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Blue Moon

Chapter Text

The two got into the car and sat in an unnerving silence as Ririka drove away. Ririka briefly glanced over at Mary, desperate to know what she was thinking. She needed to know. More importantly, she needed to know why Mary was so calm about this entire situation. The blonde looked as though she was contemplating, perhaps still processing what had just happened. Ririka herself was still trying to process it.

This was the first time she had ever turned a human. Well, that was assuming he survived the process. Not everyone did. Perhaps that's what made her most guilty, never knowing if he would live or die. Though if he did survive and become a vampire, his new life wouldn't really be living. Ririka never could say her life as a vampire was anything compared to when she was really alive.

She remembered the very day where she drew her final breath as a mortal. Her eighteenth birthday in the year 1703 was certainly a day to remember; thankfully she had her twin right by her side to endure the same pain she went through. Parts of her memory was hazy due to the amount of time it's been since it happened and because of relative memory loss during the transformation. She mainly remembered being trapped in the cellar beneath the Momobami estate, writhing in pain as venom overtook every vessel and vein in her body. Needless to say, she and Kirari got very used to each other's screams of agony, even if it was for a few minutes. It was the first time either had ever cried and screamed at the top of their lungs in front of each other; Ririka wasn't sure if the transformation or hearing the pained cries of her younger sister was more painful.

And then came a new type of pain when they awoke as an immortal: thirst. The searing pain in their throats as if they had gone weeks without a drop of water while in the blazing heat of a desert was the best way Ririka could describe it. And even then, it was far worse. They were not allowed to leave the cellar until they were fed, so they both took their first life when two human peasants were thrown into the cellar with them. Soon, new screams were heard, but not from the twins. From their prey. Ririka felt horrible when her teeth latched around the throat of someone who was unaware that they were about to die, but as soon as the blood touched her lips, her mind went blank and the hunt set in. She cursed her life, her very existence, as soon as the body in front of her took it's final gasp for breath and fell to her feet as a lifeless corpse. It was a harsh reminder that her life as a human was over, nothing more but a shadow of her past. She also knew that her prior self was dead, died the moment she took her first life. 

Both she and Kirari were born to eventually become vampires, the next heirs of the Momobami clan; it was unavoidable for both of them. It was common knowledge that once a human turned into a vampire, they no longer had the capability to reproduce; hence why the only way to become a vampire was to be bitten into existence. In reality, the twin's biological parents were human slaves to the clan, people who were disposable. Their adoptive parents had perished in a battle for territory which meant they were next in line to become head of the clan.

Their grandmother had grown tired of her five hundred years of existence, so she planned for one of the twins to take over when they turned eighteen and once that happened, she herself would die; it was her right. Once a Bami leader had served in a leadership position for at least half a millennium, they had the right to die by that point.

Killing a vampire, now that was difficult part. The only way to do so was to tear it apart, limb from limb, and then burn the pieces to ash. A very gruesome way to finally die, but the Bami's took it as a ritual of honor. A "cleansing ceremony" of sorts which was incredibly symbolic for their clan. Only another head from another family was permitted to go through with this ritual; anyone else who tried would meet the same fate.

The day Ririka and Kirari became immortals, they also had to witness the death of their grandmother. All they could do was stand by and watch as she was ripped to pieces and turned into dust. Though they both were relieved she could finally rest in peace since no person was ever meant to live so long, it was also painful to witness since they deeply cared about her. Neither denied that It was the darkest day of their lives; neither ever spoke of it to each other or anyone else after it happened, but still had the painful memory replay in their minds for many decades after.

Ririka didn't want Mary to ever know of her horrid past. Mary claimed that Ririka wasn't a monster, but Ririka solidly believed that if Mary had seen even so much as a glimpse into her past, the rebellious phase against her clan she had of killing humans, those words would be taken back in an instant. Yet another reason why Ririka knew she couldn't grow too attached to the werewolf, regardless if Mary was immortal. However, if there was anyone Ririka would open up to about that information, it would probably be Mary. Perhaps someday, far into the future when the two were much closer to each other.

