusiastically, “With that change we must change the rules. Are you all okay with receiving fifteen cards each leaving the pile with seven cards?”

Everyone nodded and proceeded to the gambling table. Ririka sat down in front of the brothers who sat next to each other. Mary stood by Ririka’s side far enough to be able to see her facial expressions but not close enough to see her cards. 

Inaho opened a new pack of playing cards and shuffled the deck while Ririka took off her mask and handed it to Mary with a reassuring smile. To begin the game a three-sided die was rolled to start, landing on Rin’s number to begin the game. “Let’s have a good game shall we.” A sweet smile was directed to both the girls as he placed down one card, “Ace.” His facial expression never changed. 

Ibara was next grinning maniacally, “Two.” Similar to his brother he gave nothing away. 

Ririka was finally up, hesitating looking at her card, a subtle blush slowly blooming on her face, “Three.”

Rin cocked his head to the side and Ibara grinned wider. Mary’s heart dropped; she had never seen Ririka gamble without her mask. She thought Ririka wouldn’t have the best poker face from their past interactions, but she didn’t think it was this bad. “Tsk tsk, seems you may share a face with your twin but you sure as hell don’t share the same poker face!” Mary could almost feel his laugh boom around them. “Let’s shake things up, I call your bluff.” He reached out and turned the card over, it was a king. “Well what do we have here.” He pushed the ten card pile over to Ririka, “Guess this is yours now.” Mary groaned internally this was a disaster. 

Both brothers played their cards similarly to the first round neither giving away any signs of bluffs. Ririka looked at her hand again letting slip a small smile, “Six.” 

“I call your bluff.” Rin said quickly before she even set the card down. She flipped it over for everyone to see. It wasn’t a bluff. “Oh well.” He said with a casual shrug and smile taking the three cards. 

Both brothers again played without Ririka calling a bluff. She placed her card down with a slight blush again, “N-Nine.” Ibara smiled wider and Rin cocked his head but neither brother said anything. The game continued on the same for another round, both brothers training their gaze on Ririka’s expressive face when she set a card down. 

The pile had seven cards again, both brother’s hands were shrinking, and Ririka’s hand only seemed to grow. The round came back to Ririka, she hesitated again blushing while slowly picking a card. “Two.” She almost whispered the words. It was official Mary was ready to die of embarrassment. To think this was Kirari’s sister, a Momobami even! Yet still this terrible at gambling. 

“I call your bluff.” Ibara smiled wide. 

Ririka hung her head and flipped over her card, a jack, and took the pile. Once again, the brothers played without incident. The round came back to Ririka, all participants had their eyes trained on her face waiting for her obvious tells, she had another small easy smile on her lips, even having her cards ready, “Five.” 

Nobody paid attention to the cards she set down, Rin played the next round with a small smile, “Six.” He looked down at the pile he set his card down on, his smile immediately dropping as he realized his error. Ririka had set down a thick chunk of cards, easily more than ten, and nobody had noticed. Rin whipped his head around looking for the election committee representative. “That has to be against the rules!”

Inaho saluted, “There is no rule limiting the amount of cards you can put down!”

Everyone turned to look at Ririka startled to see a completely composed poker face in place. Absolutely no emotion seeped through. She cocked her head to the side, “You just lost.”

Both brothers were completely taken aback, Mary could only stare at the older girl. All she could see was Kirari’s cold gaze, the only thing that put them apart was Ririka lacking her twin’s signature smirk. 

Mary had thought Ririka was the calm before Kirari’s storm. The timidity and self-consciousness evident in Ririka’s personality lead her to believe Kirari had taken all of the control and fire from her twin. Mary never realized how wrong she was until this moment. 

Ririka was about to begin the real gamble with the Obami brothers. She had finally removed her final mask. Mary, for a moment, was convinced she was staring at the other twin. The cold determined eyes that were previously hidden behind an innocent facade were filled with a fire she had only ever seen in Kirari’s. 

Mary was wrong, Ririka was not the calm before Kirari’s storm but a storm in of itself lurking just under calm waters waiting to swallow whoever was foolish enough to dive in. And she herself had been swallowed and was now in the eye of the storm watching it begin to rage around her. 

And Mary was scared.

Chapter Text

The Moon representing illusion, fear, anxiety, subconscious, and intuition.

 

The sweet girl Mary was with this morning was gone, replaced by the devouring monster that had been lurking under the surface this whole time. The cold blue eyes she could not stop staring into stole all the breath out of her lungs. She started sweating, unable to breathe, and took a panicked step back. Mary looked at the brothers finally breaking the spell allowing air back into her lungs. Rin seemed to be feeling a similar effect, mouth hung open and a single bead of sweat running down the side of his face, Ibara was in similar disbelief, malicious smile finally wiped off his face only a look of horror remained. 

Mary’s gaze darted back to Ririka, glowing ice eyes finding her own. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, if that was true then Mary would have bet all her votes at this moment that Ririka didn’t have one. Her eyes were empty, devoid of any tells, emotion, or personality. Inhumanely unreadable. 

Everything clicked. This was how the twins took over the academy so easily. This was how they brought any gambler to their knees. This was why Kirari was so willing to risk her presidency. 

None of the other students ever had a chance. 

No matter the skill of a gambler there would always be tells, tiny facial tics, or some form of habit. If you are human, there would always be something. But staring into Ririka’s eyes trying to read her body language it was becoming increasingly obvious that what she was staring at wasn’t human but a monster. And it was ready to devour. 

Ririka’s eyes left Mary’s and dragged down her body before coming back up again. Mary shivered and felt her heartbeat speed up, feeling as if she was prey being eyed by a lioness. Ririka turned back to the brothers addressing Ibara, “I believe it’s your turn to play.” Even her voice was completely different, lacking any emotion that would normally be present. 

Ibara could only sputter in response, his eyes still glazed over in shock and unable to move. 

Inaho spoke up from her corner, “Obami, if you keep stalling this gamble there will be consequences.” A cunning edge seeped into her voice, eyes glowing at the threat.  

He gritted his teeth, “Seven.” He practically growled out the words. Mary could see the frustration and fury in his gaze.

Ririka had no reaction, only playing her next card, “Eight.” Looking both boys in the eye as she played the card. 

Rin loudly slammed his hand on the table and stood up, “I call your bluff!” These poor guys, Mary thought, what a waste of a last-ditch effort. Ririka calmly reached out and flipped her card.

Eight.

Rin dropped back down into his seat a look of complete defeat on his face. He dropped his head collecting the large pile of cards he now had. 

Everyone’s heads snapped back to Ririka at the sound of her dropping her cards on the table. Mary’s eyes traced over the cards, jack, ace, four, seven… She had all the cards for every round until she ran out. Mary took a sharp intake of breath in realization. Each round she lost was to collect the cards she needed to win and then she discarded the ones she didn’t need until there was no possibility but to win. The brothers who appeared to be the predators became the prey instantly. Not even those from the Devouring Family stood a chance. 

Ibara threw his cards in anger and defeat. Inaho in her usual chipper voice declared, “And that concludes the match! Since there is no way for the Obami brothers to win, Ririka wins by default. Unless you would like to continue the match?” Rin hung his head and shook it while Ibara stormed out of the room. “Okay! Ririka Momobami will be awarded the total sum of Rin and Ibara Obami’s votes, which amounts to ninety-eight! The election committee will ensure you receive the votes no later than tomorrow morning!” 

All the while Mary watched Ririka’s expression shift, almost as if she flipped a switch, her face went from the emotionless gambler to having a sweet smile on her face when she turned to Mary. 

“Mary, I won!” A small blush began to coat her cheeks.

Even though the Ririka she knew was back all Mary could see were those cold unfeeling eyes. “I- I-.” She couldn’t get any words out, unable to unsee or leave the other girl’s gaze. She squeezed her eyes shut willing the image to go away. They shouldn’t bother her as much as they did and yet she still couldn’t get them out of her head. No longer was she seeing Ririka’s eyes in her mind, they shifted ever so slightly to become the other twin. All she could see now was Kirari towering over her as if she meant nothing, invading her personal space as if it were her own and telling her to join the student council. 

Mary started sweating, her heartbeat picking up. “Mary? Are you alright?” Ririka put her hand on Mary’s arm causing her to jump.

“I- I just…” Ririka looked into Mary’s vacant eyes, she wasn’t entirely here; she had wandered somewhere else. Mary jerked back away from the older girl suddenly, “I need to go, I’m um late.” With no other explanation, she quickly left.

Ririka watched her leave with growing confusion and concern not knowing what was happening. Had this morning freaked her out more than she thought? Ririka shook her head, unable to understand. Inaho cleared her throat awkwardly causing the Vice President to flinch. She had forgotten the other girl was in the room, “Would you like to collect your votes now?”

She steeled her expression trying not to let her heartbreak show at the apparent rejection she just received from Mary. “Yes.” 

[]

Mary walked, well more like nearly ran, through the academy halls with no destination. She just needed to be away. Away from the partner that was something she said she wasn’t. Away from her slipping control over her partnership. Away from her monster.

Her chest heaved after making it across campus in record time, she finally stopped at the first door she laid her eyes on. She burst into the empty classroom, unable to get enough air and chest still heaving. A cold sweat gathered on her forehead, she was too warm, too cold, and couldn’t breathe. She ripped off her necktie and unbuttoned the top buttons on her shirt. Leaning over one of the desks she closed her eyes trying and failing to catch her breath.

She felt a warm hand land on her back, every muscle in her body stiffened, “Shh, Mary, it’s okay. Just breath.” Yumeko’s calming voice washed over her and Mary immediately relaxed. Yumeko shifted, grabbing her hands off of the desk so she could look the blonde in the eyes. “Breath with me okay? In… Out… In…” Slowly Mary regained her breath, somewhat calming down. The blonde immediately slumped exhausted and sat on the desk. Yumeko sat down next to her covering her hand with her own. “Better now?”

Mary waited for a beat before responding, “Yea.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

The blonde sighed, “It’s nothing.”

“Mary.” Yumeko gave her a pointed look, “It’s obviously not nothing.”

“I- I just-.” 

“Is it the Vice President?”

Mary looked at the other girl with surprise and sighed, “Yea.” Yumeko moved her hand to the blonde’s shoulder to rub it comfortingly. “I just… I thought she was different I guess.”

“Different from?”

“The other Momobamis.” She said with a quiet murmur.

Yumeko hummed in response, “And it turned out you were wrong?”

“I mean yea. You should’ve seen her when she gambled… She changed instantly, it’s like she flipped a switch and turned into Kirari.”

“Mary, as different as they are they’re still twins.”

“I know,” Mary huffed, “I guess I just thought she was better than her sister, that she wouldn’t be as ruthless... I don’t know.” 

Yumeko shrugged, “Even still, you are partners, she’s on your side.”

“Is she though?” Her anger began to seep into her voice, “She’s a Momobami, not to mention Kirari’s twin, why wouldn’t they be planning something. This has to be part of a game they’re playing.”

“Do you really think that?”

“I-.” Mary thought of that morning, waking up to Ririka’s hand on her face and in her warm embrace. She looked away sadly, anger draining out of her.

Yumeko stood up and walked in front of Mary, she poked her finger into Mary’s chest right over her heart, “Do you truly believe that, in here? After all the gambles? After she gave you her votes? After trusting you?” Mary looked away in shame. “Just something to think about.”

[]

“Ah, there you are Ririka.” Kirari said as Ririka entered the student council room, not even looking up from her work. Only silence responded and the soft tap of shoes on the hardwood. The Vice President slumped unceremoniously on one of the couches. “What’s wrong?” Kirari asked, finally looking up.

“I’m suffering the consequences.” She huffed out, taking off her mask and throwing it beside her.

“Of?”

“Being a Momobami.” She stared daggers at the floor.

Kirari hummed in response, “I think you’re going to have to be more specific than that. We both know that includes many different consequences.”

“Mary ran off after my gamble with Rin and Ibara. I think- I think I scared her.” 

“Scared of what? Did you lose?” Ririka gave her a pointed look, the other twin raised her hands up in surrender. Kirari walked over and sat beside her sister. “Are you worried she won’t come back?”

“Of course, I’m worried!” Desperation began to seep into her voice, “You should’ve seen her face, she looked at me as if I was a monster.”

Kirari cringed, “That may be my fault.” 

Ririka deadpanned, “What. Did. You. Do.”

“I may have gotten a bit in her face when inviting her to join the student council. It was quite worth it though, you should’ve seen the look on her face, it was quite interesting.”

“See!” Ririka pointed an accusing finger at her sister, “This is what I was talking about when I said we have to share the consequences!”

“I didn’t know you cared about her as much as you do.” Kirari had a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

Ririka blushed, “She’s my friend of course I do.”

Kirari chuckled, “Riri, if I’m being honest, you have nothing to worry about. I’ve seen the way the two of you look at each other. You trust her, don’t you?”

Her sister blushed even harder at that, “I do.”

A growing smirk blossomed on Kirari’s face, “Then I propose we have a gamble."

Chapter Text

Strength representing courage, persuasion, influence, and compassion.

 

Even after a week of walking through the halls alone, she could still feel the absence of her masked companion, it just felt wrong to be without her. Mary knew she needed to talk to Ririka… She just needed more time to gather her thoughts. She still couldn’t think about what happened without being haunted by those piercing blue eyes. But despite everything she still missed her presence. Not that she should ever admit that to anyone. 

Mary frowned at her own thoughts; she shouldn’t be missing her. Especially not when she didn't completely trust the other girl. She shook her head continuing her walk through the halls. This is some Momobami mind trick, Mary decided, they get into your head and… and what? She blushed at where her mind went. Beautiful silver hair hanging down in a curtain, blocking them from the rest of the world. She shook her head trying to rid herself of the intrusive thoughts. 

Distracted and not paying attention, Mary turned the corner and ran straight into someone. “Hey! Watch it!” She practically growled out. All this extra stress was causing her to be in an even worse mood than usual.

The towering face of Jun Kiwatari stared down at her, “You wanna say that again to me.” Voice low and threatening.

Mary eyed the necklace that dangled around his neck, “Yea, I said watch it pet.” Voice laced with pure venom.

Kiwatari’s face grew red with anger, “You know what Saotome,” he stooped down to get in Mary’s face, “I’ve been wanting to run into you. You and your freak of a friend got me stuck like this and so far, it’s been a pain to deal with.”

The blonde girl looked at her watch bored, “Whatever, I’m going to be late for class.” She breezed by him, completely ignoring his sputtering.

“Hey! You can’t-.” 

“Yes, I think I can. You are nothing to me.” She sneered and walked away not bothering to wait for a response. 

She finally reached her classroom just barely before the bell. She sighed she couldn’t have any tardies, especially with the grades she had now. 

Yumeko and Suzui made their way over as she sat down. “Good morning Mary!” Yumeko greeted, chipper as ever. “I’m gambling with a few other students at lunch today would you like to join?”

Mary cringed thinking about her lunch plans, “No I can’t I have to study.”

“Common! Just a quick gamble, I really need a partner. Suzui and I will help you study after school if you join.” Yumeko offered.

The blonde thought about it, she really could use the help studying. She had lost her old tutor when she started ignoring Ririka. She sighed again, “Okay fine. But we have to study after school, no gambles, okay?”

Yumeko clapped excitedly, “Deal!”

[]

Ririka unclasped and clasped her hands restlessly. The student council had been stuck in a never-ending meeting with the Principle for several hours now. If she was being honest, she couldn’t say what the meeting was about, she had been distracted by her thoughts for most of it. A certain blonde was the culprit, even after not seeing her for a week, Ririka was unable to banish her from her thoughts. If anything, she occupied them even more.

She hadn’t seen Mary since she ran off after the gamble. The blonde had offered little to no explanations, so it had left Ririka with only her assumptions and imagination. With how long it had been, the older girl was starting to believe their partnership was pretty much over. She had seen the blonde a few times in the halls, but every time Mary had gone out of her way to avoid her. Even after Kirari’s and Sayaka’s reassurances she still couldn’t help but assume the worst. 

During the gamble Ririka couldn’t help but be smug, Rin and Ibara were too easy to trick into becoming overconfident. When the tables had finally turned, she couldn’t help herself and looked at Mary just to see her reaction. Secretly she wanted Mary to be proud of her. The younger girl was so surprised and Ririka was too high off the gamble to notice the fear that had made its way into her eyes. She remembered the moment, confident from the assured win she dragged her eyes down Mary’s frame. In any other situation she never would have dared do something so bold, but in the safety of her gambling persona she felt as if she could do anything. Then the gamble had ended, and she was finally able to drop the persona and soon after her world came crashing down around her.

Mary looked as if she was somewhere else, her eyes unfocused and distant. At first, Ririka didn’t understand what was happening but all it took was one look, she understood when Mary met her eyes that last time. There was so much fear in them, she had looked at her as if she was a monster. And soon after Mary left with little to no explanation and Ririka didn’t know what to do so she let her go. She couldn’t bear to see that look in Mary’s eyes, much less when it was directed at herself.

It wasn’t until the next day that she realized the full effect of the encounter. When she turned the corner and saw Mary at the end of the hall, their eyes met and the blonde had immediately turned around and disappeared in the other direction. 

It was that moment when Ririka’s heart broke. The pieces had not been put together since, living with the constant dull ache. 

Movement around the room snapped her back to the present. Finally, the meeting was over, and they could all leave for lunch. “Vice President, can you please stay behind? I would like to have a few words with you.” Kirari said before Ririka had a chance to collect her things and leave. 

They waited for everyone to leave the room before beginning. “What is it Kirari.” Slightly exasperated with her sister already, she removed her mask. 

The younger twin frowned, “You’ve been moping around all week and I’m beginning to tire of it. Are you and Mary still not talking?”

Ririka sighed, “She’s been avoiding me ever since the gamble last week.”

“I heard she’s gambling today at lunch you could talk to her after.”

The older twin frowned, “No, I don’t want to bother her if she doesn’t want to talk to me.”

“Well, it’s obviously been bothering you. If she’s not going to be the one to make the move…” Kirari shrugged, not finishing the thought.

“Maybe, but I would rather see her after school. I don’t want to distract her from her studies.”

The younger twin smirked, “How considerate. Perfect, she’ll be in the library after school. She’s been doing a lot of studying lately.”

