The floor was cold against her face, the blood had stopped being warm a while ago and her muscles were weak compared to only a few minutes after her... fall.
Her vision blurred and just for this occasion she was glad it was so, the sepulchral silence in which she was enveloped meant only one thing. Something she would never forgive herself if she accepted it so easily.
She could barely feel the air filling her lungs and escaping, slower and slower, less and less.
She made peace with the fact that soon it would be her turn to close her eyes, never to open them again.
If this was the price for competing for the shine...he wanted to simply give it all up and turn his back on that twisted world bathed illusorily in pink. Competition to be top star. Seemingly friendly competition. The finals. And suddenly it all went wrong.
She breathed hard enough for her mortal wound to throb with force, wincing in pain. But she also managed to clear her poor sight to a figure lying on the ground just like her, but unlike her, her companion was trying with all her might to get up...without being able to do so.
Of course, she wouldn't want to end up like that.
She was always a fighter.
With what seemed like a very painful attempt the chestnut tried to mimic her, her body felt like dead weight commanded by her desire to get closer, she let out hisses of pain and a couple of low grunts as she crawled with every ounce of strength she had left, it wasn't much, but she made her biggest and most painful effort to get closer to her blonde.
Claudine was begging her in a weak voice, her eyes pained and crystallized, imploring her not to move, there was also terror as she noticed the trail of blood in which the girl was engulfed
Maya in spite of her pain did everything she could to get closer, only when she was close enough she let herself collapse painfully against the ground feeling how her wound was a source of heat, her blood spilled more and she barely had the strength to moan silently.
They said nothing, but their eyes met and reflected her inner self.
Claudine examined Maya's face, it was paler than normal, the cuts and bruises spread everywhere and even lowering her gaze she noticed the extensive stain on her uniform, pain spread throughout her chest as she saw the mortal wound she carried and her face contracted in a painful expression, despair and guilt took over her and she knew that the pain overtook her moment of weakness. Her Maya was hurt. All because she couldn't protect her...she wasn't able to protect anyone.
Her tears and sobs broke the silence, she didn't have enough lucidity to tear herself apart, but she felt broken inside. Tears were the only thing that gave her warmth at this moment.
"Shh...Ma belle Princesse...I'm fine, nothing is going to happen to me" he cooed to her trying to reach out his arm to take her forgotten hand on the hard stage floor, despite the existing blood staining the purity of her softness she brought it to his lips and kissed the back of it, then covered it with her other hand and exhaled a shaky sigh trying to warm her. Claudine's sobs seemed to stop, but when she met his gaze there was only a pool of pain.
"Liar..." she cried as a choked claim.
Maya continued with her work as much as Claudine allowed her to, the blonde in pain moved closer to be a few inches away from the chestnut and withdrew her hand just to do the same for her, but Claudine's breath was much weaker so Maya felt a new wave of anguish, inspecting her french, she looked as emaciated as her, with a slight tremor she looked down and found a totally horrible wound from which blood was flowing, she couldn't stand it and started to cry as well
"T-This is nothing...don't cry like that Tendo Maya, I won't let you!"
Her voice came out more broken than she intended, Maya gave her a pained look and almost at the same time they met in a painful embrace avoiding pressing each other in the wrong places, although Maya with a gentle push wanted Claudine to lean against her. The blonde let out a small gasp as she heard Maya's heart rate...an unwanted thought ran through her...they were going to die no matter what.
Maya seemed to read the trembling in her body and continued to effortfully run her hands over her beloved's back and hair, resisting as long as she could for her partner's sake
"Maya I don't want to die here."
