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Queen of Tragedy
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Place of rocks and trees, and trees and rocks...and water.
*Tip toes in*
Midterms suck >< Four midterms within a week is just torture
Thanks to Itanshi1 and RB again!
Is second-best really good enough?
Angel, Chapter 5
Chapter 5: Bear the Cross
“Nothing,” Teana scowled into her cell phone, crouched at the edge of an office building in some run-down country half-way across the world. The reception was crappy but hey, it wasn’t like she had to pay the long-distance bills. It pays to have a computer-savvy comrade and a master scryer on your team.
“Make another round,” Chrono’s voice crackled. “The magic traces are still strong, it could be a potential one. Shamal’s been amplifying the trace to the Angels, so watch if they show—although with a new Tome reader, they might have picked it up before us.”
“She might not even be dead.” Standing beside Teana, a cheery blue-haired girl joined in the conversation. Teana gritted her teeth—ever since Subaru had been upgraded with wireless and Bluetooth no phone conversation stayed private anymore. While she didn’t care if it happened while reporting dull news to Chrono, the annoying habit was just another thing about Subaru that irritated the illusion-maker. Blithely unaware of Teana’s fuming thoughts, Subaru continued, “Signum ‘ported them all out really quick; the Angel could still be alive, possibly.”
“No, I doubt it,” Teana snapped. “Angel or no, she’s only human—and most humans can’t survive skewering.”
“You’re always so mean to me Tea!” Subaru whined, scratching at her cheek with a hand. Despite herself, Teana stared at the metal segments flexing, looking horrifically robotic when exposed without a layer of synthetic skin lining the skeletal frame. Quickly, Subaru shoved her hand into her pocket when she noticed, turning away so that the bare rods in her forearm were hidden from Teana’s view.
“Emergency repair,” she muttered, no trace of mirth left. “I’ll get Amy to help when we get back; I didn’t have much time last night to do it myself.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Teana recomposed herself, but Subaru had gone all quiet now. Sighing, Teana rose, readjusting the long knives at her belt.
Chrono coughed, and said a little awkwardly, “I think we can assume for now that she’s indeed, dead. Anyways, there’ve been a few families in the past whose lines discontinued, then restarted after Bardiche moved on to a new Angel family. There’s a high chance it could resurface with them. Check again, then both of you can come back.” He hung up.
Huffing, Teana snapped her phone shut. “I don’t see why we waste our time tracking the Angel,” she groused. “We should be going after the Jewels before they do.” Subaru only shrugged, and Teana stifled another sigh.
“Come on, let’s get this over with.” Maybe they’ll stop by an ice-cream stand later or something—ice-cream always cheered Subaru up again.
The moment they arrived in Fate’s apartment, Nanoha let out a huge sigh of relief.
“You didn’t have to make it so obvious,” Fate grumbled. “I
done teleportations before.”
“Yes, but after casting the circle, you can’t visually double-check the coordinates,” Nanoha retorted. “And it’s not like anyone else can do it for you, individualized sigils and all, so forgive me for being a little uneasy! I have no desire of ending up in Siberia or in the middle of the ocean by accident.”
Shrugging, Fate swept her way over to their bedrooms, actually using her cane since she didn’t know what had been thrown around from Nanoha’s bombshell entrance a couple days earlier. She hadn’t bothered bringing Arf, although speaking of her dog, she had to bring some dog food for Arf and Zafira…table scraps aren’t so good for them…
Nanoha interrupted her mental lists. “The two of you live
,” Fate said drily. “But yes, it’s just the two of us.” She made a detour at the front door and checked for mail. Lobbing a handful of envelopes Nanoha’s way, trusting that the ninja-girl would catch them all, Fate asked “Could you read those for me?”
“Credit card bill for Yagami Hayate,” Nanoha informed her. “24 500 yen.”
“Hayate needed a new wheelchair,” Fate answered absently, packing clothes for herself and Hayate. “The frame bent on her old one when a bus driver fobbed the transfer and dropped it into traffic.” She counted her steps into the bathroom and tried to find Hayate’s adaptive equipment. Her roommate was too considerate at times, keeping her specialized gear out of the way so well sometimes Fate had trouble finding where Hayate had stuffed it.
