i. Kudou Himiko hates Midou Ban.
(Himiko's face aches. Blood flows--thick and heavy--from her nose, and coats her upper lip. Her fingernails are chipped and caked with dirt. Himiko is on the ground, in the dirt, back pressed tight to the alleyway's brick wall.
Her perfumes are scattered across the ground. They are out of reach, and Himiko is frightened.
Himiko is frightened, but she is still Kudou Himiko. She sneers at the man towering over her. She will not die here. Himiko is fast. She pulls back her foot, and strikes.
Ban is at the mouth of the alley. His hands are hooked into the pockets of his jeans. There are two bodies crumpled on the ground, at his feet. Ban says: "it's not nice to gang up on little girls."
Himiko is already on her feet. There is an open vial of perfume in her hand. The man who had struck her is on the ground, clawing at his throat, eyes streaming with tears. Himiko is not weak, and Ban is not needed here. Himiko glowers at Ban. She says: "I had everything under control."
Himiko aims a kick at the man's head as she passes by. He stops moving. She glares at Ban. "I hate you," she says.
Ban drops an arm around her shoulders. He is laughing at her.
Yamato is waiting for them. He says: "Good to see the two of you getting along so well."
Himiko elbows Ban in the ribs. He lets go, and she climbs into the car. She is dirty, and bloody, but she is alive, and she is happy.)
Himiko thinks: this isn't real.
Himiko thinks: I've gone mad.
Ban's face is white, his lips narrow. His hands are shining, wet with blood. There's blood on his hands, and on the floor, and pooling beneath Yamato's body. Yamato is still, and quiet, and there's a wet, gaping hole in his chest, and, and, and--
"Himiko," Ban says, "Himiko. I."
Himiko screams, and screams, and she's been men's death before, but she's never before wanted anyone dead by her own hands. Ban's eyes are huge, and he has no right to cry, none at all--and Himiko is still screaming when she curls her fingers into claws and tries to tear the flesh from Ban's body.
In her dreams, Himiko says: "I hate you, Midou Ban." She says: "die," and:
watches his skin blacken, and peel, and turn to ash as fire eats him to nothing from the inside out;
watches him gouge out his demon's eyes at her command, and his mouth foam red as he bites off his liar's tongue;
watches him writhe and cry and scream as she digs past flesh, and meat, and bone--she's tearing through his chest and towards his heart, and she'll laugh as she crushes it in the palm of her hand.
When she awakens, Himiko's heart is heavy. She knows this: there is no death horrible enough for Midou Ban.
ii. Kudou Himiko loves Midou Ban.
(The moon is bright. The night air smells of blood, and danger. Himiko has spent a lifetime waiting for this moment.
Her heart is racing.
She hasn't forgotten anything about Midou Ban--can't forget anything about the monster who murdered her brother, but:
His eyes are clearer than the eyes that haunt her dreams. Bright, and blue, and (she'd dreamt of a serpent's slitted pupils) human. His mouth isn't so cruel, and his expression not sneeringly triumphant. He's young, and still too thin, and his hair is ridiculous.
He doesn't look so very different from the boy Yamato had called brother. He isn't so very different from the boy Himiko had loved--and she had loved him, once. She'd loved him, and he had betrayed her, and he had betrayed Yamato, and--
Himiko has no room for regrets. "Time to die, Midou Ban," Himiko says.
--and she will show him the mercy which he does not deserve, and make his death a quick one).
Himiko's dreams heat her cheeks. They leave her restless upon waking: embarrassed and wanting. Himiko is not so young as she once was. She wants to break free of the boundaries of this life, and be--
If Himiko dreams of Ban, it is only because he is there. He is there, and he is not her brother, for all that they fight like siblings. Ban is obnoxious, and self-confident to the point of arrogance, but Himiko thinks his eyes are beautiful.
Of Ban's hand cupping her jaw;
Of Ban's lips against hers;
Of being the one to save him, this once.
Himiko's dreams are her own, and they are dreams. Awake, she loves Ban, but spends more time thinking of hitting him than kissing him.
Yamato has grown distant. He is distracted, worried, too worried for their daily concerns. Himiko and Ban go out alone more often than not. Ban is a friend, a good partner, all but a brother--but Himiko misses Yamato.
Himiko hugs her knees to her chest. She is too old to cry, and she will not shame Yamato so.
Ban prods at his glasses with his index finger. He says: "Himiko. Himiko, I--" He squeezes Himiko's hand. "Yamato will be fine. You'll see."
Himiko thinks: I hope so.
Himiko thinks: please.
iii. Kudou Himiko doesn't know what to do about Midou Ban.
Himiko still has a brother--
"I made a promise to Yamato," Ban says.
--he's just not the one she wants.
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