It was a whisper at best, but Maya heard it loud and clear, she pulled away with a whimper only to see Claudine's face, there was clear desperation and exhaustion between each blink...she was resisting
"Easy, my beautiful Claudine...we'll be fine, you were always so strong" Maya leaned down kissing her blonde's forehead, her lips were a little cold and broken, but it didn't stop her, just as Claudine's fear didn't leave her
"H-How are you so sure..." her tone was so small, Maya had to be strong for both of them, she didn't even know but she wanted to reassure her "I couldn't protect you...t-this is a punishment for my greed, now I will lose you like I lost the rest of our friends, Maya...it hurts" the grip she had on Maya tightened slightly, the girl with amethyst eyes didn't push away her anguish and hugged tighter the blonde who was crying with her
"Don't blame yourself...please don't. Claudine searched Maya's eyes, she found comfort in her tired eyes and her dull tone, it was hard to believe it...but at this moment she had nothing to lose, she only felt pain, coldness and Maya's comfort which she clung to like a life preserver.
"I trust you" she murmured as she leaned a little closer to give her a chaste kiss on the underside of her jaw, there was a small cut, but Maya didn't care, instead she tried to give her a half-hearted smile which was the best she could do at the time
They fell into a silence as with what little strength they had they clung to each other's almost cold body, Maya kissed the crown of Claudine's head occasionally and with each pulse of strength she pulled her in to reinforce their embrace, sometimes resting her cheek against her head and nuzzling where she could.
Claudine clung to his torso and buried her face in the chestnut's neck as she allowed herself to rest her own skin there, she could find some degree of warmth...not much, but it was comforting. His hands also touched her messy hair and traces of other people's blood.....
"Next time we meet...would you change anything?" murmured Claudine straining for breath, she tried to divert her attention by filling her effort with small talk, she knew she had very little time left.
Maya stopped for a fragment of a second her caresses just thinking that she could be totally honest...it could be almost her only chance
"I would have proposed sooner...much sooner, I would want to take you on more dates, I would want the privilege of sleeping in your bed and be surrounded by your warmth, I would want to buy you gifts and share my life with you..."
The blonde became a little more attached, touched by the answer.
"I wish I could have taken you to France, spend festivities with you, hold your hand in public, cook for you, introduce you to my parents, dance more choreographies, kiss you" Claudine went on, she felt happy for the small leap in her Maya's heart
"I love that you feel like me..."
So in love
"Those could be our plans; I wouldn't mind spending my life with you."
"We could get married too..." Maya commented with gentle honesty
"I'll accept, but it has to be romantic."
"I wouldn't see it any other way, I'll try my best next time Ma Cherie."
"And then I want us to move in together."
"As you command, I'm very happy to accept" there was a mutual smile.
They were both thinking of various scenarios, moments with each other that they wanted to be a part of their lives, something as domestic as lying on the couch in their apartment while watching a play and cuddling, something as common as kissing each other to exhaustion while proclaiming soft words in the comfort of their bed.
"I regret not being able to do those things in this life" Maya said with her voice a tone more muffled, she was finding it a little hard to breathe
"It's our plan" she murmured turning her face to kiss his hand.
"It's our promise" she finished
Another time passed in which the cold was unbearable, but the notion of a second chance where they could be together filled them with warmth as they slowly lost consciousness. It was more than difficult for both of them to stay conscious, but Maya knew that they didn't have much left... at one of her beloved blonde's forced breaths she cradled her against herself and with a kiss on the bridge of her nose she lulled her to sleep.
"Don't struggle anymore, please...close your eyes, when you open them I'll be with you...I promise, Ma Claudine" The blonde gave her a longing look, a little scared, but it was true that she had fought with all her being to be awake until now, but her struggle ended when she felt Maya's trembling fingers gently close her eyelids
And she let go...she stopped struggling.
Maya couldn't hold back the tears properly, but the pain didn't stifle the strong desire to keep her promise, so she curled up hugging her beloved and stroked her hair until she also felt everything leave her with agonizing slowness.
Then she too closed her eyes, only with a small smile at the thought of how she was going to be reunited with the love of her life.
Everything went black, everything was silent.
The battlefield was a massacre, blood was spreading like a tide threatening to overflow and weapons were strewn all over the ground.
All the girls lying there had been greedy to get what they wanted most and that was the price. There could only be one winner. The others would pay with their own lives.
However, they did not all fall alone....
Firmly holding hands were the former top star and her eternal rival, even in her death they had remained together. And they understood that.