Ririka did a double-take at her sister’s words, “Have you been watching her?”

“Of course, I have. She’s important to you so I’ve been keeping an eye on her.”

“Kirari!”

“What?”

“Why would you do that?” Ririka groaned smacking her forehead, “She’s not a toy you can just play around with.”

Kirari raised her hands in defense, “I haven’t done anything. She’s just one of my more interesting fish, especially now that the two of you are fighting in the election together.” 

"She's not yours." Ririka deadpanned, “Stop that I know what you’re thinking.”

The younger girl’s smirk grew, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

[]

Mary dropped her head onto the library table and groaned. “Common Mary, the loss at lunch wasn’t that bad. At least we had fun right?” Yumeko attempted to console Mary.

“Yea! You really tried your best!” Suzui tried to join in.

Mary lifted her head to send a glare his way, “That was nowhere near my best,” she turned to Yumeko and pointed an accusing finger, “Yea it may have been fun for you cause you’re a rich gambling addict, but for me, I’m out thirty thousand yen!” She groaned, dropping her head back on the table.

“Then we’ll help you with your studies to make up for it! Right, Ryota!”

“Yea! Of course!” 

“Something tells me the two of you aren’t gonna be much help,” Mary grumbled.

Suzui visibly deflated at the comment but Yummeko’s smile only grew, “Which subjects are you struggling in? I’m doing well in most of mine except Japanese.”

Mary’s mouth dropped, “What?! How are you doing well in anything? All you ever do is gamble!”

Yumeko shrugged, an easy and mysterious smile on her face, “I make time for my studies.”

The blonde shook her head, “You owe me anyways after dragging me into that gamble this morning.” A small smile formed on her face as she finally relented, letting Yumeko help her. Easy conversation flowed between the three of them for the next hour while they all studied. 

Little did Mary know there was a masked girl across the room peeking around a bookcase silently watching for no more than a few moments. She had seen all she had needed to see; Mary was happy and having fun without her. A huge contrast to the scared look she last saw on the girl. Maybe it was better if she just stayed away. Her heart felt like it was stuck in her throat, making it feel thick. She took a step back from the bookshelf, looking at Mary one last time, she said a silent goodbye. 

[]

Yumeko and Suzui had left a while ago now, Mary was still in the library continuing with her studying long after they had left. She breathed a final sigh while closing her book. It was beginning to grow dark out, signaling her to finally head home for the day. At this point, the library was nearly empty only one or two students occupied the rest of the tables and almost none roamed the halls. 

Mary stepped out into the cool air of the afternoon beginning her walk home. The sound of footsteps behind her, however, stopped her. She turned curious about who was still here this late in the day. She groaned internally at the sight. Kiwatari and his goons surrounded her, all smelling faintly of B.O and snickering. “What the hell do you want now,” Mary growled out, too tired to deal with them.

The circle opened up allowing Kiwatari to step in, pet necklace jingling lightly around his neck. Without a word he stepped up to Mary getting in her face, he was so close she could see the stubble he missed on his cheek. Mary silently gagged at the sight. “Why so aggressive, we haven’t even done anything to you. Yet.” Something malicious sparked in his eyes as he peered down at Mary grinning at her. “Why don’t you come with us? I want to finish our conversation from this morning.” 

Mary stuck her hands on her hips, “I’m not doing anything you say pet .”

His grin only widened, “Oh you don’t have a choice.”

Hands grabbed her arms from behind, yanking her forward and forcing her to comply to keep herself from face planting. “What the hell! You can’t do this! You’re a pet, you have to do what I say!”

They dragged her around the side of the school and slammed her up against the wall, “Oh, I think you’ll find that I can.” He was back in her face again, so close she could feel his breath against her face. Mary balked and started thrashing attempting to free herself of the hands that restrained her. Kiwatari laughed at her attempts to get free, “Good try, mittens .”

All the blood drained from Mary’s face, so this was how it was going to be. Kiwatari stepped away, letting another one of his goons step in close. He reached up as if he was going to stroke her face. Mary never gave him the chance. She sent a knee flying up nailing him straight in the groin. Instantly he collapsed on his knees causing the boys around him to erupt in laughter. “DO. NOT. TOUCH. ME.” She was screaming now, her voice the only thing they could not restrain.

“Now, now Saotome. There is no need to yell, we’re just having a bit of fun. After all, we still have to decide how you’re going to pay me back for all the money you stole from me.”

“What?! What are you talking about? You’re insane, you lost, fair and square!”

“NO.” He rushed back into her space, bracketing her head with his arms and slamming his hands into the wall. “You and that other bitch cheated!” Mary turned her head, attempting to avoid the spittle flying from his mouth. “Now,” he grabbed her chin in his hands forcing her to face him, “How are you going to repay me?” He forced one of his legs between her own and moved his other hand to grab her waist. “Cause I have a few ideas.” Mary felt her heart drop into her stomach and bile rising in her throat at his touch. She gathered all the saliva in her mouth and sent a glob of spit flying at Kiwatari’s face, landing on his cheek with a wet splat. “You bitch!” He raged, bringing his hand up getting ready to hit her.

“Violence is not permitted at Hyakkaou Academy, I would advise you to step away before I have to take disciplinary action.”

Chapter Text

The Lovers representing love, harmony, relationships, values alignment, and choices.

 

“Violence is not permitted at Hyakkaou Academy, I would advise you to step away before I have to take disciplinary action.” The voice had an immediate effect on the boys around her, causing most of them to step back a few paces. 

Even with Kiwatari’s iron grip on Mary’s face preventing her from looking she could recognize that robotic voice anywhere, “Vi- Vice President.” Kiwatari stuttered out, startled at the sudden intrusion. 

Immediately the boys holding her arms dropped them and backed away. Mary could hear them whispering in fear around her, “They say she’s the President’s demon, that’s why she wears the mask.” “I heard she wears the mask to cover up scars on her face.” “No way, I heard she’s the daughter of a crime boss and has to hide her identity.”

“I must ask you to take your hands off of Saotome.” Ririka completely ignored the other boys and stepped protectively closer so she was almost beside Mary.

“Now why would I do that? You’re enjoying this right Saotome?” He brought his hand up to stroke her cheek. But just before he could touch her, she swung, slapping him straight across his face. “You bitch!” He raised his arm back up ready to hit Mary back.

Before he could do anything, the Vice President reached out, grabbing his arm quickly twisting it behind him, bringing him to his knees almost instantly. “I will tell you one last time Kiwatari, violence is not permitted at Hyakkaou Academy.” Mary’s knees buckled now that she was unsupported by anyone, joining him on the ground. 

He yelped as Ririka twisted his arm harder, “Wait! Wait! I’m a house pet! That means I get to challenge a student council member! I challenge you!”

Ririka paused glancing at Mary before letting go, practically tossing him face down in the ground, “Fine. But I will choose and conduct the gamble myself, those are my terms.”

Her mask was giving off a more menacing aura than usual, especially with how she loomed over Kiwatari on the ground. The empty black holes for her eyes bored into his soul. “If- If you get to conduct the gamble then I get Saotome as my personal house pet for the rest of the week.”

“What! No way in hell I’m agreeing to that!” Mary’s head whipped around to look at Ririka, but her eyes had not left Kiwatari.

“No, she is not mine to gamble. But you may have me as your pet for the week if you win. However, if I win you will not go near Saotome or her friends for the rest of your life. Does that sound reasonable?”

Kiwatari and Mary both froze in complete shock at Ririka’s antee, “Deal.”

Ririka produced a coin from her pocket, most likely the same coin they used to gamble in the car, “This gamble will be decided by a coin toss, you will call it in the air. Understood?” 

She wasted no time waiting for a reply before snapping it into the air. It was all happening too fast for Mary to process all she could do was hold her breath as she watched the two gambler’s fates spin through the air. “Tails!” Kiwatari called staggering back up.

Ririka snatched the coin out of the air as it fell back down, holding it in her palm for merely a second before slapping it on the back of her hand. She uncovered it for Kiwatari to see, “Heads.”

He growled, “Let me see that!” He snatched the coin out of her grip inspecting it, “One more time so I know you aren’t cheating.” Ririka nodded once again flipping the coin up into the air, “Heads!” 

Ririka let the coin fall into her palm on the way down closing her hand around it for barely a second before opening it up for all to see, “Tails.”

“What! There’s no way! One more time!”

“You have nothing left to gamble Kiwatari.” Ririka warned.

Kiwatari’s face was becoming red with frustration and anger at having been bested once again, “What if I gambled my life.” 

“You understand if you lose you will allow the student council to create a life plan that cannot be changed or broken?” 

He barely paused to think about it before he growled out, “The likelihood of me losing is low since you’ve won every round. The odds are in my favor.” 

Ririka nodded and flipped the coin once again. Letting it spin in the air for a few seconds watching Kiwatri’s fate go round and round. She then caught the coin and flipped it over onto the back of her hand, “Heads.” Kiwatari sank onto his knees in defeat, “You are finished. You have nothing left to gamble.” For the first time, Ririka glanced around at the boys that had surrounded Mary, “Would any of you like to gamble?” 

They all flinched back at being suddenly addressed, taking a few slow steps back before running off. From the ground, Kiwatari could be heard quietly mumbling, “How did you… How did you… Every round…” 

The Vice President directed her attention back to Mary who was still on the ground and held a hand out for her, “Are you alright Saotome?” Mary took her hand in a slight daze unsure of what just happened and pulled herself to her feet. “Oh, and Kiwatari, I suggest you leave now before I have security escort you out.”

Kiwatari finally came out of his daze enough to look up to address her directly, “How did you win every round? That’s im- impossible.”

Ririka cocked her head at him and brought her hand up to her mask and slowly revealed a smirking face, “Well, I’m not the President of this academy for no reason.” 

[]

Ririka lounged on the couch in their shared office as she idly tapped away on her phone and her sister did paperwork. Kirari began to tap her fingers on the desk, a telltale sign she was beginning to get bored. “Riri?” She hummed in acknowledgment not bothering to look up from her phone, “Are you still upset with me about what happened with the tower and Sayaka?”

Ririka looked up mildly startled that Kirari remembered that, “I don’t know,” she said with a sigh, “There’s been a lot going on lately, I haven’t really thought about it too much.” Kirari hummed in response and refocused back on her work. She took a few minutes before starting again, “Kirari?” Another hum, “You said you love Sayaka, but how could you let her use the Tower of Doors to gamble? You designed it; you know how it ends if you lose.”

Kirari paused the movement of her pen and slowly set it down, “You know, I never told you why I built the tower.” 

Ririka finally set her phone down on the couch, full attention on the conversation, “I always assumed you just made it for gambling. Just another puzzle piece to sate your curiosity.”

“I mean yes but I had more in mind than just that. I’ve always known I’ve been extremely intrigued with Sayaka for a long time now, of course looking back on it, it was more than just intrigue.” A softer smile formed on her face, “So with Sayaka in mind I designed a gambling tower geared towards testing a gambler’s intelligence. Did you ever wonder why I chose the moon as the key to the gamble?” Ririka shook her head, “I wanted to tell Sayaka the moon is very beautiful without having to actually say it out loud.” She paused for a beat, “I didn’t know how to say it out loud.” Kirari looked over directly into Ririka’s eyes emphasizing her point, “I built the tower as an ode to my love for Sayaka and her beautifully logical brain.” 

“But-”

“Yes, I know she could’ve gotten hurt, that there could’ve been disastrous consequences.” Kirari waved her off, “But Sayaka is nothing if not logical, if she had lost that last gamble and fallen to her death, she would not have been the girl I love. The moment the gamble began I knew how it would end, there was never any danger, that I can promise you that.”

Ririka’s lips pressed into a hard line in thought, “Okay.” She knew the truth, Kirari’s soft smile and determined eyes said it all. Kirari, President of Hyakkaou Academy, would have stopped the gamble.

Kirari’s phone dinged, “Ririka it seems your little girlfriend has gotten into some trouble.”

“She’s not- Wait what? What do you mean?”

“It seems some little fish are angry with her for beating them in a gamble.” A smirk was slowly forming on her face.

“Send security after them, they’ll take care of it.” Ririka pursed her lips, trying not to show how worried she was.

“Oh!” Ririka’s head whipped around at the sound, “Oops, it seems my phone has died, I can’t call security now.” There was a mischievous twinkle in her eye, “I guess I must send my Vice President to take care of it.” 

“Kirari!”

“Oh dear, it sounded bad, I would hurry.” She said the last part in a slight sing-song voice. Ririka sent a hard glare at her twin before putting her mask on and dashing out of the room. The last thing she heard was her twin’s amused laughter.

[]

Ririka- no, Kirari shook her hair out after fully removing the mask. The signature smirk forming on her face. “Pres- President… No… But I thought- I thought you were the Vice President?” The color drained out of his face and a cold sweat formed on his forehead as Kiwatari said this.

Kirari winked and brought a finger to her lips, “Shhh,” She strode over to him before he could scramble back and aggressively grabbed his face in her hand, “I hold your life in the palm of my hand now, you know.” She let out a giggle, “I have such interesting plans for you, little fish.” She pushed his face away and sat up, turning back to Mary. “Come along Saotome, let’s get you to the infirmary.” The blonde let out a little gasp for the first time noticing Kirari was wearing no makeup, none of her blue accents were present and let herself be led away by the small of her back.

She looked up into the taller girl’s face as they turned the corner, the signature smirk on her face had dropped and now showed a completely neutral expression. She breathed a sigh of relief, “Ririka.” She barely whispered the name almost as if it was a prayer.

The neutral expression softened as she looked down at the blonde and a small smile curled at her lips as she chuckled, “How did you know?” The taller girl replaced the mask on her face as they reentered the school.

Mary shrugged, “Your twin probably would’ve laughed at me.” A scowl formed on the blonde’s face,  “I didn’t need your help, you know. I had the situation completely under control.” Ririka stayed completely silent, not even sparing a glance at her. 

They stepped up to the doors of the nurse’s office. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

Mary blushed at the comment, looking away in embarrassment. Ririka began to turn around to head back towards the student council room but felt a hand gently grab her wrist, “Wait!” Ririka turned back looking at the blonde in surprise, “Will you uh, will you stay with me? I want to talk to you.”

Chapter Text

The Devil representing shadow self, attachment, addiction, restriction, and sexuality.

 

The fading afternoon light streamed into the infirmary room casting a warm glow on everything it touched. Behind her mask Ririka stared into Mary’s eyes which had turned into a molten gold in the light; she had never seen anything so beautiful in her life. Her hair shone more beautifully than any piece of jewelry she had ever owned, in this moment she believed there was nothing in this world that could possibly compare to Mary. 

The nurse had already left the two alone on one of the infirmary beds. The only thing that protected them from the outside world was a thin sheet drawn around them, sectioning them off from the rest of the room. Not that it was doing much anyways the school was nearly deserted. 

Ririka hovered awkwardly at the side of the bed while Mary adjusted her ice pack to her jaw where Kiwatari had his bruising grip on her. Mary huffed at the older girl, “Well, are you just gonna stand there or what?” Ririka didn’t move a muscle except to nervously shuffle her feet, “Jeez,” The blonde sighed, “Common.” She patted the spot on the bed next to her encouragingly.

Mary watched as she hesitated for a moment before stepping over and sitting beside her. Mary let out a quiet gasp as she watched Ririka remove her mask unprompted, bathing half of her face in fading sunlight. One eye was lit up by the sun, turning it a blue that you would only ever see in the clearest ocean. The other was cast in shadow, turning it a cold almost steel blue. Ririka looked away from her searching eyes, turning toward the floor before narrowing in thought, “What did you want to speak to me about Saotome?”

“Oh, so that’s how it is now? I’m Saotome to you?” She could taste the bitter resentment of the words on her tongue as she said them.

“N- No, I- I just thought-” Ririka was startled at the words. She had expected Mary to tell her she never wanted to see her again; that she was a monster.

“Tch, what did you think then, huh? Common spit it out already!” 

A sad look clouded her eyes, dulling the blue of the one in the sun, “I just thought after the gamble you didn’t want to be partners anymore.” Guilt immediately enveloped Mary, all the annoyance and fight immediately deflated out of her.

“I’m sorry.” Mary sighed out.

“What?” Ririka did a double take, thinking she had heard the other girl wrong. The blonde was so bullheaded and stubborn, Ririka was willing to gamble on the fact she had never heard Mary apologize for anything before.

Mary huffed as a light blush formed on her face, “I said,” She raised her voice in annoyance, “I’m sorry, okay?” She looked away from Ririka in embarrassment, her voice dropping to almost a whisper, “I shouldn’t have avoided you after that gamble.”

“Mary… It’s okay, I understand-”

“No!” She nearly shouted, cutting her off, “It’s not!” She clenched her fists in lap, “I- I got scared. I just… All I could see in you during that gamble was Kirari. I mean obviously I know you’re twins but you’re different from her. She’s- She’s ruthless and evil,” She huffed again annoyed at her own rambling, “I don’t know! But you’re just not that… And I guess I got scared because I thought you-” She stopped as she felt a hand cover her own.

“I know what you’re trying to say... But you’re wrong.” The hand left hers as a dark look fell over Ririka’s face and she tilted her head downward moving both eyes into the shadow, giving her an even darker look, “I’m not Kirari, you’re correct about that, but I’m still a Momobami. I don’t ever want you to forget that because the moment you do," She inhaled a ragged breath, "Is the moment you’ll be hurt. Either by my family or who I was raised to be. Neither Kirari or I can ever afford to be anything but ruthless and evil.” 

Mary reached over to squeeze one of Ririka’s hands, “I think that’s the same for anyone at the Academy.” She said softly before her tone changed to something akin to fury, “I hate it! The house pet system and everything! But that’s why we’re helping each other right? So, we can change things, make things better for everyone.” She squeezed her hand again.

A sad smile slowly formed on Ririka’s face, “Yea, you’re right.”

Without thinking Mary lunged over and wrapped her arms around the other girl's shoulders and pressing her face into her neck, whispering, “You’re really not so bad Ririka.” As quickly as she had done it, it was over, pushing herself off of the other girl. She cleared her throat awkwardly, “So now what?”