"How are you doing?" Ririka asked the blonde, deciding to break the silence.

"How am I doing?" Mary scoffed. "How are you doing? You seem more shaken up than I am."

"I'll admit, I'm not happy with how I reacted," Ririka murmured. "I've killed humans, but this time was different. I didn't kill him, but... I ruined his life."

The car slowly came to a stop in front of the driveway to the mansion. Ririka didn't turn off the car engine and Mary had a feeling she wasn't planning on it. The two sat in silence; the only sound that could be heard was the low hum from the engine.

"I understand how it feels, Ririka," Mary offered.

"Do you?" Ririka didn't look up, but her voice sounded skeptical.

Mary inhaled deeply. She couldn't believe she was going to tell her about the incident. "Remember when I said a name in my sleep earlier? Tsuzura?"

Ririka finally looked over to her and gave a gentle nod.

"Her life was ruined because of me," Mary whispered lowly and panicked briefly when she saw the look of shock on Ririka's face. "I didn't kill her if that's what you were thinking!"

"I-I wasn't," Ririka shook her head. "I'd appreciate an explanation though. If you're comfortable with it. Can you start with telling me who she was or... is?"

Mary smiled painfully. "She was someone very close to me. One of my best friends. Like I said, she's still alive out there somewhere, but she's not in my life anymore. And that's my fault."

Most of that statement was true, except for the fact that Mary left out one important detail. Tsuzura was her first love. Mary had only known her for a couple of years in middle school. Back then, times were happier. Easier. Back when Mary couldn't transform into a giant monster.

"Was she human?" Ririka asked calmly.

Mary nodded. "Yeah. And that's partially why she's not in my life anymore. If she was a werewolf like me, well... she would have healed."  

"It sounds like you hurt her," Ririka murmured.

"I did more than that," Mary chuckled darkly. "I took away something from her that she can't get back. I took her voice." 

She had gotten into an argument with Tsuzura over something she honestly couldn't remember. It wasn't even that big of an issue as far as she could recall, but what she did remember was the intense heat spreading all throughout her body. It was like she had a fever, one that pumped adrenaline and anger through her veins. She felt as if at any given moment she was going to self combust, and all it took was one yell from her friend that sparked a chain reaction.

She was scared as the transformation had began. She remembered how Tsuzura kept calling her name and Mary screamed at her to stand back. But by the time Tsuzura could react, it was too late. She had gotten too close.

The next few moments happened so quickly. The scent of blood filled the air as Mary looked down at her dearest friend and the one she loved as she clutched her throat spilling with blood. Mary could see the absolute terror in her eyes as she stared up at a giant wolf that used to be her friend.

As quickly as Mary had phased, she returned to her human form. Tsuzura couldn't scream or even speak. Her vocal chords were very much rendered useless. But she could still move, and the moment her eyes locked with Mary, all she wanted to do was get as far away from her as possible. And Mary couldn't blame her. She just about slit her throat, Tsuzura had every right to be horrified.

All Mary could do was call for the paramedics and vanish right before they arrived. She couldn't bear to see the girl she loved look so afraid of her. She knew that was the shittiest thing she could have possibly done, but her legs just began running and she couldn't stop them. She didn't want to stop running either.

"Her voice?" Ririka asked.

"We got into some stupid fight, I don't even remember what it was over," Mary scoffed, tears welling in her eyes. "I wasn't aware I was a werewolf yet and I phased for the first time during the argument. She... got too close."

Ririka blinked at her, realizing what that indicated. "Oh."

"I look back on it and think about everything I could have done to avoid that. Had I done something different, who knows? She may still be my friend. She may not have moved out of the country," Mary explained somberly.

Finding out Tsuzura moved away was perhaps what killed Mary the most. She didn't leave so much as a letter or even a text message for Mary to discover. Mary had to find out through one of Tsuzura's neighbors who claimed after "the bear attack" that Tsuzura's parents decided to move somewhere far away from any wilderness. As well as where Tsuzura would be transferring to a school for the mute and deaf.