Paper ripping, then “Confirmation of transfer from BOJ, monthly stipend, for trust account held by Yagami Hayate and Fate Testarossa.” Nanoha paused. “Isn’t it confusing that you list your names differently?” Rhetorical question, as she simply continued, “Student loan applications, listed for both of you.”
“Ah!” Fate groaned, in the middle of pulling out Arf and Zafira’s travel kits. “I forgot about those…bring them along, maybe Hayate could do them if she’s got time.”
“She’ll be helping Carim look for the Jewel Seeds,” Nanoha protested.
“Look,” Fate said angrily, turning to face the other girl’s general direction. It was a body-language reflex even though Fate knew that she looked silly staring off over her opponent’s shoulder most of the time. At least Hayate never laughed at her, even during their rare arguments. “Some of us have lives, not only a mission. As long as I’m fulfilling my duties as the Black Angel, what do you care about our normal lives?” She shook her head in disgust, and hoisted their packed bags back into the living room.
Nanoha was silent for a time, then when she spoke again, her tone had turned rigid. “Since I don’t care about anything but our mission, why don’t you answer some questions I have? I’ve thought about it, and I have a hard time believing that Alicia never told us about Al Hazard, if it was such an integral part of our goal.”
“I didn’t lie,” Fate couldn’t help saying defensively, more affected by the unspoken implication than she would have liked. Troubling how much she cared, when she had prepared herself to not care at all. “I don’t know why Alicia didn’t say anything about it, but it’s the truth.” Now
she was getting dangerously close to lying…
And of all the luck, Nanoha’s sharp eye caught her hesitance. “You’re not telling me something.” Nanoha eyed her fiercely. “Why didn’t Alicia tell us? Did Precia make her lie to us—threaten her? Alicia would never lie to—”
“Mother would never do that!” Fate cried.
“Then what were they hiding? There has to be something!”
The truth meant nothing to Fate, insignificant in the bigger picture. Even then she hadn’t intended on saying anything, but the words came rushing out to counter Nanoha’s accusation. “She did it for
. For all of you. You’re all so happy as a team, thinking that you’ll watch each other’s backs and be friends forever. It matters a lot to you, doesn’t it?” Fate gripped her cane tightly. “Alicia didn’t tell you about Al Hazard because in the end,
none of you can do anything for her
. All your missions, all your experiences and promises together gathering the Seeds will come to nothing in the end, because at the very end only the Angel can enter Al Hazard. In the end, she’d face her last enemy all alone, and she’d win or die by herself with no one watching her back. Is
what you wanted Alicia to tell you?”
Exhausted from the spiel, Fate sat down on the couch and rested her elbows on her knees. She couldn’t see Nanoha’s face—she didn’t want to see Nanoha’s face.
She heard Nanoha swallow. “Did she…did she ever tell you this?”
“I haven’t seen her for five years—she never told me anything.” Fate said bitterly. “But no, even in our dreams she never said it…but she doesn’t have to.” Smiling wryly, she shrugged and said simply. “I understand the feeling.”
Large hallways didn’t always equate to wide doorways, Hayate learned. Although she’s had plenty of practice in the past, Hayate yelped as she scraped her knuckles on the door frame passing into the kitchen. Kissing the bruised skin, she shook her hand out and rolled over to the fridge. For a populated house, no one seemed to think about food at all.
Hm…most of the food still seemed fresh, so Hayate began gathering ingredients, humming under her breath while she moved about. Or at times, she got Zafira to move for her.
“Sorry Zaffy!” Hayate said sheepishly when she had to send him around opening all the cupboard doors again since the first round didn’t yield any cutting boards. He only waved his tail agreeably. Perhaps the fussing she had made over him that morning while brushing his coat with the combs Fate had brought paid off. At times, Zafira was so intelligent that he’d get cross with her when she made him redo simple things, although he was always long-sufferingly patient.
He would be such an awesome father…Hayate gushed at the thought of Zafira with a pack of puppies climbing all over him and tugging his ears. “Aha!” Cutting board! “Bring.” The trouble with most houses was their counters. The house she had lived in before had been made for paraplegics, with lowered counters and shelves and such, making cooking so much easier. Even the apartment she shared with Fate had high counters, although both of them tended to cook and eat on the kitchen table instead.