Ririka looked at her lap and fiddled with her fingers nervously, “I need your help with a gamble…” 

[]

“Then I propose we have a gamble.” Ririka couldn’t tell if Kirari was saying this in a failed attempt to cheer her up because Mary had just abandoned her due to a gamble or if she was being serious.

“What kind of gamble?” Suspicion evident in her voice.

Kirari smiled a bit too wide for Ririka’s comfort, “If you win, I’ll give you my full support in the election. If I win, then you have to be me for a week while I go on vacation with Sayaka.” 

The older twin narrowed her eyes her tone teasing, “That’s all you want? Has Sayaka made you grow soft?”

Kirari shrugged, “If you win the gamble it could be beneficial to both of us. It will also satisfy my curiosity, so I see it as a win-win situation.”

“What sort of gamble are you proposing?”

Something sparked in Kirari’s eyes, “I want to see if Saotome can tell us apart. If she guesses right you win, if she guesses wrong then I win.”

Ririka did a double take as everything finally clicked, nearly whispering, “You want Mary to win the election, don’t you? I thought you were just holding the election to dominate the rest of the clan and solidify yourself as the head. What changed?” 

“That’s if she can tell us apart, I’m not yet quite convinced she will be able to. But if she does… Mary might just be the best thing for the Academy right now. It would also be interesting to see what she does. Especially now that she’s had experience being a house pet.”

“You know if she wins that also means she’ll be head of the clan.” 

Kirari cocked her head, “Isn’t that why you partnered with her?”

Ririka glanced away for a second before hesitantly meeting Kirari’s gaze, “She’s everything we’re not and that may be the exact thing the clan needs. You can’t change a system you were created by, no matter how hard we try.”

A crease formed between her eyebrows, “Well, it seems there is much more riding on this gamble than I thought.”

[]

They had left the city more than twenty minutes ago, instead moving into the rolling hills of the mostly abandoned countryside. They did pass several large mansions on the way, but none compared to the one that currently loomed in the distance far in front of her. Dark clouds circled tauntingly above ready to release a storm on them any moment. It seemed that moment was close as a light rain began to pepper the windshield as they drove up the long driveway.

Mary arrived at the Momobami estate the weekend following her encounter with Kiwatari. She was completely unsure what to expect, the only information Ririka gave her was that she needed help with a gamble and when the chauffeur was going to pick her up. She couldn’t help the ominous feeling swirling inside of her, even if she trusted Ririka she was still heading into the lion’s den that was the Momobami estate. 

They finally pulled up to the front of the mansion, dark architecture loomed over her accentuated by the dark clouds and rain coming down. It was every bit as rich and over the top as Mary had expected, “Tch, figures they live here.” She mumbled as she exited the car, thanking the driver before he pulled away. 

She was greeted under the awning of the front of the house by one of the maids. “Good afternoon Mrs. Saotome,” She bowed deeply causing Mary to silently huff in annoyance, “Please follow me.” Keeping with the air of mystery that always came with the twins, Mary wasn’t at all surprised about the little information she had been given. She looked around as she was led into the mansion, noting the emptiness each of the large abandoned rooms gave off. For such an extravagant house it had very little substance and warmth to it, giving it a largely foreboding atmosphere.

She was led down a long hallway with large arches overhead and empty rooms connecting onto it. Soon they came to an intersection that led off to smaller hallways, Mary had no idea how anyone could ever reliably navigate through the mansion, she was already completely turned around the second they entered one of the smaller hallways. 

Suddenly the maid stopped at one of the doors, she bowed once again, “The Lady Momobamis are waiting for you.”

She opened the door, allowing Mary to step through. It was as if she stepped into a whole other world. The room was huge, she guessed they were in the center of the mansion. It housed a beautiful traditional Japanese-style garden with a glass roof that captured the light patter of rain above. There was a pond and small river that flowed throughout the room. It was filled with various fish swimming through and small wooden bridges that passed over it, allowing for visitors to walk across. A large cherry tree wound its way up toward the roof in one of the corners. There were several lanterns scattered around to allow for light even with the dark clouds and rain that swirled above. 

Mary’s breath was immediately stolen by the surprising beauty of the room. It contrasted so harshly with the rest of the mansion that she had seen. If she hadn’t just walked in through the door she never would have believed that it belonged in the same house. 

In the middle of the room the twins sat together with Sayaka standing behind them. They were completely identical, both done up with Kirari’s signature hairstyle and makeup and wearing matching kimonos. “Hello, Mary.” They spoke in sync with one another. “Welcome to our estate.” They both gestured to the surroundings around them. If Mary was being honest she couldn’t tell if she was impressed or creeped out with how perfectly in sync they were. 

Mary made her way over to where the three girls were, “What’s this all about?!” 

“Sayaka,” Both twins turned to her at the same time, “Would you please explain to Mary.”

Sayaka jumped a little at suddenly being addressed, “Saotome, the President and Vice President have invited you to help determine their gamble. You must choose who is Kirari and who is Ririka. The only rule is you may not ask a question only one of them would know. You are free to try any other means you can think of.”

Mary sputtered, “B- But they’re identical! How the hell am I supposed to do that?!” She turned back to the twins. Both wore the same exact expression, a small mischievous smirk and knowing eyes. Mary narrowed her eyes at the two of them, “What happens if I win?”

Both twins shrugged at the same time, “Nothing,” The one on the left spoke. “You are only helping us decide our gamble.” The one on the right finished. 

Mary looked around once again, there was no one from the election committee present, so she decided it was safe to assume this wasn’t an election gamble. “Who bet that I would get it right?”

The smirk on both of their faces grew as they spoke simultaneously again, “Ririka, of course.”

Mary’s eyes flitted between the two twins. She groaned, “You’re putting a lot of faith in me here.”

Both twins’ eyes softened as they tilted their heads to side, “I know.” 

A shiver ran up Mary’s back. “Stop doing that! It’s creepy.” Mary observed the two of them closely, it wasn’t just Ririka copying Kirari’s actions, Kirari was also able to imitate Ririka too. 

The twins laughed together at Mary’s comment. They splayed their hands out in front of them, “It’s time Mary, which one is me?”

Mary walked up to them so she was standing in front of the twins and crouched down so she was at eye level with them. She looked both deep in the eyes, looking for any differences between the two. Neither made a single move nor let anything show. They were perfect mirror images of each other.

She glanced up at Sayaka who had a calm smile on her face, casually watching Mary from behind the twins. Mary gritted her teeth in annoyance, how the hell was she supposed to tell the difference between the two. She looked down from the girls’ faces. They each wore matching kimonos with intricate designs, obviously very expensive. Both girls’ hands were painted with the signature blue polish Kirari always wore. They really didn’t forget a single detail, Mary thought. There had to be something . She blushed at the idea she just had, she didn’t want to try it, but it was the only thing she could think of. 

She leaned forward on her knees getting close to the right twin’s face, similar to what Kirari had done to her when she was invited to join the student council. The effect was immediate, the right twin’s face erupted in a dark blush that went all the way to the tips of her ears. Mary smirked feeling triumphant and sat back on her heels again. 

She then leaned over to the twin on the left getting close to her face, if not closer than she had been to the other twin. She narrowed her eyes noticing something was off.  She had the exact same reaction as the other twin, her face had immediately lit up in a dark blush, reaching all the way to her ears. Her eyes glanced up; she could feel the other girl’s breath on her face she was so close. Damnit , she didn’t want it to have to come to this. 

Without warning she leaned in kissing the twin in front of her. As soon as it began it was over. Mary pulled back quickly looking up again as she did so. She whipped the back of her hand across her lips and pointed to the twin on the right and with a slight grimace said, “You’re Ririka.” 

The right twin gave a haughty laugh and smirked, “Are you sure about that, Mary?” The blush had completely disappeared. She glanced at the twin on the left, still looking incredibly embarrassed, blush covering most of her face.

Mary narrowed her eyes, “Yes, I am.” As if flipping a switch, the twin’s facial expressions switched. The left twin’s blush completely disappeared with a growing smirk on her face and the right twin looked away unable to meet Mary’s eyes blush growing on her face.

The left twin spoke, “This is your last chance to change your decision.”

Mary shook her head, “No, I think I’ll stick with my choice.”

The room was quiet for a few beats until Sayaka spoke up for the first time since explaining the gamble, “Saotome is correct, Ririka wins the gamble.” Finished with a light glare in her direction. Realization finally sunk in at what had just happened, Mary shivered in disgust, whipping at her lips again, she really just kissed the President. Disgusting.

Sayaka walked over and helped the President stand without another word. Kirari turned with a finger on her bottom lip and smirked one last time at Mary, “How interesting.” Without another word she walked off disappearing through one of the many doors attached to the room. 

Little did Mary know looking down on the garden through one of the upper floor windows was Runa Yomozuki. She let out a trill of laughter as she sucked on the lollipop in her mouth, removing the headset she had been using to listen in on the gamble. Soon afterwards Kirari and Sayaka joined her in the room. “So, I assume you deemed that a satisfactory gamble between my sister and I?” Kirari began. 

Runa giggled some more, “Yes! I expect you will now be giving your support to Ririka and Saotome now as per agreement?” 

Kirari hummed, amused, “It seems so…” 

Ririka still sat blushing in front of Mary, the blonde held out a hand to help the older girl up. “I can’t believe I just kissed your sister.” The blonde mumbled out, making a small gagging noise. 

The older girl let out a small giggle. Her demeanor suddenly changed, a smirk similar to Kirari's grew on her lips, “Does that mean you were hoping to kiss me?”

The blonde’s face lit up in a blush, “Sh-Shut up!” She fumbled for something else to say, “Let’s just get you out of this stupid costume! I feel like I’m looking at Kirari.” She finished grumbling.

Ririka giggled, nodding and taking her hand. She led her to one of the doors connected to the room, similar to one Kirari and Sayaka had disappeared into. This door led into a large bedroom, with floor to ceiling one-way glass looking onto the garden room. Mary didn’t have time to look around the room as the older girl pulled her straight into the bathroom connected to the room. She sat down on a stool in front of the mirror and glanced at her through it, “Thank you Mary.”

The blonde blushed at the sudden words, “For what?!”

Ririka shrugged, looking away, “For doing the gamble. And for caring enough to know the difference between the two of us.”

Mary looked at her feet guiltily, “Don’t get me wrong when you guys aren’t acting like each other it’s easy to tell the difference between the two of you… But since you were during the gamble I honestly didn’t couldn’t tell.”

“You guessed?” Surprise evident in her voice.

She chuckled, “No. I couldn’t tell the difference between the two of you, but I knew Sayaka could. So, I watched her face when I got close to you and did the same thing when I leaned into Kirari. She had no reaction to me leaning in,” Mary shrugged, “So I figured I had to go all the way and I was right, her face twitched when I kissed Kirari.”

Ririka didn’t say anything just shook her head and chuckled at Mary. She grabbed a wipe off the counter and began to remove the makeup on her face. The blonde watched her for a moment, momentarily captivated by the older girl, before stepping up behind her. She pulled at one of the ribbons in her hair until it unfurled releasing the braid it held up. She watched Ririka’s reaction in the mirror, seeing only a soft smile slowly grow on her face. 

Mary slowly began to unbraid her hair, running her fingers through its softness. “Ririka?” The older girl hummed in response. “How did you win every coin toss the other day?”

Ririka paused, “I was taught how to tell the difference in the texture of the faces. So, I can tell if it’s resting on heads or tails in my hand. That way I can either keep it in my hand or turn it over on my wrist depending on what I need.”

Her mouth dropped open in surprise, “How the hell do you even do that?!” Ririka only shrugged in response causing Mary to huff. It was quiet for another moment as she slowly released the other bow. “Okay, so how are you and Kirari able to copy each other so well? I don’t think that’s just a twin thing, you’re creepily in sync with each other. Do you guys write a script beforehand or something?”

The older girl paused again, tensing, before continuing to remove the blue makeup, “That’s a long story, Mary.”

The blonde shrugged, “We have time.” 

Ririka pursed her lips, “It’s not a very happy story, I didn’t have a very happy childhood.”

Mary set a hand on Ririka’s shoulder slightly pulling the older girl into her to rest on her front, “I feel like I barely know anything about you. Just because it’s sad doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear it.” She grabbed a comb from the counter, pointing it at her in the mirror, “I mean, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to!” She growled out before softening and beginning to brush out Ririka’s hair, “But we’re friends now, I want to be there for you.” Mary blushed, refusing to meet the other girl’s eyes.

Ririka blushed lightly, “Okay, but to understand that you must know about how we grew up.” 

Mary nodded in affirmation, “I want to know.”

Ririka sighed, “It all began when a pair of twins were born into the Momobami family causing the death of their mother and soon after their father. Because of this before they were even able to speak they became known as The Devils .”

Chapter Text

The Emperor representing authority, establishment, structure, and a father figure.

 

1996 Momobami Estate, Japan

The Momobami family had always been well respected and influential within the Bami clan. And yet no matter how far they climbed they could never reach the very top, always falling just barely short of reaching it, never able to seize the power for themselves. For many this would be enough, they had security, luxuries, and a highly respected name for themselves. However, for the Momobamis this would never be enough. They wanted everything.

Though, to be more specific, it was never enough for Kirari and Ririka’s grandparents. Their parents never lusted after power as their own parents did. It was for that reason they wanted to leave. Soon their children would be born, Kirari and Ririka of course, and they did not want to subject them to the pain they faced within the clan. Always forced to make decisions in favor of receiving power instead in favor of people, in favor of happiness. Constantly hurting and being hurt in revenge. 

This was no way to live, no way to raise children, it needed to end. Their lives needed to be better for their children.

They may have gotten away with escaping too, if events had unfolded differently. Maybe if it was just one child instead of identical twins or maybe if they were fated to be born another day. Maybe if their luck been better.

But as it worked out Kirari and Ririka would grow up without their parents, their roles filled by their grandparents. Though, to say they filled that roll would mean they raised and treated them well. That was not the case.

There was a plan in place to escape the day the twins were born. However, as with how most things end in the Momobami family, tragedy struck. 

It all began with the girls being born weeks early, on a day of one of the worst storms the estate had seen in years. There was no way to get Lady Momobami to the hospital. Though, luckily, there were maids trained in childbirth there to help. Unfortunately, there was nothing any of them could do to save Lady Momobami from her fate. In the end they were only able to save the baby and to everyone’s surprise another one. So, with the surprise of twins also came with the sudden passing of their mother. Dying to give both girls life.

Their father would soon meet the same fate. The small private plane he used to rush home for the birth of, to his knowledge, his sole daughter and what he hoped to be a rescue for his new family, crashing before it could even make it down the runway. Never knowing he also had a second daughter. The last hope for the twins going up in flames.

2000 Momobami Estate, Japan

At four years old the twins had never left the estate. Their grandparents had forbidden them from seeing the outside world in any shape or form. The only taste they ever had of it was when their extended family would sometimes visit to talk relations or strategies or whatever they gossiped about when they visited. Their grandparents would choose one of the twins, the one that had been deemed the best of the two during that month, to see the cousins that visited. They were never allowed to be seen together at the same time, causing the other sister to be banished and locked away in their room for the rest of the visit. Only to be plagued by the happy screaming of the children that drifted in through the window from outside. 

Pretty quickly after learning how to walk and use their own voice the twins discovered that if they imitated each other well enough neither their grandparents nor their teachers could tell the difference between the two of them. It first began to escape punishment for not succeeding well enough in their tasks for the day. Whether that be their subjects, gambles, or mind games their grandparents had them study. 

Kirari exceedingly excelled in strategy games and gambles while struggling with her school subjects. While Ririka exceedingly excelled in her school subjects while struggling with strategy games, though gambles were a whole other problem all together. Her emotions always showed plainly on her face while even as a child Kirari was able to smirk her way through any situation. It was only when she began imitating Kirari was she able to finally keep her emotions concealed. 

That, however, was exactly the reason they were discovered. Both girls desperately wanted to escape the brutal beatings they had to endure as punishment. So, they did what any twins would do, they protected each other. They began to switch. At first it was only sometimes, Kirari would do a gamble for Ririka while she went and took a test for Kirari. But quickly it became more and more often.

Both girls became masters at becoming mirror images of each other, able to copy each other's tics and habits perfectly. This uncanniness was what ended up giving them away. Ririka used this newfound power in her gambles in order to avoid giving away any emotion on her face. 

As the one who taught the girls how to gamble their grandfather noticed this shift. He for a moment almost believed he was gambling with Kirari before remembering it was supposed to be Ririka. This gave away their trick and soon both grandparents knew what the twins were doing. 

While they realized they could use this to their advantage, the twins did not escape punishment. Even though she was older, as the one caught, Ririka was deemed the lesser of the two twins, leaving Kirari as the official Momobami heir. Ririka was also taken aside to the bear the punishments of their trick for the two. A metal seal with the Momobami crest etched onto it was heated in the flames by their grandfather as the young girl screamed in fear. 

The mottled scar of the crest rested just below the ribcage on the older twin, forever telling the two apart.

2006 Momobami Estate, Japan

At ten years old the twins had still yet to venture away from the estate, though both twins were now able to see their cousins at the same time. Their grandparents had decided this was a key time for them to practice their ability to switch and imitate each other.

With the twins older their grandparents brought in more tutors to teach the girls in school. Already being taught multiple grades above their age they excelled in their studies. They were also taught more gambles, some with higher stakes than others. 

A coin toss was one of them. Such a simple gamble with little to no way to cheat or so you would think looking at it on surface. But that was the key in and of itself, the minute differences between each side of the surface of the coin. In order to learn to distinguish those differences, their grandparents would lock them in a closet taking away all of their senses except touch. Only to open it hours later for them to flip the coin, if they were able to accurately predict it, they were able to come out, if not they were banished for another several hours to the darkness.

Throughout their childhood the number one thing the twins were taught was that power comes before anything. Without power you are vulnerable, people will hurt you, take advantage of you, use you. In any situation, any game, the twins were to gain as much power as they could by any means necessary.

So, the twins learned with power comes protection and a break from the abuse. 