What Mary never understood is why Tsuzura never exposed her secret. Then again, who would have believed her? A girl being attacked by her best friend who transformed into a giant wolf was a story that could have sent her to an insane asylum. A bear attack while out hiking was far more believable and was probably the only thing the doctors could describe where her wounds came from.

"She used to have the sweetest voice too," Mary continued, wiping away a tear. "She wanted to become a singer and she would have. But I took that away from her."

"I'm sorry," Ririka said solemnly, reaching out to touch Mary's hand. "That must have been very hard on you."

Mary flinched when she felt cold fingers lightly touch her hand. She looked down at Ririka's hand and took it into her own, looking up at the vampire with a weak smile.

"It was," Mary confirmed. "So I do understand what you're feeling, Riri. Just... don't make the same mistake I made."

"What was that?" Ririka questioned.

"Don't let this eat at you forever. Don't push people you care about away because of this," Mary explained. "I could tell you were worried how I felt throughout all of this. You're worried I'm afraid of you now, right?"

Ririka nodded. "I don't want you to be."

"I'm not," Mary assured, giving the vampire's hand a light squeeze. "I'm not scared of you. I never have been and I never will be."

"How can you be so sure? You know I've killed people. Anyone with blood. You still have a beating heart and blood pumping through your veins, Mary. Who's to say I won't try to go after you if you get cut by something someday and I'm desperate for any blood I can get?" Ririka questioned in all seriousness.

That was something Ririka had been concerned about for a while, actually. Yes, Mary was a werewolf and the taste of werewolf blood was said to be absolutely appalling to a vampire. However, Ririka couldn't deny that Mary's scent was different than that of other werewolves. She didn't smell like a wet dog like the typical werewolf would smell like to some degree. Something about Mary was alluring to Ririka. Her scent, her smile, her... everything. The vampire knew she could never forgive herself if she let something happen to Mary because of her.

Mary leaned in close, close enough to see every intricate and perfect detail on Ririka's face. "You won't. I know you won't."

Mary said it with such certainty, it stunned Ririka how she had such confidence in her. She wanted to tell Mary she was right, but for a creature with a track record such as Ririka, she could never fully assure Mary that she wouldn't ever try to go after her blood. Especially if Ririka had gone a good while without feeding and Mary just so happened to get cut by something at the wrong time. Then it would be the ultimate gamble for whether or not Ririka would lose control and suck the life out of a girl she was utterly enamored by.

Ririka swallowed hard. "F-for your sake, I hope you're right."

"Do I make you nervous being this close? Thirsty?" Mary questioned with a smirk, leaning even closer.

Ririka had never been this close to another being before. She could see Mary's sparkling, golden eyes perfectly now, hear the sound of her heart steadily beating in her chest, smell her sweet yet earthy scent. Ririka realized then she had never met anyone quite as beautiful as Mary either. No one came close.

"No, n-not thirsty," Ririka admitted.

"Nervous then?" Mary asked, her voice just above a whisper, her arm slowly trailing up Ririka's.

Ririka's heart had stopped beating three centuries ago, yet now she felt a tightness in her chest as if her heart were about to start up again. A yearning and desire to fill the gap between them. Ririka wondered just what would have happened if she did. She wondered if Mary would push her away or pull her closer in. But she was close. So close. It would have been so easy to just let go and lean forward and-

"We should probably go inside," Ririka muttered quickly, finally shutting off the car.

A streak of disappointment briefly flashed across Mary's features, but it wasn't very noticeable. What was she expecting? Ririka to fill the gap between them and kiss her? Certainly not. Mary wasn't so sure if she was prepared to try to do that herself.

"Yeah," Mary agreed, blushing furiously.

For a few hours, the two didn't talk to each other very much. Ririka's mind was occupied with thoughts of Mary and the incident that occurred earlier that night whereas Mary's mind thought of Ririka and of the stupidity of the characters in the cheesy romance novel she was reading that she picked off of Ririka's shelf. They were in the same room, both secretly wishing one or the other would say something to strike up a conversation, but they both remained silent.

