Thunder roared outside of Hope’s Peak Academy as walls of water hit the ground, wind tearing branches off of nearby trees. As such, nobody was out and about on the grounds. Classes had been canceled due to the downpour and so everyone had stayed in their dorm buildings, enjoying their day off in various ways. Many decided to binge various shows they missed due to school work, one of them taking notes on various character designs, while some of the more artsy folks focused on their personal projects. A few were taking laps around the dorm building, not letting a “bit of rain” ruin their daily training. One author had even finally finished her latest work.
Yes, all of Hope’s Peak had stayed in their dorms, save for one girl who was walking around the empty halls of the school building. The dorms had become too loud and full of people she didn’t care about talking to, and she needed to be somewhere quiet. So she had taken her umbrella and ran to the school building, staying as dry as possible, and let her mind shut off as she began a training regimen specifically designed for this kind of day.
Another wave of thunder rumbled as she finished, sometime around seven. Maki sighed, she had finished earlier than she wanted. She wasn’t supposed to meet Shuichi and Kaito until eight for some stupid movie night Kaito had insisted on and she didn’t want to spend any more time than necessary around the dorms today, so she resigned herself to wandering around the empty school with her thoughts for forty-five minutes.
And so she wandered, not really thinking of anything important. Things like wondering what her next assignment would be, how the kids at her orphanage were doing, what that one kid she grew up with was doing now, etc. She was on the second floor near the classrooms when a loud crack of thunder sounded directly above the school.
And suddenly, Maki was in two places at once.
Physically, her body was standing exactly where she had heard the thunder, still as a statue, but mentally she was thirteen again, hidden in a tall, leafy tree in a small park, sniper rifle trained on the head of a man, eating a sandwich on a bench.
Her assignment at the time had been to silently kill the man, who was the records keeper for the local gang so that a rival gang could take some of the information he had on him in order to take them out. So here she was, in a basically empty park, waiting for the man to finish his last meal before she put a bullet in his head.
Maki felt her body back in Hope’s Peak curl in on itself as she knew what was about to happen, the assassin begged her younger self not to take the shot. It wasn’t worth the pain she was about to go through. But her thirteen-year-old self couldn’t hear her pleads, and if she could she would have ignored them. She was trained to ignore her conscience years ago.
As soon as the man had swallowed the last bite of his sandwich, the young Maki’s finger tightened on the trigger, and the bullet was lodged in the man’s head. Her job was done, but before she could turn away, something happened that poor Maki would never be able to forget.
See, little did little Maki nor her employers knew, but the man was highly paranoid and would do crazy things to try and keep him and the information he carried safe, including taking out said information should he be taken out. So he had a high-power bomb surgically implanted in his chest, programmed to explode should his heartbeat stop. So when his heartbeat stopped, his body exploded, sending blood and organs and bits of flesh everywhere, one of his eyeballs even managing to hit Maki in the face.
Maki felt a dull thud as her body in Hope’s peak hit the floor, unable to tear her eyes from the gruesome scene in front of her, just as she had at the time. Everything felt like it was playing in slow-motion, everything falling, glistening, painting the surroundings in blood. Young Maki felt frozen to the spot, even though her entire body was yelling at her to move so she wouldn’t be linked to the crime scene, she couldn’t.
The scene replayed over and over in her mind, overlapping with the present thunder, keeping Maki stuck in the same spot, curled up in a ball on the floor. After what felt like days, the assassin vaguely felt herself being lifted and carried somewhere, as well as getting placed back on the cold floor, the shock of the cold bringing her back from the flashback a small bit.
Then, as the memory ended for the umpteenth time, she heard a vague melody. Someone was playing piano, and Maki latched on to it, using the song to pull herself out of the memory. Slowly, but surely, she began to be more and more aware of her surroundings, noticing the different room, sheet music scattered everywhere, and the window she was under.
Eventually, as the song made it’s way to an end, Maki fully awoke from the attack. Lifting herself off the ground, she quickly made herself aware of her surroundings. She was in one of the music research labs, the one primarily used for instrument-based talents, and since there was piano music it would stand to reason that the one who found her during her attack would be… Kaede.
Great, the person who found her during her moment of weakness is the one person who will bug her about what happened until she got an answer.
Maki sighed, standing up off the ground. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kaede looking at her with a concerned look on her face. At that, Maki became aware of the dampness on her cheeks. So she had cried during her episode. Great, like Kaede needed more reason to pity her. All she wanted to do was go back to her dorm and sleep.
“Thanks, Kaede, for the help,” Maki said, beginning to walk towards the door in hopes of escaping the pianist’s questions. Unfortunately, Kaede had other plans. She placed herself right in Maki’s way, a determined expression on her face. Although Maki could easily move her out of the way, nobody knew of Maki’s true talent, and she didn’t really want to get into that tonight.
“No, no, no, no, no, you aren’t getting away that easy! What happened there? How long were you stuck in that attack?” Kaede asked, voice full of concern.