2008 The Hundred Devouring Families’ Estate, Japan

At twelve years old the twins had still never left the estate but were regularly left by themselves there. Of course, there were still the maids, chefs, and tutors there but none of them ever interreacted with the girls beyond what was expected of them. They only ever had each other during those times starving for any sort of entertainment. Kirari would busy herself with the family fish tank that sat in one of the living rooms, watching the fish swim round and round for hours. During those times Ririka would sneak her way around the estate, usually to one of the service rooms. Peaking through the doorway to watch whatever the maids were watching on their break. More often than not it was old plays where actors wore intricate masks to display one specific emotion and cover the rest.

[] 

Nearing their thirteenth birthdays, the girls left the estate for the first time. Their grandparents took them on a trip the Hundred Devouring Families’ Estate where the head family of the clan resided. 

Ririka rested her head on the back of the seat, looking out the small window of the plane next to her, seeing the world for the first time. All the while Kirari restlessly tapped on their shared armrest next to them. “So, you need us to do what?” Her sister smirked at their grandparents who sat side by side in front of them, slightly cocky at the request. They had never needed them to do something, it was always a demand. A need was something entirely new, almost foreign to the twins. Something exploitable.

Grandfather rubbed his face tiredly, “The two of you are going to challenge the head family to a gamble.” Ririka continued to look out the window uninterested in the conversation. He slammed his hand on the table separating them, “RIRIKA!” Both girls flinched at him yelling, Ririka especially startling out of her daydream, “Look at me, I need the two of you to focus okay?” He only started speaking again when he was sure the twins were focused on him, “This is what we have been preparing you two for your whole lives. You are more than capable of winning and taking their title of head of the family for us. It’s about time for the Momobamis to seize power.”

Ririka glanced at her twin, she could tell she was annoyed by their grandparent’s obsession of power. Of course, Kirari never let it show, it was a secret between the two of them. 

Their grandmother spoke up, “You will have to win two gambles. Kirari will go in first with your Grandfather, she will challenge the current head of the family to a gamble for the title. The head of the family will choose the first gamble, afterwards Kirari will choose the second gamble.” Kirari started staring off through the window suddenly enamored by the scenery below, her curiosity getting the better of her. Ririka could see a subtle look of awe on her face, “Kirari!” Grandmother snapped her fingers in front of the twin’s face causing her to jump, “Focus! The gamble you will choose is to tell the two of you apart, got it?” 

The twins nodded, understanding what they had to do. Grandfather pointed an accusatory finger at Kirari, “No fooling around, got it? You win the gambles and that’s it, no toying with them. Do not mess this up for us.” He punctuated each word with an increasingly aggressive tap on the table. 

Ririka watched her twin’s smirk disappear and press into a hard line, “Understood.” 

Grandfather narrowed his eyes at the two before getting up and heading to another seat on the small private plane. Soon after, Grandmother shook her head at them before following.

Kirari got up out of her seat moving around the table to drop into the seat in front of Ririka. She slumped against the wall resting her head on her hand and gazing out the window. “The world is so much smaller than I thought it would be.” She mumbled quietly.

[]

Several hours ago, they had gotten off the plane and made the long trip by car to the Hundred Devouring Families’ estate. They had just begun to pull up to the entrance to the sprawling home. It was a traditional Japanese style with a large garden encompassing it. Ririka nearly pressed her nose against the car window in curiosity, the only person she could see was a young girl working in the garden. 

The car pulled to a gentle stop at the entrance. “Kirari, do you know what you have to do?” Grandfather asked.

“Yes sir.” A hint of bitterness creeped into her voice.

He suddenly whipped himself around to face Kirari, snatching her chin in an iron grip. Kirari squirmed in pain as he stared menacingly into her eyes, “You know the consequences of failure.” Kirari nodded as much as she could in response, rubbing her chin as soon as he let go.

They both exited the car soon after to enter into the estate to begin the plan. Ririka was left alone in the car with her grandmother, creating a nearly suffocating silence between the two of them.

They sat in silence for around thirty minutes before Grandfather came back to retrieve the two of them. As they walked through the estate Ririka tried to soak up as much of it as she could. She had never left their home before let alone been in such a different place. She could see the sun setting in the distance creating a mix of colors she had never seen before. This place was so much lighter than their home. She breathed in the less suffocating atmosphere feeling her shoulders relax for the first time maybe ever. At least until she felt her grandmother harshly grab her arm and hiss, “Focus.” And practically being dragged the rest of the way there, leaving the beautiful sunset behind. 

Ririka was unceremoniously pulled through the sliding door and lead to where Kirari was sitting. As usual they both already looked completely identical, sporting matching kimonos with their hair down. 

“Did you win the gamble?” Ririka whispered as she quickly copied Kirari’s position and expression while sitting down beside her.

“Of course,” The other twin smirked, “Do you really have that little faith in me dear sister? Though for the next gamble we aren’t facing the head of the family.”

“What do you mean?” Her eyebrows pinched together in confusion.

“We only have a few minutes before they come in again, but the other family thought it wouldn’t be fair since they had never met the two of us before.” Kirari shrugged indifferently, “So they decided to have their daughter do the gamble. Doesn’t matter though, they’re still going to lose.”

The door to the room opened as soon as Kirari’s explanation ended. Both twins turned to smirk at the family entering. They gestured to the room before them together, speaking in unison, “Please have a seat.” 

The young girl in front of them sighed and muttered under her breath, “Of course there’s two of you.” She sent a glare at the twins.

“Now Terano,” Kirari started.

“There’s no need for malice between us.” Ririka finished.

“After all,” They continued together, a wicked glint in their eyes, “We are family after all.”

“Let’s skip the pleasantries I would like to get this gamble over with.” The young girl narrowed her eyes at the twins.

“Of course,” Ririka spoke this time.

“Let us gamble then.” Kirari continued.

“Our question for you is: which one is me?” They finished in unison. 

“I’m assumimg you mean Kirari?” The twins nodded together. 

Ternao studied the twins for a moment, eyes flicking back and forth between the two of them, looking for any subtle difference between the two. Suddenly she paused closing her eyes in thought. “Tch, this is too easy.” She turned her nose up in disgust at the girls in front of her, “Obviously you’re Kirari. I can practically smell the evil coming off of you. Sorry Ririka, you’re nearly identical but you don’t have the same foreboding presence as your sister.”

The twins looked at the finger pointed at them, more specifically pointing at Ririka. They smirked at the same time; their grandparents began to laugh manically behind them. For the last time the twins spoke in unison, “Unfortunately, dear cousin, it seems you’ve lost.” 

Shock flashed across Terano’s features and a cold sweat formed on her forehead, the color draining from her face as the young girl realized the implication of her loss. “There’s no way! You’re lying!” Terano’s mother yelled from the corner she had previously been sitting in quietly.

The twin’s grandfather stepped forward raising a hand to quiet Lady Totobami. “I informed your husband before the gamble that Ririka has a mark distinguishing her from Kirari.”

Totobami nodded, “A mark below her ribcage correct?”

Grandfather nodded and turned towards the twins, “Girls show them.”

Both twins untied their kimonos just enough to reveal the patch of skin just below their ribcage. There sat, only on Ririka, the now almost indistinguishable shape of the Momobami crest that had been burned into her skin.

Grandfather smirked, “You lose.”

2010 New Location of the Hundred Devouring Families’ Estate (Previously Known as the Momobami Estate), Japan

Ririka was on the floor holding her mouth, she only vaguely registered the blood slowly dripping onto her hand. Her focus was almost entirely on the scene in front of her, barely distracted by the white-hot pain flaring in her jaw. Kirari had just stood up so quickly she knocked her chair backwards and was now glaring so hard at their grandfather her eyes almost seemed to be on fire. “That is enough!” Her twin yelled, “That is the last time you will ever lay a hand on either of us.” 

“How dare you talk back to me like that!” He slammed his hand on the table causing everything on top of it to rattle.

“No,” Kirari’s voice was low and menacing, “How dare you.” She pulled out her phone from her pocket dialing the first number on speed dial. “It’s time.” She said into the phone before closing it again.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Grandfather screamed down at the twin that was now smirking in front of him.

“You see,” Eyes alight in superiority, “Since my dear sister and I won that gamble for the title of head of the clan, that means we’re the head of the family,” She gestured to herself and Ririka on the ground, “Not you.”

The color drained out of his face, “There’s no way, you’re children. That would never be allowed.”

Kirari laughed in response, “You see about that, I already went and spoke to the clan about it. Turns out they agree with us.” Kirari laughed bitterly, “The only thing they hate more than us is you.” She tilted her head at their grandfather, “You lose .” She echoed the same words he used two years ago mockingly. “Oh, and as my first act as head of the family,” Her smirk grew, “You’re banished. If you are ever caught on any Bami land, security will be sure to take care of you as they see fit.” She looked at her watch, “Speaking of, you have about one minute before they get here. I would move rather fast if I was you, they are ordered to use as much force as they seem fit.” 

“You disgusting little child, how dare you! After everything I’ve done for you two!”

Ririka spoke up for the first time on the ground all emotion leaving her voice and face, “No. You used us because you’re weak. You were never able to win on your own. We won the title of clan leader and we will do what we see fit with you.” 

In the end it took security to drag him off of the estate along with their grandmother who was caught attempting to steal some of the family heirlooms before escaping. 

Kirari sighed pulling out a wrapped package out of one of the drawers, “Now that that nuisance has been taken care of, I have a gift for you.” She kneeled down next to her twin smiling softly at her.

Ririka took the package curiously not hesitating to rip up the wrapping paper. It revealed an unassuming black box, lifting the lid carefully she gasped. In the box lay a beautiful white theatrical mask with a smiling face. She threw her arms around her sister in thanks, whispering, “Happy birthday Rari.”

“Happy birthday Riri.” 

2012 Hyakkaou Private Academy, Japan

Ririka watched behind her mask as Kirari dealt the final blow to the current president of the academy. It was so much easier than either of them thought it was going to be. Kirari seemed as if she wanted a challenge, clearly already bored with this outcome. Ever since they had finally escaped the iron chains their grandparents had locked them in, Kirari had an insatiable curiosity for the world. Ririka sighed silently at her sister, at this rate nothing would ever entertain her.

Minutes later they made their way to their new student council room. “Ririka what do think about implementing a new system of gambling?” 

Ririka hummed in response already mildly uninterested, “What sort of system?”

Kirari gestured around the room, “This academy is my new fish tank and I want to stir it up a bit. What about implementing a system where those who are indebted due to a gamble become essentially servants to the other students. This would raise the stakes of each gamble to a new height, I’m sure it would be interesting to watch.”

Ririka shook her head at her sister knowing the true meaning behind her new system, she was doing this to protect herself. To protect them. By adding even higher stakes to gambles it secured their position at the top that much more, ensuring they could not be hurt as they were in the past.

Kirari smirked, “I think I’ll call it, the house pet system.”

Chapter Text

The High Priestess representing intuition, sacred knowledge, divine feminine, the subconscious mind.

 

It felt wrong, for such a story to be told in a bathroom of all places. Mary watched Ririka through the mirror as she slowly brushed out the older girl’s hair. The braids she had previously worn made her hair fall in soft waves in front of her chest. Mary thought she looked like a painting, almost too beautiful to be real. The harsh lighting of the bathroom made her hair look like silver as it shone, giving her an ethereal look. 

She was an angel, Mary decided, one that had been cast out of her heaven, never knowing a true home, cast aside by her family nearly the moment she was born. Mary had known that the older girl had a rough childhood, she was raised to be a Momobami after all, but she never expected this.

Mary watched a single tear slowly make its way down Ririka’s cheek. The blonde felt a pain deep inside her chest, her heart broke for the girl in front of her. But that pain quickly lit a fire inside her, how dare anyone, especially her family treat Ririka this way. She was kind, sweet, and so loving especially for being raised in the environment she was in. Put into the positions she was put into; it was by far a miracle that Ririka had any love left in her heart. 

Mary leaned over, locking eyes with Ririka. She cupped the older girl’s face and wiped the tear away with her thumb, whispering, “Fuck them. They didn’t deserve you anyway.” 

Ririka leaned into the blonde’s hand, a small laugh bubbling out and a small smile pulling at her lips, “Thank you, Mary.”

A light blush coated her cheeks as she let her hands fall and looked away, “You know you didn’t have to tell me all of that.” She said with annoyance in her voice, she switched to a softer tone, “I’m sure it’s not something you usually share.” Guilt plucked away at her; she felt like she had pushed the older girl into telling her.

“No,” Ririka shook her head, “I wanted to tell you. I trust you… And I want you to trust me.” She met Mary’s gaze head-on. Eyes so light it was like you were looking into the sky on a perfect summer day. She felt herself fall into them, completely losing her train of thought.

“I- I do.” The blonde whispered. For once, she actually meant it. Mary shook her head, trying to get out of the daze. “So, Kirari makes you wear the mask? That’s pretty cold even for her.” She scoffed, projecting her frustrations on the girl’s sister.

Ririka’s eyebrows pinched together in confusion, “What are you talking about? It’s my choice to wear the mask. She gave it to me as a gift.”

“Why would you wear it then?!” Mary felt confusion bubbling inside her, all this time she thought Kirari was controlling Ririka.

“Well,” the older girl's gaze dropped as she bit her lip, “I want to be able to help Kirari as much as I can. So, I wear the mask so we can switch whenever we need to.”

Mary’s eyes narrowed at her, “Bullshit.”

Ririka looked up at her in shock, “I-”

“You don’t have to tell me but don’t bullshit me Riri, be honest.” The blonde looked into her eyes and she could just tell that wasn’t the whole truth. There was a deep sadness clouding over her expression, giving away that there was something else. 

The older girl paused for a moment, clearly surprised at having been called out. “I,” she whispered, “I feel like a monster. I mean, it is what I was raised to be, something that does not feel or show emotion, something with no regard for others.” Her eyes glossed over with tears, “I- How could I show my face after that?” A sob bubbled up in her throat. She whispered, “I’ve had to do so many horrible things, Mary. What gives me the right to face the world after everything I’ve done.” The tears finally spilled over and streamed down her face as she looked at Mary with the weight of her family’s sins on her shoulders.

Mary tried to swallow the lump that had formed in her throat. There was so much pain and agony on Ririka’s face, it was obvious how much this affected her. She felt so much anger in her at the people who had done this to Ririka, they had forced her to become something she clearly was not. Without thinking she wrapped her arms around the older girl’s shoulders and pulled her into her chest. “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by monsters you have to act like one to survive. But that doesn’t make you one of them, it makes you strong.”

Ririka hung on tight to the back of Mary’s jacket, feeling as if she was falling. It was deep and unknown, but it caused warmth to blossom in her chest as the tears freely fell from her eyes and sobs bubbled up and finally released from her mouth. 

[]

“Good morning Hyakkaou Academy!” A small girl spun onto the screen in a rolling chair while sucking on a lollipop. “Runa Yomozuki here to give you the latest updates on the election!” She pulled the lollipop out of her mouth with a pop and pointed it at the screen. “Unfortunately, we will not have the contestants here in person anymore after the incident last time. Sayaka nearly ripped out Yumeko’s hair, we can’t have that happening on campus especially as things start to really heat up, nyahahaha!”

Ririka fidgeted with her hand as Mary sighed impatiently. The two girls were waiting for morning classes to start in one of the abandoned tea rooms on campus. They had turned on the T.V to watch the latest election update. To say Mary seemed a little on edge would be an understatement, “Jeez! Will that grade-schooler hurry up already!” Ririka giggled as she watched the blonde pace angrily in front of the couch she was sitting on. 

“The election is finally beginning to come to a close! Most gambling is starting to wrap up as all the votes are collected with only eight different people.” Various videos of students gambling around the academy started to play on the screen. The gamble they played against the Obami brothers played too. Ririka’s hauntingly blank expression looked back at them through the screen for a few seconds before disappearing in favor of another gamble.

Mary once again passed in front of Ririka as she walked the length of the room. “Mary,” She reached out and gently grabbed her hand, “Sit down, nothing’s being decided yet.” She gently tugged on the hand she was holding, guiding the blonde to sit next to her on the couch. Mary grumbled out something unintelligible but complied, throwing herself down with a dramatic huff.

“Here are the current election standings!” An infographic popped up next to Runa as she gestured wildly with her lollipop and named each contestant, showing their name and vote count. “In last place, we have Miyo Inbami with 61 votes! In seventh place, we have Yumemi Yumemite with 144 votes! In sixth place just barely ahead is Ririka Momobami with 155 votes! In fifth place is Mary Saotome with 173 votes! Fourth place is Yuriko Nishinotouin with 200 votes! Third place we have Yumeko Jabami with 262 votes. In second place with a huge gap, we have our very own President Kirari Momobami with 578 votes! Then finally in first place, we have Terano Totobami blowing the competition out of the water with 649 votes! Wow, that’s a lot of votes!”

Ririka unconsciously tensed up at the name of her cousin. “Ugh! It’s pretty much exactly what we expected.” Mary groaned out, throwing her head back dramatically on the back of the couch. 

“We will be conducting the final gamble next week and will only be taking the top four contestants! Nyahaha, better collect those votes fast.” Runa looked at something off-screen, a look of wonder crossing her face as she put the lollipop back in her mouth. “Wait! Just in!” The lollipop unceremoniously dropped out of her mouth in her surprise. “Another gamble just wrapped up now! Miyo Inbami is out of the election! All of her votes went to Yumeko Jabami!” Live feed popped up showing Miyo looking shocked and devastated. Cards were strewn across the room as if they had been thrown in a fit of anger. Across the table sat Yumeko with the glowing red eyes of a demon, a smirk playing on her face.

Mary jumped out of her seat angrily pointing at the screen, “Damnit Yumeko!” 

Ririka tugged desperately at the hem of Mary’s jacket trying to get her to sit back down. “Mary, calm down.” 

“Nyahahaha!” Runa’s unsettling laugh filled the room before the screen went blank as Ririka turned it off.

The blonde sat back down with a huff and crossed her arms, “We need to do something about her.” Mary glanced at Ririka who had a small smile playing on her lips, unconsciously she could feel the corner of her mouth start to tug up in a small smile too. She narrowed her eyes playfully at the other girl before asking, “What are you thinking?”