Yet, the silence wasn't uncomfortable or even awkward. In a sense, each other's presence felt natural. Comforting. When not surrounded by other people, the two were relatively quiet by nature. Mary enjoyed the peaceful silence to an extent. It was a change of pace compared to being around Itsuki or Ryota, who could never seem to remain quiet for longer than five minutes. Mary was at least grateful that the person she imprinted on was introverted and not loud or obnoxious.

Eventually, Mary decided to try to fall asleep. Like usual, Ririka sat at Mary's bedside, watching and waiting for the blonde to fall asleep. Mary's eyes remained open, feeling wide awake. She had a feeling this might have happened considering the vast amount of sleep she received earlier, so chances were, she wasn't going to get very much sleep if any at all tonight.

"All right, I can't take this," Mary grumbled, sitting up.

Ririka looked at her with curious eyes. "What's wrong, Mary?"

"I had enough sleep earlier," Mary huffed. "I won't be able to fall asleep for at least a few more hours."

"But it's midnight. I have no issue with you sleeping in, but are you sure you want to stay up?" Ririka frowned.

"I can't sleep right now. Is there something we can do? What time does that meeting of yours start?" Mary asked.

Ririka glanced over towards the clock. "In a few minutes, actually. I was going to start heading over to the conference room when you fell asleep, but... you're still awake."

"Can I attend the meeting with you? It'll cure my boredom," Mary requested.

Allowing a werewolf to listen in on private Bami clan conversations would be equivalent to treason. However, it was never strictly written in their laws that a werewolf couldn't attend if one claimed they weren't aware of their presence. Besides, Ririka was certain that Kirari had let Sayaka listen in on the family meetings on more than one occasion. No one ever found out because technically no one was there. The easiest way to communicate was through the use of radios, so none of the clan members were ever physically present. Ririka supposed Mary could join her, so long as she remained quiet. 

"I doubt that," Ririka scoffed. "These conferences are dreadfully boring. You won't want to stay longer than five minutes, I'm sure."

Mary shrugged. "We'll see. So... can I?"

"I don't see why not," Ririka smiled.

The werewolf grinned toothily and pulled the covers off of her, hopping out of bed. Since they weren't leaving the estate, Ririka gave Mary permission to wear her pajamas even though she herself had to dress up. It was more ceremonial than anything else, but Mary certainly wasn't complaining seeing Ririka in a dark blue suit and tie. Though, that did make her look tacky in those pajamas as she walked with Ririka down a hall of the mansion she hadn't seen before.

"Am I even allowed to do this?" Mary asked quietly as if someone would hear her.

Ririka shook her head. "Not really. I'd probably get burned at the stake if any of my relatives discovered I let a werewolf listen in on our family secrets."

Mary stopped walking and Ririka did as well. "Why didn't you say so? I wouldn't have tagged along if I knew that!"

"Relax, I said if they found out. None of them will," Ririka chuckled, placing a hand on Mary's shoulder. "Don't worry, Kirari is just as guilty of letting Sayaka attend some of the conferences too."

"So, you both break the rules big time by letting Sayaka and I listen in," Mary snickered and they resumed walking. "Wait, do vampires even have any rules or laws?"

Ririka thought briefly. To the vampires outside of the Momobami clan, yes. There were quite a few rules that all immortals had to follow or else they would be at the mercy of the second largest vampire coven in the world who lived in Italy. Since the Momobami's kept to themselves and were significantly bigger than the other refined coven, their laws applied only to fellow clan members.

They technically didn't need to follow the laws that the average vampire would, but many of the Bami laws were similar to the other laws anyway. The two covens kept a truce that way so no wars had to occur again. The Bami's were only concerned with their own.

"Not very many. There's only a few that are regularly enforced. Keep the existence of our kind a secret, don't kill or turn humans conspicuously, do not turn a child, et cetera," Ririka explained. "Unless of course, you want to die. Then the heads of each family will happily oblige and hunt you down."