Settling the wooden cutting board over her legs, Hayate started slicing vegetables, scraping the cut pieces into a large pot on the floor beside her. Zafira worked himself nearly underneath her, waiting to vacuum up any bits that she might accidentally drop. Arf had the same taste for human food, and when both of them were in the kitchen together Hayate could barely turn without accidentally elbowing some part of a dog.
She had a pot of stew cooking away, pasta baking in the oven and was in the process of frying eggs, a process that was always fun since she could barely see over the edge of the frying pan, when she heard a shoe against the tile.
“Hayate?” Carim looked at her in surprise. The blonde appeared rumpled, as if she had spent most of the day and the previous night awake.
“Good afternoon!” Hayate said cheerily. Being able to take care of herself in the morning made her content; being able to take care of others, especially her friends, thrilled Hayate. Having ready guinea pigs for her culinary experiments didn’t hurt either!
Carim smiled as Zafira padded over, licking her hands hello. Rubbing his ears, she said, “I’ll have to say, it’s been a while since anyone even tried cooking in here.”
“Oh? How did you guys survive?” Hayate laughed.
“We don’t think about it much, I suppose,” Carim admitted. “They work out, eat whatever they find or order in, then go back to training.” She gave a small smile. “I confess I do the same, although I forget the time more often than they do.”
“Is that what you were doing?” Hayate couldn’t resist reaching over and taking one of Carim’s hands, touching the worn bandage with a frown. “Looking for the Jewel Seeds?”
“No, I can’t do that on my own, remember?” Carim reminded, and yawned, covering her mouth politely.
“Food?” Hayate waved her spatula at her creations with a glowing smile.
“Please,” Carim smiled in return, and Hayate felt something skip in her stomach.
They settled at the table, Carim having pulled out a chair nonchalantly for Hayate so that they could sit beside each other. Zafira wiggled under the table, and his manners were too good for him to beg from Carim, but not from Hayate. She patted his head, giggling at the feeling of his bushy tail wagging hopefully.
“He takes care of you well,” Carim commented, smiling at them. She ate slowly, and Hayate noticed that she held her fork gingerly in her bandaged fingers. They must still be paining her—and Carim had been doing tarot readings before too! Hayate pondered, then unhappily decided to stifle the protective protest she wanted to blurt out. It didn’t seem quite fair to pressure Carim while the other woman looked so exhausted.
“So, did you see anything interesting?” Hayate inquired lightly.
A shadow passed over Carim’s face, and Hayate caught a glimpse of the sadness that Fate had heard in the cheery blonde’s voice. But just as quickly, it was gone, and Carim replied in an equally light tone, “Little things, here and there. But nothing as important as finding Jewel Seeds. I’ve been meaning to ask, and I’m sorry for doing that right after such a fabulous meal—will you try to read the Tome?”
Carefully, Hayate leaned back, setting her spoon down. Zafira stiffened, looking up at her with worried dark eyes. “As you said before, you need the Tome to read the
.” Hayate pushed herself back, holding one wheel to turn to the door. “Come on, I’ll read it for you. Then you can see the
, and find the next Jewel Seed for Fate—I mean the Black Angel.”
“Alright,” Carim said, her tone puzzled no doubt at the sudden lack of warmth in Hayate’s voice. “It would really help, especially since finding a Jewel Seed isn’t exact. We can only pick up clues and its signature trace, so tracking it down takes some time as well.”
“Then we’d better get started quickly, hm?” Hayate gave one last hard push and glided into her room, stopping by the bed and picking up the heavy brown book on the nightstand. “So what do I do?”
Carim stared at her, and Hayate felt a twinge of guilt at the hurt and concealed bewilderment in her face. But Carim’s response was only, “Yuuno—the last reader—already had the Tome when we first met him, but whenever he wanted to use it, he would, um, open the Tome, and then go still while the pages turned by themselves. I guess he was reading those pages somehow…”
Hayate let the Tome fall open in her lap and riffled through a few blank pages. “Okay…” she said slowly, looking down dubiously. They waited in silence for a few tense minutes, Carim still standing by the doorway, stiff as if she felt like an unwelcome guest, and Hayate in her wheelchair with her fingers clenched around the hard covers.
What will they do if I can’t read it?
Hayate wondered darkly.