Her eyes flashed with mischief, not unlike her twin. “During student council meetings Yumemi has been complaining about not having anyone to gamble against for her concert later this week. She said she didn’t want to go up against Kirari or Terano yet. And she didn’t want to face Miyo either because,” She held up air quotes and made her voice higher to imitate Yumemi, “'Being poisoned is terrible for your skin and as an idol, I can’t afford that.'” Ririka's smile tugged at her lips again, “She also mentioned that the Dreaming Creaming Sisters are a huge ticket seller.” 

An involuntary shudder ran down Mary’s spine as she cringed, “That’s seriously the worst name.”

A laugh erupted from Ririka as she brought a hand up to cover her mouth, “I know. Don’t worry I’ll handle this.”

[]

Ririka opened the door to the student council room, hoping to meet with Yumemi before the student council meeting scheduled later that day. She looked around not seeing anyone around the table or in front of the aquarium. Hearing faint voices from the President’s personal office she decided that was the next best place to check.  

Unsurprisingly the door opened to reveal Kirari leaning over a working Sayaka sitting at the President’s desk. “Ah Ririka,” Kirari looked up, noticing her sister’s presence, “You’re here early. I thought the meeting didn’t start for another thirty minutes.”

“I’m looking for Yumemi, have either of you seen her?” The robotic voice of the mask made the words more ominous.

“She said she was going to ask Yuriko to gamble with her during her concert at the end of the week, Vice President,” Sayaka said.

Ririka’s eyebrows pinched together in mild annoyance. “Why do you ask dear sister? Were you hoping to schedule another gamble? The stakes do seem to be ramping up rather quickly.”

“Yes, Mary and I were hoping to gamble with her and Yumeko.” She pursed her lips in thought, it seems they would have to come up with a new plan.

“Well in that case I will need you to take my place at the student council meeting today,” Kirari smirked, obviously already plotting something with the mischievous look in her eye. 

Sayaka looked up shocked at the declaration, “But President-”

Ririka cut her off, “Why?”

Kirari’s smirk grew and placed her hand comfortingly on her secretary’s back. “Because I’m going to gamble with Yuriko of course.”

“And why does that require us to switch?” 

A predatory smile grew on her face, “When Yumemi finds me gambling with Yuriko I will send her back to the student council room to wait for me of course. You will be waiting there as me and arrange your gamble.” 

“How does that make sense?” Ririka tilted her head in confusion, “She’ll think you’re away gambling with Yuriko and then come to find another you?”

“Exactly! I think it would be very amusing to see how she’ll react.” Kirari smiled in delight at the idea.

Ririka rolled her eyes, “Alright. We better change the meeting will be starting soon.”

[]

“I will never understand how you wear this mask all day it is so stuffy.” The robotic sound of Kirari’s voice filtered out of the mask.

Ririka chuckled feeling the gentle tugging of Sayaka braiding her hair as she applied the blue makeup. “Maybe we should switch more often so you can get used to it.”

Kirari pulled the mask off to send an unamused smile at her sister. Before she could make a biting remark Sayaka tied up the last braid. “All done, Vice President. Perfect timing too it seems.” 

They could already hear the muffled voices of the student council through the door. Kirari set the mask back on her face, “Are you, ready President?”

Kirari’s signature smirk pulled at Ririka’s lips, “Always Vice President.”

About an hour later the meeting finally wrapped up. Half of the student council was left putting away their paperwork and getting ready to head home for the day. Kirari still stood by Ririka’s side waiting for Yuriko to leave the room so she could challenge her. 

Just as Yuriko was about to pull open the door to leave, someone else pushed it open. Mary strode through the door looking as confident as always. “Ririka! I need to talk to you.” 

Kirari tilted her head in response walking over to the girl. Ririka had frozen, a neutral expression on her face, unsure what her sister would do and powerless to do anything to stop it. Yuriko had already left the room and their window of opportunity was slowly beginning to slip away.

“Sorry Mary, I’m a bit preoccupied at the moment. I will speak to you later.” With that, she gently grabbed the blonde’s arm and pressed the front of her mask to Mary’s cheek as if to give her a kiss. Subconsciously Ririka slid down slightly in her seat out of embarrassment as she watched Mary’s cheeks light up in a bright blush. 

The blonde could barely get anything out before Kirari slipped out of the room quickly. “Wha- What was that!” She threw a threatening glance at Ririka exiting the room just as quickly as she entered. 

Ririka looked around at the remaining student council’s confused and shocked expressions. She waited for them all to leave before looking over at Sayaka to gauge her reaction to her twin’s antics. To her surprise, there was no change. “I would have thought you would have reacted to something like that.”

Sayaka shrugged, “I know Kirari is just pretending to be you. After all, you and Saotome are dating so something like that is to be expected.”

The older girl slapped her palm on the table, “Excuse me, we're what?”

“Kirari said you and Mary Saotome are dating?” The secretary glanced side to side in a slight panic, looking for an escape.

Ririka frowned, “We’re not dating.”

“O-oh! My apologies, Vice President.” Sayaka said with a slight bow.

“It’s alright, that was Kirari’s doing after all.” Ririka rubbed her face tiredly.

Before anything else could be said a rather unamused Yumemi burst into the student council room. She froze as soon as she entered, eyes wide not expecting to see ‘Kirari’ again. “How did you get here so quickly? Did you change your mind about the gamble?” 

“I already finished the gamble of course,” Ririka smirked.

“Already? That’s a fast gamble even for you. How did you even beat me walking here?” Yumemi narrowed her eyes conspiratorially, “Are the rumors about the secret tunnels true?”

Ririka’s eyes flashed darkly. “Do not underestimate my gambling abilities, Yumemi.”

The idol swallowed thickly. “Of course not President!” She faked a bright smile.

Ririka waved her off, “I have a proposition for you. I know you were supposed to gamble against Yuriko at your concert later this week but unfortunately, she is no longer in the running for the election.” Yumemi nodded stiffly at Ririka’s dangerous smile. “So, how about I arrange for you to gamble against the Vice President and Mary Saotome instead. Of course, you will have Yumeko Jabami as your partner.”

“The- The Vice President?” Yumemi paled slightly.

“Yes, will that be a problem?”

“No! No, of course not!” There was a slight panic in her voice.

Ririka smiled amused, “Good, then I look forward to watching your gamble.”

Chapter Text

The Chariot representing control, willpower, success, action, and determination.

 

The distant sound of the concert and cheering crowd drifted through the shut door. They were waiting for the musical part of the concert to end so they could begin the gamble. Yumeko and Yumemi were currently singing and dancing on the stage in front of the most likely huge crowd of students. 

“This is so stupid!” Mary growled out. “At you least, you can pull off the outfit,” She gestured to Ririka, “I look so dumb! I can’t believe they’re making us wear this stupid get-up!” 

Both girls had been forced to wear matching sailing uniforms for the gamble they were about to participate in. Obviously, neither girl was very happy about it. Ririka, at least, was still allowed to wear her mask.

Ririka shrugged in response, glancing at Mary in her uniform. She had to admit she looked pretty cute in the dark blue. “You don’t look stupid, Mary. Besides, just think of all the votes we’ll have after we defeat them.” 

Mary smirked at that thought, “You’re right, I can’t wait to cream Yumeko. I need to pay her back for beating me that one time earlier in the semester.” The cheers got louder as the music gradually began to fade away, signaling the end of the concert. “Finally!” Mary threw her head onto the back of the couch they sat on. “Now we just have to wait for them to set up the gamble.” She crossed her arms, grumbling to herself.

Several minutes later Yumeko, Yumemi, and an election official walked into the room. The other girls also had matching sailing costumes for the concert and gamble. Mary couldn’t help but think they all looked stupid. Except maybe Ririka her hair went well with the uniform, yea that was it. Not like she looked really beautiful all the time no matter what she wore or anything. 

Yumeko clapped her hands in excitement, “That concert was so fun! Now I’m even more excited to get started with this gamble!” 

Yumemi smiled brightly and winked, “I’m so glad you enjoyed it!” Her expression went dark, “I can’t wait to crush these two in the gamble.”

Before either girl could respond, the election committee representative introduced herself, “Hello everyone, I am Rumia Uru from the election committee. I will be explaining the rules for your gamble today.” The sleepy-looking girl seemed to take forever in pronouncing each word. Mary tapped her foot anxiously causing Ririka to set a hand on her thigh. “I and other committee members will be monitoring your gamble from the audience to assure everything is fair.” 

“Yea, yea! Get on with it! What’s the gamble?” Mary was already sick of the committee member. 

“Mary,” Ririka whispered warningly, causing the blonde to sink down slightly in her seat while grumbling. 

Yumemi smirked darkly, obviously plotting something, as Rumia answered Mary, “You will be playing Battleship!” 

Mary scowled, “So that explains the outfits.”

Yumemi giggled, “Yea! Aren’t they just so cute!”

“They really are!” Yumeko giggled back.

The two girls walked over and sat down on the couch across from them. “Ugh,” Mary groaned, “Get a room you two.” Yumeko only giggled and winked at Mary in response, causing Ririka to shift uncomfortably. 

Rumia stood in front of each pair, “Each team will have four ships,” She held up two fingers on each hand, “Two will be decoy ships and the other two will each hold one of you. To win the gamble you must take out both ships holding the other team’s gamblers. You are not required to take out the decoy ships and you will not win if you destroy only them.” She smiled too sweetly for her words, “The losing team will give up all of their votes to the winning team. Each team will place their ships on any open spot on the five-by-six grid. You will take turns selecting a grid square to bomb and will know if you get a hit or miss. Any questions?” Both groups shook their heads. “Perfect!” Rumia pulled two small tablets out of her jacket, “You will use these to select the spots for your boats. Jabami and Yumemite please follow me to the other room so you can each have your privacy.” 

Both girls walked out to the stage side by side. Mary groaned, immediately blinded by the spotlights. Neither of them was able to hear the large crowd of students due to the noise-canceling headphones they were given to be able to talk privately with each other. 

Mary raised her hand up to block out the bright lights, “Of course they were this extra.” She looked out onto the stage. It was divided into two halves by a large curtain with a view of a fake ocean on it. In front of the curtain sat their grid with the four boats, each was easily large enough to stand in. Mary wouldn’t have been surprised if they were actually real boats too. 

The girls parted ways as they climbed up into their separate boats. At the front sat a shelf with a tablet in it. The screen showed a virtual bird’s eye view of the grids, they were able to see the location of their boats, but the other grid was blank. She assumed a large screen out of their view showed the audience the locations of both team’s boats. Mary looked at Ririka in her mask, “Jeez! How big was the budget for this gamble?” The older girl simply shrugged in response.

The excited voice of the announcer sounded through their head, “Are you ready to gamble!” He yelled in a singsong voice addressing the crowd, Mary could only imagine the screams of the crowd. “We will now flip a coin to decide who will go first!” The screen changed from the grids to a virtual coin flip, one side of the coin had a cartoon version of Mary’s face and the other had Yumemi’s. The coin flipped on the screen before slowing down and settling on Yumemi’s face. “Looks like Yumemi and Yumeko will go first!” 

“Shit,” Mary whispered. 

“It’ll be fine, the likelihood of them getting a hit this early is unlikely.” 

Their side of the grid went dark as the other side lit up. A cartoon sound of an explosion sounded as Yumemi and Yumeko set off their first shot. A red target danced around the screen before finally slowing down then disappearing. “What? Where did the shot go?” 

Her question was answered as both girls noticed a heavy balloon fall from the rafters above of them landing on B6, red paint exploding on the ship. “Damnit!” A red X lit up over the screen, signaling a hit on their ship. 

Moments later they heard another shot fire. Both girls held their breath watching the rafters for the balloon. They barely had to wait a second before it fell, landing with a huge splat of white paint on the ground on B5. A white X appeared on their screen a miss, they both breathed a sigh of relief. 

“Well at least they’ll be distracted?” Ririka offered.

“I guess,” She scoffed, “Where should we send our first shot?” 

“Hm, well each ship takes up two grid spaces so if we hit every other square, we should be able to find all of their ships?” 

Mary shrugged, “Sounds like a good plan to start with. Want me to do the honors?” Ririka nodded and Mary looked to the grid selecting B1. Moments later they heard their shot fire and waited for the result. 

A white X appeared on the screen, a miss. Mary stomped her foot in anger, “We’re already behind!”

 “It was only our first shot, we’ll catch up.” She could hear the determination in her voice despite the voice modulation. Mary nodded as the next shot fired.

Moments later the balloon appeared in the sky at the far corner of the grid, A6 hit, sinking one of their ships and covering it with red paint. A cartoon ship on fire buoyed up on the screen, showing the location of the sunken ship.

Another shot was fired moments later, both girls watched the rafters with bated breath. It appeared above both of their heads causing them both to scramble to the back of their boats. It landed with a huge splat on D3, splattering the front of their boats with white paint. They cautiously peered over the edge, “Well that was close.”

The game continued on the same for a while. Mary and Ririka took their next turn, D1, miss. The other team returned fire, E5, miss. 

E1, miss. 

B3, miss.

C4, miss. Their fourth miss in a row.

Yumeko and Yumemi fired their next shot, the balloon appearing overhead uncomfortably close. 

C2, hit. A sharp yelp sounded through Mary’s headphones as Ririka backed away as far as she could and ducked down to avoid the splattering red paint. “Shit! Are you okay?”

The other girl’s head popped up from under the walls of her boat, sending a shaky thumbs up at Mary. The blonde could see red paint on her usually pristine white mask. It would have been comical if tensions hadn’t been so high. 

Another shot sounded off as Ririka backed herself into the already hit corner of the boat in an attempt to avoid more paint.

C3, hit. Red paint exploded on the decoy boat in front of both girls. Mary quickly tried to duck behind the lip of the boat to avoid it. 

Another shot boomed through their headphones.

C4, hit, another sunken ship appeared on the screen.

Their second decoy sunk.

BOOM, another shot went off causing Ririka to scramble back to the corner again. 

C5, miss.

Mary breathed a sigh of relief at the onslaught finally ending. She glanced at the other girl, watching her also visibly relax.

“Shit, Riri this isn’t working! We have to try something else! They’ve already sunk two of our ships and we haven’t hit anything!” Her mind scrambled to find a solution.

Ririka looked around seemingly frazzled, “They seem to just be choosing at random?” She guessed, “Try choosing a random square.” 

Mary launched off another shot.

C4, miss.

“Fuck!” She slammed her hand on the table in frustration.

BOOM, they heard another shot go off. Both girls looked panickily at the sky, watching the balloon fall through the air dangerously close to Ririka’s boat. 

B2, hit. The older girl flinched back but wasn’t fast enough. The balloon exploded directly in front of her, covering her in red paint. Mary winced at the loud yelp that echoed in her headphones. She glanced at the older girl, making sure she was okay, watching as she tried to flick her arms in an attempt to get rid of some of the paint. “This is disgusting.” The older girl grumbled unhappily.

Mary laughed despite the situation, the rest of her reply cut off by the sound of another shot. 

Both girls watched the rafter again as another balloon fell down, drifting dangerously close to Mary’s boat.

D5, hit. 

Mary jumped back at the exploding paint, managing to only get mildly splattered. 

“Shit, shit, shit.” She whispered.

Another shot sounded off, another balloon once again falling dangerously close to Mary’s boat.

D6, miss.

“It doesn’t even make sense where they’re aiming their shots! Why would they aim them next to each other!”

Ririka flinched at Mary’s loud yelling and readjusted her headphones, only managing to smear more paint everywhere. “We are gambling against Yumeko…” She paused for a moment thinking before lighting up with an idea, “I know where to shoot next.”

“What where?!” BOOM , the shot went off without an answer, “Ririka!”

“Trust me!” Mary looked at the girl in the mask, wishing she wasn’t wearing it so she could look into her eyes.

“Okay, I do.” Both girls waited for the shot to land, staring at their screen.

A1, hit.

“Yes! How did you know?!” Mary screamed, smiling widely at Ririka. 

The older girl just shrugged and fired off the next shot. “It’s the stupidest place to put a ship so no one would think to shoot there. Obviously, it worked because we didn’t even fire a shot in the corner.”

A2, hit. They sank their first boat. “Great, now we just have to do that three more times.” Mary grumbled out.

Mary fired off their next shot, holding her breath. If she missed this that could mean they lose the entire gamble, their dreams of winning the election over. They would go back to being strangers in the halls, no more meeting up, no more seeing the older girl without her mask, no more risking it all together. Mary felt her chest tighten, that couldn’t happen, she wouldn’t let it. 

D3, hit. 

Mary smirked, they would pull through and win this gamble she knew it. She fired the next shot.

D4, hit.

Mary threw her hands up already celebrating the sunk ship until she realized it didn’t appear on the screen. “What happened?!”

“There must be another ship there.” Ririka offered.

Her hands became clammy with nerves as she selected the next square, D2.

They waited for the sunk ship to appear, but it never did. Mary’s heart sunk as she saw the white X on the screen. She looked over at Ririka panickily and was met by the hollow black eyes of the mask. She watched the other girl flinch as another loud shot rang in their ears.

They watched the sky as a balloon appeared close to Mary’s ship once again. The blonde closed her eyes in anticipation, waiting to be showered in red paint. She felt a small splatter hit her face as she opened her eyes, seeing white paint in front of her on the ground.

E4, miss. 

Mary felt a surge of adrenaline go through her. They had one last chance to sink the other team’s boats. Her eyes set ablaze in determination and she smirked, looking at Ririka. The older girl nodded in return, she felt herself close her eyes and fired the next shot.

BOOM, it rang through the headphones. She gripped the control panel tightly waiting for the X to appear. 

C3, hit.

The ship sank. Mary turned to grin at her partner only to see Ririka climbing out of the boat, “What are you doing? They still have two ships left.” 

The older girl stepped down onto the grid, turning to look up at Mary, pointing at her screen. “No, look! We won! We sank the two player ships!” The older girl took off her headphones, tossing them back into the boat.

All of her breath left her in a whoosh as she turned and saw the screen was lit up with the words victory! She laughed wildly, relief causing her knees to almost buckle.

She threw off her headphones and hoped out of her boat. She took two quick strides and slammed herself into Ririka, wrapping her arms around the other girl. “We did it! We won!” She yelled gleefully. 

The older girl hesitated before wrapping her arms around the other girl in return. Paint smeared between the two of them as they held each other. She chuckled gently, the mask warping the sound. “We really did.” 