Mary's eyes widened. "This is for all of your kind?"

Ririka shook her head lightly. "No, that only applies to members of our clan. Any vampire outside of our clan faces the wrath of another coven who lives in Italy. We don't need to be concerned about them though. We follow our own laws."

"That's... good?" Mary asked more than said.

"It is good depending on where you lie in the hierarchy. Kirari and I could get away with breaking some laws and receive a punishment equivalent to a slap on the wrist," Ririka smiled. "As for some of our lower ranking members, breaking any of our laws could mean the end of their life."

"Oh, so it's still tyranny," Mary stated flatly. "Just like at Hyakkaou."

"Kirari sees it more as a monarchy, but yes, I suppose you're right," Ririka nodded in agreement. "Although, there are still laws that even Kirari and I still have to follow. The ones I mentioned are the main ones."

"So what happens if someone does break one of your laws?" Mary questioned.

The process though it sounded difficult, was actually very simple. A member of the Honebami family would track down the person in question and hand them over to the Obami family for a justice trial of sorts. If found guilty, from that point the individual would be held prisoner by the Mushibami family until the head of the Totobami family decided what punishment was deemed fit. After approval from the head of the Momobami family, the Inbami's would typically then take over and enforce the punishment which in most cases was death or banishment.

Many of the lower, lesser Bami clan members would intentionally break laws in order to become banished. However, they took an enormous risk by doing so since most punishments were dismemberment or death. Only a handful of clan members had actually been banished, a mercy from Kirari and a couple prior leaders of the clan. It was a system the clan lived by for many millenniums.

"Whoever broke the law will be hunted down, be given a trial, and then held prisoner. If found guilty, the head of the Totobami family makes a decision on what punishment they receive. Kirari must approve of it first, though," Ririka explained.

As they rounded a corner of a dim corridor, Mary saw a large door that seemed like it held great significance. Especially since there was a vampire guarding the entrance. She instantly noticed Mary and gave Ririka a confused expression. Her eyes were bright red, unlike Ririka's cool cerulean ones.

"You're not going to allow the dog to pass, are you?" she asked, sneering at the werewolf.

Mary was ready to speak her mind by being called the derogatory slur, but remained quiet as she saw Ririka walk up to the smaller vampire, looming over her. Ririka raised a brow at her in question and the smaller vampire cowered, looking away in fear.

"She is my honored guest. And do not refer to her as a dog ever again, Kokoro," Ririka commanded harshly.

There was a certain coldness to Ririka's tone that Mary recognized earlier that night when she spoke to the man she almost killed. She sounded very much like her twin, but her tone was far more sinister. Mary shivered as soon as she made the connection, realizing that Ririka's tone changed when she was greatly irritated and made a mental note to never piss her off.

Kokoro instantly knelt down at Ririka's feet. "Please forgive me, Lady Momobami."

Something was oddly familiar about this vampire. Mary thought she recognized the name and it finally hit her. This was the very first person she gambled against on her first day of attending Hyakkaou. Her hair was now differently styled and her smug smile no longer existed. Around her neck was something similar to a housepet tag, but appeared to be more of a choker than a necklace.

She knew that Kokoro became a housepet after she lost the gamble against her, but she wasn't aware that she became a servant of the Momobami's after she left the academy. She wondered what trouble she must have gotten into to get into this position.

Surprisingly, Kokoro didn't seem to remember Mary's face, so Mary kept her head low in case the vampire decided to take a closer look. Mary looked older and her hair wasn't in pigtails like usual, but her features were relatively the same. She didn't want to risk having Kokoro recognize her and cause any problems.

"You are forgiven," Ririka spoke calmly. "Now, is everything prepared inside?"

"Yes, my Lady," Kokoro nodded vigorously.

"You are free to return to your quarters then," Ririka said, dismissing her with the wave of her hand.

"Much appreciated, my Lady," Kokoro smiled before dashing away quickly.

