...happy fanfic christmas <3 it only took me a year LOL
Chapter XX -- Wings
It had been a while since I'd had the privilege of waking up next to somebody else. In those first few moments of sleep-haze, its an amazing feeling, really, the comfort of a warm body beside your own. My instinct was to snuggle up closer to that warmth, but as the gears in my head started turning and it occurred to me to open my eyes, I realized that I was not in my own bed. I tried to work out where exactly I was, and my brain responded with a sharp, pulsating pain.
I groaned a bit and reached out to grab for the blanket and had every intention of resorting to a 'fuck it all' attitude to catch at least another hour of sleep, but my hand landed on something very soft and very... not a blanket.
"Oh Reina-chan, I didn't know you were so fiesty in the mornings as well~"
There laying beside me was Michishige Sayumi in all her glory, wearing nothing but a pleased smirk and a lone sheet draped across her hips. My hand was resting in a scandalous position right in the middle of her bare chest and I ripped it back like I had touched fire, tumbling out of the bed in the process. It was there on the floor, in the midst of an intensifying headache and earning a few new bruises that I realized Sayumi wasn't the only one who had lost her clothes at some point last night.
"...oh my god."
Had I slept with Michishige? I sifted frantically through my memories of the night before but I could only remember dancing at the club; everything after was too dark and muddled for me to decipher. But what else could explain how I'd ended up naked in bed with someone like her? My entire face began to heat up in shame and embarrassment as I continued to wonder, and I sunk my face into the pillow that I'd wrestled to the floor with me in defeat, muttering another muffled 'oh my god'.
I could hear the my bandmate rise from the bed, and I rolled myself up in the sheets, eliciting laughter from the older girl.
"Oh please," she snorted, bending over to pick up a long shirt off of the floor. I tried hard not to stare, feeling my face burning again with something entirely different. "I already saw much more of you than I ever expected to see last night. ...Even if I hadn't, there aren't any surprises waiting for me under there."
I attempted to glare at her once she was (partially) clothed, though I imagine it came across much weaker than I intended, as her words only made me want to bury myself. How could I have trusted Michishige, of all people? This was a girl that had been with pretty much everyone, even someone like Risa who hated her. And I had simply ignored my instincts and allowed her to lure me in for the kill, alcohol nonwithstanding.
I was an idiot.
"As amusing as the look on your face is right now..." The guitarist drawled, leaning lazily against the wall so that she could stare down at me, "I feel like I should let you know that nothing happened last night."
If the look on my face before Michishige's confession was amusing, the one I made following it must have been even more priceless, because she only smirked at me in return.
"Sorry to ruin your fantasies about us, but I have standards, Reina-chan, and I don't take advantage of poor drunk girls. Even if they start just stripping in front of me. You gave me quite the show before passing out in my bed~"
Oh. Well, it was still a cringeworthy way of spending my evening, and I had a feeling that Michishige would never let me hear the end of it--worse yet I shuddered to think how the others would tease me when they found out--but I could sense that she was telling the truth.
"Now... if you're done being pathetic on the floor there, you can get dressed and I'll see if I have coffee or something..."
I listened as Michishige padded out of the room and groaned as I lifted my head to make sure she was really out of sight. As I gathered my clothes off the floor and began to clumsily pull them on, I could hear a conversation going on in the other room. Michishige was bickering with someone; I couldn't quite make out about what. Adjusting my skirt, I made my way clumsily out of the room to investigate, damning every brand of alcohol known to man along the way.
"...just saying, its really gross when you have people over when I'm here...."
"Excuse me, but you stay here out of the goodness of my heart, you punk; I don't have to change what I do just because you're here."
"Nobody wants to think about their sister getting it on with weird people every night..."
"Hey do you wanna go home? Is that what you want?"
"I thought not. Just shut up and eat your goddamned cereal."
As I entered the living room, I was surprised to see Koharu sprawled out on the couch, and by the look of her mouth hanging open, it was pretty obvious she was equally surprised to see me. I could almost see the question forming in her mind through her eyes and I felt the heat rising in my cheeks as I rushed to answer before she could even vocalize it.
Michishige and I shot her down at the same time, my cheeks continuing to burn as Koharu closed her mouth and squinted at me, suspicious.