Mary pushed the other girl back, holding her by the shoulders and looking into her mask. “You have paint on your mask dummy.” 

Ririka pulled her arms back, bringing a hand up to feel her mask, spreading the paint around more.

The blonde laughed at the other girl before bringing her sleeve up to wipe the paint off, “Here. You look like you belong in a horror movie.” She laughed again.

Ririka chuckled and waved the other girl off, “It’s fine, I’ll just take it off.” 

“Are you sure? We’re in front of a huge crowd though.” She glanced back, for the first time hearing the cheering crowd. She had previously been caught up in the little world she and Ririka had created, just the two of them. 

The older girl only shrugged and pulled the mask off, “It’s fine, Kirari already took the mask off at Yumemi’s concert when I was gone a while ago anyway. Besides, it sounds like Yumeko and Yumemi are distracting the crowd with something.” 

As if on cue music started playing and Yumemi’s singing soon followed along with Yumeko. Mary scoffed, “They forgot about us already, let’s just get out of here. I want to get changed out of these stupid clothes and take a shower.” 

With that Mary grabbed Ririka’s hand and dragged her off the stage. Rumia Uru was waiting for them behind the stage, smiling sleepily. “Congratulations Vice President and Mary Saotome on winning the gamble. You both will be awarded all of Yumeko Jabami and Yumemi Yumemite’s votes, totaling 467 votes!”

Mary squeezed Ririka’s hand, which she just realized she was still holding, promptly dropping it with a blush. The older girl turned to her and smiled the most genuinely happy smile she had ever seen on the girl, “We did it, Mary!”

“Nyahaha!” Runa’s maniacal laugh sounded throughout the election committee room. “Now things are getting really interesting!” She pointed her lollipop at the screen displaying the ending of the Battleship gamble. “What do you think about this President?” 

A softer than usual smile graced Kirari’s lips, “I’m very proud of my sister and her little partner. It seems the participants of the final gamble have been decided quicker than you thought.”

Runa let out a loud laugh again, "Seems so. What will you do? You still owe your support and votes to your sister?”

Kirari smirked, “Don’t worry Runa, that debt will be paid in full.”

Chapter Text

The Wheel of Fortune representing good luck, karma, life cycles, destiny, and a turning point.

 

ONE DAY BEFORE THE FINAL ELECTION GAMBLE

Mary was exhausted, so exhausted in fact, she didn’t even pay attention to the weather when getting ready that morning. That was how she ended up walking to school without a winter coat, three-quarters of the way through the walk it began to snow.

Things only went downhill from there. 

She arrived at school and something immediately felt off as she walked through the halls. Something was missing but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She passed by the student council room on her way to the library, wanting to get some studying in before class. 

Ririka.

That’s what was missing, her shadow turned friend. 

Friend. If she was being honest, she felt more than just friendly towards her, but she wasn’t going to go there yet. There were more important things to worry about, like the final gamble happening tomorrow.

The important thing was Ririka wasn’t here when she normally accompanied Mary around campus before classes. She pulled out her phone to check if she had any missed messages from the older girl. 

No notifications, odd. Usually, if she wasn’t able to meet before class, she would let Mary know. She shrugged it off, assuming she must have slept in or Kirari had her up to something. 

She made her way to the library already tired just thinking about studying. She sluggishly opened the doors and walked through the aisles of books to the seating area. What greeted her made her freeze before even leaving the aisles.

There was Ririka sitting at one of the tables with some guy she had never seen before. Obviously, he was a student, he had the school uniform on, but Mary couldn’t remember him from anywhere or any gambles. 

The blonde quickly ducked behind the books to spy on the two students. What was Ririka doing? She squinted to see them better, he was leaning so close to her their shoulders would brush occasionally. Mary’s hands unconsciously clenched in anger, who did he think he was getting that close to her?

Mary continued to seethe as she watched Ririka lean closer to him and pointed at something on the paper in front of them. 

“Whatcha lookin at?” Mary jumped a foot in the air, knocking some of the books off the bookshelf. Midari had somehow magically appeared right behind her, looking over her shoulder. 

Mary panickily whipped around to see if Ririka noticed the commotion. She was met with the two black holes of the older girl’s mask staring at her. Ririka brought a hand up to wave at Mary but the blonde was already booking it back down the aisle and out of the library.

“Wait where ya goin?” She heard Midari in the distance behind her. 

[]

Mary shivered as she stepped outside the Academy. It was finally lunchtime and she had planned to meet up with Ryota and Yumeko. Unfortunately, the spot they chose to meet was across campus, causing Mary to trek through the snow. 

She sighed, her breath puffing out in front of her. There were only a few other students making their way around outside. She heard the giggles of a couple of students who were playing in the freshly fallen snow. She looked up into the gray sky, at least it had finally stopped snowing, she thought. 

The blonde glanced around as she walked past the tall buildings. Idly she glanced into a few empty classrooms. She did a double-take as she encountered a familiar sight. She paused her walk to get a better view into the window. She squinted, trying to make out the sight, she saw the back of a girl’s head with silver-blonde hair. The girl turned revealing the white mask covering her face and a textbook in hand.

Curiosity getting the best of her she made her way over to the window. Ririka turned again and shuffled over to the side revealing the same boy she saw this morning. Mary’s eyebrows knit together in annoyance. Who was he? 

She lurked below the window trying to get a better look, but she was too short to see in. Without thinking too much about it she grabbed onto the ledge and hoisted herself up on her toes. With the extra inch, she was able to see the room better.

The boy walked over to Ririka casually leaning on the desk next to her. Mary scowled at the confident smirk on his face, what a douche , she thought. The blonde leaned closer to the window as she watched the boy lean in closer to Ririka. She was getting angrier by the second, until-

“Mary!” She heard Yumeko shout behind her. The blonde shrieked in surprise, pushing herself away from the windowsill as fast as possible. Thrown off balance by the surprise and desperate push she inelegantly fell on her back into the snow. 

“Shit,” She groaned out. She heard the window above her open and a familiar mask popped up, tilting her head in worry. Mary groaned again as she felt her phone vibrate. Of course, it was Ririka only sending her one word: stay. She threw her head back in defeat, knocking some snow into her face. 

She only laid there for a minute before the same mask popped into her view above her. “When I said stay, I didn’t mean to keep laying in the snow. Aren’t you cold?”

Mary scoffed, “No! I’m fine!” She sneezed, “Okay, maybe it’s a little cold.” 

The older girl shook her head and held out her hand to pull her out of the snow. She took the invitation and shivered at the snow falling into her shirt as she got up. Looking her over she noticed the girl was holding her winter coat. “Here,” Ririka held out the jacket.

“What no! Then you’ll just be cold!” 

Ririka shook her head, “No, it’s fine. I know you have to walk home after school today.” 

Mary blushed and took the jacket, grumbling quietly. She sighed as she noticed the large Momobami seal on it, making the owner of the jacket obvious. There were definitely going to be rumors about this, she thought as she put the jacket on.

“Why did you leave so fast this morning?” 

She froze at the question, not at all expecting it from the masked girl. “Why did you kiss me on the cheek after the student council meeting a while ago?” Mary asked defensively.

Ririka flinched at the question, “I’m sorry, that was Kirari.”

A frown formed on her face in disappointment. “Oh.” She blushed again, “I thought I was interrupting something important this morning.” She rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. 

Ririka tilted her head in confusion. “No, he had just asked for help studying. Helping students in part of my job as Vice President. We accidentally switched our textbooks this morning so had to meet up during lunch.” 

Mary blushed a deep red, “Oh.”

The older girl paused and fiddled with her hands, “Were… Were you jealous?”

“N- No! No... Shut up!” She stuttered then stormed off. She waved without looking at the girl behind her, “I promised I would meet up with Ryota and Yumeko for lunch. See you later!” Mumbling over her shoulder, “Oh, and thanks for the jacket.” 

SEVEN HOURS BEFORE THE FINAL ELECTION GAMBLE

“Good morning Hyakkaou Academy!”  Runa popped up greeting the school on the classroom T.V. “This is just a reminder that the final election gamble will be taking place today after school, featuring our current President and Vice President Kirari and Ririka Momobami, Mary Saotome, and Terano Totobami. You will be able to watch it live from any of the gambling dens on the T.Vs. We will be streaming the whole event live start to finish!” With a maniacal laugh, the screen went blank.

To say Mary was nervous for the final election gamble would be a total lie. She was excited, ready to put everything on the line to finally bring down the system that nearly broke her. And to help Ririka with whatever she needed to win for too, a small smile made its way onto her face. Even if neither of them won, everything still would have been worth it just for the friendship that they had developed. She shook her head of those thoughts; she shouldn't be thinking things like that. 

A silence suddenly made its way through the class she was sitting in. She looked around at everyone around her, confused, students were whispering quietly among themselves and glancing timidly at the door. Mary jerked her head around, looking at the doorway, greeted by the familiar smiling mask.

“Mary Saotome,” The hushed whispers went completely silent as all eyes fell on her, “The President wishes to see you.” 

“Tsch no thanks.” She didn’t want to answer her summons, especially not after what happened last time. The powerless feeling as Kirari gripped her face as if she held her life in the palm of her hand. 

“I would also like to talk to you as well.” Ririka requested. 

Mary squirmed in her seat and immediately softened with a light blush, relenting with a deep sigh. She stood up out of her seat and made her way to the front of the classroom. The whispers picked up again, no doubt there would be rumors floating around by lunch. Not to mention she was still in possession of a Momobami winter coat.

She heard one girl’s distinct whisper over the others, “You know, I heard she wears the mask because she’s super ugl-” Mary didn’t even let her finish the sentence, pushing the girl out of her seat as she walked by not even sparing her a glance. She fell with an indignant screech and scoff once she was on the ground. Mary smirked satisfied as she met Ririka at the door. 

“Take me to her highness.” The blonde sneered sarcastically.

Ririka nodded, opening the door for her. Once it shut, she spoke up again, “Was it really necessary to push a student out of their desk?”

Mary smirked, “Absolutely.”

Ririka rolled her eyes affectionately, not that the other could see. They made the rest of the quick walk to the student council room in silence. Finally reaching the doors the older girl stepped up to knock. “Why are you knocking?”

“It’s only Kirari and Sayaka in there.” Disgust laced her voice.

“Come in,” A muffled voice sounded from inside the room a moment later.

Ririka opened the door revealing Kirari sitting at the head of the long table with a furiously blushing Sayaka at her side. “Oh.” Mary cringed.

“Mary perfect, my sister and I were hoping to speak to you before the gamble today.” Kirari clasped her hands in front of her, a mocking smirk on her face. 

The blonde narrowed her eyes in suspicion, she sent a questioning glance to the other twin next to her. Ririka pulled off her mask, momentarily distracting Mary. “We wanted to warn you about Terano.” She may have removed her mask, but her emotionless front was in place. 

The two girls made their way into the room as Kirari stood up, motioning them to stand in front of the aquarium. The younger twin watched the fish swim by as she spoke, “Do you remember that gamble you helped us with a while ago?”

“When you guys were all creepy and copying each other? Yea, how could I forget?” She shivered at the thought.

Both twins let out chuckles in response, not helping their case, “Yes,” Ririka spoke up instead of her sister, “I didn’t tell you, but that gamble was actually an official election gamble.” 

“What?!” Mary’s thoughts rushed back to the gamble scanning it to see if she remembered any of the election committee attending. “But how? I thought the election committee had to be there to officiate every gamble. Absolute neutrality and everything.” She mocked.

Kirari laughed, “Runa was there, she was watching through one of the onlooking windows.”

The blonde rubbed her face tiredly. If she was being honest, she was ready for all the schemes to be over after the election was finally finished. She whirled on Ririka, “Why didn’t you tell me?” 

The older girl raised her hands in defense. “We didn’t want you to be influenced by the stakes.” 

The blonde groaned, not even surprised anymore, this is what she got from getting involved with Momobamis. “Okay, whatever,” She spit out bitterly, “What about it?”

“Since you chose correctly, I lost. Meaning Ririka technically won all of my votes and my full support in the election.” The younger twin fixed her piercing gaze on Mary, stripping away her walls and looking into her very soul. She shivered, reminded of that day she was invited to join the student council. “I’m counting on you, Mary.” Her eyes glowed menacingly, “You must win.” 

The blonde took a step back lightly bumping into Ririka. “What’s the big deal?! It’s just a stupid election!”

The older twin set a warm hand on her shoulder from behind, “It’s so much more than that. Whoever wins the election also wins the spot as head of the Hundred Devouring Families.”

“Excuse me… They win what?!” She nearly yelled.

Kirari broke out in loud laughter as Sayaka and Ririka looked at her as if she had grown a second head. “You didn’t… You didn’t know that was also at stake?” Her second mask dropped, showing the disbelief on her face. 

Mary blushed at her mistake, “It doesn’t matter anyway!” She growled out, “That’s why I’m partnered with Ririka, right? She’ll become head of your stupid clan.” Ririka looked down, not meeting her eyes as Kirari watched her twin. “Right?”

When Ririka looked back up all emotion had left her face once again, “Only one can win the gamble.”

“What?! Ririka what do you mean, we’re partners!” A cold sweat started to form on her back, she didn’t sign up for this.

Kirari watched the two with interest before speaking up again finally taking her eyes off her twin, “We’ll just have to wait and see how the gamble turns out.”

The blonde nodded hesitantly. “But Mary,” Ririka started, “You must understand the stakes of this gamble. It’s not just for school president or head of the Bami family, if Terano wins…”

“Who knows what she’ll do with us.” Kirari finished, her gaze hardening, “The last few years she’s been trying her best to undermine us and retake control. That’s why I had to offer up the seat in the first place. There were several heirs throughout the clan who were questioning our legitimacy and competency as head of the family. We needed to solidify our position before making any changes, considering neither of us felt like being assassinated,” She said with a casual shrug, “So I offered up the position to anyone for the taking. That way once we won it again, they wouldn’t be able to question us.”

“I thought Terano was your cousin? Would she really do anything to actually hurt you?” Mary desperately glanced at Ririka, seeking out a lifeline to the new pressure she was feeling. 

The older twin’s gaze softened when their eyes met, “She would not hesitate to banish us.”

Kirari chuckled, “I would be surprised if that was all she did.” 

Mary watched Sayaka clench and unclench her hands, feeling helpless. 

To say Mary was nervous for the final election gamble would be a total understatement, she was terrified. 

THREE HOURS BEFORE THE FINAL GAMBLE

Mary sat in the student council room during lunch with Ririka, Kirari, and Sayaka. Ririka and Sayaka were discussing gambling strategies to use against Terano, and Kirari was… somewhere. 

Looking at Ririka she could feel the crushing weight of the gamble on her shoulders. Kirari and Ririka’s lives rested in the palm of her hand, not just as students or Momobamis but as people. Because the twins were right, who knows what Terano would do to the two of them. 

The thought terrified Mary, not so much about Kirari, but Ririka. She didn’t want her to get hurt, she would do absolutely anything in her power to prevent it. Including sacrificing herself if it came down to it if she was being honest. Damn the whole election, the presidency, she was more important.

Mary shook her head, why did she care so much, about a Momobami no less. It seemed Ririka had wormed her way in Mary’s life, it was inevitable that she was going to catch feelings.

She froze at the thought. Feelings. God how did this happen. She was Mary Saotome, she wasn’t supposed to catch feelings for anyone.

Now here she was holding the fate of the Momobami twins in her hands. The only thing keeping her sane was the knowledge that she wasn’t alone. Ririka was still in the gamble and there to help. Kirari too but Mary didn’t care much about that. The odds were three to one, they were going to win. They had to. 

“You’re staring,” Kirari whispered in her ear out of nowhere causing Mary to nearly jump out of her seat.

“What?! Shit! Don’t sneak up on me like that!” 

The younger twin laughed, “You’re staring at my sister.” They both looked over at Ririka who had yet to notice the commotion.

Mary blushed, “Shut up no I’m not.”

Kirari fake gasped, “Does Mary Saotome have a crush on my twin? How poetic.” She smirked.

“What do you mean 'poetic?'” She growled out, holding air quotes around poetic.

“Just that we share a face and yet you could not feel anymore oppositely about us.” The younger twin looked at her as if she could strip away all of her walls and see the truth. Which she did but Mary would never admit that.

“I never even said I liked Ririka.” The blonde sneered. 

Hearing her name, the older twin looked over at the two girls, “Need something, Mary?” A soft smile played on her lips.

The blonde’s blush deepened to a cherry red. “You didn’t need to,” Kirari said much to Ririka’s confusion, laughing so hard she nearly fell off the chair. Mary was tempted to push her.

FIVE MINUTES BEFORE THE FINAL ELECTION GAMBLE

Mary steeled her nerves standing outside the gambling den. Ririka stood by her side as Kirari and Sayaka stood behind them. The older twin looked down at Mary, sensing her hesitation, she reached out squeezing one of her hands. She took a deep breath before breathing out, “Okay. Let’s beat this bitch.” 

The doors opened to reveal the entire election committee as well as Terano already sitting at one of the two tables with Yumi behind her. Runa trotted over to greet them, lollipop already in her mouth. “Ah! There you guys are! Alright, let’s get this gamble started, nyahahaha!”

The small girl led them over to the table sitting Kirari in front of Terano and Mary across from Ririka at the other table. “What’s happening? Are we not all gambling together?” Mary whispered at Ririka as the older girl removed her mask. 

Before the older girl could answer Runa began her speech, “Alright is everyone ready?! The cameras are rolling in 3… 2… 1.”

Chapter Text

Death representing endings, change, transformation, and transition.

 

“The cameras are rolling in 3… 2… 1… Welcome to the final election gamble!” Runa’s maniacal laughter rang in the thick silence of the room. “Here with us we have President and Vice President Kirari and Ririka Momobami, Mary Saotome, and Terano Totobami. I’m sure they’re all ready to duke it out in this final gamble!” The short girl pulled her lollipop out of her mouth with a disgusting slurp and gestured to the screen next to her. Beside her an infographic of the upcoming gamble popped up, “I’ll now explain the rules of the gamble so listen carefully, I won’t explain them again! We will be playing a game similar to the debt settlement gamble! But instead of using playing cards, we will use a set of the major arcana tarot cards. I will deal out three cards to you, you will pick one of your cards to reveal to the other person and the rest will stay hidden. Once your card has been seen you will be able to trade one of the remaining two cards for a new card. However, no one, including you, is allowed to see the card until your hand is revealed. The person with the highest combined number of all their cards wins the match. If you receive a reversed card that will count as negative points, nyahahah! We will play five matches, whoever wins the most rounds will win the gamble. However, you must be careful if during the final reveal of all of your cards you have the fool card you lose the entire gamble. Nyahaha, doesn't that sound fun!” There was a menacing glint in the girl’s eye. 