Ririka opened the door and offered Mary to enter first. Mary was still in shock from seeing Kokoro again. Ririka followed behind her, gently shutting the door.

"Since when did Aiura work for you guys?" Mary commented, her curiosity getting the best of her.

"You know her?" Ririka asked, surprised.

"Yeah, she challenged me to a gamble on my first day when I first arrived at Hyakkaou and lost," Mary nodded.

"Hm, that explains why she challenged me to a gamble in hopes to get out of her debt," Ririka pondered aloud. "She lost very badly, of course, so now she is a servant to the Momobami clan for the next six decades in order to pay off her debt."

Mary ignored the reminder that the one she imprinted on was not only strikingly gorgeous and sweet, but at times could be absolutely terrifying. "I didn't even think you could win a gamble. You lost to me, after all."

"That wasn't a fair gamble," Ririka pointed out with a smirk. "It was snowing and I wasn't at my full capacity since I didn't feed the same day."

"Yeah, yeah, call it how you want. I still won," Mary grinned smugly. "Also, what was up with her calling you Lady Momobami? Did she think you were Kirari or something?"

"Kirari often wears her hair down like I do when we come home," Ririka explained. "Since no one can tell the difference including her, she just always assumes it's Kirari she sees."

"I can tell the difference," Mary pouted. "Must be a werewolf thing."

Ririka gave a light smile and gently nudged Mary's arm. "No, I think it's a Mary thing."

Mary blushed at that. "W-whatever. Let's just get on with this stupid conference before I get bored."

In an instant, Ririka went around all the room and turned on each radio standing on it's own podium. There were at least fifteen radios in the room that all had a plaque with a family name on it all ending with Bami. Once all the radios were fully functioning, Ririka walked over to Mary and leaned forward.

"You need to remain quiet the entire time. Do you think you can manage?" Ririka whispered into her ear.

Mary's blush traveled all the way down to her neck, leaving goosebumps in its wake. She swallowed hard and nodded.

"Good," Ririka smiled, flashing her fangs.

The vampire gracefully walked to the futon in the center of the room and sat down. She looked back at Mary and patted the seat next to her, beckoning the werewolf to sit next to her. Stiffly, Mary did as she was told and walked over before taking a seat next to her.

As voices began emitting from the radios, each one called out their names and what family they were from. Once everyone was accounted for, Ririka inhaled and exhaled deeply.

"Let us begin," Ririka spoke, imitating Kirari's voice perfectly which she had done many times before.

It started off how it always did: organized, sophisticated, and everyone took their turn to speak like proper leaders should. Each head of each family gave their annual report on feeding grounds and whether or not the humans grew suspicious of disappearances and such. There was the mention of a werewolf killing a clan member and sought for advice on what to do. There was also the occasional bickering of not being able to feed enough off of live prey which honestly sickened Ririka to hear, knowing how several of her relatives would often overfeed to the point where people began to take notice.

The only conversation that brought forth any real excitement was that a member of the Obami family had committed treason to which Ririka allowed the Inbami's to decide this persons fate. The Inbami's, of course, were all too happy to provide Ririka with what forms of torture they would use before killing the traitor. All of this was typical for at least the first half of these meetings, until things would go horribly wrong and more often than not end in fights and petty threats. Ririka sat and awaited for the chaos to ensue as it surely would.

When each head began to arrogantly boast about their accomplishments, that's when it turned into how these conferences would always end: chaotic, loud, and bitter. One family would bring up past failures which lead to a constant game of name calling and exposing flaws until the only sounds that could be heard were bickers of people all rudely talking over each other.

Ririka felt embarrassed that Mary had to witness this, but soon noticed that the blonde had actually ended up falling asleep, probably because she grew bored. If she was still awake, Ririka was certain she would have left the room due to the obnoxious complaining. She herself felt her anger build up until it just about boiled over.

"How boring," Ririka sighed, still imitating Kirari's voice as the yelling died down. "You people all bore me terribly."