But…Fate needs to know where these Jewel Seeds are.
Wind blew suddenly in the room, flipping the Tome’s pages violently. Startled, Hayate pushed the Tome outward, but then she couldn’t see her hands anymore as light exploded from the pages, blinding her but not in a painful way. Bright light flowed around Hayate, erasing the world until she sat in a golden field.
Before her stood another Hayate.
She was smiling, and laughed, turning to run teasingly from someone out of sight. Hayate watched her double moving so quickly and freely, the doppleganger’s legs straight and flexing with muscle.
Hayate closed her eyes.
she chided. When she opened her eyes again the golden field was gone, and so was the Other Hayate. This time, the world around her was black, with glimmers of purple keeping the darkness from turning oppressive.
Hayate called out.
“Please come and say hello. I’m not angry, really. It’s just…it’s just not nice to spring stuff like that on people.”
Small silver stars lit up briefly then faded in the darkness.
“So you’re there,”
Hayate said, and smiled. The silver stars reminded her of a meteor shower she had seen once, on the balcony of their apartment with Fate. More lights appeared then vanished, and Hayate felt the temperature rise like a warm hug.
“Did you like that?”
Hayate paused, then recalled another happy memory; the first time she met Zafira, and the quiet delight in her heart when he sniffed and licked her hands, wagging his tail as he nudged her cheek.
This time the Tome, or the sentience that was the Tome, responded with another vision. Blond hair brushed by Hayate’s cheek, and she felt a soft pair of lips on hers, and her body reacted excitedly to the sensations jolting like short shocks through her insides.
Hayate blushed, raising a hand to her lips in embarrassment.
“Are you showing me the things I want? Why?”
Again, she saw her double running in a rich field, jumping and laughing, and then the faces of her late parents smiling at her, then Carim stroking her face, the other woman’s purple eyes glowing with affection. Finally, she saw the insignia of the Tome hovering before her.
“Can you…can you make those things come true?”
Once more, she saw each scene flash by, each wish separated by an image of the Tome. Ah, Hayate understood.
The temperature rose again, then cooled.
Hayate hesitated. She didn’t want to ask, since she knew that once she did, she would get an answer that she might not like. But she had to. It was too good to be true.
“What happens if I make that wish?”
She saw herself watching Fate and the others fighting, then chasing and darting in and out of teleport circles, exhaustion lining their every movement. A brief glimpse of Fate’s face showed that her friend believed in nothing, hopelessness and suffering carved into her features. She saw chains binding the Tome again, and the silver speckles fading into obscurity, dormant once more.
Hayate said softly. She leaned her head back on the headrest and closed her eyes. It was so hard, so hard to do something as simple as closing her eyes. But she did, and she gripped her armrests, swallowing a hard ball of emotion fiercely down her throat.
“Thank you, but no. Please take me back.”
Silence, then she heard the sounds of running feet, memory-voices of her parents, and soft, electrifying sensations on her lips. Her hands tightened on the armrests.
“No. I can’t choose myself over my friends. See? They need me, and I…I can’t let them down. I don’t want to see that future for them, and for you. Besides, you can’t make some of those wishes real. Carim’s a person, and you can’t play with her emotions just to please me!”
She shook her head, and responded with a memory of her and Fate at the park, throwing balls for Arf and Zafira to catch, and the brief moment when Hayate had said something that caused Fate to pause and take Hayate’s hand in hers, painful tears glimmering in her blank red eyes.
Hayate opened her eyes.
“Are you alright?” Carim laid her hands on Hayate’s cheeks, checking her over worriedly. “I’ve never seen that happen before! My cards ripped out of my pockets, and the Tome glowed so hotly I thought that it would burn you. Are you alright?”
Hayate needed a moment before she could look up and smile at Carim, patting the blonde’s hand reassuringly. “Don’t worry,” she said placidly, and let the image of herself running lightly over a golden field fade from her mind. “I’m perfectly alright. Now that I know how to read the Tome—let’s look for a Jewel Seed.”
Eh he, I’m not sure how their teleportation coordinates and stuff work, but for drama’s sake in this story the mage casts the circle part from mental power/memory, but then usually double-checks it visually before actually teleporting, to prevent mistakes
It’s an AU anyways
In the Closet
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