Mary glanced at Ririka who sat in front of her before her attention drifted to Terano who was the first to speak. The dark-haired girl wore an almost disgusted look on her face as she addressed Kirari, “I’m surprised you let your dog take off her muzzle.” Terano threw a glance at Ririka, wearing the same disgusted expression. 

Mary could feel a vein begin to almost bulge in her forehead as she clenched her fists and moved to stand up. “Mary…” Ririka whispered warningly. The blonde pursed her lips but did as she was told.

Kirari had a calm smirk on her face, “You and I both know Ririka is not my dog.” She paused for a beat, “What’s fascinating is even in the position you are in, a three to one gamble, you still insist on acting superior. I look forward to seeing your face during our gamble.” An almost devilish smile took over her face at her words, sending a shiver down Mary’s back.

“Okaaay…” Runa cleared her throat in the awkward silence, “We will have three sets of two versus two gambles. The first two will take place now at the same time so get ready folks!”

Someone from the election committee walked up to their table and produced a new pack of tarot cards. Mary watched Ririka out of the corner of her eye as the cards were shuffled. The older girl wore an unfeeling expression, giving away none of her emotions. 

She swallowed hard, unsure of what she should do, she wasn’t prepared to face off against Ririka. Not so soon, not like this. Her mind raced. Should she throw the match? From what she had seen the older girl was an incredible gambler, possessing a cold calculating mind during games and a completely unreadable face. Normally she wouldn’t hesitate gambling against someone she cared so deeply about but the stakes of this gamble were too high. Who was she to hold Ririka’s fate solely in her hands, especially if Kirari lost? 

Her heart raced as the cards were dealt out, she stared at the three cards in front of her hesitating just for a second. She glanced up meeting Ririka’s gaze, her expressionless face softened as her lips quirked up in a small smile. Finally, Mary picked up the cards.

Judgment (20), High Priestess reversed (-2), and the Wheel of Fortune (10). Mary smiled to herself; this was an amazing first hand.

The election committee member spoke up beside them, “Okay, reveal your card.”

She held out the Wheel of Fortune (10) card in front of her. Ririka gave her a soft smile, the stark change in expression confusing her as the card was slowly held up. “I trust you, Mary, I hope you know that’s why I’m doing this.” A darker look came over her face, “I’m so sorry, I hope you forgive me.” 

“Wha- What?” Mary’s heart plummeted; this was the moment that was bound to come. The moment when the Momobamis were going to turn on her and devour her. In the back of her mind, she knew this was inevitable. Of course, Ririka would never feel the same way about her, nowhere close. Mary was always just a pawn to them. 

Mary closed her eyes just before Ririka unveiled the card. Unsuccessfully trying to prolong the moment, not ready to be absolutely crushed by the other girl. Slowly she opened her eyes, and all the air in her lungs left with a small whisper, “What?”

There Ririka was holding the Fool.

“Riri, why?” Mary whispered. Desperately she looked to the table next to them where Kirari and Terano played their match. The younger twin noticed the eyes on her, looking at Mary with a smirk on her face. Terano narrowed her eyes at the younger twin in suspicion, “What are you planning, Kirari.” 

The twin only smiled and set her cards down gently and looked at Runa.

“I forfeit.” 

“What?!” Terano’s indignant screech echoed in the room. 

Kirari only smirked as she stood completely ignoring Terano, walking away from the table to join the spectating election committee on the couch. 

Mary’s attention shifted back to Ririka as the older twin spoke, “I’m doing this because I trust you completely Mary. You’re the only one who can truly win.” She had a sad smile on her face as she stood. She stopped as she walked by Mary on her way to Kirari and leaned down, placing a gentle kiss on her cheek. She felt a warm hand cup her cheek for a few moments before she heard a whispered, “good luck,” in her ear.

She watched Ririka’s back as she walked away, feeling so many emotions swirling in her. A lump formed in her throat and her eyes stung as one emotion overpowered the rest.

Abandonment.

A sob threatened to break free from her throat. Mary just barely held it in as she turned back to the election committee. “Wow what a surprising turn of events!” Runa didn’t look nearly as surprised as she claimed to be. “We’ll move on to the main event then, Mary Saotome versus Terano Totobami! Who will claim the President’s seat?”

Mary numbly left her seat to join Terano at the other table. She couldn’t even tell if her shock was evident on her face or if she was hiding it well.

It was all happening too fast a new pack of cards was already being opened and shuffled. There was suddenly not enough air in the room, not enough air in Mary’s lungs. The shock rushed away as crushing panic came over her at the weight her shoulders now bared. 

If she lost this gamble Ririka… Something between a cough and a sob left her throat. She glanced up at Terano and saw the unbridled rage her eyes held. She would ruin the twins. Kirari specifically, not that Mary cared, but whatever happened was bound to be reflected onto Ririka too.

The cards were dealt out, each one sliding to a stop directly in front of her. She needed to get a hold of herself if she was going to win. A sharp slap rang out in the room. Her cheek blossomed in pain and her hand stung, but the important thing was she could breathe again. 

Mary picked up her cards without hesitation, daring anyone to say anything about her display. 

The World (21), the Empress (3), and the Hanged Man reversed (-12).

Not a bad first hand, Mary thought, though it would be stupid at the beginning to exchange any cards yet. The threat of getting the Fool card was way too high, it was not yet time to take those risks.

“Okay show your chosen card!” Runa’s voice cut through the thick tension in the room. Mary held out the Empress (3) and Terano held the Hermit (9). Definitely, a good choice not to exchange any cards. “Would anyone like to exchange any cards?” Silence sat heavy in the room. Mary was locked in Terano’s intense gaze, was she bluffing like Mary with the low nine card? 

No. Whatever the rest of the cards were the risk was too high to exchange a card yet. 

“Okay reveal your hand!” Mary dropped her cards on the table revealing a total of twelve. Terano’s cards also fell revealing the Chariot (7), the Hermit (9), and the Wheel of Fortune reversed (-10), for a total of six.

“Mary wins the first round!” A deep sigh escaped the blonde, relief flooding into her. Even if everyone had left her to battle alone, she could still win. No matter how many people abandoned her she was still strong.

“Saotome, do you want to be President? Or are you just the Momobamis’ little pet?” Despite the bite to her words, Terano’s voice was completely calm, revealing nothing of her true emotions.

A new deck was once again opened and shuffled. “I’m here to win, nothing will change that.” Mary sneered, not sharing the same polite tone.

Terano hummed in thought for a moment as the cards were dealt. “I see,” She started slowly, “So you are just a glorified lap dog. You’re doing exactly as they say, aren’t you?” 

Their cards slid in front of them, as Mary clenched her fists under the table. She ignored the whispered conversation of the twins behind her. Grabbing the cards, she hissed, “Don’t underestimate me Totobami.”

Her thoughts faltered slightly as she looked at her cards. The Hierophant (5), the Emperor (4), and the Fool.

Fuck.

Not just the Fool but also low cards. This was definitely not a good hand. “Okay show your card!” Mary held out the Hierophant (5) and Terano held the World (21).

Double fuck.

“Would anyone like to exchange a card?” Mary held up the Fool without revealing the card and received another one, leaving it face down on the table. 

Terano narrowed her eyes at Mary’s choice, “You already received the Fool? Maybe it’s a sign for you to drop out of the election. The cards are trying to tell you something, Saotome, give up.”

“Shut your trap!” Mary growled, slamming her hand on the table.

Runa chuckled nervously at the display, “Okay ladies please reveal your hand!”

Mary set down her cards and flipped over the new one, the Star (17), combining for a total of eighteen. Exactly what she needed.

Terano smirked and revealed her hand, the World (21), Strength (8) reversed, and the Sun (19) for a total of thirty-two. She grit her teeth, she was absolutely blown out of the water on that hand. 

“Round two goes to Terano Totobami! This gamble is really going to be neck and neck through the whole thing, huh!”

Her stomach was starting to churn with panic again. She needed to breathe. This was only the second round, there were three more ahead. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath; she could panic later now was the time to win. She heard the gentle noise of the cards once again sliding in front of her. She pushed away the burden on her shoulders into the back of her mind. 

She opened her eyes and revealed the cards, paying no mind to Terano’s goading smirk. The Lovers reversed (-6), the Star reversed (-17), and Temperance reversed (-14). 

This was quite possibly one of the worst hands she could receive. They were all reversed, almost no way to come back from this hand. Was it even worth the risk to exchange a card? 

“Okay go ahead and reveal a card! This game just keeps getting more and more interesting.” There was a mysterious and foreboding sparkle in Runa’s eyes. 

Mary held out the Lovers reversed (-6) and Terano held out the Hierophant (5). A low card, maybe there was a chance to win this hand still. Was it worth the risk of losing it all? She studied Terano, only a smug look graced her features. God, Mary thought, she might be more stuck up than Kirari.

“Would anyone like to exchange a card?” Runa’s voice broke their stare. Without thinking too much about the choice she gave away the Star reversed (-17). She had to at least try to win the hand, she wouldn’t win without taking a risk. A new card was placed in front of her, this could be the end.

Surprise shown in Terano’s eyes and haughtiness laced her voice, “The Fool again? The card seems to have really taken to you.” The dark-haired girl handed one of her own cards to Runa, receiving her own mystery card.

“Careful, you might jinx yourself.” Mary bit out as they both revealed their hands. 

The Hierophant (5), the Wheel of Fortune (10), and the Hermit reversed (-9) for a total of six. Shit. She was not going to win this hand. She flipped over her remaining card revealing the Empress (3) for a total of negative seventeen. 

“Round three goes to Terano, she pulls away with a two to one lead over Mary! Will, there be a chance for Mary to have a comeback, or will Terano crush the rest of the rounds?!” Mary clenched her teeth; she knew Runa was just trying to hype up the student body, but it was really starting to piss her off. 

She was starting to catch onto Terano though. She just had to test her theory one more time to be sure. She focused on the rhythmic movement of Runa shuffling a new deck of cards once again, then watching them slide across the table and come to a stop in front of her. 

The Hermit reversed (-9), the Lovers (6), and Strength (8). They both held out a card of their choice, Mary holding Strength (8) and Terano holding the Sun (19). Fear clawed inside her stomach causing it to churn with anxiety. Breathe and win. Those were the only options right now. 

She traded the Hermit reversed (-9) for a new card. Her eyes lit up, just as she thought. Terano also traded in her card. The other girl had made a mistake, she had assumed that no one would take the risk of trading a card unless it was the Fool.

Simultaneously they revealed their cards. Mary’s stomach dropped as she revealed her mystery card. The Star reversed (-17), this might be the end of the gamble, giving her a total of negative three. Taking a calming breath, she looked at Terano’s cards.

The Sun (19), the Hanged Man reversed (-12), and the Devil reversed (-15), for a total of negative eight. “Wow!” Runa laughed maniacally, “That was close! Mary just barely managed to tie things up in the fourth round! We’re moving into the fifth and final round, whoever wins this hand wins the Presidency!”

Mary tried to analyze Terano again, but she wouldn’t meet her gaze, she was staring at something just above her head. Suddenly Kirari appeared by her side, “Terano, tell me, why do you want to be head of the family? What would you like to accomplish?” The younger twin’s eyes were glowing demonically as she stared at her. 

“I want to save the family from your wretched grasp.” Terano’s words conveyed a sense of conviction but her eyes showed the truth. She had no idea what she was doing.

“Well of course,” Kirari smirked, “But I’m asking: how exactly do you plan on doing that?”

“I-”

“Of course,” Kirari cut her off, “The only plan you had was to take revenge on Ririka and me. For all your bravado and scheming with the rest of the family, you never actually planned what you would do if you actually won. You never cared about any of that, it was always about revenge.” She leaned a hand on the table to be able to look her in the eye.

For the first time, Terano looked shaken, absolutely stunned. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish as she tried to come up with a response. Yumi could only look on helplessly as the girl sputtered.

Mary felt cold hands grasp her shoulders and slide up to nearly holding her neck. The hold was one thing.

Completely and utterly possessive.

Her mouth went dry as she looked up and saw the familiar face of Ririka. Her expression was emotionless, but her eyes were menacing and glowing, matching her twin as she also stared down Terano. 

She may have avoided the life plan the Momobamis gave her, but it seemed she had fallen into something possibly even more deadly.

Her flight instinct activated as her entire body screamed at her to run away but she knew that wasn’t possible. She was stuck and there was no way out. The only thing she could do was to continue the gamble. 

The last hand of cards was dealt out with Ririka’s hands on her shoulders. Normally they would’ve been a comfort but now they felt more like a cage.

Numbly she picked up her cards, the World (21), the Tower (16), and the Magician (1). A nearly perfect last hand, though now it didn’t bring her any relief.

All she felt was the slow churning of anxiety and anger beginning to brew in her stomach. 

“It’s now time to show your card of choice!” She could barely hear Runa through the roaring in her ears. It was as if she could feel the Momobamis’ dominating presence next to her. 

Mary revealed the World (21) card and Terano revealed the Chariot (7) card. Desperate panic had come over the other girl’s face. 

This was the end.

“Would anyone like to exchange a card? This is your last chance.” 

A look of almost pain flashed on Terano’s face before she jerked as if she made a split-second decision, handing Runa one of her cards. 

Another card was quickly slid in front of her, “Okay reveal your hands! Let’s find out who our next President is!”

Mary revealed her total of thirty-eight.

Terano set down the two cards in her hand, the Star (17) and the Chariot (7). With bated breath, she flipped over her remaining card.

The Fool.

“As you said earlier,” Mary calmly spoke, resigned to her fate, “The cards have chosen who the fool really is.”

Chapter Text

The Hanged Man representing pause, surrender, letting go, and new perspectives.

 

There was a ringing in her ears drowning out everything else. She won the Presidency but at what cost? Her freedom? Her future? Her life? With Ririka’s hands nearly around her throat in their possessive hold, it seemed like she had sacrificed all of it.

Yet what did she expect to happen when she allied herself with a Momobami? Just because Ririka had a more docile nature on the surface compared to her twin did not take away from the fact that at the core she was still a devourer. That fact was more than true, Mary was firmly caught in the trap of her jaws. So firmly, in fact, that of no consequence of the presidency or the twin’s schemes Ririka owned her heart. And she had taken her heart in those jaws and crushed it.

The events directly after the gamble were a complete blur to her. She could barely register the camera in her face and the excited words of Runa announcing her as the new President. What was clear were the two pairs of demonic eyes that stared at her from across the room. Her eyes unfocused off of them as bright lights shined in her face and pictures were snapped. She raised a shaky hand to block out the light as Runa continued to drone on with her questions. “How do you feel about winning the gamble?! What are your plans as President? Will you reinstate the student council? Who will you choose?”

The questions were shot at her rapid-fire, not giving her any chance to respond to any of them. Her mouth went dry preventing any chance of response besides a panicked, “Umm…”

Quickly after the sound escaped her, she felt an arm wrap around her shoulder and guide her away from the camera and lights. She looked up, surprise vaguely registered in the back of her mind as she was met by Ririka’s still uncovered face, even in front of the cameras. Looking back, she saw the other twin had put on a charismatic smile for the camera and had taken her place, answering questions for her. 

So that’s all she was. Just a front for the Momobamis, they were still in control. They always had been.

Distantly she heard quiet whispers in her ear. A small, repeated phrase by Ririka, mumbling a heartbroken, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, Mary. Please, I’m so sorry…” She kept repeating it, chanting it almost like a prayer. 

She was guided out of the room and into the hallway where Sayaka was waiting for them. Through the fog in her head, she could hear them talking amongst themselves. 

“Where’s the Pres-,” Sayaka gave a quick glance at Mary and cleared her throat, “My apologies President, where’s Kirari?”

“Runa was interrogating Mary for the camera, so Kirari took over while I led her out of the room. I don’t know what’s wrong.” The fog was so thick in her head she couldn’t hear her words, much less the clear worry in her tone.

Sayaka gave a quick nod in understanding; silence took over the group as they waited. Moments later a smirking Kirari came through the door, “The broadcast is over, we should be free from questions for the rest of the day.” 

Ririka gently directed Mary to follow the rest of the group, who had started walking to the student council room, with a gentle arm wrapped around her shoulder. Her limbs felt numb and her mouth felt like it was filled with cotton, stopping any of her protests from coming to the surface. It was all she could do to blindly follow where she was guided. 

They entered the student council room and Kirari moved to her usual spot at the table, pulling out the chair. “I do believe this is your seat now Mary.” 

Numbly she followed Kirari and sat in the seat. It felt wrong as if she was an imposter. This seat, this win, it was all supposed to be a good thing. So many things had changed in such a short amount of time, she could barely process them. 

She felt a warm hand on her shoulder and looked up, seeing Ririka smiling hesitantly at her. “You did it.” She whispered. 

Mary swallowed hard, ignoring the pang in her heart. 

A loud dramatic sigh sounded on the other side of her, “I hate to cut the celebration short but there are important matters we need to discuss.” Kirari fixed her with a piercing stare, “Mary Saotome, you are the new head of the Hundred Devouring Families.”

[]

Several weeks earlier soon after the Tower of Doors gamble ended, Kirari and Sayaka sat in her office alone. As usual, her secretary was worried about her choice of giving up her seat as President of the academy. “President, please! You need to be more focused on gathering votes! Terano has already accumulated a large sum!”

Kirari could only chuckle at her worry, “I’m not at all worried about how many votes I have. Though it may be helpful to collect a few more.” 

“But your precious aquarium! To keep it intact you need to win and become president again!” Her face was starting to grow red from so blatantly arguing with her President, this was out of character for her, but she couldn’t help but be extremely worried.