Perhaps that was slightly out of character since Kirari did find it humerus to an extent whenever their family members made fools of themselves, but it was just incredibly annoying for Ririka. She was ready for this conference to end and clear her mind of it before she had to deal with it all over again the next night.

Ririka heard whispers and accusations which she would have none of. "It makes me cry, realizing you people help run my coven. The same old avarice for blood, same old empty threats, same old animosity. I'm sick of it. As your leader, I disavow all of you."

The entire room went dead quiet for a brief moment before new screams bellowed over the radios, all questioning Kirari's authority and how dare she spoke that way towards her elders. Ririka smiled darkly, holding back a laugh. These people really hadn't changed during the many years they had existed. Far too many years, in her opinion.

"If you have a problem with it, feel free to come after me with everything you've got. I'd be glad to oblige," Ririka offered and the room once again grew silent. "That's what I thought. Now, if there is nothing more you people have to share aside from bicker amongst each other, I would like to end this meeting."

There were no open objections.

"Very well then. I bid you all farewell," Ririka said calmly.

One by one, each radio shut off as each family head left her presence. All except for one radio. Ririka looked at it in question, wondering what the head of the Totobami clan could want. Typically, Hayami didn't have very much to say during conferences anymore and never really requested anything. Not like she used to many years ago. Her involvement in clan issues was far less than it used to be.

"Momobami-sama, are you still here?" Hayami spoke softly.

"Yes, I am here," Ririka responded in a far softer tone than she used towards her other family members.

A pause. "Are you alone? I'd prefer no one else to know of this for the time being."

Ririka glanced over at Mary who was still very much asleep and even lightly snoring. "I am alone."

"I have a request," Hayami said in a tired voice. "I have been walking the earth for six hundred and fifty years. Surely you can understand that I have grown weary of my existence."

Ririka immediately knew where she was going with this. "I see. Can I assume you are going to request a cleansing ceremony?"

Hayami sighed from the other side. "Indeed, it is long passed my time. I am finally ready to die the death I should have many centuries ago."

"And so you shall with honor and dignity," Ririka replied in assurance. "The Bami clan will forever be in appreciation of your services and leadership. I will arrange an appropriate date and inform the other members of this within a few weeks."

"Thank you," the ancient vampire murmured in appreciation. "And in death, my eldest daughter Terano will be taking my place as leader of the Totobami family."

Hearing Terano's name caused Ririka to flinch. She was starting to understand another reason why Hayami was going through with this now. She wasn't being misleading when she claimed she wanted to die, almost everyone knew this for a while. However, whenever a head passed on, a new head would take their place.

Ririka knew Kirari was someone Terano held a personal grudge against. Surely as soon as Terano entered this role of leadership, she would challenge Kirari's place. And Terano was not an immortal anyone would ever want to trifle with. Not even someone as powerful as Kirari.

"As you wish," Ririka nodded, even though Hayami couldn't see her. "Is there anything else?"

"No, not at the moment," Hayami responded quietly.

"Then you are free to leave," Ririka dismissed her.

Ririka heard the radio shut off and she sighed. It had been two hundred years since a family member had requested a cleansing ceremony, but it was absolutely Hayami's right to request one given the amount of time she had been forced to drain the life out of humans and walk around as a soul-less being. Ririka just felt a bit sad since Hayami had always shown Kirari and her kindness in the past, compared to the rest of their selfish, cruel relatives. Having her depart from this world was a somber thought to dwell on, but Ririka didn't judge her decision. She herself had been wanting the sweet release of death for decades.

Yet alas, she would have to wait another couple hundred years or break vampire law in order to die, but... times were a bit different now. Ririka had her very first friend and she wanted to experience the joys of life she was denied of. Perhaps Mary could help her find that joy in life once again. Her presence alone brought a smile to Ririka's face and whenever they touched, Ririka felt something flutter in her chest, so it was certainly a start. And because Mary was apparently immortal like she was, Ririka really did have all the time in the world, didn't she?