“Does this really matter that much, Kaede?”
“Of course it does! You’re my friend, I care about you!”
Maki huffed, “Since around seven-thirty, I think”
“You were stuck there for THREE HOURS? Maki, this is serious! I could understand ten minutes, maybe even half an hour for a standard anxiety attack like Shuichi has, but for something to last for three hours… Maki, what happened to you?” Kaede looked at her, the worry shining in her eyes. Maki felt her will power crack.
“Nothing happened that you need to worry about, Kaede. Just leave it”
“I am not going to leave it! Whatever it is, I can help you! Please, just let me help you, Maki!”
“You wouldn’t understand this, and if you did I’d be worried”
“That just makes me worry more! Please, there’s nothing you could tell me that would turn me away from you! I won’t abandon you, I promise!”
“Kaede just leave it alone,” she said, snippily
“I will not leave it alone! You need help, and I can help!”
“You could never understand!” Maki snarled, her voice rising. She needed to get out of here, just get out, “Just let me go!” she barked, pushing past Kaede towards the door.
“You don’t know that! If you would just let me-” Kaede put her hand on Maki’s shoulder to hold her back.
Maki acted purely on instinct.
In an instant, Maki’s hand tightened on her hidden dagger, she pulled it out of its hidden pocket in her skirt, whirled around and pressed the knife against her perceived attacker, killer instinct gleaming in her eyes as she glowered at…
Kaede, who was looking at her like a wounded deer looks at a fox.
The knife clattered to the floor.
Maki backed away, watching as Kaede held her hand to her neck, looking for the distrust that would inevitably enter her eyes. But in the musician’s eyes, there was only sadness and helpless concern. No hate lay in those lilac eyes. And if there wasn’t now, there would never be. It reminded her of her friend of so long ago, the girl she’d become an assassin to save. The girl who was too sensitive and emotional to have survived the training Maki had gone through for her.
The difference between the two was that, while both were sensitive and emotional, Kaede would have withstood twice the training Maki had to keep anyone from going through the same fate.
She deserved to know.
Maki inhaled shakily, “When I was ten, my orphanage was visited by an organization called the Holy Salvation Society…”
Maki told her story, Kaede patiently waiting as Maki poured out her backstory to someone she hadn’t even been that well acquainted with. To Kaede’s credit, she was very patient and didn’t ask any questions. When Maki got to the reason she had had her episode that night, Kaede gasped quietly and grabbed Maki’s hand, squeezing it as she recounted how thunder had triggered her memory, keeping Maki grounded to the present. And when Maki finished, Kaede gently wrapped her in a hug.
“Maki, I’m so sorry. No one should have to go through what you did, you are so strong and so kind” Kaede said as she hugged the reluctant assassin.
“Strong I understand, but how am I… kind?”
Kaede unwrapped herself from the hug, keeping her hands on her shoulders and looking in Maki’s eyes, “You sacrificed yourself for your friend because you knew she couldn’t do it. Not many people would do that, you know?”
Maki squirmed uncomfortably at the compliment, “You would have done the same thing if you were in my shoes”
Kaede crossed her arms and puffed out her cheeks, “Hey! We’re talking about you, not me!”
Maki giggled, “You don’t deny it”
Kaede glared at her playfully and opened her mouth to say something when-
The girls jumped, Kaede grabbing Maki’s shoulder to keep her grounded. They shared a look, remembering where they were.
“We should get back to the dorms, you need sleep”
“You’re the one who needs sleep! You had a three-hour episode!”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right Kaede”
The two began to walk back, Kaede practically glued to Maki’s side. They walked back out into the rain, Kaede carrying the umbrella for both of them, Maki holding her own folded one.
“Well, this is my stop!” Kaede said as they arrived at her room.
“So it would seem”
The two stood in awkward silence as Maki waited for Kaede to go into her room. When Kaede continued to idle, Maki sighed.
“You want to stay in my room tonight, don’t you?”
“Just for tonight! I just don’t want you to have another episode and not have anyone to help you! I’ll even sleep on the floor, I swear!”
Maki rolled her eyes, “Fine, but you’re not going to sleep on the floor. My bed has room for two, but if you’re uncomfortable with that I can bring out the spare mattress, okay?”
Kaede brightened, “Thank you, Maki! I swear it’ll be like I’m not even there!”
Once Kaede had gotten her PJs. the two made their way to Maki’s room in comfortable silence, and when they got there, quickly got changed and climbed into Maki’s bed, turns out Kaede was comfortable after all. Whatever, Maki’s had worse.
As Maki was about to sleep, she remembered the song that Kaede had played for her.
“What was that song you played for me?”
“Oh, Chopin’s Nocturne op.9 No.2. It’s relaxing and it’s always reminded me of you, so I thought I’d use it to help pull you out. Did you like it?”
“Yeah, it was… really nice. Thank you, Kaede”
“*Yawn* You’re welcome, Maki Roll”
“What was that?”
But Kaede had already fallen asleep. And Maki followed shortly after.