"...well I didn't HEAR anything last night but that doesn't mean..." She muttered, trailing off as she stuffed another spoonful of cereal into her mouth. "What are you doing here then, Tanaka-san?" Koharu asked, her voice muffled between bites.
"We had an interview last night, I needed a place to crash..." I replied, still a bit flustered, and leaving out most of the details. What Koharu didn't know, she didn't need to know. I knew she'd go blabbing right to Aika and I wanted the chance to explain myself first before the story got distorted. "...Anyway I could ask you the same question. What would your parents think if they found you were hanging out with someone like Michishige here?"
The high school girl snorted and began to laugh, echoed by snickering from Michishige, who was approaching me now with a hot cup of coffee. This I readily accepted, though not without confusion. There was something I had obviously missed.
"Let's just say..." Michishige started, flopping on the couch next to Koharu, not seeming to care that her shirt only barely covered her lower half, "That I can guarantee that her parents couldn't give two shits that she's here with me; in fact, they should probably be grateful, even."
"And why is that?"
The guitarist smirked at me, and I watched as Koharu's entire demeanor changed. She was the most defeated-looking person I had ever seen, though she didn't look like she was going to volunteer to speak any time soon.
"Her dad's a deadbeat and her mom's quite the piece of work. Probably too smashed to even know she's been here for a couple of days now."
Oh. The silence that filled the room was thick enough to suffocate on, and that was understandable. I glanced at Koharu again, viewing her in a different light, taking note of the faint bruise on her cheek. It was barely there now but it was obvious that whatever happened to her was no accident. Before I could say anything, though, the girl shot up off the couch and darted out the front door, leaving me alone with Michishige.
"...You couldn't have been more... gentle?" I asked, watching quietly as Michishige nonchalantly took a sip of her own cup of coffee. She rolled her eyes at me.
"Why? The world isn't gentle. Besides, she needs to stop feeling sympathy for our bitch of a mother."
"Our?" I replied, taking a swig of the coffee I'd been handed earlier. To my surprise, it wasn't as awful as I'd expected it to be. "Koharu is your sister?"
"Half," She corrected, giving me a look that plainly said the conversation was to end there. Fine by me, I didn't need to know all the sad details of Michishige's life. Koharu on the other hand, I worried about; she was a sweet girl and had been a good friend to Aika. Maybe mentioning something to my sister later would help.
In any event I felt like I'd been around the guitarist long enough, and I finished my cup of coffee, setting it down on the counter. I turned back to Michishige to say something about leaving, when I noticed she was staring at me with thoughtful eyes.
"What exactly do you get out of being here with us, Reina-chan?" The question caught me somewhat off guard, and I could only stare back at her as she continued, "Why did you come here to this city of all places? What's in it for a girl like you, who, practically still has her whole life ahead of her, to throw her chips in with a bunch of losers like us?"
"...I don't think you're losers, Michishige-san."
"But you don't really fit in with us either, do you?" She hardly missed a beat, and I didn't like how her eyes seemed to be staring through me instead of at me. "I guess that hardly matters when fame is your goal, though."
Something in me bristled at her tone.
"How would you know what my goals are? You don't know the first thing about me."
Michishige rose from the couch, leaving her mug behind on the coffee table.
"I know everything about everyone." She started, taking a step towards me, "I know that Aichan is clinging so desperately to a past she barely remembers because she feels somewhat responsible for the way that Gaki-san's turned out and she spends every day punishing herself with guilt because she can't figure out how to put the puzzle pieces back together. If they were even meant to be together in the first place..."
"I know that Gaki-san doesn't know what she wants. She's not got much of anything to call her own to begin with, and what she lost she replaced with anger. On top of all of that, she's got the guilt too; that she's not good enough, that she fucked up too much to make anything right."
She was a bit close now.
"I know that Eri is probably the most sane one of us all, and she cares the most, but until she fights her own personal demons it'll never amount to anything. Life will continue to pass her by until the day she dies."
Uncomfortably close. Michishige tilted her head down slightly so that our lips were almost touching and I could feel her breath on mine.
"You are nothing. You want to be something, and you don't mind seizing the opportunities that come your way, regardless of any possible setbacks, because you haven't really done anything to screw up your life yet. You want to make a name for yourself as a singer. And there's nothing inherently wrong with any of those things except for the way you're going about it, involving yourself with four very screwed-up human beings."