The vampire looked down at Mary and noticed that her position looked rather uncomfortable with her neck leaning back. Ririka chuckled to herself, deciding to try to wake her up so she didn't develop a crick in her neck.

"Mary," Ririka gently nudged her. "Mary, the conference is over."

The werewolf stirred slightly, but didn't open her eyes. "No, five more minutes."

Ririka shook her head and smiled. "Wouldn't you prefer the comfort of a bed?"

"It's too far," Mary groaned.

"Would you like me to carry you and take you to your room?" Ririka teased.

That caught Mary's attention. Her eyes slowly fluttered open and she gave a side glance towards the smirking vampire. Mary shrugged. "Yeah, carry me."

Ririka had totally not expected that response. She pressed her lips together in consideration. Had anyone she knew seen her with a werewolf in her arms walking through the halls of her own house, she would have very little dignity left and likely would have been teased relentlessly. Well, no one she knew was around and she could have silenced any of the servants who witnessed this and tried to spread rumors.

What harm would it do anyway? It wasn't like Mary was heavy, not for a creature like Ririka who could easily rip a tree out of its roots in the ground. The only issue that came to mind was that the gesture felt a tad... intimate. Then again, this gave her yet another opportunity to relish in Mary's warmth, so she made her final decision, scooping the smaller girl into her arms.

Mary laid her head against Ririka's cold chest, but seemed more or less unfazed. Her eyes were closed again and Ririka couldn't help but stand still for a moment, taking the time to look fondly at her.

"What are you waiting for, Ririka? Start moving," Mary murmured tiredly.

Ririka wanted to say she was simply admiring the blonde's beauty, which she completely was, but instead replied with: "May I remind you whose home this is and who is so generously taking you to bed? The least you can do is request something of me politely."

"Please start moving," Mary yawned. "Or don't. Your chest is actually pretty comfortable."

Ririka almost sputtered at that statement. Instead, she kept her mouth shut and began to walk. She was uncertain why Mary was so touchy with her and not anyone else, not that she knew of at least. Ririka knew well enough that if one of Mary's friend tried to do what she was doing, Mary would have tried to squirm out of their arms immediately. So why was she so comfortable around her? So open? It almost reminded her of how Sayaka treated Kirari.

'Perhaps Mary...' Ririka thought momentarily and instantly denied the thought, lightly shaking her head.

She would have known by now if Mary imprinted on her. And why her of all people if that were the case? It wasn't impossible, she supposed. From what she knew about imprinting, which granted wasn't very much because of what little Mary explained to her, she knew she didn't have enough knowledge on the matter to confirm her suspicions. Besides, Mary would tell her, wouldn't she? Friends aren't supposed to lie to each other after all.

Well, maybe she would interrogate Kirari or better yet Sayaka on the subject when she returned to Hyakkaou. One if not both would likely have some answers for her. For now, all she was concerned about was getting Mary into bed so she could rest peacefully.

"This is nice," Mary whispered.

Ririka slowed her steps and let those words sit in her mind. "Yes, indeed it is."

Mary nuzzled closer to the vampire and released a content sigh. Ririka felt that stirring sensation in her chest again, this time stronger than earlier. She felt an overwhelming sensation to protect Mary, but also something else. Attraction wasn't the word she wanted to use, but it was as accurate as it could get. Curse Mary and her ability to cause Ririka to feel things.

The bedroom was thankfully dark which spared Ririka the time from turning off the lights. She gently placed Mary onto the bed, noticing that she was now asleep. She then pulled the covers over her body and sat down next to her, far closer than she had the previous nights.

A part of her wanted to lay down next to her, just for the experience of it, but she felt as if that were crossing a line. That wasn't a line she was risking to cross right now out of fear of how Mary would react when she woke up. Although considering Mary had no issue with Ririka literally carrying her into bed, perhaps Ririka was overthinking things like she usually did. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad to lay down next to her and allow her mind to wander for a while.

Ririka released a sigh, longingly looking down at the sleeping blonde. 'Someday, maybe...'