Sayaka flinched in surprise when Kirari burst out into laughter, “You are so logical Sayaka, it’s fascinating. Of course, you would think I want to win the election.”

“What?” She breathed out in surprise.

“My dear Sayaka,” She trailed a finger delicately along her jawline, “If I had wanted to continue to be president why would I offer up my seat? Though it is fun to watch my fish try to swim against the current, that is not the point of this election. It’s quite simple,” She paused for a beat, “I don’t want to win.” 

“But President…” Kirari gave her a pointed look, “My apologies, Kirari, why would you not want to win?”

The twin hummed in response, “My big sister has a plan, so I think it would be rather interesting if I gave her my support.”

[]

“You are the new head of the Hundred Devouring Families.” The power behind the phrase seemed to echo in the room. Ririka had been watching Mary closely since the gamble had begun. Something had changed between now and then, it seemed like the girl was barely there; her eyes were glazed over and unfocused. 

She couldn’t help but feel like this was all her fault. She should have never put so much pressure on Mary, she should have never abandoned her like she did. But did she really ever have another choice? If she wasn’t careful the tears that stung in the back of her eyes would well up and spill over, now was not the time for that. It would be entirely selfish to be the one who cried right now, especially after what she had done. 

She felt pain stab through her chest as she watched Mary in this state. Where had all her fire gone? The one that always burned so brightly, so confidently no matter the situation. Had it been smothered, extinguished by the demon that lived inside of her and her twin?

She should never have involved Mary.

“Sayaka?” Kirari prompted, pulling Ririka out of her self deprecating thoughts, “Do you have the paperwork?” 

Dutiful as ever she nodded, pulling something out of the folder that was hidden away in one of the drawers in the room. She handed the book over to Kirari. 

“Ah, perfect thank you.” A smirk pulled at her twin’s lips. What was she doing, what paperwork was she talking about? “This is for you, Mary.” She dropped the book in front of Mary, seemingly breaking the girl out of her haze in shock. Panic began to claw at Ririka’s throat.

The cover read: Mary Saotome Life Plan.

An absolute look of pure horror took over Mary’s face, matching exactly what Ririka felt. This was never supposed to happen, this was not part of the plan. 

“What the fuck is this.” A quiet rage was evident in Mary’s tone, she essentially took the words right out of Ririka’s mouth. 

“Kirari what-”

Her twin put a hand up stopping whatever she was going to say, “Open it.”

Something dark flashed in the blonde’s eyes as she clenched her jaw. Hesitating for a moment before complying, she opened the life plan. 

Mary read the text aloud, “Due to the fact Mary Saotome, the new head of the Bami family, is not a Bami herself, she must marry into the family. This life plan signifies-” A strangled sob escaped her as she went pale.

“Mary, what does it say?” She asked, desperation clear in her voice.

Before Mary could say anything Kirari finished the sentence for her, “Mary Saotome must marry Ririka Momobami.” 

[]

“I’m so sorry Pres-Kirari! You lost the gamble because of me!” Sayaka nearly sobbed out after they left to see Runa to confirm the twin’s gamble. 

“Oh Sayaka,” Kirari wrapped her arm around her secretary’s waist, “You think I was surprised by the result? Of course, I already knew Mary would be clever enough to use you to tell the difference between the two of us.” 

“Bu-But why?” She stuttered out.

Kirari giggled, “I was curious how they would react to that situation. I have to say it was rather amusing. But in the end, it worked out exactly how I thought, I wanted Ririka to win. If I had given her my support any other way she would have been suspicious of me. As I said before my dear older sister has a plan for this election and it would be rather fun to help her with it.” She hummed as a smirk overtook her face, “And maybe meddle a bit too.”

[]

Mary dropped the life plan as if it had burned her, at the same time Ririka’s head snapped toward her twin with a look of disbelief. Mary could see the older girl’s mouth move but couldn’t hear anything over the ringing in her ears. 

Marry Ririka Momobami.

She felt as if her heart was being torn in two. One piece of it made her adrenaline spike with excitement. The other piece was the exact opposite, it had dropped all the way down into the pit of her stomach with dread. After everything that had happened, after becoming president, she was still doomed to a life plan. 

Why?

Unknowingly she had said the question out loud and Kirari answered. “You cannot become head of a family that you are not a part of.” 

Was this their plan the whole time? Mary may have won the election, but she had lost the game the Momobamis were playing behind her back this whole time. This entire time was Ririka only playing a character, one that Mary had begun to fall for?

She was thoroughly defeated

And she was completely done. Mary stood up from her chair and began walking out of the room without a word. She heard Ririka’s voice and footsteps behind her, voice high and desperate, “Wait! Mary where are you going, we need to talk about this!”

“I’m going home, we can figure it out after the weekend.”

Distantly she heard Ririka attempt to respond before she was cut off by Mary slamming the door closed as she left. Numbly Mary made her way through the hallways, drifting along unfeelingly almost as if she was a spectator of her own life. 

She made her way outside the gates of Hyakkaou Academy, she looked up at the sky seeing dark clouds covering the sun. She felt delicate drops of rain begin to gently hit her face in a light sprinkle. She needed to hurry home, this was more than likely the calm before the storm.

Ten minutes later she found herself in her family’s apparent. The light sprinkle had continued her entire walk home but never increased into the storm she predicted. The weather seemed content to stay the same for now. 

She drifted through the deadly quiet apartment; nobody was home as usual. Only the gentle sounds of rain on the windows and the soft sounds of her footsteps sounded around her. There was nothing but the memory of the day to keep her company. 

It was all wrong, things weren’t supposed to turn out like this. Yes, she had become President but at the cost of a life plan. 

At the cost of marrying Ririka.

Was that a cost though? Her heart started to beat faster at the thought, was that such a bad thing?

Yes. It was terrible because she had been abandoned, forced into a position with an unbearable weight of the future chained to her shoulders. Only to find out it was all a part of the Momobamis’ plan. A plan that ended with her being trapped in their cage. 

She walked into her room feeling a fire spread through her veins. She clenched her fists as she felt her anger finally come to the surface. Thunder boomed outside as she threw her school briefcase into the room, it hit the wall with an echoing thud. 

She turned to her cluttered desk knocking off all of the books and schoolwork in a rage. Picking up one of the textbooks she threw it across the room, hitting her closet door. She turned next to the small bookshelf against the wall, screaming in anger as she knocked it over, spilling all of the contents on the floor. 

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a ceramic heart-shaped mug on the floor, she bent down, picking it up, and threw it with all her strength against the door to the room. It exploded on impact shattering into hundreds of small pieces. 

Her chest heaved as she eyed her closet next in her destruction, she threw the door open only to focus on one specific jacket. She sank onto her knees as a sob wracked her body. Pulling out the winter jacket Ririka had given her days ago, the dam broke. She could no longer contain any of the tears she had been holding in since Ririka walked away from their gamble. Mary pulled the jacket into her, hugging it as close as she could. Tears streamed down her face as she sobbed, and thunder rumbled in the background distantly. 

She fell back on the ground, looking at the carnage that was her room. She saw herself in the mirror that leaned against the wall, tears were streaming down her face. She stood and walked over to the mirror, jacket clutched absentmindedly in one hand. She raised her fist and shattered the mirror.

Chapter Text

The Hermit representing soul-searching, introspection, being alone, and inner guidance.

 

Drip, drip, drip, it was not the rain outside that made this noise but the blood that flowed from the wounds on her knuckles. A gentle and rhythmic tap on the floor. It was calming despite how gruesome it was, the beating of her heart followed the rhythm of the quiet drops as it slowed from its adrenaline-filled rage. Mary was no longer the shell of a girl that was broadcasted on air, that girl had burned up in her own fear and anguish, that version of herself shattered.

No, she was back to her true self. The one that thrived and burned with a raging and unquenchable fire.

She looked at her shattered self in the mirror, the dark circles remained under her eyes but the haze that previously clouded them had been lifted. What was left was a sharp gaze ready to cut anything that got in her way.

Mary eyed the abandoned jacket that lay next to her in the mirror. She wasn’t going to play the Momobami’s games anymore, if they wanted to play then she would destroy them.

She smothered the small voice in the back of her head that whispered Ririka’s name.

That girl was nothing to her now, not after everything that happened.

[]

The red sea of students parted for Mary as she walked into school. Small gasps sounded around her as they met her sharp gaze and eyed the president’s uniform on her. It was clear she was on a mission, her head tilted in defiance and a wrathful glint in her eye gave everything away. She had one thing on her mind and that was to tell those devils exactly what she thought of them.

Only one student dared to get in the way of her warpath, Yumeko Jabami. “Mary!” Her sweet voice trilled in her ears instantly bringing on a headache.

“Shut it Yumeko I’m busy.”

“Oh! Let me walk with you! Maybe I can help, where are we going?” Yumeko fell into step next to her.

Mary sucked in a calming breath, “Fine, whatever. Do what you want.”

Silence fell over them as the students whispered around them. “I’m surprised you’re not with Ririka. The two of you have been spending so much time together lately.” Yumeko flashed a disarming smile at her.

Mary's calming breath left her immediately at those words and she finally snapped, “She was just using me!” She felt humiliated having to admit she had been played so thoroughly.

Confusion took over Yumeko’s face, “What?”

Mary froze in the middle of the hallway and clenched her jaw, “They used me to take over their clan so they couldn’t be contested. Then they gave me another life plan as thanks.” Sarcasm bit at the last few words.

“But Ririka-”

“Abandoned me! She left me to gamble against Terano by myself! They set me up and at the most important moment they left me!” Tears pressed at the backs of her eyes and threatened to spill over at any moment. She had to keep them in; she couldn’t shed any more for that girl. She wasn’t worth it despite the hollowness the thought brought on.

Yumeko’s face softened and she looked around at all the students in the hall that were staring at the outburst. Wordlessly she grabbed Mary’s arm and dragged her into a nearby empty gambling den. “I watched the gamble.”

“Well, yea the whole school did.”

“Did they really have any other choice than to let you gamble on your own?”

“Of course! Ririka just gave up! She could’ve gambled for the spot or at least warned me! Kirari forfeited too.” She added as an afterthought.

“Did Ririka know?”

“What?”

“Did she know,” Yumeko repeated, “That they were going to set up the gamble like that?”

“I-”

“And when she found out she made the split-second decision to trust her fate in your hands because she thought you would be more likely to win against Terano. She trusted you with not just her life but her entire family.”

“But Kirari-”

“We’re not talking about Kirari, we're talking about Ririka. They’re not the same person, or did you forget that?”

Mary paled at Yumeko’s words. “The life plan though…”

“Who gave it to you?”

“Kirari,” Mary muttered shamefully.

“Is it the same life plan as before?”

“No,” A furious blush bloomed on her cheeks and she dropped her gaze to the ground, “I have to marry Ririka.” She mumbled out.

“What?”

“I have to marry Ririka, okay?!” Mary threw her hands up in frustration, “Kirari said since I won the gamble, I have to become head of their clan and I can’t do that unless I marry into it.”

Yumeko’s eyebrows pinched together, “Would that really be a bad thing?”

“I- Yes?!” Mary didn’t know at this point she was so confused. She thought she understood what happened but as the conversation went on she became more and more confused.

“I didn’t know you wanted to become head of the family.”

“I don’t, I didn’t even know that was part of the gamble…”

“Then don’t, refuse the life plan.” She shrugged.

“But…” Mary paused in thought trying to find some way to argue.

A small smile formed on Yumeko’s lips, “Sounds like you don’t want to refuse it.”

She scoffed in response, “Of course I do!” Even to her own ears, her answer didn’t sound convincing. Mary looked away again, unable to meet Yumeko’s gaze.

“Mary, I know how you feel about her, it’s okay.”

Silence flooded the room as she refused to respond.

Yumeko's voice became even softer, “I don’t think Ririka would ever intentionally hurt you.”

“She hurt you. During that one gamble when you were poisoned by the Inbamis.”

A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips, “I’m not you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean.” There was an edge to Mary’s voice.

“I mean, I’ve seen the way she looks at you. The way you look at each other. I know you’ve been getting closer to each other for a while now and all of the sudden after that last gamble you’ve lost all your trust. Why is that? Are you scared?” Before Mary could respond she was cut off by Yumeko’s words, “You didn’t have to win that gamble, Mary.”

“But if Terano had won…” Mary faltered at the thought, even still it scared her after everything.

She shrugged, “It would have been on them for not gambling themselves.” A sad smile pulled at her lips, “Can you really blame Kirari. She did what she thought best to save her sister and herself. The Hundred Devouring Family isn’t like any other family you’ve met,” There was pain in her voice, “They don’t just devour those around them but if you make one mistake in that family, they won’t hesitate to devour you too.”

[]

Ririka sat in class desperately waiting for the bell to ring. It was the last class of the day and she was desperate to get back into the halls and continue her search for Mary. Between every class and even lunch, she had been roaming the halls desperately looking for any sign of the blonde girl.

Panic was beginning to slowly gain a grip in her chest as her lungs tightened, barely allowing her breath to enter and exit. Her fist tightened as frustration and fear consumed her. All day she had been trying desperately to push these feelings down, trying to ignore them and talk herself out of all these dark feelings that whispered and boiled inside of her.

Whispers that said she wasn't good enough, that Mary hated her, that she was a monster.

That she was something unlovable.

She closed her eyes tightly behind her mask, breathing in a deep breath and exhaling. She once again pushed the tension down deep inside of her. The fear and sadness that had been brewing all weekend with no sign or call from Mary were not allowed to boil over.

She opened her eyes to emptiness, forcing herself to feel nothing.

She noticed an unusual hush had fallen over the classroom. Nobody dared to even breathe as all heads were turned to look at who had just entered their classroom.

“Ririka Momobami, please come with me.”

Silently she gathered her things and stood up to walk across the room. Unsurprisingly whispers picked up around her, students questioning her and the situation. Her relationship with the other person. Unfortunately for them, not even Ririka could answer their questions, she had just as many if not more herself.

Mary closed the door behind them as they exited the classroom and without a word walked down the hall. Ririka fell in step behind her equally as silently, following without a question. Together they entered the abandoned student council room.

What a rare sight to have this room completely unoccupied and silent except for the distant bubbling of the aquarium.

Golden eyes finally met hers and for the first time in days, Ririka saw the fire that blazed in them. Deep inside herself, she could feel her emotions trying to claw their way out of the box she locked them in. Vaguely she felt something tug at her heart, but she ignored it, instead pulling her mask off to reveal an unfeeling face.

They silently regarded each other for a few seconds, neither knowing where they stood with the other. Ririka swallowed dryly in a desperate attempt to keep the emotions trying to claw out of her throat down. “Mary I-”

“Stop.” Mary paced up the length of the room, coming to a stop next to the president’s chair. Absentmindedly she reached a hand out to run her fingers along the wood, pausing to gather her words. She turned back to Ririka with a noticeable hardness in her eyes, “What the hell happened during that gamble?” Her voice was even, neither angry nor loud. The tone scared the older girl more than if she had yelled.

Ririka stumbled forward a few steps in an almost desperate attempt to reach her, to understand. “What?” She was barely able to breathe out the word, her confusion at the question knocking all her breath out of her lungs.

Fire raged behind golden eyes as Mary once again walked closer to Ririka, “Why did you give up? And what the hell was that life plan? I want to know everything!” The last word nearly exploded out of her.

Ririka flinched back in surprise, nearly tripping over one of the student council chairs in an attempt to put distance between them as Mary stalked closer to her. “I wanted you to win!" Ririka tried desperately, "I never knew that the gamble would be set up that way. Kirari never told me. She didn’t even tell me about the life plan.”

“Why am I supposed to believe you?” She snarled. With every word, she enclosed on Ririka until she had nowhere left to go. She was pushed against the table, cowering under Mary’s gaze despite their height difference.

“I…” She was breathless from the intensity of Mary’s words and their proximity, “I don’t know.” Her mind was racing, this is what happened during the final gamble? This was why the blonde was acting so strange after it? She had lost all her trust in Ririka so quickly… No, Mary never truly trusted her if that was the case. Emotion bubbled in the bottom of her throat as she barely held in her tears.

She was wrong about their whole relationship.

It was all one-sided. 

She was right all along, she was a monster.

Mary suddenly completely deflated, “I’m sorry.” Her voice was so small the older girl almost didn’t hear her through her spiraling thoughts.

“What?” Her own voice was impossibly smaller. Confusion raced through her, what was happening? What was she apologizing for? It was Ririka’s fault for not being someone she could trust… She was a Momobami after all.

The blonde visibly deflated some more as she stepped back, “I’m sorry.” Her voice gained in strength, “I should have trusted you. I just… I thought you knew.” She groaned in frustration.

Ririka’s cheeks lit up in a blush, “No- No it’s okay. I should’ve warned you about Kirari-”

“No,” Mary cut her off with a shake of her head, “You’re not your sister. You don’t have to apologize for her actions.” She rubbed her face, “This is such a mess.”

Ririka let out a small gasp when she saw the bandages on the blonde’s knuckles, “Mary, what happened to your hand?” Without a second thought, she strode over to the other girl, gently cradling the injured hand.

The older girl noticed the deep blush that had appeared on Mary’s cheeks at the contact. Ririka looked down into the blonde’s eyes as Mary spoke breathlessly, “It’s nothing.” They held each other’s gaze for a moment before Mary yanked her hand back and cleared her throat awkwardly.

Hesitantly Ririka followed Mary’s retreat, once again gently grabbing hold of the injured hand. “Please, it doesn’t seem like nothing. Let me help you.” Ririka was so close to Mary that she had to look up to be able to meet her blue eyes.

The dam broke. All of Ririka's emotions that she had been trying to push down, the ones she forced herself not to feel came rushing to the surface. She choked out a sob as she ducked her head in an attempt to hide her broken mask. She watched as her tears fell down onto Mary’s injured hand as she stood there in a desperate attempt to stuff all of the emotions back inside.

But they wouldn’t fit. They wouldn’t go back in; she couldn’t hide them from Mary any longer.

A soft hand on the side of her face interrupted a silent sob. Gently it lifted her face, so she was once again making eye contact with Mary’s now tear-filled eyes.

“Please let me help you.” Ririka barely choked out.

And for the first time, Mary let her.