I felt like I was a target, Michishige's words having hit me square on in the bulls-eye. She wasn't wrong about me, other than I had no intention of hurting any of them. Some of them, like Eri, and... maybe even Risa, I considered to be my friends.
"I won't let you use us as your stepping stone to glory, Reina-chan." Her voice was a dangerous whisper, "I promise you I would destroy any chance of a career you had if you try."
I bristled again, holding my ground. I wasn't going to let Michishige intimidate me anymore.
"I haven't done anything wrong here. You picked me remember? Not the other way around."
"Aichan picked you. I don't trust you."
"Yeah well I don't trust you either, but we're going to have to work together from now on so you might as well deal with it." I gave her a slight shove, putting some inches between us. "And for the record, I don't give two shits about your past lives. I don't care what happened before, and if I did, I wouldn't still be here, working just as hard as everyone else."
Michishige sized me up carefully, as if examining the weight of my words.
She didn't trust me; it would take more than just talk to win her over. Not that I even cared about doing that, but I saw something like possibly-respect flicker across the guitarist's eyes for a brief moment. A very brief moment.
"Maybe. I'm keeping an eye on you either way."
"Fine, whatever." I stepped around Michishige and started towards the door, ready to be out of there and away from her. It was only once I was out of the apartment that I realized what time it was; I was going to be late to work.
Junjun's gonna kill me...
Risa felt significantly grumpier than usual, and had to keep fighting the urge to run to the nearest convenience store. She had promised Eri she would kick this habit, and it had seemed easy enough last night since she had only just finished smoking when the turtle chucked her packs into the trash.
But today was a new day, and she became particularly aware of how deep her addiction ran with every passing moment.
And then there was the fact that she was heading home; Aichan was there, and Risa wasn't really sure she was ready to face the other woman yet. She knew she had about 20 unread messages and just about as many missed calls on her phone... but she wouldn't give in. It hurt to hear Ai talk to her the way she had done yesterday, and she figured the older woman deserved the cold shoulder for at least a little bit longer.
She didn't even give me a chance to explain what happened... and then I bet she probably took Sayumi's side right afterwards...
The ex-con balled her hands into fists, adjusting her duffel bag angrily as she continued to stomp her way down the sidewalk, jealousy burning in her chest. This was quickly replaced with a quiet sense of helplessness and Risa felt her self-confidence dropping. What could she do to beat Sayumi for Ai's affections anyway; it hadn't taken the guitarist long to work her way into the other girl's bed, and Ai kept Risa instead constantly at arm's length.
It was obvious that Ai still cared about her at least, but it wasn't the same as it had been once before.
...Maybe I just... need to let go.
The thought stopped Risa on the steps up to Ai's apartment complex. What if it was that simple? Ai would probably be happier... And even though it hurt to think that she could find someone better--she shuddered to think that Sayumi would be better--it was almost a relief in a way, to know that Ai could be happy.
She gripped the strap to her bag tightly, gathering her resolve. They needed to talk about this and deal with it anyway. Today was a good a day to do it as any.
Risa was tired of the space in between them; even if Ai decided she wasn't in love with her, she missed the closeness they had had as simply friends.
Determined, the bassist continued her way up the steps. She fumbled through her pockets for the familiar key, and when she reached the door to Ai's apartment, she took a deep breath before finding the strength to enter.
"...Aichan? I'm home..."
The place was quieter than normal, and Risa tossed her bag into her open bedroom, shutting the main door behind her. Hearing no response, the ex-con made her way into the kitchen, thinking that a snack would help calm her nerves as she waited for Ai to return.
Instead she found the older woman waiting for her inside, leaning silently against the countertop opposite the entrance, and Risa paused there in the doorway, the two of them regarding each other quietly.
Risa decided that she was going to have to be the one to speak first, but as she cleared her throat, Ai moved silently towards her, and before she could even utter a sound she registered the feeling of soft, familiar lips claiming her own. There was a beat of confusion at first, but Risa began to kiss the older woman back instinctively, as if that simple act said all that needed to be said between them.
She stopped thinking, and held and let herself be held, closing her eyes and reveling in the moment that she had been waiting for for so long.